“Please, just leave your brows alone,” pleads Sarah West, owner of The Brow Bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “When people are angry or sad, they just love to tweeze their eyebrows. I think it’s about control, and it’s meditative in a weird way.”
West—a former model, who later apprenticed with California brow guru Kristie Streicher—remembers the late ’90s and the 2000s, when “everybody was doing this superthin eyebrow thing.” Even she had the look. “I was lucky, though,” she points out, “because I was working in the beauty industry, and I had professionals taking care of my brows, so my follicles weren’t damaged.” But, she insists, “I would never go back.”
Natural and undone is way better than an over-tweezed brow.
West’s ideal eyebrow is untouched and wild. Think Brooke Shields or Cara Delevingne. “And the first step is growing out your eyebrows, because you’ve probably over-tweezed,” she says. “I recommend six to eight weeks before your first appointment, with no tweezing at all.” That means: do not even look at a pair of tweezers for the next two months. “Everyone always thinks, Oh, I didn’t tweeze my brow! But, yeah, you did. You just went in and pulled all of those stray hairs. Let them grow, because if you don’t, the full structure of your natural brow will never come through.”
She also suggests staying away from the magnifying mirror. “You will see even the smallest imperfection or blemish,” she explains, which often leads to obsessive preening, plucking here and there, until you’re left with barely any hair at all. “In real life, no one sees you at that kind of magnification.”
Exercise the self-restraint to let your eyebrows go wild, and there’s even the chance that you’ll never have to mess with them again. “Maybe you grow out a full brow and you don’t need any maintenance. That can happen for some people.”
For most of us, though, the occasional touch-up will still be required. “The Brow Bar is about helping to care for your brows in the long term, not just saying, ‘OK, today, your eyebrows are going to get shaped. We’re just gonna rip out a bunch of hair!’” West says. “I’m trying to get people back to their fullest brow potential, and I only want to see them at The Brow Bar for maintenance every two months or even longer.”
The maintenance should not only be infrequent; it should be simple, too. “There are two approaches: simple tweezing, which is shaping the eyebrow without any tint, and then tint and tweeze, which shapes while also adding color and depth,” she explains. “Some people don’t like any color added to their brow at all. But I generally like tint and tweeze because, by creating extra definition and structure, it makes your eyebrows pop.”
If you feel like tweezing, pick up a brow pencil and fill in rather than take away.
And there’s good reason to want them to pop. We are living in a golden age for eyebrows. “It’s only about the last eight years that brows have actually become coveted,” West says. “Before that, people were not using brow pencils. They were not using brow gels. It wasn’t a focus on the face at all. And if you look back at magazines from the ’90s, it’s usually the one thing that’s not done. They were just tweezed really thin and then never touched again. But now the brow is more important than ever.”