When I was in my teens, my eyebrows looked like dark caterpillars perched on my forehead. Wooly is the word that comes to mind. In some old photos, my overpowering eyebrows made me look a bit mannish and my eyes look small, like little BBs.
As I got older, I took to plucking the hell out of the things, cursing my Italian heritage that gave me such an abundance of hair follicles above my peepers. I plucked them into thin arches, which made me more feminine but took so much painstaking work.
Now my eyebrows are getting their revenge.
I wasn’t very good at the plucking. It wasn’t unusual for me to have little bloody nicks where the tweezers had pinched the tender skin. Sometimes the whole process was so frustrating that I’d go a couple of weeks without cleaning them up, which left me with tiny seedlings of growth below the curve.
More than once, I’m sure I cursed my prolific eyebrows and all the busy work they created. Now my eyebrows are getting their revenge.
Now You See ‘Em, Now You Don’t
In what seems like overnight, when my attention was elsewhere (maybe trying to figure out my burgeoning mid-section), the hair that used to vex me on my forehead migrated to embarrassingly visible spots on my jawline. Suddenly, there were no stray hairs around my brows to wrangle; there were no hairs at all. My brows were no longer curved like elegant commas. They were mostly smudges of growth staring at each other from across the bridge of my nose, with no reach. Commas with truncated tails. More like fuzzy periods conjoined with hyphens, to be honest and punctuationally precise.
I became one of the women I used to snort at in my clueless youth—those with drawn-on eyebrows.
I had to enter the world of brow faking. I became one of the women I used to snort at in my clueless youth—those with drawn-on eyebrows. I used to wonder why anyone would do that, as if it was a style choice rather than a necessity for those who had lost their hair-producing abilities due to age or disease, which, looking back, made me quite an asshole to mock.
Fortunately, I guess, there are lots of tools to help with eyebrow forgery. All sorts of pencils, crayons, brushes you can buy to fill out and fluff faux brows. A friend told me this was the product that would change my life, but it didn’t. It was like paint, and I usually smudged it before it dried. Once in a pinch at a destination wedding, I just applied mascara to my pitiful brows, but I cringe seeing pictures now. The look was not necessarily grotesque, but it was definitely Groucho-esque.
I finally found this fabulous pencil from Sephora—a nib of color on one end and a brush on the other to feather it into the remaining few hairs—and used it for years with mostly decent results. I hardly ever went out without drawing in my brows. A bit of brow color and under-eye concealer were the two requirements to feel presentable.
Rogaine for My Brows
When I became single again, I realized I needed to up my game in the eye department. I started getting eyelash extensions, which I’ve written about here. Of course the salon that did my eyelashes tried to upsell me by offering to dye my brows. And of course, feeling newly insecure about my looks after 29 years in a relationship, I bit.
But the aesthetician had more upselling to do. She explained, with infinite logic, that dying my brows would work even better if there were hairs to dye. She encouraged me to buy a growth enhancer specifically for brows. Again, I was an easy mark. Cha-ching.
Here’s what I didn’t expect from the treatment: It worked, but only selectively.
Here’s what I didn’t expect: It worked, but only selectively—meaning my right brow is noticeably lusher and fuller. Yay! My left brow, however, is the under-achieving sibling. Yes, some of the hairs are longer, but they are completely unruly. They stick straight out at times, or straight up—geeky 6-feet-tall girls in the fourth grade class picture. Even worse are the couple of hairs that grow down, dangling below the line like the letter “q.”
I was advised to buy eyebrow wax that would hold the hairs in place, but my left brow was totally resistant to taming. Finally, I did what my aesthetician advised against: I trimmed the crazy suckers.
That seemed to kill them. Seriously. It’s as if those hairs shriveled up and died. I can’t explain it, and I haven’t been back to my eyebrow aesthetician for fear of scolding. So actually, the better part of my left brow is one long hair that I try to wax in place and augment with a little pencil to give the allusion of a real brow. It’s like a combover—a combover for my eyebrow. It fills me with such sympatico for bald men that I almost don’t think I can make fun of Donald Trump’s or Rudy Guliani’s hair ever again. But then I come back to my senses and hope for a miracle on My Left Eyebrow that will restore my looks and my license to lampoon.