Fashion & Beauty Queries: Vol. IV, No. Ten

Mar 21, 2017

Hi Belle/Abra,

Have you heard of this microblading trend for eyebrows?  I discovered it on Instagram and spent all yesterday down a rabbit hole of amazing looking eyebrows.  Do you know anyone who has had this done? I am now obsessed, but don’t want to make a potentially bad decision for all the world to see on my face for 1-3 years.  

Thanks for the advice, ME

For those who haven’t heard of microblading, it’s facial tattooing that shapes and defines the eyebrow.  Unlike other tattoos, it lasts only for a couple of years.  I know one person who does it, and she swears by it.  She even flies from her home to Vancouver, BC, so that she can have it done at Studio Sashiko.  You can see some their before/afters on their Facebook page.  They also have an excellent FAQ page for people interested in learning more about microblading.

If you aren’t willing to go all-in on having full, perfectly sculpted brows, a writer at the Bustle tried a peel-off brow tattoo kit.  Essentially you apply a thick rubbery gel, allow it to dry and then, peel it off to reveal darker, thicker-looking brows.   She used the Tint My Brow Gel from Etude House, I would try the Wunderbrow Gel that one of my friends uses because it comes in a better selection of shades.

Another option are brow tattoo pens, which use a liquid-liner type approach.  One reader swears by this Kat Von D pen from Sephora.  If you’re looking for a tutorial, this YouTube video is a good one.

Hi Belle,

Can you recommend a shampoo for dry hair?  The winter has made my hair feel like straw and I think my volumizing shampoo is making it worse.  Thoughts?


Shampoo can definitely dry out your hair, and with my fine locks, any dryness instantly becomes frizzy and flyaway.  I recommend Paul Mitchell Awapuhi shampoo which is super rich and moisturizing, and gives a bit of volume.  I would also recommend shampooing every other or every third day if you can get away with it.

Other ways to treat dry hair, I like this Unite7Seconds spray which detangles, conditions, and protects from heated styling tools.  And, if things get really dire, I will apply conditioner and wrap my hair up in a turban.  For a splurge, I love Leonor Greyl’s conditioning mask.  For a save, I’m all about It’s a 10’s Miracle Deep Conditioner.  Just put it up in the turban for half an hour at night, rinse, dry, wake up the next morning and shampoo like usual.

Dear Belle,

I’m off to my boyfriend’s college friend’s wedding in May (my bf is in the wedding). The invitation came yesterday – “black tie” (cue the theme song from Jaws…). What are your thoughts? Is a floor length dress required? Encouraged? Would love some help on what modern etiquette is for this!

Thanks so much! Jen

When I think of black tie for a wedding, I think of two things: simple floor length gowns and super chic knee-length dresses.  For floor length, no/minimal sequins, no ballgown skirts, no trains, no light colors that might photograph as white.  For knee-length dresses, choose evening fabrics like silk/satin, no cotton, linen or jersey.  Also, when choosing a knee-length dress, make sure it’s not the same color as the bridesmaid dresses.  Need suggestions?

I have a black tie wedding coming up myself, and I am contemplating splurging on this La Petite Robe one-shoulder dress.  I like that it’s not black, and I could wear it for the next 3-5 years.  However, this pale pink Badgley Mischka dress from The Outnet is more in my price range.  If you want something under-$150, I would choose this Halston Heritage dress in indigo.  I also recommend hitting the sale section at stores like Neiman’sSaks, and Bloomingdale’s.

I chose knee-length dresses because, if I buy something, I’ll have more opportunity to wear them.  But if you don’t wear black tie often, this might provide a rare chance to wear a long gown.  Unless you have regular opportunities to wear a gown, I would never spend more than $350 on one.  I like this cobalt Badgley Mischka gown, this pretty Katie May off-the-shoulder, and this navy Kay Unger gown that bridges the gap between modest and chic.

Also, if you have good consignment stores in your area, I would definitely hit those.  Or if you have a dress you like and a competent tailor, you’d be surprised how they can redesign a dress.  Mine once turned a long sleeve gown into a very pretty backless dress with cap sleeves.  Or you can always borrow a dress from a friend.


