Jennifer Nicole Sullivan bellies up to the Brow Bar
Photo by Jacquelin Marque
IF EYES ARE THE GATEWAY TO THE SOUL, as Herman Melville once said, then the eyebrows are foliage over the soul’s gate. My eyebrows are pretty important foliage to me, so I’ve only let a few people touch mine for fear of overpruning.
The last thing I want are my eyebrows to revert to the overplucked, Ronald MacDonald peaks of early high school that I thought gave me a goth edge.
These days, I cherish my full, arched brows that I’ve always plucked and rarely waxed. So when I visited Archbeauty Skin Care Salon & Boutique’s brow bar for an eyebrow waxing in Newport last week, I wanted to make sure the owner Sara Schlieff-Ross, a licensed esthetician, wouldn’t make me into a Mona Lisa (That hairless woman definitely had a run-in with an inexperienced esthetician). But after admiring the carefully shaped brows on Schlieff-Ross, who’s been in the beauty biz for 15 years, I knew I was in careful hands.
In the dentist office-type chair, I relaxed while the mother of two gently brushed my eyebrows with a kid’s toothbrush to find my natural arch.
“Do you sleep like the dead?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Do you sleep like this?” she asked as she stiffened her body like a board.
“I think I start out like this, but then I’m usually on my side,” I said.
“Because your brows are pretty much the same. What happens is the longer you sleep on one side, the brows start to fall out. I can actually tell what side people favor,” she said as she studied my face. I’d heard of palm reading, but eyebrow reading?
Schlieff-Ross inspected her utensils, cleansed the makeup from my brow line and sanitized her hands.
She noticed the dried remnants of a pimple on my temple and I explained I’d zapped it with a dab of Retin-A, an acne cream from my dermatologist.
"If you’ve used Retin-A in the brow area, the wax will rip off the skin, Schlieff-Ross explained. And people with thin skin, diabetes, a sunburn, skin disorders, immune deficiencies, those who use Renova (a tretinoin skin cream) or have experienced chemotherapy can’t get waxed either." (See sidebar above.)
"I only use Retin-A for spot treatments," I said reassuringly, not remembering that I'd treated a few small spots over my right brow a few weeks ago.
Schlieff-Ross applied a lukewarm gel wax from France between my eyes, applied a piece of cloth and yanked it off. No pain. She repeated the process over my right brow then squinted. "The skin is getting removed," she said.
"Am I skinless?"
Two thin strips of skin were gone, but it didn’t hurt. I didn’t want to have lopsided eyebrows—one waxed and one fuzzy—so I told her to continue with my left brow. Before she ripped off the first strip over my left eye she murmured, "Please Lord, don’t let the skin fall off. Amen."
Rip. My skin remained intact. "Perfect," she sighed.
In the mirror, I saw two perfectly clean, sculpted eyebrows, with just a few red marks over my right eye. (I vowed never to use Retin-A again.) My fuzzy brows were tamed in a matter of minutes — much faster than I could have done with my trusty tweezers.
Schlieff-Ross was bummed about my burned brow (she insisted that I apply Neosporin as soon as I got home), but she was glad I liked my clean brows.
"Because that’s the first thing people notice about you. What do you do when you meet someone? You look them in the eye," she said.
"Then they look at your lip."
Thick is in. Soft, full brows are youthful. Thin can look too harsh.
Use a kid’s toothbrush. It’s the best tool because of the way they grab the brows. "Brush them (the eyebrows) around and look for your natural arch."
Replace tweezers often. If you tweeze every day, replace them every few months. Tweeze less often, every six months. "Because of bacteria… people don’t think to clean them, so I just say throw them out and buy another pair. Plus they get dull."
Always clean the brow and your hands before tweezing to avoid infection.
Use brow shadow to fill out and soften the brows. Avoid brow liner because it can make the brow look too harsh. Eye shadow on brows can smear.
Lighten or tint your eyebrows. Generally, your eyebrows should be darker than your hair color. Tinting can cover gray hairs or make thinner brows look thicker.
Maintain eyebrow shape by waxing every three weeks.
Regrow overplucked brows with LiBrow, a purified eyebrow stimulator that claims to produce thick, full brows.
Guys, clean it up! Get rid of a unibrow and trim long hairs. "All hair needs to be trimmed whether it’s your bush or your brow. You need to trim your hair."