Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pink Deer's Guide to...Brow Maintenance

Eyebrows, the unsung heroes of the face. If you don't believe me, check out some people without eyebrows. Remember shaving off someone's eyebrows while they're asleep is actually a cruel prank. Nobody ever woke up with a hangover to look in the mirror and find themselves with a permanent marker moustache sans eyebrows and thought 'Wow, I look good.'

Great brows frame the face and polish off a look. People with good brows look composed, strong and capable. Think about it...have you ever seen somebody with real power and influence and pathetic eyebrows? I don't think so. My friend Catie and her husband are some of the most successful and attractive people I've ever met, and they have celebrity quality brows. It's probably because they use the same brow professional, which really proves that the couple who grooms together, stays together.

Like everything else, brows are subject to trend. Brow specialists have allegedly reported a dip in client numbers recently, which they are blaming on Cara Delevigne's brows. I can only assume this is based on extensive research and analysis, as all good brow data should be. When I was a teenager, empowered women (read the Spice Girls), sported high-arched, narrow brows about as far from natural as a Baywatch reunion party. I personally wanted Natalie Imbruglia brows, and I spent hours in front of the mirror, tweezers in hand, trying to achieve them. Never mind that my eyebrows were too fair, too straight and too short to achieve Natalie's perfect arch. By the end I resembled an overplucked chicken rather than an Australian popstar, so I was forced to retire hurt and embrace my natural shape. Shape is the key word here, because completely natural is not necessarily a good thing. Unless you're Ernie and Bert, the monobrow is not a good look. Frida Kahlo is the ONLY exception.

So let's look at some cheap, non-invasive options for taming the wild beast.

If you're looking for a professional, they're not gonna be hard to find, brow boutiques seem to be popping up everywhere. Where I live we don't even have a STARBUCKS, but we've got a plethora of places I can get my brows tended to. That doesn't help me get a delicious Frappucino, but you win some, you lose some. Certainly take some inspiration photos with you, but be open to advice from your brow specialist. Like the Imbruglia disaster of 1996 has proven, fighting your brows' natural gifts can deliver disastarous results.

I actually wax my brows at home myself with the pre-prepared strips you can buy from the supermarket. I use Veet because they are a good size, really easy to use and have a formulation for sensitive skin. You do want to use a small strip so you can isolate just the right amount of hair for removal. If you get too cocky, there could be some major collateral damage. Nobody wants to end up with huge gaping holes in their brows because they tried to wax with a leg sized strip. Also best to avoid drinking and talking on the phone while waxing.

Results last for: approx. 4 weeks.
Redness factor: LOW for dark skin, MEDIUM for sensitive.

I have many tattoos and lots of piercings and I have never known pain like having my top lip threaded. I realise we're talking about brows here, which is also very painful, but if you're getting your tache done prepare to weep silently in the chair. Threading is the ancient art (originated 6000 years ago, I'm not being dramatic) of removing hair with a very taught, twisted thread. Professional threading offers more precision than waxing, which means even the smallest, shortest hairs can be picked up and removed. Because of this, there's no need to wait several weeks for the hair to achieve a certain length for removal. It's actually less painful when the hair is shorter anyway.

I was always extremely happy with the shape achieved through threading, my only issue was the redness afterwards. My skin is extremely sensitive, so having my lip and brows done left me looking like the joker. Since you can't apply makeup over freshly threaded skin, I had to face the threading chair at 9pm when the store was closing, then run straight home with my head down wearing a beanie.

Results last for: approx. 4-6  weeks.
Redness factor:  If you're like me, HIGH ALERT. Do not schedule threading before a date, unless you're future lover is into pash rash.

If you are trying to change shape and would prefer to do it yourself, plucking is the way to go. It gives you a level of control waxing can't, meaning you can take them back one hair at a time without fear of things going horribly wrong. That being said, I do recommend taking a little break after 5 minutes. You can get hair removal drunk and the next thing you know, 15 minutes have passed and you look like Joan Collins. Charlotte Tilbury does a great brow tutorial showing you how to make the best of your natural brow, which is definitely worth a watch before picking up the tweezers. After all, she did enlist the best brows in the business (Cara, who else?) to launch her makeup collection at Selfridges, so the woman knows her shit.

Long term, plucking can be a bit labour intensive. When I came back from camping in Greece, all that healthy living had done wonders for my skin but had also accelerated the growth of my facial hair. I only had tweezers and it took a LONG time to get my brows back in shape, especially because most of my facial hair is blonde and my eye sight isn't what it used to be. I saw my sister the other day, who is currently spending a lot of time in the hospital with my little niece, and remarked how lovely her brows were looking. 'I pluck them everyday,' she said. 'I've got a lot of time on my hands.' Proof that if you've got the patience, plucking will do just fine.

Results last for: approx. 3  weeks.
Redness factor:  Baby pink at worst.
Image via Tumblr

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