Friday, November 03, 2006

Ask Capitol Hill Barbie: The Brow Beating Edition

Wow, you actually sent me some questions. This is awesome. I honestly thought I would have to make up some more questions and pass them off as reader questions.

So, while I probably have no business offering advice to anyone on anything, here goes!

Two of the questions I received dealt specifically with eyebrow issues. This is a topic to which I am relatively new, but have recently had some experience.

A little background: I have what might be the palest eyebrows ever. Not to drag out the old "Paul Bettany as the albino in The Da Vinci Code" analogy again, but for reals, yo! I think something went wrong between when I was younger and my hair was much more (naturally) blonde, and my eyebrows matched. Well, guess what? My hair got darker but eyebrows remained persistently invisible.

When ever I go to a makeup counter to submit to the spackling by another, the first thing the makeup artist does is comment on my eyebrows. Apparently they frame your face! You have to make them dark! Here is another product I must buy! Half the time, when I am undercaffinated (cough, cough, hungover) and my self-esteem tank is low (AH-choo, forgot to put on makeup in hangover stupor) I buy what ever they are hawking. If I'm feeling a little more with it, I get rebellious and think "makeup artist, please! I can do this crap myself" and walk away feeling smug.

However, my commitment to doing all things high maintenance and beautifying for this blog has lead me to some pleasant surprises...

Miss Informed asks: "I have a very round face and thick eyebrows. How do I determine how thin they should be plucked/waxed? I love the thinner look but I'm afraid it would make my face look even more round. Any suggestions?"

Well, first, I feel it is my duty to tell you that apparently full eyebrows are IN! Just look at one of my new favorite shows, Ugly Betty. But seriously, I happen to think a thin eyebrow can make one look a little surprised, y'know? And while that might be fine look for a staffer who maybe comes back from lunch on a Friday to find that his boss has quit, the door locked and the nameplate off the door, it might not be something you want to sport all the time.

I have seen those kits that have eyebrow stencils that you can hold up, fill in with a pencil and see how they look on you. However, I'm not a big fan of spending a buttload of money on something that does get fully used.

I would rather buy my six thousandth pink lip gloss.

So here is my suggestion. Seek help. At least on the first try.

I used to be from the "screw eyebrow waxers! have tweezers, will pluck myself" school. So every once in a while, I would pluck like six hairs, get annoyed by my extremely low pain threshold and quit.

So, I went to a waxer. It hurt like POO!! Again, I am a SUPER wuss when it comes to pain. I also have really pale skin that turned bright red after the wax and then promptly broke out.


Needless to say, I needed a new strategy. So, after hearing about threading in the Going Out Gurus Chat in the Washington Post (oh, please, like the government gets anything done from 1 to 2 pm on a Thursday) I decided to give it a shot.

I picked Threads in downtown DC (located next to a pyschic! SWEET! can she tell me if I will get a job with a committee chairman in January?). The woman who did my brows was great. The pain was actually pretty minimal, although there was some redness in my albino face afterwards.

I got a little hyper about them being too thin, but since threading is very precise, she was very good about just taking off a little, then asking me what I thought. Also, these people do this for a living, and they have a pretty good idea of what looks good on what faces.

So here are my next steps for you:

First, try penciling in a thin brow with a dark eyeliner and see if it looks freakish. You can try using the stencils at Sephora until the staff starts to yell...then run like the wind or lie and say you were planning on buying that godawfully expensive shower head filter by Jonathan Antin to shame them. Then run like the wind.

Second, seek out a waxer or threader near you. Explain that you are thinking of going thinner, but gradually. Bring hydrocortisone cream and concealer.

Third, remember, natural always looks better than unnatural, so keep your brows a little full because it probably suits you.

Says the girl with the highlighted hair, painted nails, bare legs in 40 degree weather in 4 inch heels.

Jen asked: "I'm dying to know: What's the best product I can use to "fill in" my eyebrows without making them look drawn on? I have very thin eyebrows, light brown, and currently just use pencil. Is there a better way? The pencil wears off, and looks fake."

Yeah, I know this one. Where the lady at the counter says that a pencil is best because you can draw in individual hairs. Yeah....riiiightt. Because a pencil is sharp enough and I'm talented enough to draw in EXTRA EYEBROW HAIRS every morning? Like I'm Pissaro over here or something with tons of extra time built into my morning routine.

The best solution I have found is the Trish McEvoy Brow Gel. (I use the "Light Brown" color, but for some unknown reason, this seems to be unavailable online) I find that it makes my eyebrows darker and the hairs fuller which seems to let people know that I actually HAVE eyebrows. Also, it keeps my eyebrows locked into a groomed shape, even when I start rubbing my eyes to stay awake at some particularly long markup sessions.

