December 5th 2019
The Makeup Maniac
Do HD Brows live up to the hype?
January 12th 2018 / 0 comment
Brows are big news in beautyland, and some people are going to great lengths to out-arch the competition. I checked out a brow service that brings Delevingne definition to the nation
The tadpoles have officially swum downstream- the power brow reigns supreme. Really, when you think about it, a beautifully natural arch has always been covetable- from Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor to Audrey Hepburn, a full and healthy brow has forever been in fashion. The skinny, pencil thin eyebrows of the 90s were difficult for even supermodels to pull off, and when beauty trends are more painful than pretty, their shelf life is thankfully limited.
Going back to our roots, however, doesn’t necessarily directly equate to low maintenance brow upkeep, or at least not if sales of brow products are anything to go by. Sales have increased to £42 million annually, increasing by £10 million between 2016-2017 according to data analtyics company IRI. The ever-growing popularity of the HD Brow service (read, phenomenon), implies that the current worldwide fixation with our furry forehead friends is yet to wane. Offered in salons nationwide (see here for approved local HD brow 'stylist'), the multi-step eyebrow service is bespoke to each client depending on your brow 'goals', but entails tinting, shaping and makeup. Prices start from £25, and effects last between four to six weeks.
The only thing is, when I think of HD Brows, I have visions of giant scary Scouse brows. I’d like to channel Grace Kelly, rather than Geordie Shore, and high definition brows bring to mind cartoonish, severe slashes that lurk angrily where eyebrows used to be. A quick tweeze and tidy up is more my style than a full-on brow transplant, but I decided to leave my doubts at the door in the name of intrepid beauty journalism. Let’s do this.
When HD Brows expert stylist Rachael arrived at my office to give me a full HD Brow-over I scrutinised her brows intently for some indication as to what I was in for. They looked great. Not stuck on or superficial at all, just extremely well groomed. They were a touch more manicured than what I would go for, but then I’m a true amateur in the ‘brow as beauty statement’ stakes. Her HD brow kit was truly impressive, from antibacterial products to nifty wax pots, they’ve thought of everything, and it’s all packaged sleekly. Rachael explained that my HD Brow transformation would entail no less than seven stages. For someone who’s only ever waved a tweezer in the vague direction of my eyebrows, this seemed like quite the military operation. Here’s how I got on at each step of the eyebrow Odyssey:
Stage 1: Consultation
Not painful, possibly more nerve inducing than the dentist’s chair. Rachael advised that if I wanted to stay as low-key as possible, our best bet was to enhance my natural arch, add a subtle tint and even the brows out so that they looked both vaguely related and more refined. I’m on board the brow train.
Stage 2: Tinting
I barely noticed this happening. It was almost relaxing. If you’ve never had your eyebrows smoothed and stroked by a professional I highly recommend it.
Stage 3: Waxing
This wasn’t a patch on the pain of regular waxing- think warm wax, teeny tiny wax strips and minimal pulling. I couldn’t see what was going on, but it didn’t feel bad.
Stage 4: Trimming
This was the one that really concerned me- I had notions of hedgecutters and permanently patchy eyebrows. Rachael seemed to spend quite a lot of time on the trimming element, which made me worry a little, but as you’ll find out later my fussing was, as usual, completely unfounded. It turns out that, never having tamed my stragglers, there were a few stubborn rougues that needed putting in their place.
Stage 5: Threading
I have friends who are threading devotees, but to me it still sems almost like a magical, mysterious process, despite its over-arching (...sorry) presence in most modern shopping centres. It's an odd, ever so slightly uncomfortable experience but left me reassured that if I had any forehead fluff whatsoever, it had been thoroughly flossed away post stage five.
Stage 6: Tweezing
I have a funny tic around tweezing- I can’t pluck out more than a few hairs without erupting into a fit of sneezing. The tweeze sneeze is one thing when I’m in front of a mirror, but quite another when there’s a professional busy at work in front of me. I held my composure while Rachael deftly whipped away any hairs that still hadn’t fallen into line. My eyes watered, I jerked strangely at times, but I got through it in the manner of a relatively normal human.
Stage 7: Makeup and debrief
The time had come for the great HD Brow reveal. Were those little guys okay up there? As it turned out, they were thriving. Strong, expressive and unmistakenly independent, these sisters were doing it for themselves (in the words of eyebrow oracle Shavata Singh, “eyebrows should be sisters, not twins”). Aided by a good brush, the application of a touch of powder (HD Brows Eye & Brow Palette in Vamp, £29) and a few strokes of Brow Define, £18, also in Vamp, my eyebrows looked expensive and polished but not in the obvious, subtle as a flying brick way that I’d feared. Having paid attention to my eyebrows for once, I can finally appreciate why women anchor their look around a gamine brow- it completes a barely there makeup look like almost nothing else and somehow brings your bone structure to the fore without the need for aggressive contouring. If further proof were needed of the transformational, totally un-trashy HD Brow effect, see the images of Pamela Anderson below for the cover of NOTOFU magazine.
If you’d rather take your brows into your hands, Anastasia Beverly Hills is one the world's biggest hitters in in the brow department for a reason- founder and CEO Anastasia Soare is a former architect with a mathematical approach to brow ratio and a trained eye for colour (she's also an artist). The brand's brow kit, £67, ain't cheap but is available in a range of true to life tones and is ingenious for it’s travel and idiot proof properities, while Tinted Brow Gel, £23, does for your eyebrows what mascara does for your lashes, and also caters for redheads- a rarity in the beauty industry at large (also, curve ball, but where are those red head emojis at?).
If you’re sparse of brow and in need of volume, it’s a godsend. Tweezer wise, you can’t go wrong with good old Tweezerman, £22.95.