Within recent years brow shaping has exploded in the UK, a lot like the nail industry in the late ’80s. I remember as a beauty therapist in 1987 proclaiming, “stand alone, nail salons will never take off–we’re not America!”… How wrong was I. So as I observe brow bars popping up all over the country, I’ve kept quiet because a lot like the nail industry, I don’t think this growth is a fad; I believe they’re here to stay, whether brows are on trend or not, and I think this has to be credited to the popularity of threading, the traditional Asian method of hair removal.
I’ve known about threading since the ’80s because a colleague—who was Kenyan-Asian—would finish off all her waxing treatments with threading. She was the only one out of twenty beauty therapists who could do this and therefore was highly in demand. I didn’t foresee this as anything other than a final step after waxing, but for women of Asian heritage, this is the norm in removing hair.
Vanita Parti of Blink Beauty Brow started her threading business with one chair in Fenwicks department store in 2004 and now, with twenty-seven bars nationally, including concessions in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis, as well as a few stand alone salons, caters to all one’s brow and lash desires. Her product range is impressive, particularly her left-to-right-handed slanted tweezer; it’s quite hard finding a sharp, precise tweezer that won’t draw blood, and not to mention her growing cosmetic line. If you think about it, the two go together, products and treatments: one complements the other.
Someone else who also foresaw this was Benefit Cosmetics. A few years ago I attended their launch of new eyebrow make-up. The range was extensive (it actually felt like a gazillion new products), and not too long after that, they introduced brow treatments in their standalone stores.
These two are not the only ones carving out a corner of the market for themselves on the high street. You may have spotted Shavata Brow Studio (originally known for brow stencils), Nails and Brows, Vaishaly Patel and Browhaus, to name a few. So with brow cosmetics and brow bars booming, there is no stopping this movement. And they’re not just offering threading–there’s waxing, ‘old school’ tweezing, brow and lash tinting, and lash extensions. Blink even offers a soothing twenty-minute eye massage for those of us constantly on computers or phones.
I do have to question, though, if some have taken it a step–or should I say five to six steps–too far. Waxing, threading, tweezing, tinting, trimming then pencilling in one treatment–surely any desired look can be achieved with just two or three of the above said treatments?
This is where my train of thought differs from this new generation in regard to brow waxing: due to the skin being so fine and delicate around the eyes, I always talked my clients out of a brow wax and into tweezing. And with lower facial hair removal` I confess to getting angry when I see on a woman having hair removed other than by electrolysis or laser on areas of the male growth pattern (basically anything below the eyes). This area is hormonally led and disturbing the follicles may stimulate growth, I know others would disagree, and I may be upsetting a few in the industry, but there I’ve said it!
Words Julie Jacobs
Illustration Karese Fogoe