So, I have done a little research to come up with some alternative eyebrow gels to suit your fancy. I have not included any clear gels because they always smack of hooey...

Anastasia Brow Gel - three shades from the woman who is supposedly the Michael Jordan of eyebrows. Raven haired girls seem SOL from this one though.

Benefit Speed Brow - again, three colors, but the dark one looks good for brunettes, the blonde shade looks a little funky though.

Bourjois Eyebrow Mascara - you've got to love that they just call this what it is. Best color selection so far, including an auburn shade for the redheaded stepchildren among us.

Sephora Lash & Eyebrow Mascara - The blonde shade is a little funky, and the brown is pretty reddish, but priced lower than most of the others here, could be good for someone just testing.

Stila Brow Polish - excellent range of colors, sleek silver tube.

Dior DiorShow Brows - Best dark brown of the bunch, but apparently only at Sephora. Damn them!!

Lancome Modele Sourcils Brow Groomer - Famous for their mascaras, maybe it gets better above the eyelid.

Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper and Hair Touch-Up - I take it back, this one has the best color selection.

So...try some of these out and let me know what you think. Or, if you have experience with these gels, share! Or if you think brows stink, share too! Also, if anyone knows why Trish McEvoy Brow Gel is only available in clear now, please let me know...


Anonymous said...

Smashbox also makes a good brow product. It has a colored powder and a seperate wax to groom with. It's good stuff.

Anonymous said...

I like the Bare Essentials eyebrow kit. I forget the name of it, but it comes with powder, brush and gel that goes over the top. Really holds in place. Even without the gel.

Anonymous said...

I agree threading is the best. I go to my threading lady every month, and in btwn do my own tweezing.

Your whole face looks completely different after a threading session- thats when you realise what a role eyebrows play!

DC Celine said...

I'm still an Erwin addict. Especially if you're fair, and have unseen brows, it's not a must every month, and the shape will tide over.

However, remember - VERY IMPORTANT here - if you use any kind of retinoid product (differin, retin-a, tretinoin, etc.) you MUST tell waxing guru. Otherwise skin comes off. Or go threading.

And yes, brows frame faces. But pencil? SO done with that. Even Erwin agrees.

Jen said...

Awesome! Thank you! I'm off to e-shop and try some of these.

cha said...

My favorite product to fill in my spatchy brows is Anastacia brow powder. I found the Smashbox color/wax duo gross to put on and the wrong color (too dark, others too light). The Anastacia is MUCH more natural. Key thing here: use a clean spooly brush and run them through each eyebrow after you've applied color, *especiallY* if you've used pencil. It softens everything and makes it blend into the brows better.

Not a fan of the gels/mascaras as once had a lovely boy ask "Why are your eyebrows crunchy? Is that normal?"

Miss Inforned said...

Embarassingly enough, I'd never heard of eyebrow threading, and I admit that I was picturing someone standing over me, sewing my eyebrows into shape. After a few articles on the web, however, it seems interesting, and if I can find someone to do it here in middle-of-nowhere PA, I'll give it a shot. It never actually occurred to me to outline what I want with pencil, either, and I'll probably try that as well. Thanks so much!

Heather said...

I go to threads on L Street too!!! Sonia does my brows, she is amazing!! I like it so much better than waxing. As for the girl who asked about shaping, are in DC?? Debbie Wexler at Fusion Day Spa is really good at determining your best brow shape too, and she does waxing. You can look her up on dailycandy, hope that helped!!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I currently work at a beauty supply store and we just got this new product in....I am personally a fan of brow powder because I think the gel can make the brows look oddly shiny or matte, whereas the powder looks natural (at least to me). Anyhow, the new product is by Palladio, and its pencils and powders, but they don't have an accompanying gel. Instead they have this fat pencil which is actually a groomer that has the texture of lipbalm--it helped keep the hairs in place, but it looks like you have nothing on. Another possible option for peeps.

Also, threading is great. The hairs are pulled out like waxing but it's more precise.

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Calamity H. Jane said...

I have actually grown to LIKE* the pain that follows when my hairs are ripped from my eyebrows - but understand, I only like the waxing part, you will never see another woman hover over me with a thread wound up ready to yank - OUCH! I am also really pale with barely there eyebrows and threading leaves me looking like Bozo the Clown when I walk out of the salon.
As for drawing in my eyebrows every morning, I use MAC 'Coquette'shadow - suitable for brunettes/blondes; pencil tends to smudge off throughout the day.

I have also had my eyebrows darkened with dye and well, I won't ever be doing that again. Every bloody time I look like a freakish Groucho Marx and the ladies at the salon still try to convince me it looks normal. So I think I will play it safe and learn to love my eyebrows as they are... because even some nightime/daytime makeup looks better with a lighter eyebrow.

Great blog. I'm making note of it.

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