Photo: Courtesy of John Gurinsky/MAC Cosmetics.
We are all obsessed with our eyebrows, but there is an unspoken bond — a nod of understanding, respect, and even empathy — among those of us with ultra-thick arches. You may think we're the lucky ones, but that's only because they've recently come into fashion, thanks to the likes of a certain supermodel. You did not endure a childhood full of stares and names, or the feeling that people are looking at your arches and not your face. It wasn't your father who called you Dr. Spock in jest, prompting you to take a razor to your face until you ended up with pencil-thin Nike swooshes for brows.
So, when I — a bold-browed beauty editor — stood face-to-face with the iconic Brooke Shields, it came as no surprise that we opened our interview with a hug and an all-out brow confessional.
"Eileen Ford wanted me to bleach them and thin 'em out," recalls the actress-cum-supermodel, who just launched a brand-new collection for MAC Cosmetics. "My mom was like, 'Leave her face alone!' And, thank God she did that, because it's so hard for them to grow back. The one time I did let someone have a go at them, it was miserable. I looked in the mirror, and was like, 'Who is this person?'" One time, Kevyn Aucoin even put wax putty on her face to erase them for a Paper shoot, she adds.
Obviously, Shields' mother saw something that even the prolific Ms. Ford didn't: a natural beauty that captivated audiences in The Blue Lagoon and caused an uproar through the Calvin Klein denim campaign. "What's weird...is that I was just born with them," Shields says. "Everyone made a big deal of them, and I was on the cover of TIME, and it seemed so silly. Anytime you're celebrated for anything, it's an honor. But, it struck me as really funny to be known for eyebrows."
As her career has flourished and she's become a mom, her brows have changed. "They've thinned out a little," she notes. "They don't come in as much in the middle, and they don't grow as low on the ends." But, that doesn't exactly mean they're average: "I still have to be careful — I work for Foster Grant [an eyewear company], and I have to make sure the glasses I take the most photos in, that my eyebrows don't go over them," she says with a laugh.
It was only natural for MAC to employ Shields to create a collection that reflects her all-American image — one that's still ubiquitous on today's fashion scene. But, surprisingly, there are just two products in the line dedicated to arches — the rest is made up of her favorite colors and penchant for all things natural. "I had just finished designing a house when we were starting this collaboration, and I fell in love with lucite and gray," she explains. "So, I wanted as much clear as possible in the packaging. As far as the colors, I think a coral lip is refreshing... I just wanted everything to be pretty enough to leave on display."
Photo: Courtesy of MAC Cosmetics.
It's no wonder, then, that Shields' deluxe, 15-shadow eye palette sold out just two hours after hitting the Internet. (At $85, it's one of the most expensive products MAC has ever produced.) "I will say, I think it's smart to buy it!" Shields says. "Because, you have everything you need, and you don't need a million different palettes."
But, I point out, isn't it an odd product to promote for someone who's known for minimal beauty? Shields responds that she's gotten a lot more into makeup since her daughters started growing up. "I've heard a routine goes away when you have kids...but, I actually feel like I have to present myself better...Now, it's like we're three ladies getting ready together in the mornings, so there's a ceremony to it! There was never that sense of excitement when I was a kid, because it was just a job — I couldn't wait to take it all off." (Shields' daughters don't wear makeup: "I don't know at what age I'm going to let them — those faces! They need nothing.")
For those looking for a more classic look, she recommends the tinted lip gloss in Artful. Or, you could always cheat that nubile glow Shields made famous in the '80s with the lightly shimmery bronzer powder. "The emphasis should always be on enhancing what you already have, rather than looking like someone else," she says. "Makeup can be such a positive thing, if it's used in the right way."
That's exactly what she sets out to demonstrate as she grabs some brow products from her collection and examines my own arches. "This brush," she says, pointing to the spoolie on the end of the Veluxe Brow Liner pencil, and tossing the clear setting gel aside. "Okay, so this [technique] is my little secret," she continues, using the brush to push the hairs upward in quick strokes. "Then, go back with the brush horizontally and smooth the edges." I feel the reassurance that I don't need much product, which is surprising, considering I hadn't taken a tweezer to my face since before Fashion Week.
Essentially, she combs my eyebrows. But, somehow — perhaps thanks to her supermodel superpowers or the fact that I had somehow fallen in love with her in under 10 minutes — I feel a difference. (Wouldn't you, if Brooke Shields had touched your face?)
After I thank her, I slip in the million-dollar question: "If your eyebrows were an animal, what would they be?" She pauses, and looks to the side before clasping her hands and meeting my eyes: "They would be a panther. There's a sleekness to them, but they're a little wild!"
MAC Cosmetics Brooke Shields ($17-$85), now available at MAC.