Everyone has a thing. Some people obsess over achieving lofty ideals, others about the bacteria surrounding their bathroom tap joins or the iron they forgot to switch off that morning. Mine has been my eyebrows for about what? 25 years.
Despite being surrounded by a family of jet-black haired Greek cousins whose foreheads were adorned by hairy black canopies that stretched all the way across their faces, I didn’t become aware of my monobrow until I was in year nine and we got a set of class photos back. I was given a set of eyebrows in a blazer.
Forget a penchant for genius. There thick and unruly and stretching across my face was my big genetic legacy, a thick, bushy brow that dominated my dark features. All these years my mum and dad had been telling me how pretty I was – God love parents – and in fact,my eyebrows were entering rooms before I was. These babies needed their own postcode.
And so it began. The first wax got rid of the join in the middle and some of the strays at the sides but that just made twin black slugs at the base of my forehead. It would instil comments from waitresses such as ‘I love your eyebrows’. People are supposed to love your eyes or your hair or your clothes. Eyebrows as a rule shouldn’t be singled out by strangers as a talking point.
I assumed the day I discovered tweezers – I mean really discovered them – was a happy one. My mother and aunt owned a cafe downtown and I turned up with two newly formed semi-circles above each eye, lots of raw skin and a few nics where I’d battled every last stray hair.
My aunt Sophia had worked for Estee Lauder prior to opening the cafe. She took a measured look at my face and put on her most professional voice. ‘I see you plucked your eyebrows,’ she said soberly. ‘I know, do you like them?’ I asked, buoyed by her interest. ‘Well did you know, the thinner the brows the older the face looks?’
I didn’t believe her or even my hairdresser who said ‘What have you done? You look like a surprise.’ I began plucking and continued over the next two decades plucking and plucking – something I am sure in hindsight is some kind of stress release. Once the tweezing was done, I started pencilling in a dramatic hybrid of what I felt was the perfect eyebrow shape. I liked it but a couple of pictures came back and in my mid 30s and I remember thinking, that wow maybe my hairdresser had been right all those years ago. Forget suprises, my face looked like a permanent exclamation.
There were some variations from semi-circular to dramatic arc de triomphes but I continued in the same vein for years. I did eventually grow them back once when I was about 38 and had them threaded by the brilliant facialist Vaishaly. I looked like I had had a facelift, despite my brows being thicker than they had been in years.
But the rehab didn’t work. I got tweezer-happy again and again and again. Then about a year ago I discovered amazing Eylure brow stencils (from Boots) which allow you to grow your eyebrows back in specific shapes with celebrity names like Kylie and Nicole. Of course that’s a concept that would appeal to a 40 year old woman. Oh yes. I took about six months to grow mine into Jennifers.
Then browgate happened. I was at the dentist, in a rush before needing to do a piece to camera so I asked my hygienist for a brow bar recommendation. She said there was one up the road in Holborn. How wrong could they get it? Very. Despite my best control freak kicking in and my asking them to draw the shape in before they started threading I got the biggest brow disaster since that very first surprise.
She only got as far as butchering one side into one arch-backed tadpole before I told her to stop. I left without paying after throwing a tantrum. They had ruined my face I told them and I now needed the money to spend on an eyebrow pencil in Boots. When they insisted I pay because they had ‘done their job’ I asked them how they would feel if I went online and posted a picture of my new eyebrow, the one I had asked to leave thick without a dramatic arch which was now thin with a pyramid like peak in its centre? They soon backed down.
But now I am stuck with butchered eyebrows. I had to pencil them in each day to stop myself looking permanently angry. Two weeks ago I took the plunge and began growing them back. I mean really growing them back to see what shape they actually are these days and then get them done into something resembling their natural shape.
Two weeks in except for absolute emergencies I am avoiding mirrors and people are looking at my face a bit like some kind of strange museum exhibit. I look like Groucho Marx and Brooke Shields’ spawn.
Yesterday I had to take a press trip to Geneva – with a bunch of London beauty journalists, the most super-groomed and perfect looking women on the planet – and wore my sunglasses basically all day. I am sure they all thought I was hiding a new found risque lifestyle – the truth is much more boring. When I had to take my sunglasses off during the press conference I turned to the woman next to me and said ‘Don’t look at my eyebrows I am growing them back’. I almost said ‘I don’t always look like this, I promise!’ but they might have rung security.
Meanwhile, I need recommendations. Write and tell me if you know any eyebrow gurus or tips of any kind. Heeeelp meeee….
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.