Not only lashes – if you want to look fab, try 3D eyebrows!
Mother Nature deals us at least one lousy hand when it comes to our bodies and, when she does, it stands to reason that we’ll covet the perfect versions we see on other people. Those with wobbly tummies envy washboard stomachs, the flat-chested envy the fuller-busted, and the curly haired long for sleek, straight bobs. As for me, my jealousy is a little more unusual. For about 20 years, I have suffered from serious eyebrow envy.
BEFORE AND AFTER (pictured right): Claudia Connell thinks her new eyebrows make her five years younger.
I always notice good, strong, characterful brows on other people and curse my bad luck that mine are so wispy and pathetic. Elizabeth Taylor was my eyebrow idol. Her dark, high-arched brows perfectly framed her beautiful face. In the Nineties, I developed a bit of a thing for actress Martine McCutcheon’s eyebrows, and most recently I’ve become fixated on those of Kate Middleton and Victoria Beckham.
My natural brows are sparse, fair and so short they’re more like stubble. Unlike many millions of women who have thin eyebrows, I haven’t over-plucked or waxed them — they just never really got going in the first place. Mostly, I attempt to fill them in with a pencil, but I’m not very good at it and they often end up looking like one of those faces you draw on a balloon with a felt-tip pen.
The other problem with eyebrow pencils is they never look entirely real: get up close and it’s obvious that you’ve got waxy lines with no hair beneath.
Elizabeth Taylor’s dark, high-arched brows perfectly framed her beautiful face
But now help is at hand in the form of eyebrow extensions — tiny individual hairs that can be glued to your own existing brows in order to create the bushier look that is so fashionable, all for just $59.
It’s the invention of hairdresser and beauty therapist Tahira Wells, whose celebrity clients include Denise Van Outen, Carol Vorderman and Paul McCartney.
Having watched the soaring popularity of eyelash extensions, she set about finding a way of applying the same technique to brows. ‘So many of my clients were asking me for a longer-lasting solution for thin brows and it was obvious there was a gap in the market,’ she tells me.
‘Some people lose their eyebrows through illness, others have over-plucked and many find they naturally thin with age. ‘There’s no doubt that good eyebrows make you look younger and fresher, so it’s not surprising people want them. What I want is to come out with eyebrows like Posh (shapely and face-framing), but my fear is that they’ll be more like Parker from Thunderbirds.
After closely poring over my brows, Tahira says that I have enough natural hair of my own for her to work with as she needs very little to attach the false strands to. The first stage is to find a colour match, with the ideal being to end up with brows that are a couple of shades darker than your hair unless you want to go for a bold statement. My eye area is cleansed and a dye solution is applied to my natural eyebrows. This is to ex-foliate, open up the cuticles and dehydrate the skin so the glue lasts longer. Next, from a selection of nine stencils, she selects the one that best suits the shape and size of my eyes and face. I’m a ‘Sydney’, which is medium thickness with a gentle arch.
Most recently I’ve become fixated on those eyebrows of Kate Middleton and Victoria Beckham. She uses this stencil as a guide to create a uniform shape, removing any hairs that don’t fit within it, and applying the extra ones where required to fill it out. The artificial hairs are then individually picked up with tweezers, dipped in fast-drying glue and put in place on top of one of my natural eyebrow hairs.
All the extensions are 7 mm long, but at the end of the session the new eyebrows can be trimmed, waxed or plucked to tidy them up or create a more defined look. After 45 minutes on the therapist’s bed, I am done, and I can already feel that my eyebrows are much weightier — and it’s an odd sensation.
Now comes the moment of truth as Tahira hands me a mirror to see the result of her intricate work. I reassure myself before I look in the mirror that if I do look like Liam and Noel Gallagher’s long-lost sister, then at least it’s not permanent because the eyebrow extensions will last for only about two weeks.
But I needn’t have worried — I’m bowled over by my new look. I finally have the fuller, shaped eyebrows I’ve always wanted. They are darker than I imagined and at least twice as thick as they were before, but still soft and feminine looking. They appear to make my eyes look bigger and I’m convinced they make me look five years younger, too.
Later in the day I find that I can’t stop stroking them like a new pet and am relieved that the lumpy bits of glue I could feel at first have dissolved. I’m told that the extensions will start to drop off over the coming weeks as the glue weakens, but that they won’t take my old eyebrows with them. I’ll just go back to how I looked originally. Avoiding steam rooms, saunas and keeping cleansing products and oils away from the brow area will also help them last longer.
Friends notice something different, but are unable to put their finger on what it is. ‘Have you gone back to the Botox? asks my sister.
It’s now a week since I had my extensions put in and they’ve lasted well, with only about 25 per cent loss so far — and most of those were lost when I washed my hair and rubbed my face with a towel.
When I next visit I should need only a quick 30-minute refill treatment for $50 rather than starting from scratch.
In all, over a year it will cost me around $500, which may sound steep, but there’s no doubt I’ll stump up for it because it’s worth every penny. I can’t bear the thought of going back to my skinny eyebrows — it’s thick and fabulous all the way from now on.