I Got 99 Problems but my Brows Ain’t One!
We all have a lot going on in our lives. Even our free time becomes less free after a while and it seems like there sometimes just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in. When you juggle a career, family and friends, you might find that by the end of the day you don’t have enough time to invest in your own self care and even if you do, you are just too tired to think about it.
How can we change this though? There has to be a way to fit in a pamper somewhere down the line, especially when it comes to something that in the past we may have taken for granted. Take eyebrows for example, when I was younger, I always had naturally full and thick eyebrows and saw this as a curse! But back then, I had plenty of time to dig in my makeup kit for my tweezers and pluck them beyond all recognition. Then as I caught up with the times and saw that thin was out and thick was in, it took all the effort and time to try and get them back into shape.
These days, with a few handy little tricks, my eyebrows are the least of my worries and I am free to carry on with my day and worry about all the other little things that I don’t have time for. The best things about this is, if my eyebrows are on point, that’s one less thing to spend time on daily and as they are such a prominent facial feature, I can fool almost anyone from afar into thinking I have the rest of my life sorted! Who knew eyebrows could be the optical illusion we were all looking for!
Recovering from the Tweezer Age
Speaking of having my life sorted, recovering from the tweezer age of the late nineties and early noughties was hard work wasn’t it!? Back then I barely had a care in the world other than what skirt I was going to team up with my extremely bootcut jeans and diamante belt. I got mad if I lost one of my many butterfly clips while dancing with pure feminist angst to No Doubt and always wondered how Gwen Stefani got her brows to look so thin and dark with her hair so bleached blonde. Ah yes, those were the days!
I tweezed my eyebrows like my life depended on it, anything to look like one of my favourite stars, without even the slightest consideration for the way they looked on my face, whether it even suited me and how much damage I was doing to my eyebrows, the follicles and the skin around and underneath. See, back then it was so easy to just pluck and go, you didn’t have to be a millionaire to achieve the look and internet advice was non-existent. How was I supposed to know that they would take years (and I mean years) to grow back in? How was I supposed to know I needed to look after my skin before pulling my eyebrows hairs out with all my strength? And how was I supposed to know that certain creams and moisturisers were only making the situation worse with all the perfumed scents contained in them?
Anything to achieve the look, right? Wrong! This is why these days the amount of information we have access to about skin and hair care is a godsend – and also why the majority of people are walking around with healthy and full looking eyebrows now! See what I mean about taking them for granted?
If I had known what I was doing back then I would have done the deed with a lot more care and not just got tweezer happy, acting like some sort of professional, so just a few words of advice if you are still into the home grooming techniques is to take your time. If you must pluck your eyebrows, try and find some time in that busy day of yours to fully evaluate your eyebrow shape, crate a template for what you want to achieve and stick to it. Also, make sure you cleanse the area beforehand so you eliminate the chance of infection and soothe the skin afterward with a non-scented product so that it calms down any swelling, redness and soreness before you go to apply any makeup over the top of it. When plucking eyebrows, try to just grab one or two hairs at a time and then take a step back and look in the mirror to see your symmetry and make sure you aren’t going over the top. Failing all of this advice, the best thing to do is go and see a trained technician who will never forgive themselves if they let you walk out with thin semi-circles over your eyes a la Drew Barrymore circa 1999. They know what they’re doing, and they can thread, wax or pluck your eyebrows to perfection if you give them the chance!
These days, I carry my tweezers in my makeup kit for grabbing the odd stray, but I still have flashbacks and the occasional nightmare taking me back to that hairless time and I swear sometimes I can even still feel the pinch of the cheap tweezers that caused me so much pain back then. Shudder!
So, the recovery from this period of excessive hair removal began and believe me, it has taken some time, but I will never let my eyebrows get into the same state again, and if I can go through my days without worrying about them, then I say its been a pretty successful day! It started with the dreaded growing out phase. Which for most people can be quite unsightly, but for me and other dark haired girls, it was pure hell wandering around for months on end with what looked like sharp furry caterpillars trying to emerge from my face, but its just like when you try to grow out a bad haircut – don’t lie to yourselves, we all attempted “The Rachel” back then. And if that haircut is before your time, then count yourselves very lucky, growing out layers like that was hard work and I will never forgive Jennifer Aniston for as long as I live! Anyway, growing out eyebrows was no easy feat so kudos to everyone who survived this era.
