I’ve been getting funny looks lately from some of my friends, family, colleagues, and especially my clients. No one ever says anything to me, but I know what they are staring at: my uneven, patchy eyebrows! Maybe no one says anything because I am a mom now, and they think, Poor thing really has no time to groom herself. Or maybe they don’t say anything because I am a makeup artist, and it would be offensive to criticize and call me out on my own craft.
Actually, there was one person who said something. I was getting a pedicure and the first thing out of my nail tech’s mouth was “eyebrow wax too?”
“I’m good, thanks.” I said politely.
“You sure? You need it!”
I suppose so. But I was inspired to put my tweezers away for a while—at least for the time being. It’s actually a hard thing to do when you look in the mirror in the morning and see a little tuft of hair that doesn’t belong. I know many women can relate to this. It’s kind of like seeing a big juicy zit and refraining from squeezing out all that gooey white stuff. We are basically monkeys, and it is in our DNA to want to pick, poke, and pluck!
Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of women’s artificial and oddly shaped eyebrows. They’ve been jumping out at me for some reason. Everywhere I turn, there is some woman with overly plucked eyebrows and in their place (or actually usually some centimeters higher up on the forehead) are drawn-in, harsh, dark, geometrical shapes. Some start as rectangles, then turn into triangles. Some look like “L’s” that have been tipped over on their sides. Some are dark brown or black. Some are even blue or purple! No joke. It’s actually quite fascinating once I started paying close attention. Kind of turned into a game for me.
Eyebrows are such an important feature of any face as far as how dramatically it can affect the way a person looks. The shape, size, and intensity of an eyebrow can make a person look sexy, sultry, sweet, innocent, scary, angry, intimidating, crazy. But the eyebrows I’m talking about are just plain clown-like. Beyond chola. Eyebrows that are completely out of context. What I’m noticing are seemingly average-looking women from head to toe with the exception of their painted-on brows.
The other day, I was on a shoot, and the main talent (who was your average mom) sat in my chair with no makeup on except for her eyebrows! She said to me, “I have to have my eyebrows on. I never leave my house without them.”
Well the first thing I had to do was take “them” off. I would never be asked to work with this company again had I left them on. The shoot called for a natural look. And no way did she look natural. Not with those brows! It looked as if they were drawn in with thick oil pastels. Like I could scrape them off with my thumbnail or a coin and maybe win some cash.
We discussed how, when she was a teenager, she overly plucked her brows. She followed that same thin line ever since. Now (about 20 years later) the hairs that she has removed won’t grow back. She is stuck with the ultra-sparse arch she initially made while in high school and has never left home without coloring them in.
This is very common. Usually it starts around junior high school age, when young girls get into makeup and self-grooming. It’s so typical to overpluck one’s own eyebrows. Overplucking is often a result of trying to make both brows even. Remember that Seinfeld episode when Jerry shaves his chest? It’s just like that! He notices an asymmetry in his chest hair and tries to even it out with a razor. Before he knows it, his whole chest is bare! Once you start, you can’t stop! Girls are like this with their eyebrows. I did it too, and I never stopped—until now . . .
I’m not sure exactly where my experiment will take me. I don’t know if my eyebrows will ever fully grow back or if they’re destined to stay patchy. I’m not certain how much longer I will do this until I cave and pull out my tweezers again. But I am curious and have taken much more of a liking toward natural, unruly, virgin-like brows.
I have a little girl now. If and when she plans on having her eyebrows shaped, I will give her the following advice:
- Do not tweeze, wax, or shave the initial eyebrow shape yourself. When you do it yourself, you cannot step far enough away from the mirror to see the whole picture and properly groom an even shape that’s right for your face.
- Do not let your friends do the shaping. Friends can do a pretty botched job—especially if they have bad taste. Go to a professional.
- Do not get waxed at your nail salon. I’m sorry, but just because they have a wax room does not mean they know what they are doing. A waxer is not necessarily an artist. I personally do not like waxing as a method for shaping eyebrows anyway. The skin around the eye area is superthin and sensitive. I’ve seen skin burned from the wax being too hot or ripped off from it not being hot enough. Or red and irritated from an allergic reaction to the wax. Plus I generally do not trust the sanitary conditions in the wax room. That same pot of wax may have been used for other people’s bikini lines. Who’s to know who’s been double dipping?
- Do get threaded! It’s fast and cheap—anywhere from $5 to $30. Those trained to thread usually do a beautiful and even job. They tend to lean toward a more full and natural brow. Threading (like plucking) removes each individual hair without running the risk of burning or ripping the skin off. It may hurt a bit depending on your pain threshold. But it’s super quick! Do find a great threading salon in your area and stick to it.
- Do tweeze in between professional appointments. It is okay to pluck the stray hairs as long as you are not reshaping.
I remember when I was about 9 years old, before I started messing with my own eyebrows, I used to mess with my dad’s. I guess it was the young barber (or maybe monkey) in me. His eyebrows were always super long, coarse, and wiry. I used to pull his eyebrows down past his bottom eyelash to the top of his cheekbone (no exaggeration) and beg him to let me trim them. He was reluctant and jokingly took offense:
“But my eyebrows make me look wise.”