Not the time to be browbeaten

ALISTAIR Darling, Groucho Marx and Denis Healey share the defining attribute for fashionable faces this season.

Blame it on muse-of-the- moment, Vogue cover girl Cara Delevingne, (who owes her meteoric rise to her dark, perfectly shaped power brows), but statement brows are the current beauty fixation after seasons of eyelash mania. Bold, bushy brows are the facial adornment for this season, and into next season.

Make-up impresario, Pat McGrath, says “the eyes have it for autumn/winter, as seen in the glut of heavily groomed brows making huge statements in the recent A/W 2013 shows. Think Brooke Shields and Madonna, circa 1985, for brow inspiration: brows should be strong, dark and dramatic.

Contemporary celebrities who ‘give good brow’ include Kim Kardashian, Arizona Muse, Megan Fox, Lily Collins, Dita Von Teese and Rooney Mara.

Not since the ’40s and ’50s, when stars such as Joan Crawford, Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall knew how to arch a beautiful eyebrow to devastating effect, has a strong brow been such a defining look. So, if you aren’t blessed with beauteous, bountiful brows, or worse still, you over-plucked them such that they resemble anorexic caterpillars, then you have a problem and will need to invest in instant amplification to look fashionably full-browed.

The observation that women are never happy with their god-given attributes might lead the cynical to observe that we spend half our time removing hair from certain body parts, only to then lament when fashion changes and our departed hair is suddenly desirable again.

In the past, an ultra-delicate arch was considered the epitome of feminine elegance: from the eighth century, Japanese noblewomen practiced hikimayu, whereby they shaved and plucked their natural brows, and then painted a smudged version higher on their forehead.

Later, in the ’20s and ’30s, silent screen stars such as Clara Bow, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich popularised skinny brows. In the ’70s, brows were revived enthusiastically, while in the ’90s stars such as Pamela Anderson plucked until there was only a mere suggestion of a brow left.

As the soignée style writer, Lucia Van Der Post, says: “You can always tell a high- maintenance woman, because her brows are always perfect.” She is right: brows anchor the architecture of the face and properly groomed eyebrows have more power and visual impact on facial appearance than any other singular feature.

Brows prevent sweat, water, and other irritating debris, from falling into the eyes, but they are also an essential tool for human communication and facial expression.

Brows play a major role in non-verbal communication, and can signal changing moods, emphasising the expression of emotions such as surprise, joy or anger, swiftly and effectively. They are extremely important in defining the face, particularly the eyes and forehead.

To see just how sizeable a difference they make to a face, either Photoshop out your brows, or put a plaster over them.

The result? Without brows, a face has no shape and just looks weirdly undefined — almost alien or non-human.

Without her signature mono-brow, Frida Kahlo wouldn’t have been as striking or as intriguing.

Nor would uber-fashionista and super-stylish Carine Roitfeld, whose strong brow is vital to her smouldering, ‘rock-chick meets French chic’ look. The former editor of French Vogue, who recently launched a make-up collaboration with MAC, which features a brow-grooming set, said: “So I’m very happy, this collection is my revenge — I could be Frida Kahlo. This is the reason there are tweezers in the MAC palette, because I need to take off some in the middle.”

Carine is not alone in accepting the role of expert grooming in the creation of the perfect statement brow.

There has been a revived and intense interest in brow-grooming — the brow has become an essential element in women’s ever-expanding grooming regime, to add to nails, hair and body depilation.

The most popular treatments include plucking, threading, waxing and tinting, and, for those who over-plucked in the ’80s and ’90s, there is help at hand, with a range of pencils, gels, serums and tattooing to encourage or exaggerate sparse brows.

Such is the obsession with bold brows that elaborate, new regimes have been developed to maximise their impact: the ultimate beauty buzz of the moment is the high-definition brow.

It involves seven steps, including prep and assessment, tinting, waxing, trimming, threading, tweezing and, to finish, the filling of any gaps with an eyebrow pencil or powder.

Already hugely popular among celebrities — Katie Price has had herself, and her make-up artist, trained in the technique — you do need to be careful that your brows suit your face and don’t overpower your features.

The ‘startled, indelible ink Cruella De Ville look’ is not attractive and is to be avoided at all costs. However, for ‘women of a certain age’ a stronger brow can create an immediate and impressive impact.

As you age, the eyebrows can fade, and become thinner and less defined.

A good eyebrow shape and tint can ‘hitch up’ and hold in place your features, giving the effect of a mini-facelift, especially if the brow has an upwards-slanting shape. In fact, a well-defined brow is near miraculous in giving the face structure, especially as facial contours soften and drop with age.

Tinting your brows will also emphasise their shape, and heighten your overall colouring, a vital enhancement, as complexions and hair fade and get paler from the early 40s onwards.

A good eyebrow groom is like a mini face-lift, opening up and emphasising the eyes. Power brows lift the structure of your face, open your eyes, make you look pulled together and polished, and frame your features. If the eyes are the mirrors of the soul, then they deserve a suitably stunning frame.

If you feel your brows are beyond redemption, then you might consider an eyebrow transplant. This procedure can restore growing hair to brows if they are too thin, scarred, or even missing after illness, chemotherapy, burns, over-plucking, and thyroid or hormonal problems.

Similar to a hair transplant, donor hairs are taken individually from the scalp and, when transplanted into the brows, will grow for a lifetime.

The very delicate procedure requires the perfect placement of the hairs into absolutely tiny (half-millimetre) incisions, angled to mimic the direction of the natural hair growth. Anything from 50 to 300 hairs can be transplanted into each brow, depending on the size and density required. They fall out after approximately two weeks, and then start to re-grow after three months.

If you can’t afford surgical intervention, there are natural growth promoters, such as castor oil, coconut oil and lemon, aloe vera, almond oil and milk or cosmetic potions, such as HD Brows, Brow Baby Grow or the RapidBrow serum. Fill in your brows with either an eyebrow pencil or an angled brush (MAC’s 208) and eyeshadow/brow powder.

The strong-brow trend looks set to dominate not only faces, but also fashion, for the foreseeable future.


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