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  1. Michelle says:

    I think the long vs. short dress at a black tie wedding also depends on what part of the country you’re in. In NYC/surrounding area, black tie always means long, in my experience. Anywhere else in the country – you can get away with either!

    • Shannon says:

      I was just about to say this – the black tie wedding I went to in Long Island, maybe three women wore a short dress. And lots of gowns had sequins and other embellishments. The knee-length dresses Belle suggested, while lovely, would be considered far too casual.

      I’d also suggest Rent the Runway – if you’re just going to wear it once, it seems silly to buy it.

    • Maddy says:

      Agreed. Went to black tie weddings in NYC and on Long Island–maybe one person was wearing a knee length dress and she definitely stood out. Went to another in Miami and there was definitely a healthy mix.

    • KLC says:

      I totally agree, but actually from a midwestern perspective. I’ve been to 3 black tie weddings over the past 4 years and anyone who was in a short dress really stuck out honestly…

  2. LIsa says:

    I think microblading looks obviously fake and I think it’s a terrible trend, but YMMV!

    • s says:

      Agreed. When I’ve seen it in person, I’ve just thought the person went way too heavy with the pencil. Especially those with very sparse hair– the “brow” is very obviously not hair. Also, I think people might regret anything permanent that seals in the extra thick brow thing. That’s going to go out of style at some point.

      • SarahT says:

        Hi! Just to clarify – microblading only lasts 1-3 years (likely less) and totally depends on how well your skin holds the pigment. Definitely not permanent, but a fair point 🙂

  3. Addie says:

    Re: dry hair, If you don’t already know whether your hair is high porousity, low porousity or normal, google how to figure out what type your hair is. If you fall into the high or low category that can really help you learn to deal with your individual hair issues. Highly porous hair for example takes moisture very easily but it also loses it very easily in dry climates. If you have highly porous hair, you need to be moisturizing with products that have a high water content and then sealing your cuticle to prevent moisture loss. I have highly porous hair that’s a bitch to color (I go much darker than my natural color) and my stylist turned me on to Pureology color fanatic which does about 21 different things including moisturizing and sealing the hair.

  4. Anna says:

    Woah, I had assumed microblading had something to do with that ridiculous trend to razor a line or two into your eyebrow. This actually looks pretty cool. I have decently shaped eyebrows (don’t even really pluck anymore), but the ends are a little thin to the point that they disappear in photos. I’m intrigued.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Shampoo for dry hair: first, use a good clarifying shampoo like Neutrogena’s. Then, use a good moisturizing shampoo, and this is the important element: NO SILICONES, DIMETHICONES, AMETHICONES, ANYTHING ENDING IN ‘…CONE’ listed anywhere in the ingredients. The ‘cones’ coat the hair strands like plastic, do not permit the transfer of water into the hair shaft, which actually moisturizes the hair. Eventually our hair dries out becoming ‘straw’ and if it suffers breakage, the only remedy is to cut off the straw, now damaged beyond repair. I have long dry curly hair, and didn’t believe in this little bit of chemistry until it happened to me. These worst offender brands use the ‘cones’ to slick the hair shaft, which used the first few times makes the hair look shiny and slick and nice—until the buildup strangles moisture out of the hair shafts. Follow up regularly with a conditioner made for dry hair, again no ‘cones’ in the ingredient list. Good luck.

    Black tie weddings: unless you have lots of formal events on the calendar which would warrant purchasing dresses, “Rent the Runway” has a good selection of already vetted formal long and short dresses in multiple colors, designs, and sizes suitable for these events. Really nice dresses for less than $100 to $150 rental fees. Check out their site: Again, good luck and have a great time.

    • Anna says:

      Seriously, I’ve bought a few semi-formal dresses thinking, “oh, I’ll totally find other uses for this,” and I very rarely do. I’d rather spend less money on an even nicer, or more interesting dress, considering in all likelihood, I’m probably only going to wear the dress once anyways.

  6. Mags says:

    I was at a black tie wedding last summer and was one of FOUR women wearing the racerback v neck theia dresses from rent the runway (blue here: It’s a beautiful dress and looked good on everyone, but fair warning just that many other women like this style!