Once the individual hairs started to grow back in and gain some length, it was time for some assessment to see just where they were growing in more sparsely and how thick or full my eyebrows were going to end up. Now, I am all for Cara Delevingne sporting her lusciously thick eyebrows, but that definitely wasn’t going to work for me. I have dark hair, dark eyes and very prominent facial features so I didn’t need to add another one into the mix, I just needed something a little bit neater with fullness that defined my eyes. Unfortunately, it appeared that through years of neglecting my eyebrow health had done too much damage for this to happen naturally and it was time to check out my options….
The Taming of the Brow
Ok, so here was my situation. I had the basic shape of my eyebrows back, it looked like I had naturally quite high arches and I had a lot of strays growing in the arch and right down at the tip. It would have been so easy to just grab the tweezers and follow these arches and embrace this new shape that wasn’t apparent before. But it was still too thin for me. I had eyebrow envy for these girls who had the perfect straight eyebrow with equal thickness and a small arch at the end. I also noticed that the hairs were growing in more on one side and the other side was looking really thin, I mean I’ve heard that eyebrows should be sisters and not twins, but my brows were more like long-distant relatives that may have met at a family gathering once.
It wasn’t looking good, so after a bit of research I decided to take matters into my own hands again. I started by applying make up to my eyebrows, just a dark brown eye shadow that I would lightly cover my brows with to fake the fullness, sure enough up close it was probably quite obvious what I was doing, but in photos and from afar they didn’t look bad at all! Plus, I was starting to see the shape I liked and knew exactly how I wanted my eyebrows to look.
As a few years passed, the world of microblading took hold. I looked into it, but chickened out at the last second, I wanted to see more of what it could do, how it could change your whole face and the kind of confidence it could give to women. So, in true chicken form, I waited for my friend to have it done and get the low down from her! And to be honest, she loved it and hasn’t regretted it one bit. She said it kind of feels like getting a less painful tattoo as the needles don’t actually penetrate the skin but feel like scratching on the surface. Her technician fully designed the shape of her eyebrows and created a bespoke shape that suited her face and the featherlight strokes added a compliment to her existing eyebrows. I was almost convinced, it sure would be an easier way to manage my brows without even having to manage my brows. Basically, giving anyone the ability to get up and go in the morning. My problem is the permanence of the procedure, it lasts around 18 months, which yes, I understand isn’t permanent, but I do like to dye my hair quirky colours quite often and if I had fully dark eyebrows planted on my face, it may just make them stick out like a sore thumb for the next year and a half. But it was good to hear about the procedure, see the aftermath and learn about another option to save my brows.
Throw Some Shade on it
For the time being, I stuck to an eyebrow kit that involved a pencil and some powder and every day would draw on my own eyebrows with added flamboyance for a special event or night out. This worked really well for me as I have always been a fan of experimenting with makeup looks, I think its fascinating how people can completely change their appearance with a few different techniques and different colours. Some days I favour the vamp look with thick and dark eyebrows and blood red lipstick, others I like the understated, clear face look with minimal make up and in summer, my favourite is to have beachy and lightened hair and a thin powder on my eyebrows to show that they are there but not to define them.
By having the option of different colours and an eyebrow pencil for every occasion, I was covered and could get the look I wanted. But this still took some work each day as my eyebrows were still not growing back in the way I had hoped they would. Damn you 1990s!
A New Brand in Town
Luckily for me, another friend introduced me to something new, something I had never even considered and something that these days I am so grateful for as it has made my eyebrow care routine and makeup routine last seconds instead of valuable minutes or sometimes hours depending on what kind of day I’m having!
Xlash Eyebrow Conditioning Serum! An eyebrow growth serum that promises to help your eyebrows grow back in, thicker and fuller and healthier. Surely, this was too good to be true? But it wasn’t a costly option and it was better for me than going down the road of microblading at this point. I looked into it a bit more. So, it contains active ingredients and botanical extracts that encourage the regrowth of hair, protect the skin and the follicles to enhance the thickness of the hairs growing back in.
