Saturday, October 24, 2015

Aye aye brows!

I've always envied those people who could carry off that sardonic look with one raised eyebrow. I even practiced achieving it when I was younger, pushing up one brow with my fingers and hoping it would remain there. There's been a fascination with lush eyebrows lately. I mean, who doesn't want Cara Delevingne's arches? In my day, it was Brooke Shields'. If we're not blessed with them, then we're trying to make do with brow tints and tattoo jobs. Now I read there are even growth-stimulating serums and hair transplant procedures.

Science has proven that eyebrows are the most important feature on our face. In a study conducted by the University of Lethbridge in Canada, researchers showed people 25 images of celebrities without eyebrows, and 25 images of celebrities without eyes. Participants were able to correctly identify 56% of the celebrities shown without eyes, but only 46% of the celebrities without eyebrows. This study is backed by another one done at MIT, so there's no arguing that eyebrows are very important if you want to make an impression.

The Chinese have held beliefs that your face holds secrets to your wealth and health. In ancient China, it was considered a good sign to have thick, smooth and long eyebrows that were set well above the eyes.Your eyebrows supposedly protect you, guarding against others jealous of you and meaning to do you harm. Therefore, eyebrows should never be overly plucked or shaved. They say that when plucking, never ever pluck above the brows for this instantly curtails your good fortune.

My problem now is not how much to pluck or what kind of curve I want in my brows, something that had me staring at my face in the mirror in my twenties and thirties. Now that problem no longer bothers me because I have no brows to speak of! Along with my thinning hair, my eyebrow hairs have also stopped growing, leaving me with very sparse brows.

I actually researched how to grow back my eyebrows on the internet. Along with home remedies, like massaging in castor oil, fenugreek powder or even onions (ewww!) onto your brows, over the counter products like Rogaine and Latisse are recommended. These contain Prostaglandin, a hormone-like substance that can stimulate hair growth and are said to be safe on brows. The hitch is, of course, that they're pricey and only work while you keep using them.

A lot of women in Asia have a penchant for tattooing their eyebrows. Yup. Really. Making tiny little nicks along the brows and inking them in. The results are permanent, and according to some women I've spoken to, the treatment is excruciatingly painful. The reasons they give for having the tattoo range from a belief that they make them look more beautiful to it eliminates the hassle of caring for their own eyebrows. No, I don't think I want permanent lines inked in on my face. And besides, I haven't seen a single eyebrow tattoo job that looks quite natural or normal.

So I'm left with really one option - continue drawing in my brows with a pencil and feathering them with a brush. Yes, sometimes I get them crooked and asymetric. I just hope that with my glasses on, nobody will notice them much. Of course, I don't know how my fate in life is affected by my disappearing eyebrows, according to Chinese beliefs. I've read about the meaning of arched brows, moon-shaped brows, angled brows and a host of other shaped brows, but I couldn't really find out the implications of no brows.

I guess I do have other, more pressing issues that are age-related to deal with, like my failing eyesight, memory and mobility, to worry about than my eyebrows. No, I don't want to look like Frida Kahlo but still, it would be nice to pull off that slightly sardonic look with some real brows.

If you're interested to read more about Chinese beliefs about eyebrows, here's an interesting read:

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