  7. Kellie says:

    I’d highly recommend Rent the Runway to borrow a gown!

  8. Jennifer D says:

    Greetings Abra/Belle – Just saw you quoted in Racked: Congrats!

  9. TheLoop says:

    Avocado oil works wonders on dry hair. Keep it on for as long as you can / want to. Follow up with a simple shampoo like Garnier Pure Clean but I usually find that if I apply a little bit of oil on Friday night, by Monday my hair is shiny and soft but doesn’t look greasy or slick any more.

  10. SarahT says:

    Re: Microblading
    I had it done last spring with a touch-up done six weeks later and I absolutely love the results. I naturally have very sparse, thin brows and microblading them was the best beauty decision. After spending weeks and weeks researching, I found the ladies at Dollistic in Washington, DC. Per their website, microblading essentially is where the artist manually implants pigment to mimic hair strokes using tiny, disposable needles. It’s not quite like traditional tattooing like with a tattoo gun and the results are far different. The owner (Emily) did my brows and she was professional, kind, and has a great eye for what will be most flattering for your coloring and face shape. Even my dermatologist is impressed with my brows these days. Their Instagram has some pretty impressive before/after pictures. Happy to answer any other questions!

    PS – before anyone asks, I do not work for Dollistic nor am I affiliated with them. Just a happy customer 🙂

    • VB says:

      I went to dollistic too, and I LOVE my brows. I think it can definitely look fake if you go to the wrong place, but every single photo I’ve seen of their work looks natural. I love mine – I naturally have fairly thin brows, and microblading makes it so I can just put on other make-up and go.

  11. Meredith says:

    Amazon is actually a great place to get formal dresses on a budget as well. I recently had a black-tie event (a very rare occurrence in my life, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a dress) to attend and was able to find a great deal on long, formal gown. If you have Amazon Prime, it’s a great deal — dresses arrive quickly and it is free to ship back! I’m 5’11, so I had a little trouble with length, but overall I would definitely recommend it!

  12. Min says:

    RE: microblading
    I just had mine done 2.5 weeks ago and I wish I had done it sooner! I was very hesitant of the idea of tattooing my face but it is well worth it and its not permanent (supposed to last 1-2 years). I think the worst part of microblading is the aftercare; you’re not supposed to get your brows wet for at least 5 days and up to 2 weeks if you can manage it. They do apply numbing cream but it does rub off during the process and it can hurt. It’s not really painful but an annoying pinching sensation. Also, the sound of the tiny needles (at the end of the blade) scraping against your skin is not the best. I think microblading has saved me up to 10 minutes from my morning makeup routine. I’m happy with my results so far and can’t wait for my touch up next month. I would recommend to anyone considering microblading to do a lot of research and don’t skimp on the price. There are a lot of nail salon/spas that are introducing microblading in my area and I feel like you should go to a brow specialist not just any person who took the class, IMHO. FYI, my microblding cost $600 including touch up. Other places in the area charge around $450. I live in South Florida by the way. I waited almost two months after my initial consultation for the procedure because my technician was booked. I almost went to the cheaper option just because I was getting impatient.

  13. Lindsey says:

    Re: Black tie dresses. I honestly find that Lord and Taylor has a great selection of lower priced long dresses. Also Dillards if you have them in your area. I have a black tie work gala each December, and hate spending hundreds of $$ on a work event dress. But have found some great ones (Calvin Klein, etc) at L&T for around $100. Similar to NY, I think some more traditional southern cities tend to long for black tie weddings, especially if it’s Black Tie, not Black Tie Optional.

  14. Sara says:

    I’m a little skeptical about not wearing a dress t hats the same color as the bridesmaids dresses. Like, would you really make your boyfriend ask his college buddy about the bridesmaids dresses before going to a wedding? That would seem really weird to me. Also when I have seen guests wearing dresses in similar colors to the bridesmaids it has never seemed to be a big deal, at all. It is usually pretty clear who is in the wedding party or not. And nowadays people are doing all kinds of non-matching bridesmaid dresses, or rainbows or all black etc.

  15. Chelsea says:

    For the dry hair shampooing – try cowashing! You can use conditioner or a cowashing product – Deva’s Nopoo is a good one.

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