So, let’s talk grooming. Specifically, eyebrows. Eyebrows are a strange facial feature, aren’t they? Do they even serve a purpose? I mean, eyelashes keep things out of your eyes, right? They have a function. But eyebrows? I don’t think they do a whole lot. Unless, of course, you don’t have any. In which case, you just look weird. So perhaps their use is just decorative. But that’s not to say they’re not important. I know that when I have nicely shaped eyebrows, my face seems neater and better defined. I look spiffier than when I’ve let them grow all wild and woolly. Seriously, when I haven’t been to the beautician for a few weeks, I start to look like a crazy old cat lady. Slightly deranged.
So, when did I start grooming my eyebrows? Well, as with most things, I was a bit of a late bloomer and didn’t even think about it until I was in my late twenties. Yes, I did look like a deranged, crazy old cat lady until I was 27. And I didn’t even know it! My mother and my sisters all plucked their eyebrows and I would look at them with curious disdain and insist that I enjoyed my brows being all fluffy and natural, thank you very much. I was quite the tomboy you see, and saw plucking as a rather high maintenance process.
I remember the first time that I became self-conscious about my unruly eyebrows. I was working as an au pair in the United States, for a lady called Kate, and she would tease me about how crazy they were. And you know what, I really can’t blame her. They were pretty crazy. I look back at pictures of myself from those days and just shake my head. But at the time, I was just mortified to have my fuzzy brows be the focus of (even good-natured) ridicule. So one night, I marched into the bathroom brandishing a newly purchased pair of tweezers – and I plucked those babies. I plucked, and I plucked with gusto! Kate* had unwittingly created a monster!
When I returned to Australia a few months later, I was introduced to the art of salon waxing. No longer would I have to strain my eyes trying to pluck out each individual hair by hair. Instead, I could pay someone else to rip them out all at once with hot wax! Oh joy! I have to confess that this was the beginning of a fairly dark period in my life. A period of anorexically thin eyebrows. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Everyone was doing it! Looking back, I blame one particular friend (who shall remain nameless). She and I seemed to have become entangled in some sort of a brow-off (literally), where we tried to outdo each other in eyebrow scarcity. I do vaguely remember at one point, the fullest part of my brow being about three hairs thick. This is not a good look. I know that now. I am thrilled (and relieved) to report that after years of such abuse my eyebrows did actually grow back nice and thick and healthy – apparently, sometimes they don’t! Eek!
So, for the uninitiated, waxing involves smearing hot melted wax onto the area under your brow, waiting until it cools and hardens, and then ripping it off. Now, we’re talking about doing this on some of the thinnest (and most sensitive) skin on your whole body. It doesn’t really seem very bright when you put it like that, does it? And I must admit that I have had some horrific waxing experiences. I’m almost positive that anyone who’s been waxed has at least one war story of their own to share.
Sure I had some bad waxes back home in Australia, but they don’t compare to what I’ve experienced here in Dubai. There really is no regulatory body here (that I’m aware of) to ensure that the practitioner ripping your eyebrow hairs out by the follicle is actually qualified or trained to do so. And I’m fairly certain that the woman who literally gave me second degree burns on my eyelids did not have a PhD in Cosmetology. Nor did the lady who, another time, actually ripped the top layer of my skin off as she tore the wax off my brows. Sheesh, the things we do to look good (though, as you can imagine, I didn’t look so great after either of these incidents). Nope, after these two experiences I decided that I wasn’t subjecting myself to this nonsense anymore and I resumed home-plucking.
Several weeks later, while I was getting a pedicure (come on, I wasn’t going to completely deprive myself of beauty treatments) I noticed a customer leaning back in her chair, with a beautician bobbing up and down over her head. I was intrigued. What was going on here? I looked closer. The beautician had a cotton thread wound around her fingers, which she’d secured in her mouth, and she was twirling it madly over the customer’s forehead. How odd! What was this strange procedure, I asked my pedicurist? It is eyebrow threading, she told me. I nodded solemnly, and stored this information away for future use. Two weeks later I was booked in for my first threading.
Let me give you a bit of background information about this procedure (click here to find out more). It’s not a new thing. It has been used in India and the Middle East for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Nearly every Arabic lady you see in the mall here has her eyebrows threaded. And I wanted to find out why. Now, as you can imagine (or know from experience) waxing hurts. Well, threading hurts even more (and don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t). But oh my lord, the pain is worth it. Because the result is amazing. Threading is to waxing, as Ferrari is to Toyota. Sure, the Camry still gets you from A to B. But let’s face it, you look SO much better getting there in the F430.
So, I was hooked. I shopped around a couple of beauticians before finding a Filipina lady whose results I liked. But then (as happens so often in our transient society) she went back home to the Philippines and I had to find someone else to keep me looking presentable. I did a bit of research online and realised that perhaps I should go to someone who had been threading her whole life, rather than someone who had learned how to do it only after moving here for work. Which meant going to the source. I had to go to India (or, at the very least, find an Indian beautician)! And so that’s what I did. I made an appointment at Sisters Beauty Salon at the Dubai Mall, and it was there that I discovered Eyebrow Nirvana with a very lovely lady called Prameela! I am now the happiest I’ve ever been with my eyebrows – and let’s not beat around the bush (haha), eyebrows are an important part of your look. They really do frame your face and can be the difference between looking like an unkempt street urchin, or a fresh-faced lady of elegance. It may have taken me 40 years to look like the latter, but it was worth the wait.
* I’d like to actually thank Kate for being the only person to have the courage to point out that my eyebrows were unacceptably shaggy. Who knows what I’d look like now if it wasn’t for her!
UPDATE: A few of my very knowledgeable friends have informed me that eyebrows exist to prevent sweat from dripping into your eyes. How do you like that! Good one, Mother Nature!