I stood in the middle of Walgreens, tears streaming down my face, semi-hysterically asking my best friend on the other end of my phone a series of questions while pulling every single candy bar in sight into the blue plastic basket slung over my arm: How could this happen to me again? What did I do? Why do I deserve this? This time, it wasn’t the ex-boyfriend who had interrupted my blissful, careless life to dump a load of heartbreak on me or even the drama with the parents that prompted my mother to sift through my closet and throw away articles of clothing that were “too unbecoming”. This time, it was the demise of my thick eyebrows. Once again, three months after leaving for school or after leaving the cosmetologist who had shaped my brows flawlessly for the past two years, another woman had hunched over my face and waxed off the majority of my brows off, leaving me with the infamous over-arched automatic-surprised-face inducing shape.
If you asked me what the most important feature on your face is, I would undoubtedly bypass all of the things we as humans find necessary in order to function and opt for eyebrows. The perfectly shaped brows for your face can brighten your whole appearance and can make your features appear to be more slender. In the age of Cara Delevingne, if your eyes are the windows to your soul, then your eyebrows should be a simple and fitting yet luxurious valence. Still not convinced? Look up “celebs without eyebrows”. Yes, it’s that serious.
For me, finding a beautician who is not only willing to stay true to natural shape of my brows, but also listens to my requests has been trying and stressful. When leaving New York City, my home, as well as home to what I call my own nail salon-eyebrow bar hybrid, I was skeptical to embark on the journey of finding a new brow specialist in Madison. I’m sure everyone has experienced this same kind of worry, whether it is finding a new studio to cut their hair at or even feeling the void left by favorite local restaurants at home that State Street’s Qdoba or Tutto Pasta can’t fill. I can’t say that consuming the dissatisfactory food offered at any of the dining halls will get easier, but what I can say is that you will never have to wear a meal on your face for weeks like you will a botched pair of eyebrows (in the great majority of cases of course).
After desperately hanging onto the eyebrow wax I got in New York with a sad pair of generally ineffective rhinestone tweezers, I finally gave into the brow Kiosk at the West Towne Mall. I carefully laid out what I though would be sufficient information for the woman attending to me to follow then let her attack my unruly brows with a thin piece of white thread. After about five minutes of pulling and wrenching at my face, she paused, walked over to the other worker who was clearly a veteran for a mini conference. At this point, my excitement of finally having presentable brows faded to confusion and then to terror as the other beautician rushed over and started attacking my brows again. The final result left me in tears, which may sound ridiculous at first and even surprised me but you will never understand just how important eyebrows are until you don’t have them. The results: a horror story pulled straight off of Drew Barrymore’s 1990s red carpet face.
After attempting to place my brows in what I thought were more capable hands a few more times leaving me with over arched brows, then fairly thick brows with bald spots due to plucking in the wrong place, and finally, a huge gap between the bridge of my nose (an anti-unibrow), I finally vowed that unless I was in New York and able to see Tanya, my heaven-sent brow girl, I would do them myself.
It was a scary thought at first, after being that girl in the eighth grade guilty of over-plucking, but I can thankfully say that I am older and a hell of a lot wiser (sadly only when it comes to maintaining my eyebrows). Though difficult, I had to let them grow. For me (and many others alike), this is the most difficult part. It’s easy to maintain your brows if you already have your desired brow shape but if you’re attempting to grow them out after a botched brow job, then it’s likely to have short stubbly hairs growing noticeably all around your existing shape. My best advice would be: don’t touch them. It took two trying months of sitting in front of a mirror day and night cheering on the surfacing hairs and there are still gaps, but they have finally returned to a decent shell of their previous glory. For the occasions that required that I look remotely presentable, filling them in was also a viable option. Here, I found refuge in the Anastasia Brow Wiz. If you ever find yourself in the same predicament as I was in, this might be the best option for creating natural strokes that mimic real hairs. In addition to this, when removing my makeup at the end of the day, I completely avoided touching my eyebrows. Seeing even a few fallen brow hairs on a makeup wipe was enough to make my heart sink. Once again, yes, it’s that serious.
At this point, I’m over trusting my brows to strangers. Now that they have made a reappearance nothing short of a spiritual revival (noting that after repeated trauma hair sometimes stops growing), I have left the hardcore shaping to the one person who is most familiar with my brows: me. It takes nothing more than a few wax strips that I alter by cutting, and with no trips to the mall or a salon, I can get my eyebrows back into tip-top shape whenever I want while keeping my fifteen bucks. I wouldn’t suggest this if you have an amazing specialist who carefully tends to your brows and I definitely do not suggest this if you have shaky hands or are not sure of the correct brow shape for your face. But for the rest of us who are tired of brows too surprised, too arched, too thin, and too straight, quit the professional. Just like any addiction, you may think you need it but in the end, you will be much better off.