In the beauty universe, nothing sets off a flurry of envious remarks and coveting quite like a set of full and healthy brows. I have heard women stir themselves up into absolute fits of envy when faced with a particularly voluptuous set of arches. Cara Delevingne's have even caused a new cosmetics surgery trend: eyebrow transplants.
While I get the fuss everyone makes, as the owner of my own set of healthy arches, I've never really felt lacking in the brow department. I'm not giving Lily Collins a run for her money or anything, but my brows have always felt quite adequate. That is, they used to feel like enough — one can only report on bold brows so many times before you start to feel like you might be missing out on something. Thanks a lot, Cara.
I've played with brow pencils and gels — I haven't gone the pomade route quite yet — and while they give my brows some great definition, they didn't help me acquire that full bushy brow my heart so desperately craves all of a sudden. I'm not quite ready for a transplant, but what's a girl with normal brows to do when she wants to go bolder?
I found the answer in the genius hands of Kristie Streicher. One look at her blonde hair and dark, full arches and I knew I had found my brow spirit animal. Streicher, who is based in L.A. but flies to NYC every two months to tend to her devoted client base, is famous for her so-called Feathered Brow technique. It involves some crafty shaping and — wait for it — brow tinting.
Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Okay, bear with me here. I know brow tinting does not necessarily have the best reputation. I had visions of my brows looking like someone had Sharpied them onto my face. But, Streicher told me that brow tinting, when done properly, is actually the hands-down easiest way to make your brows look thicker than they actually are.
"Tinting can make your brows appear fuller and thicker because it not only slightly stains the skin under the eyebrow hair, but it also tints the soft, little blonde hairs that grow in between the thicker more prominent hairs," she explains. "This fills in holes and sparse areas and make brows appear thicker and complete without the use of pencil or powder."
I was game, so I scheduled an appointment with her during her last NYC visit to get my arches the Feathered Brow treatment. When in Manhattan, Streicher sets up shop at Warren-Tricomi's new Flatiron location. Sitting down in front of the brightly lit mirror, Streicher told me to look straight ahead at the mirror, my legs uncrossed, so she could see everything from my shape to how balanced my brows were. She told me my current brow shape was much too rounded, which only caused my deep-set eyes to look more shadowed and tired. Whoops.
She then went to town on my brows with the tweezers, plucking out tiny hair after tiny hair. As I watched each black strand fall, I started to wonder how she was going to make my brows look fuller if she continued removing so much hair. I kept my mouth shut though, focused on her magical arches, and hoped for the same result.
Next came the actual tint, which was meticulously applied on my brows and the baby hairs on the perimeter. There's nothing like sitting in an open-air salon with bright white cream covering your brows — I looked permanently startled. After a few minutes, Streicher removed the tint and started combing my brows. After she stepped out of my line of sight, and I glanced at myself in the mirror, what I saw looking back at me was magic.
Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Even though Streicher had done quite a bit of removal, my brows still looked noticeably thicker. In fact, my whole face looked fresher, revived, and more polished. Check those before and after shots, people — I did not reapply my makeup, and no pencils or powders were used on those arches.
Hell, the brow hair even looked healthier — less straggly and softer. According to Streicher, this is a common side effect: "Brow tinting or lightening can soften not only the color of the brow but also soften the cuticle of the hair, therefore helping the hair to lay nice and look smoother." Score!
Then came even better news: While the color of the tint would fade over time, the tinting would generally last anywhere from three to five weeks. I managed to go two full weeks before I felt like I needed to take out my brow pencil.
If you are in L.A. or NYC, I highly recommend you book an appointment with Streicher. I have had my brows done professionally many, many times, but never have I gotten compliments on how "sick my brow game" was looking, according to one coworker.
Not in those cities? Streicher says you can still benefit from brow tinting, providing you pick a trained and experienced pro. "Look at some of the clients they have tinted, or ask to see before and after photos," she advises. She also says you should ask how often they provide tinting services, which will help you determine how familiar they are with the process.
According to Streicher, the number-one mistake women make with tinting is going too dark or not getting the right tone. "You want to make sure that if you are fair and have lighter, softer hair in the warm tones to keep the consistency the same in the brows and not to make them too dark or ashy. If you go too dark, it can look harsh and often times aging." Not the look anyone is really going for.
The one downside to a good tint job? I am absolutely ruined for all other brow services. So gorgeous did my arches look, so well-maintained, full, and Cara-esque that no waxing, threading, fiber gels, or shaping pencils will ever measure up. If there's not already a Brow-Tinters Anonymous, I might just become the founding member.
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