OAKLAND, Calif. --Trinh Joyner has a problem with her eyebrows.
"What I don't like about my eyebrows is that I don't have any," Joyner said laughingly.
While Mother Nature may have shorted her, Joyner is hoping to close the gap with a unique variation of a procedure known as microblading. At the Isabella Nail Bar in Oakland's Montclair neighborhood, Uyen Nguyen prepared tools she used to thicken the look of Joyner's eyebrows.
After anesthetic, clients typically feel a light scratching sensation during the treatment. And though the technique uses ink, she says the results are a world away from the thick, flat eyebrow tattooing of the past.
"You wouldn't be able to tell that she has it done. The old methods, they walk around and usually you look at them, and it's like a big line on their face," Ngyuen said.
With microblading the technician feathers delicate cuts into the surface of the skin to channel the ink. The goal is to create the illusion of individual hairs.
But Nguyen said this version, called Softap, takes the technique further. The pens Ngyuen uses are actually made up of tiny needles. And over the course of the procedure, she will alternate her strokes, feathering up, and tapping down.
"So actually when you look at it, it's a line, but behind it, it's so many dots behind it," Ngyuen said.
She said the result is a more three-dimensional look. And after several hours, Trinh got a chance to see her results.
"I have eyebrows," she said, gazing into the mirror.
Trinh's new eyebrows will last for about a year before requiring a touch up. And since the technique is done near the surface of the skin, Nguyen said it can also be readjusted.
The Softap technology was actually developed here in the Bay Area, and the company is based in Pleasanton. The price of the treatment varies, but it typically starts at about $350 dollars and up.
Written and produced by Tim Didion.