The power and sophistication of the plucked brow is returning to a face near you, says Marisa Meltzer
There is a pervasive myth that all women are born with caterpillar-like brows that we then destroy by our own hand.
An online meme reads, “This could be us” — over a photo of a woman with gorgeous, prominent brows — “but we had tweezers in the 8th grade.”
Not true: My own have always been thin and ashy blond.
For the past two years, since the return of the power brow, I have tried willing them to grow via prayer and several tubes of serum, the second ingredient of which was castor oil. I did not emerge looking like Cara Delevingne.
But the truth is I largely agree with the pseudonymous compatriot who posted the following on Reddit: “I did the bushy brows for a long time. I tried. I bought clear brow mascara. Brow pencils. Brow powder. Dipbrow. I got good at the technique. Perfect symmetry. Ombre. Multiple subtle shades to make them look more natural. And finally I realized ... I just don’t like the way thick brows look. Especially not on me.”
Fortunately for the two of us, the hirsute trend appears to be waning — or waxing, as the case may be. Across the runways at the recent spring shows, brows were noticeably understated (but thankfully only at a few were they entirely gone or bleached out).
I’m hoping they get skinnier still, and shapelier, like McDonald’s arches.
Think Old Hollywood — Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Anna May Wong. Or Faye Dunaway in Network and Mahogany-era Diana Ross. Current favorites include Karen Elson and Liberty Ross, two women who appear steadfast in their commitment to judicious landscaping. With such brows, you’re always a little done up. It’s a look that says, I border on high
A narrow, highly shaped brow also suggests a knowing, even slightly cynical, aspect.
Recall Madonna in the ’80s, when she was young and playful, with her God-given Groucho Marx hedges, and Madonna in 1990, on her “Blond Ambition” tour, with those razor-sharp retro brows. The latter is no innocent; she’s a worldly woman, in control.
Abundant, overgrown brows imply a desire to, as Joni Mitchell once sang, get ourselves back to the garden. When that garden gets a little trampled (and who isn’t feeling a little trampled these days?), it’s time to bring out the pruning shears.
More superficially, there are the current fashion trends, like “athleisure” and men’s-inspired tailoring. Surely it’s more daring and unexpected to pair cropped sweatshirts and sneakers with a highly polished brow, à la Gwen Stefani in her turn-of-the-century tracksuits.
And Dietrich never looked more enticing than when she wore a pantsuit, her highly stylised arches — like lounging parentheses — suggesting a gateway to unimaginable pleasure.
I am not suggesting that, like Dietrich, you should remove your eyebrows and draw them in (as any drag queen will tell you, that never works in real life), but maintenance is required.
Plucking, it should be noted, can be meditative, and anyone devoted to the thin brow will need to keep a good set of tweezers on hand for unexpected moments of really good light.
It can also go very, very wrong. (I direct you to the sperm-shaped brows of my first driver’s license picture, circa 1993.) To get the perfect shape for your face, seek out a professional, at least at first.
If you do overpluck, don’t panic. Remember that to err is human — and there’s nothing a good brow pencil can’t fix.
Benefit Cosmetics Ireland National Brow Artist, Katie Tiernan, gives us her top styling tips.
Super wearable and super achievable. It’s all about that brush-up brow. Create hair-like strokes with Precisely, my Brow Pencil. Then set those bohemian-style brows with our clear 24-hour setter, Ready Set Brow! In minutes you have got those catwalk brows.
Bold & Angular Brows
Make those brows ARCH! Create a strong build of colour from start/arch/end. Finish the look with High Brow to add instant lift.
Want to look 18 again? Ditch those arches even for a day. Using our cream gel ka-BROW will camouflage any signs of an arch by simply filling it in! Then add a coat of 3D browtones. There you have it straight brows with subtle highlights giving that dreamy dimension!
Less is more right? Pare it back, keep it simple. It’s all about creating clean fluid lines from start/arch/end with the likes of our Goof Proof Pencil.
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