Be careful. Your eyebrows are telling your secrets.
It was the first time I’d gone to D. to get my eyebrows waxed, and she modestly told me she was “the best” in the city, “the one” chosen by other brow specialists to do their own eyebrows, as she lead me to her room.
(A room just for eyebrows! Wow. Always before my unruly brows had been waxed, cut, plucked, and rebuked in full view and hearing range of every other patron in a salon. )
Soothing music played in the background and the pillowed lounge was tilted, not uncomfortably, on a downward slope. I removed my glasses and settled in for what I suspected would be the most expensive eyebrow waxing of my life. I would not be disappointed.
“Eyebrows are the first thing to show your age,” said my young stylist, bedecked with solid, thicker-than-Brook Shields’ brows, obviously dyed dark brown.
“Are you saying I’m old?” I asked, deciding to be amused rather than offended.
She held up a mirror so I could see my age and pointed to the “tails” of my eyebrows, barely visible due to their color and their, well, absence.
“Do you usually sleep on your left side?”
“Y-e-e-s,” I said slowly. “How did you guess?”
She showed me how that side had fewer hairs in the tail.
“Did you want me to dye your eyebrows today?” she asked.
I declined, and she went into her spiel about products the salon sold ($$$) that would encourage eyebrow growth.
“If it isn’t too late,” she added, ending her sales pitch. “Sometimes the hair follicles are already dead.”
She gave me a complementary boost of color by using a mascara-like brow painter and then escorted me to the front desk, where the receptionist asked how my experience was.
“She told me I was old,” I quipped. (The brow stylist was standing beside me.)
I paid the extravagant bill and tip, then booked my next appointment — for a wax and a dye.
You can’t dye what you don’t have
On my next visit, D. talked with me about microblading.
(I could see how she was incrementally upping my commitment to youthful eyebrows.)
I had spent the previous months noticing eyebrows everywhere I went. Even young women seemed to be dyeing their perfectly plucked (or threaded, or waxed) brows. I was thankful for my glasses and curly bangs that concealed my inadequate, colorless, aged eyebrows, but I became increasingly aware that my brows could use a little boost.
Until D. dyed them the “best color” for me.
And made me look like her (except for that whole Brook Shields thing she had working for her).
I felt like a clown. My pale face and fairly light-colored hair a stark contrast to my now-dark eyebrows, perfectly shaped (at least where I had hairs).
I must have looked stunned, for D. said, “They fade a bit after a day or two and then slowly lose the dye.”
I couldn’t wait.
But I pretended I was pleased and, since she was standing beside me as I paid, booked another appointment months out (which I later canceled). When I also had to plunk down $50 for the wax, dye, and tip, I determined to find a way to take care of my own eyebrows.
What made the dye worse is that you can’t color hair that isn’t there. So the “tails” of my eyebrows were barely brown, especially on my left side. I had ridiculously dark eyebrows, except where I had none.
The art of drawing
For months I had wanted to illustrate a blog post I was writing about an embarrassing yoga pants experience, but I didn’t think I had the ability to draw realistic stick figures that could express embarrassment as they did yoga.
Who knew aging eyebrows could be the very inspiration I needed for illustrating my blog post?
It happened like this. While waiting for a doctor’s appointment, I decided to look up do-it-yourself eyebrow care and found some advice that included scissors, tweezers (of course), and eyebrow pencils.
Because I wear glasses, I never thought I could groom my eyebrows on my own. I remove my glasses, and my brows look perfectly fine. I don my glasses, and I need an eyebrow wax (and then some). I remove my glasses to attempt to pluck some unruly or out-of-line hairs, and I can’t see the hairs to pluck.
(True confession: Even when I could see clearly without wearing glasses, which is when I was in my teens, I didn’t pluck. I simply used the same razor I used on my legs to mow the unibrow, the space between my two eyebrows. My friend Pamela used to say I shaved that space “once a month whether I needed it or not.” Trust me, I needed something.)
