The Sophisticate: Just browsing

By Michal McKay

Michal McKay goes on the beauty beat in search of the bold and the beautiful.

Actress-model Brooke Shields - and her famous brows. Photo / Supplied.
Actress-model Brooke Shields - and her famous brows. Photo / Supplied.

The raising of an eyebrow can have many connotations - from signalling disapproval or disdain to a simple questioning of the current status quo.

For most of us who work on the premise that what we see is what we get, it can't have escaped your notice that these days it's pretty simple to get a grip on a friend's feelings. The reason why?

Though the eye may be the mirror to the soul, eyebrows, with their ability to run the emotional gamut, give instant insight into how well you may be making the grade. And now, after a recent bout with bleached brows, the bushier the better is the latest beauty trend.

This new boldness makes it pretty easy to see by a frown, a furrow or a flight upwards, if one is in sync with the situation or distinctly out on a limb.

Eyebrows, interestingly, have been a beauty fixation in many cultures. Not always pretty, I might add. How about the blackened arches of the Egyptian pharaohs? Or the mousehide brow wigs of the 17th century for real extremes?

Way back in the 8th century, hikimayu was a much practiced beauty routine by Japanese noblewomen in which shaving or plucking the eyebrows and painting in new ones much higher on the forehead was supposed to provide a more feminine and youthful appearance.

A newer phenomenon with a comparable effect is the eyebrow lift. And Botox - recognised for its ability to mask pretty well anything to do with expression - also raises an eyebrow or two. All render a result which has not a jot to do with what thoughts might be going on behind the mask.

But the edict now is to tone down the tweezers. The hairy eyebrow, possibly thanks to an influx of Eastern European fashion models known for their very strong brows, is the most prized.

Or perhaps we can thank a certain recession in which consumers have gone back to basics because of tight budgets. Certainly, natural looks are now the rage. Faces are brilliantly bare, yet bold, thanks to a beautifully groomed brow.

Mind you, model Cara Delevingne - she of the world's most recognised eyebrows - and possibly the most renowned model of our time with a Twitter following of a million, nearly three million on Instagram plus a social media account called Cara's Eyebrows (3600 followers) to prove it - isn't exactly poverty stricken.

Coming from a rather royal, rich and fashionable family tree (her godfather is Nicholas Coleridge - President of Conde Nast International - and her grandmother was lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret), according to British Vogue she "wiggled her way - and her eyebrows - into super- stardom" with nary a raised eyebrow in sight.

Others on the "it" girl list, who have brows in which a bloke could bury himself are Kate Upton, Keira Knightley, Camilla Belle and Jennifer Connolly. And then there are the original trendsetters - Frida Kahlo (of uni-brow fame) and Brooke Shields (whose brows also almost met), to name but two.

And what about Audrey Hepburn and the delectable Duchess of Cambridge whose immaculate arches have certainly made their mark with a line-up of brow-envy fans.

Research shows that the well-endowed brow is indicative of certain character traits. Apparently, the stronger they are, the more self-confidence the wearer has and the more she is driven.

A well-endowed set also reveals a logical approach to life; plus a strong sex drive. Even better, beetle brows provide an ability to deal with strong emotions and stand up to people more easily.

If that doesn't raise the bar for laying down the tweezers and going au naturelle, take Cara's advice on her secret.

"You just don't pluck them. It's that simple."

Although this dazzling beauty may well let her own eyebrows run wild, it's a discipline that the rest of us shouldn't follow unfettered. The desire to emulate celebrities may be driving the market but the perfect arch actually goes a long way to enhancing a phizog.

It requires care. As one expert put it: "Good brows are like good underwear - the right shape and size puts the rest of the face into proportion and makes everything look right."

If you are of a generation that took to the tweezers with reckless abandon to produce a then fine but now fast-disappearing line, help is required. (Here speaks the voice of experience.

As a baby my brows were black and beautifully bountiful! I wish they were so still.) Thankfully, because of it, brow bars devoted solely to this very specialised art are booming in the beauty business.

If instant self-help is the preferred solution, I swear by Prevage Clinical Lash + Brow Enhancing Serum to encourage failing growth. It works. Then there is a bevy of brow enhancers to choose from that not only brush brows into shape but add a dash of extra fibre to thicken up the original and fill in the gaps.

Mecca - that aptly named beauty nirvana - has a multitude to choose from. And MAC Brow Gel also ensures every hair is maximised to the full. Last resort? Transplants or tattoos should do it.

Recently, my own personal beauty saviour, who painstakingly plucked out random wayward growth, while endeavouring to maintain the paucity left after the aforementioned over-zealous tweezing, had a Eureka moment - and tinted my brows. This little beauty secret instantly provides definition and makes it so much easier to fill in a fuller shape.

I'm also a complete devotee of Clinique Superfine Liner, as is my mother, who struggles to find her brows each morning when "doing her face" but achieves miracles through patience and this little lifesaver. Years of experience and sheer determination ensure she will not be brow-beaten. And her beauty at the age of 97 is unrivalled.


- VIVA

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