Yeah, I really am talking about OWS and beauty in the same sentence! But only because I interviewed an eyebrow expert the other week who told me that 99 percent of us need professional help with our eyebrows.
It's true. The one percent, as you might imagine, are genetically blessed with brows that grow themselves perfectly and require nary a tweezer, thread or dollop of wax to maintain. But it's a rare, rare gift from the Eyebrow Gods. Everyone else needs to consult with a pro at least once to get an idea of the right shape (to then maintain at home), or—ideally—for regularly scheduled maintenance visits.
The work doesn't end there, of course, because you still need to find The One (the right eyebrow lady), know which brow-taming method will work for you and then do daily clean-up work at home. Here are 10 pro tips to keep in mind.
1. If in doubt, assume you're part of the 99 percent who need brow help.
Brows are important. They're the one feature that makes the biggest difference to your face and how you look. You might think yours are fine, but just like you'd talk to an interior decorator about where to place the sofa, I think it's definitely worth your while to consult with a professional who can see possibilities for your eyebrows that maybe you can't.
Megan Fox is obvi the best celebrity example of what a difference a brow change can make. Here's her before circa 2005:
Now look at her transformation:
Crazy improvement, right? Beautifully-shaped brows really do make the look.
2. A fuller brow is a younger brow (and face).
It's not the '90s anymore, even though I just downloaded Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It for my iPod. Unlike the (super-thin) brow crimes of that decade, the 2011 brow is way fuller and way more natural-looking. (Although still groomed—we don't want an early Julia Roberts look either.) I know a lot of y'all have trouble with this one—it can be scary to contemplate going thicker—but take a gander at how much younger, and better, Gwen Stefani looks here:
compared to here:
Make sure you're on the same page with your esthetician—bring pictures of brows you like and listen for keywords like "full" and "natural."
3. Just because your esthetician can wax a bikini line doesn't mean she has the gift of shaping eyebrows.
Right? So many spas offer brow-shaping services, but I have trust issues. It's one thing to be able to do a quick and relatively painless French bikini wax... and another thing altogether to be able to skilfully shape someone's eyebrows without making them too thin, over-arched or like little tadpoles. If you're tempted by the all-in-one convenience of getting hot wax slathered over multiple body parts in one visit, PLEASE think this through. I'm not saying it's impossible to get a good result, but you're likely better off going to someone who, through word of mouth, is recognized as a brow specialist. Ask around; talk to women whose brows you admire and find out who does them; don't go to just anyone. It's a smart beauty investment.
4. Only get your brows waxed if you have thick and resilient skin.
Wax can give great results, and yes, most brow experts use a combination of wax with tweezing. But both the wax itself and all of the pulling and stretching can be irritating—and that's bad news if your skin is thin, sensitive or thin AND sensitive (like mine). Also, if you're on any sort of retinoids (oral like Retin-A or topical like Accutane), it can hurt like a beeyotch when the wax removes the uppermost layer of your skin... and this can even cause scarring. Threading or tweezing are definitely better options if you have any of these concerns.
5. But if you thread, choose your threader wisely.
I love having my brows threaded, but I'm on my third threading lady now—and I've got to say, not all are made equal. Some will give you a lovely shape but aren't very gentle with the thread—I used to walk out of my appointments with lines all over my face from where she pressed it into my skin. And they would take DAYS to go away! Others do a passable job but aren't very detail-oriented: just because they're using thread doesn't mean they don't also need to perfect their work with tweezers and trimming. I would also be careful going to your city's Little India for this as there's more of a risk that your threader isn't up on the full and natural look. I've heard horror stories of people getting super-skinny brows there. So again, do your homework and get a word of mouth recommendation.
6. Book a brow appointment every three to six weeks.
Did you know that brows grow in three different cycles? That's why things can look fine for one, two, three weeks after you get your brows done... and then suddenly, everything starts going amiss (even if there's not a huge over-growth of hair). This is why I really do think it's best to have regular appointments for maintenance. You can go in as early as three weeks or leave it as long as six; most people average at four weeks.
7. Invest in a pair of slanted tweezers for at-home maintenance.
Tweezerman's are the classic choice because they grip the hair really well without pinching the skin.
Don't get obsessive about it, but you'll probably want to inspect your brow area daily and remove any strays as they come up so that you can maintain your shape. But don't try to trim your brows yourself at home, and only remove hairs from underneath—never above—your arches.
8. Remove a hair, and then take a step back and check your work. Repeat.
Magnifying mirrors are the devil. How many of us have gone tweezer-crazy sitting in front of a mirror that blows up your face by 200 percent? At that angle, it's so easy to pluck, pluck, pluck... and then when you pull back, you realize you've removed half your eyebrow and look totally deranged. That's why the rule of thumb is to keep moving back and forth between a normal mirror and a magnifying one, one hair at a time and alternating between each brow.
9. If you're not sure whether to remove a hair, the answer is LEAVE IT.
Honest to God, even a single hair can change the entire shape of a brow, and therefore of a face. If you're not sure whether that hair that's bugging you belongs or not, exercise some willpower and leave it alone until you can make it to your esthetician. It's better to have one hair too many than a bald spot where you've mucked up the shape.
10. If you have a brow disaster and remove too much, you don't have to suffer for months.
Really, you don't. Obviously it's going to take a while to grow them out, but the best thing you can do is keep up with your brow appointments. Even if she doesn't have much hair to work with, a pro will always be able to improve the shape so that the grow-out process will be easier. The idea is to cultivate the right shape so they grow into it... instead of leaving them completely alone (where there's a risk you'll get impatient and sabotage everything by trying to DIY).
When it comes to brows, are you part of the 99 percent or the one percent?
What's your brow-shaping method of choice?
Have you ever had a major brow disaster?