My first eyebrow appointment

I think it was 1991 that I first thought about shaping my brows. The first issue of Allure magazine had just come out, with a closeup of Stephanie Seymour’s eyes on the cover. I saved those early issues—which were printed in an oversized, glossy portfolio that ended up being too big to fit into newsstands—and eventually cut out a picture of the supermodel Linda Evangelista for inspiration, creating a sort of stencil. I’m happy to say I never went thin (a la Gwen Stefani), but I did try to copy Linda’s super high arch. This was all, of course, against the advice of my mom who would say “think of Brooke Shields!”

Since then, I’ve done my best to steer clear of any extremes, and have gone about any brow business on my own—armed with just my tweezers. Mine are hidden behind bangs most of the time, anyway. But the other day, I was admiring my friend Emarie‘s beautifully feathered brows and asked her her secret. She booked us both appointments at the Michele Holmes studio in Marin, and told me to stay away from any tweezers for the next six weeks.

Here’s what I looked like the night before.

I was a little nervous, so I stalked Michelle Holmes’ instagram, checking for anything crazy (not to be found) and re-read their philosophy:

We believe that eyebrows should look soft, natural and be low-maintenance.
We don’t use stencils, gimmicks or tricks.
Our natural brow shape is achieved with a tweezer-only approach.
Every session is personalized according to your eye shape, bone structure and hair-growth pattern.
We are thoughtful, careful and good listeners.
This is a “together” project. We will discuss brow history, goals and current brow situation before touching a single hair.

It all looked and sounded just right.

I sat down with Maddi Cantayre, asked me about what I’d been doing on my own, who went over the steps with me. She suggested that she first tint my brows to catch all of those fine hairs that disappear. If you prefer the look of thicker eyebrows but don’t necessarily have the hair growth to work with, this could help. From my research, a tint normally lasts between 4-6 weeks, fading away naturally.

As for the shape, she suggested that I had a bit too much weight at the front of the brow, and that by lifting the bottom I’d look a bit… less tired. Again, I was reassured by her position that brows look their most beautiful when they follow a natural shape—with just a bit of help.

To figure out where the brow should begin and end, she suggested that the start of the eyebrow is in line with where the inner corner of your eye meets your nose. To find the end and keep the brow from extending too far in the temple area, hold your pencil from your nostril (at the bridge of the nose) to the outside of the eye and where that line extends is typically where the brow should finish.

She used Rubis Tweezers with a slanted edge. I also like these ones by Tweezerman.

After she tinted and tweezed our brows, she took a brow pencil and added some light strokes, following the line just above the bottom edge and then brushing upward.

I picked up one of the pencils she used for later: Surratt Beauty Expressioniste Brow Pencil Holder, which is refillable with these Brow Pencil Refill Cartridges.

I said I’d been occasionally using Glossier Boy Brow, and she instead recommended Revitalash Cosmetics Hi-Def Tinted Brow Gel (mine is the dark brown). So far, I’m loving how much better it keeps all the hairs in place.

The change was just right: not dramatic, but a real eye-framing improvement. You can see how much more the hairs show up if you look back at the before, above. It definitely felt like a bit of a youth boost (perhaps because the last time my brows looks as full was pre-1991).

Have you had anything done professionally to your brows? What’s your routine? 

P.S. The odd beauty treatments I’ve tried, and living with bangs.

[Lead image credit: Hayley Kassel Makeup Artist—i.e. goals]

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