Brow Shaping For Beginners

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I distinctly remember the first time that I asked my mom to let me wax my eyebrows. I was 13. “Why would you want to do that?” she asked me. Well, why does any 13-year-old girl want to do anything? “Because all the other girls in my class do it,” I answered. My mom rolled her eyes and walked away—13 year olds rarely make their own waxing decisions anyway. It’s not as if I was going to walk into a salon cold and declare they wax my tween face. But then again, there wasn’t a Benefit Cosmetics in my town to make the whole experience about fun puns (High Brow is just a great product name) and nice pink wallpaper. Nor was there the newly released Benefit Brow Genie service that would demonstrate for my mother just how wonderful I’d look with modestly shaped brows.

The thing about delaying the inevitable (the inevitable being brow shaping) is that it just gets more terrifying with time. And with such fickle brow trends, I had very little direction. Beyond some errant tweezing here and there (If a girl plucks a few stray hairs in her bathroom at 1am, and no one’s there to witness it, does it really count?) no major brow theory has really governed my life thus far. And at 20-some years old, I feel like I should have at least some idea of what my “ideal” brow shape actually is.

So back to that Brow Genie I mentioned earlier: For years, I’ve heard that the only place to not just get your brows done, but to learn what do to them, is Benefit. Rather conveniently, they launched a tool (accessible from your desktop, tablet, or phone) meant to map out your perfect eyebrows. Apparently, they do exist—and knowing what they are is as simple as uploading a selfie.

On a recent free afternoon, I went to the site to experiment—it seems harmless enough. First I have to take a selfie, but nothing too dramatic or angled. More of a “go-see” shot with pulled-back hair, calm face, and taken straight on. I upload the shot of my face and the Brow Genies That Be proceed to map my face for the perfect starting point, arch, and end for my brows. The measurements become data, computers work magic, and voilá—you get an image of your ultimate brow shape already superimposed over your face so no guessing game required. And there they were. I couldn’t stop staring. They were my brows but fuller, cleaner, and with some actual shape (before this exercise, I had no arch to speak of). Then there’s the handy slider tool that allows you to slowly scan back and forth between old brows and your idealized ones. I did this at least 16 times.

Because this is a full-service Genie, there are recommendations on the next page. Service-wise, it called for a wax. Fair enough. For product, it prescribed Gimme Brow, a taming gel to enhance volume and keep things generally streamlined. It’s always a little weird when an app knows you better than you know yourself (and knows where you are, so it can conveniently direct you to one of the three closest Benefit locations). I threw on some shoes and went off to Soho as fast as New York City public transit would take me.

But you know how in the movies there’s often a protagonist who’s scarred by some past experience and on the verge of a pivotal decision when, all of a sudden, a bunch of memories come flooding back before she wisely calls off what she was about to do? That was me at the store. Sort of. My aesthetician, Nicky, started to clip back my hair in prep for some waxing, and suddenly, the fact that I’d never had a brow wax seemed like an insurmountable hurdle. But sometimes you just have to take the plunge. Sure, Nicky is there to clean up my brows, but she’s also there to get me over my marginal brow-trust issues. Really, it’s a wax appointment with a side of nurturing. So I closed my eyes, and let her get to work.

A few (surprisingly painless) minutes later, she was finished. The changes to my brows were subtle—cleaner lines, a more defined arch—but my face was clearly different. You hear it time and time again: Brows frame the face; they’re so important. To reluctant pluckers, those claims tend to fall flat. But let it be known that with my new brows, I also have a more mature (in a good way) face. Eyes are brighter, features seem more refined—all in the way that unbelievably gorgeous women look a bit more put-together than everyone else around them. Guys, this is the answer, and it really takes no time at all. The only thing I was warned about before leaving the store was to leave my brows alone until I’m ready for my next appointment in about four-to-six weeks. Given my record, that shouldn’t be a problem. I can’t even remember where my tweezers are anyway.

—Victoria Lewis

Photographed by Victoria Lewis and Tom Newton.