But after reading the “how to” in the doctor’s waiting room, I gained some confidence. Wearing my glasses, I can use an old toothbrush to brush my eyebrow hairs straight up, then trim them to shape with scissors. I can brush them down and do the same thing, but it’s a little harder because my glasses get in the way.
I can pluck the few outstanding hairs all by myself. (I feel so grown up!)
Unfortunately, I notice that my “tails” aren’t the only thing getting sparse. The entire eyebrow seems to be getting a bit feeble.
Artistry to the rescue!
The Good Housekeeping article also suggested using an eyebrow pencil, holding it as far back as possible, and drawing in small, light hairs — not merely running the pencil over the entire brow like a crayon.
(I’ve seen the effect of doing that on the faces of some ladies at the assisted living facility where I volunteer. At a certain age, it’s better to forgo makeup altogether and embrace your natural beauty — wrinkles, eyebrows or lack thereof and all.)
So as I battle my aging eyebrows, plucking, trimming, and penciling in missing hairs, I find I am gaining confidence to draw on paper. I am holding my drawing pencil lightly, fighting the power of the white by realizing that I can sketch my ideas until I have a final drawing worthy of illustrating my blog posts.
(Clearly, my standards aren’t overly high.)
Ultimately, though, I recognize that my youth is fleeing (so fast!), and all my efforts to draw what I do not have will not overcome the truth that my eyebrows will tell: I am aging. I am comforted knowing that though my youth my leave and my eyebrows reveal that fact, God won’t leave me or forsake me. In fact, He says:
Even to your old age I will be the same,
And even to your graying years I will bear you!
I have done it, and I will carry you;
And I will bear you and I will deliver you.Isaiah 46:4
I do wish He had mentioned eyebrows.
The moral of this highbrow story
When I was under the influence of D., the highbrow brow stylist, I thought I lot about eyebrows. I, who had never considered getting a tattoo, actually contemplated microblading. Permanent eyebrows, perfectly shaped? No more eyebrow maintenance?
Not so much. Microblading, a semi-permanent type of tattoo, might give me the appearance of having eyebrow hairs where I lack them, but it wouldn’t prevent the wiry, insubordinate hairs that threaten my “perfection” or the hairs that dare grow outside the acceptable brow line.
I’d still have to groom my brows (pluck, wax, thread, trim, whatever) — and I’d have to return for a refresh of the microblading every year. (And I wouldn’t get to enhance my drawing skills, which I clearly need to do.)
(Plus microblading isn’t cheap and it hurts a bit. Pain to my pocketbook and pain. What’s to love?)
Ironically, last night as my husband and I watched the news, Steve commented on one of the newscasters, who had perfect, dark brown, sculpted eyebrows above her beautifully enhanced sparkling blue eyes.
“Wow. Those eyebrows look ridiculously fake,” he said, which launched a mini conversation about eyebrow care options and, eventually, my confession that I was writing this blog on that very topic.
“That sounds like a complete waste of time,” he then said.
(My husband has the unappreciated ability to “tell it like it is,” which he proudly states if his truth seems to offend me. He doesn’t include “unappreciated” when speaking of his talent; that would be my editorial comment.)
“Your eyebrows look fine.”
Oh. Well, he might have said that first.
(I don’t think we ever had a conversation about the cost of eyebrow care prior to this moment. Please don’t ask me why.)
It’s been said that “the eyes are the window to the soul,” and psychologists say that statement has validity. Some point to the book of Matthew for a Scriptural basis for that belief.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!Matthew 6:22-23
Ultimately, a “window to the soul” seems more significant than a mere “truth teller” of your age. It’s possible your eyebrows may tell more than your age. They may indicate how much time or money you spend caring for those truth tellers.
Or how much time and money you don’t spend.
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Originally published on Muddyum on Medium.com on July 13, 2020.