I was born with the eyebrows I came to covet: bushy, thick, bordering on uni territory. They were perhaps the only perk of being naturally hairy; coated in a layer of dark fuzz I waxed and shaved or bleached elsewhere. In my mid-to-late-’90s teenhood, however, this Brooke Shields–esque genetic blessing was out of time. Skinny, manic pixie dream girl brows were the phattest then, as seen on Drew Barrymore and Gwen Stefani in her seminal No Doubt years.
“They look like caterpillars,” my then-best friend, who was six months and one grade older, condemned my brows at one of our many sleepovers, branding the longest hairs closest to the bridge of my nose “antennae.” Then she proceeded to hold me down—with my limp consent—and tweeze them within an inch of themselves.
Mine is an all-too-common cosmetic sob story for many elder millennials and Gen X’ers—Chrissy Teigen has aired her own similar saga. We sacrificed our natural brows circa the Clinton administration, and by the time the wispy trend went the way of the Rachel cut it was too late. Those precious, fluffy caterpillars never, ever grew back.
Growing out your brows can be as awkward as growing out your bangs. Nevertheless, I persisted in trying everything to reawaken my deadened follicles: popular growth serums, nightly swabs of castor oil, and 99% of the brow gels and powders on the market, all with moderate-to-disappointing results. Until, I am happy to report, now.
During a routine cleanup—a solid decade into my futile brow-growing journey— my esthetician Liz McKay, founder of Bare, A Skincare Experience in Westport, Connecticut, floated a solution: brow lamination, a treatment “similar to a keratin treatment for your brows,” she explained, “using the length of the hair to create a new shape.” As I now understand it, you are essentially faking your way to bigger brows.
The first of two solutions McKay applied—because I was immediately in—was a conditioner that renders typically coarse, rogue brow hair long, flat, and more pliable. She told me that these newly silky strands could then be brushed up and out to create the illusion of fuller brows and styled to cover gaps in growth. Finally, a second serum locks the new brow position in place.