"What works for her wouldn't work for me, and it might not work for you," The BrowGal, aka Tonya Crooks, says of Cara Delevingne's bold, bushy brows. Crooks' vision focuses on the individuality of our brows, rather than blindly following a trend because it's trending. Her approach makes complete sense; we consider our haircut and style based on our face shape so much of the time – why wouldn't we do the same for our brows?
The BrowGal was born when Crooks started doing makeup in London in 1992. She was studying fine art at the Royal Academy of Art and needed extra money to fund her school supplies. "I pursued brows because I couldn't put my name and be proud of my beauty portfolio photographs because something was always off," she tells Refinery29. "Having a classically trained eye, when I looked deeper, I saw that the symmetry was off because of the eyebrows. When I moved back to LA, I noticed a model had bad brows on a shoot I was doing and I laid her down on the floor and began tweezing and waxing her brows, and mixed a colour for her. I couldn't have my portfolio looking off any longer!"
Her first client may have been on the floor of a studio, but Crooks now boasts a cool 500k Instagram following and a client list ranging from Megan Fox and Julia Roberts to Gwyneth Paltrow. She opened her first brow studio in 2008 and as her reputation in LA grew, so did the demand for Crooks to create her own range of brow products. After two years of production, the BrowGal range was launched, which now includes tools like tweezers and scissors and formulas like growth serum, highlighters and pencils.
"What I love the most is finding the perfect individual brow for each person I see," she explains of her success. "Brows for me fall into one of three categories: arch, ark, or straight. Megan Fox has a classic arch, and Natalie Portman has a straight brow. If you switched their brows, they wouldn't look as beautiful as they do now, because they wouldn't look like themselves." And therein lies what draws clients back – there is no uniform solution; everyone leaves looking like themselves, only better.
Did she take issue when everyone and their mother flocked to salons in search of the thick brows Cara was blessed with? "The American mentality often sees more as better. I love a big, thick brow, but there's a very fine line between bushy and masculine. Women are shapely, so our brows should be shapely. I do men's brows a lot, too, and it's a completely different style, because their faces demand straighter, bushy brows. Cara's a beautiful woman, but she has masculine features that can take the big, bushy style. That isn't true for everyone. There are lots of other ways to try exaggerated trends." Her whole premise is simple: "It's a bit like building a house; once you get the foundation right, the whole house will be solid. I find the balance and shape of your brow foundation."
A lot of women who grew up in the noughties are attempting to repair their over-plucked brows and microblading has become a quick fix. Crooks believes that this is "the last stop" and that there are, in fact, many ways to heal and nourish abused brows. "It takes 52 days for a brow hair to grow, so I want you to put down the tweezers for a while." Instead, she advises stimulating the hair follicle every day, and applying a serum to encourage hair production, which her Second Chance Enhancement Serum does: it has a three-speed vibrating wand to help the hairs work harder. A second mistake Crooks sees her clients make is over-plucking the arch in order to create the illusion of shape. "Again, it's not for everyone! But that's what we do at The BrowGal, we educate our clients so when they walk away, they know more about their own brow and face than they did before."