The anticipated increase in demand for plastic surgery in the wake of the pandemic is a phenomenon surgeons are calling the "Zoom boom." Experts are finding that, when we stare at our own reflections all the time through mirrored video conferencing, we become hyper-aware of how tired we look — or, rather, feel like we look — and thus consider cosmetic tweaks like Botox to address it.
While Botox has its merits, before scheduling a consult with a surgeon, you may want to first think about your eyebrows. As New York City-based brow artist Joey Healy recently convinced me, when your brows have reached their full potential — shaped, tinted, and lifted to personal perfection — you might not feel the need for any needles at all.
Healy clarifies that "Browtox" is not an injectable trend, but instead an emphasis on the "lifting" component of eyebrow shaping. "Regardless of what people are looking for in shape, the 'lift' is always a really important component," he tells me during my consult. "As time goes on, we age and the brows lower, which is part of what makes people look tired, and why they might think about a Botox brow lift. But in my experience, brow shaping can mimic Botox. Having a great brow pulls attention upwards. It's similar to curling your eyelashes and putting on mascara — it opens the face up."
With "Browtox" shaping, it's helpful to think of the brow bone like your cheekbone; you're almost contouring it through the tweezing process. So first, feel where your brow bone is. "It sounds morbid to say, but we use the skull to figure out a person's best, most natural brow shape," Healy says. "The brow should be firmly on brow bone, not slipping under it at all. Then, it's about selectively removing hair to reveal the skin of the brow bone to create an arch which, for most people, floats about two-thirds of the way outside of the brow."
To refine the shape, Healy recommends using tweezers as opposed to wax or threading for precision hair removal. This method allows you to move slower, work hair by hair, and stop before going too thin. "You should first clean around the perimeter of the brow, the stray hair growing in the temple or forehead area," he instructs. "But with lifting, most of the focus will be on removing the hair underneath the brow. You don't want to let the tail go willy-nilly. It's important to have a crisp, tapered tail that almost mimics the lift of your cheekbones. You can get there by tweezing a nice line under the tail of the brow to give it maximum lift."
If brow shape is your foundation, proper styling is like the arch warranty. "Everyone needs a clear brow gel," Healy says. "Use it to comb your brows up to get that feathery, fluffy look, specifically in the front. Especially if you have thick, dark brows, if they're combed up, instead of over, it will raise the eye up."
Then, if you need to fill in sparse areas, use a pencil or a powder, but focus the pigment on the uppermost hairs. "Sometimes, people use a pencil to fill in the bottom part of the brow, because they're desperate to get that sharp line between hair and skin, but that actually makes the brow look heavier," Healy says. "Instead, use your pencil to accentuate the top peak of the brow."
Finally, you want to use a cream concealer or a matte highlighter right under the arch of the brow. "Formula is important," Healy tells me. "Eyeshadow can look powdery, highlighter can be too glittery, but a cream that's substantially lighter than your skin tone will give you that barely-there glow to the brow bone and call attention to the arch without looking obvious." If you're looking for formula recommendations, Healy makes a good brow-specific highlighter that I've been loving.
After a proper 45-minute shaping from a brow professional and a three-piece take-home toolkit (and expert instructions), my brows have never looked fuller or more lifted at the same time. I'm still tired, and don't love my reflection on Google Meet — but I have to think I'm sleeping a little better knowing that I saved myself about $1,000 USD this month, the average cost of a Botox brow lift in New York City.
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