I decided to go for it, and I was definitely not disappointed with the results. The serum itself comes in a small 3ml tube with an applicator wand for precision when popping it on your eyebrows. I read that it is better to put it on at night while your eyebrows are clean and clear, and the juicy conditioner then has time to absorb into the eyebrow hair follicles and do its thing while you sleep. I knew there wouldn’t be miracle results by morning, but it doesn’t stop you checking them frantically to see if there has been any change. Of course, it doesn’t work that kind of magic overnight but with careful applications every day for about three weeks it is hard to deny there was a change!
I mentioned earlier on that time is of the essence for me in my adult life, I barely have time for breakfast each day, let alone a full cleansing and moisturising routine every day, but my mum always told me from a young age to get moisturising as a preventative measure and then my skin will look after itself as I get older. I listened to her on the skin part (mostly – I moisturise every day!) but I never thought about my eyebrows back then and my mum was never part of the over-plucking generation so she always had a full set and never had the need to advise me on this part of my beauty regime. But anyway, I’m pretty sure if I stayed away from the tweezers, bar having a little tidy up back then, I would have had eyebrows just like hers right now. Also, if this serum existed back then, I’d be willing to bet money that my brows would have been the stuff of envy. Cara, eat your heart out!
Unfortunately, things played out a little different for me, and now I have to spend a little time on my appearance and it isn’t for anybody else, but for my own self-confidence that I am unashamedly proud to admit, I would spend more time on if I had it. So, this eyebrow growth conditioner fits in perfectly with my day. It takes literally seconds to apply, after giving my face a good wash at night, just a little swipe of the wand across each brow is enough to do the job it is supposed to.
So, the results really do vary from person to person, I am told. Some notice it more, some notice it less, and as I have really dark eyebrow hair, it is easier to notice on me where they were looking bolder and thicker, especially when looking at them from a distance and not putting them under a microscope to look at each individual hair. I you do this you can become obsessed with the results and you know what they say about a watched pot…
When I looked at the bigger picture and how my eyebrows appeared as a whole, I was happy with the results and now top up my applications every few days to keep up with the new thicker eyebrows I have inherited. Sure, I still get rid of a few stray hairs and I still use a pencil to give my brows some definition, but I feel less need to stand at the mirror and coat my eyebrows with layers of paint just to get them noticed! So, that’s the confidence sorted, that’s the eyebrows starting to repair themselves, next it was time to get some shape to these old enemies and finally become friends with my eyebrows after they stabbed me in the back all those years ago.
Getting in Shape
Who even knew there was a shape of eyebrow that suits each of us better than others? For the longest time, eyebrows were just eyebrows, they didn’t take on different shapes and sizes to what we had originally, they were just there and sculpting them to high heavens was unheard of. But the beauty counters started to open, the starlets of early Hollywood graced our screens and makeup was used to enhance beauty rather than just create characters. Since that era, eyebrows have gone through so many different trends and I like to think that where we are right now is the best it has ever been as far as eyebrow shapes, styles and care. Basically, what I’m saying is I’m just getting to grips with the fuller brow so I would really like it to not change again with the next decade trend!
But, the shape of our faces is the one thing we can’t change so embracing it and making our features work with it is the best chance we have to look and feel our best. I learned that my natural eyebrow shape is a high arch with almost an ‘S’ shape to them and it suits my rectangular face shape as it balances it out and flatters in all the right places. I have also learned that I can use an eyebrow pencil to change my shape slightly but to deviate away from what suits me is only going to put me in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, so I go with it. The natural shape of my eyebrows is like my template now so learning about this part of eyebrow grooming has been priceless.
Combining everything I have learned over the years about what to do and what not to do with my eyebrows, what treatments work for me and how the shape of my brows can flatter my face, it is a no brainer when it comes to getting ready each day. I love what I have, and I look after my eyebrows with minimal effort to lock in their staying power. Now to deal with the other 99 problems…