Beauty IRL: All About Eyebrows

Big, full, dramatic eyebrows are a thing now. If this was 1998, Cara Delevigne’s brows would be waxed within an inch of their life. Lily Collins has brows that are as lush as her father Phil’s melodies. The Kardashian Klan’s eyebrows defy most logic, threaded to perfectly arched perfection. I’d love to see what they look like when they wake up, but I’m pretty sure Kim sleeps in no less than a full face of makeup, and I love her all the more for it. We all have eyebrows, for better or for worse. Why not make the best of it?

My history with my eyebrows is pretty typical. As a child and a middle-schooler, I paid them no mind, letting them run wild and free. Baby pictures reveal a virgin brow, pristine and well-shaped. By middle school, they had started to take over, reaching out their tentacles to traipse down past the corners of my eyes, and meeting up for coffee in the space between them. The pencil thin brow was a look that now, looking back, was ill-advised. And then I sort of gave up. I’d half-heartedly pluck them every now and then, when things started to get really crazy, but mostly I just let them hang out. They were unobtrusive, inoffensive and easy to ignore. Consider them the flat white eggshell paint of the eyebrow world.

Then I got them threaded, going to a salon with an old coworker who had the best eyebrows I have seen in a real person. They were thick, but arched, completely natural and bushy in a way that looked effortless. I wanted those brows. After a painful and mortifying 15 minutes, in which the threading lady decided I needed to also have my upper lip AND my chin done, I was a new woman. The importance of good brows was finally revealed.

The thing is, managing your eyebrows is a big deal. All the effort you’re putting into say, learning how to do the perfect cat-eye, or curling your lashes, or working against your cowlick, could be spent handling those dumb patches of hair that sit right above your eyes and you wouldn’t regret it in the slightest. I mean, you don’t have to handle them. If you’re content with the way your eyebrows look, and you don’t have, say, secret Pinterest boards full of celebrity brows that you look at on your lunch break, then that is okay. Some people have great eyebrows, and some people just don’t give a fuck, and I think that’s awesome. I happen to have mediocre eyebrows and I care, because making sure my eyebrows are on fleek means that I have to put less effort into the rest of my face. Seriously, groom your brows and somehow you look more put together from head to toe. Who knew?

The first thing to do is to figure out whether you want to remove or keep the hair that’s on your face right now. There are silly rules about using a pencil to line up the arch with the outside border of your iris, but who has the time for that? If you have eyes, a good light, and a mirror, you can take a gander at what’s going on and figure out, pretty quickly, what needs to change and what doesn’t. Grab your tweezers, and pluck at the errant hairs until things are to your liking, or if you want someone to shape your brows for you to get you started, go get them threaded. Yes, threaded not waxed. Threading is magic. I don’t understand the physics behind how it works, I just know that after, like, 30 seconds, I have eyebrows that get me compliments from total strangers. Threading is precise in a way that waxing isn’t.

I find the array of products and options for eyebrow enhancement bewildering. There are weird pomades, pencils, waxes and powders that promise to bulk up what little brows you may have. I started off with a pencil, but moved quickly onto powder. Best of all, I don’t think that price actually makes that much of a difference when it comes to eyebrow grooming products. I use an eyebrow powder from Wet ’N’ Wild that was $2.99, and it’s the only thing that matches my dark hair. I’m open to new things, though. A very nice woman wearing too much makeup at the MAC counter brushed this waterproof gel into my brows. It’s a shame that this product cost $17, because its truly the best thing I’ve used yet.

So, once you’ve armed yourself with your brows the way you want them, and your weapon of choice, go to town. I say the bigger the better, but sometimes a party brow isn’t the look for Wednesday. I like ‘em on the darker side, filled in all the way and striking. The kind of brows that are assertive and shout-y. Once they’re filled in, you’re pretty much unstoppable.