Brow artist/permanent makeup artist, Emma Hendrick, shares her expertise. Why the brow-less trend did not gain traction and what clients want from their brows.
In 2016 models took to the runway for the Marc Jacobs fashion show rocking a “no brow look”. Celebs soon followed with their own spin on this no brow look. Most of these looks were created by brow bleaching, some celebs and trend setters opted for a softer sun-kissed lighter brow while others adopted a more extreme “no look brow”, including Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Kate Perry.
This trend did not stay around for too long and I think we know why! We are obsessed with eyebrows: arched brows, flat brows, big brows, brushed up brows, we are a nation of obsessed brow lovers. Although, the eyebrow has many functional features, our concern is that they are aesthetically pleasing.
Fortunately, no matter what our brow problem may be there is a solution for it in this million-pound brow market, which is growing from strength to strength. Brow growth serums, brow gels, brow mascara, pencils to create hair strokes, brow stencil shapes, you name it, it’s out there! As an eyebrow artist I see this obsession on a daily basis with a broad range of clients.
The right eyebrow shape will frame and flatter the eyes, for example, a fuller brow can give a more youthful appearance (an anti-ageing secret), an arched brow can lift the brows making the eyes appear more open and wider. The wrong shape, however, can change your look entirely. An extremely thin brow is quite ageing and can add years. An over-exaggerated round shape can make you look shocked or surprised (this known as the “McDonald brow”) and a very big, dark over drawn brow (yes, the one often labelled the Scousebrow) can be mis-understood to mean that person is angry or even appear distracting for the wrong reason.
Well-structured brows that are more symmetrical in nature are pleasing to the human eye. This could be one of the reasons the “no brow look” doesn’t have staying power and why people will go to great lengths with their brows. This includes people who have lost their eyebrow hair due to illness or medication from alopecia to cancer.
As a permanent makeup artist I have been on this personal journey with many clients who come to me when they have lost their brow hair or are preparing themselves before they lose their brows. The client will explain to me during their consultation that the main concern after accepting everything else, is the fact they will feel “face-less” without brows. They want to feel “normal, look normal”, not look tired or sick. This is terminology that is used repeatedly in the permanent makeup consultation, by male and female clients about how they feel.
For me, to be able to make someone physically feel that a treatment procedure, which allows me to tattoo individual hair stokes to mimic an eyebrow (permanent makeup), is aesthetically fitting is extremely rewarding.
Having the ability and skill of a brow artist/permanent makeup artist allows me to not only make someone physically look good by creating suitable eyebrows, I am also able to make them feel good, more confident, happier, more attractive, and sometimes, ‘normal’ (all clients words). Who would have thought those two little things above our eyes held so much power?
As a brow artist, this to me has been the biggest eye opener to the power of brows.
Emma Hendrick collaborated with us at our event at FACT in April and features in our upcoming documentary. She offered consultations and treatments to attendees.
If you watch our trailer, at the end Scousebird (she of the popular Scouse Bird Problems site and social media presence) says, “brows on fleek, girl”. The term “on fleek” has a particular association with eyebrows, so we thought we’d reflect on its origins a little and share our findings.
Writing in 2014, Olivia Muenter in Bustle has a useful guide to one possible source, the social media site, Vine, in 2003. While she asserts that it can be used to describe anything, “from makeup photos to selfies to a bacon sandwich”, she most strongly associates it with eyebrows. This is because it originated in the Peaches Monroee Vine account and was popularised by Ariana Grande and others in song, and, subsequently, has taken off on social media sites, such as Instagram, to describe great brow styling.
Researchers for the Merriam-Webster dictionary dug deeper into the origins and spoke to Peaches, who asserts that she said “on flick” in the video, but the sound quality meant that it sounded like “fleek”, so a mishearing led to the creation of a new word. Merriam Webster includes a table showing how the use of “on fleek” has rocketed in the last few years to become word of the year in 2015. Neal Whitman describes the wider usage as “semantic broadening”, where a word can stretch to other meanings. Whitman unpicks the flick/fleek connection and explains how “on flick” can be used to label a particular make-up technique, specifically the feline flick.
So, we would like to join the Merriam-Webster team in saying, “cheers to Peaches Monroee for introducing a term that was up to the task of identifying eyebrows done right”.
For those who like their definitions sung, check this out.
Although we are not focused on one type of brow, as part of our project we are interested in finding out what people think about the ‘Scousebrow’. It has gotten negative press and snark (not linking, but easily found), and we’re interested in knowing whether such attitudes are shared by those who live in Merseyside. In order to understand the brow, you can go to YouTubers who describe what it is and how it’s done. These are varied and, looking through them, the ‘how to create the Scousebrow’ video advice peaked around 2014.
A question we are sometimes asked is: where did the word originate? It may not seem like it, but the word emerged relatively recently in 2011. For more detail, take a look at this academic paper which considers three English dialects (Scouse, Geordie, and Cockney) and a selection of related words in online searches. The author describes two details that are useful for this project. The first is that Scouse is only in use to describe someone from Liverpool since 1945 (Jensen 2017, 53) and, the second is that Scousebrow came into use thanks to the Channel 4 scripted reality TV show Desperate Scousewives (2011-12). Scousebrow became a major search term online in Scouse-related words reaching a peak in 2016 (Jensen 2017, 61-63). This is a fascinating phenomenon that has had wide-ranging coverage and interest. We would love to know how you feel about the Scousebrow, if you are from Merseyside and sculpt and craft your brows. So, come to our event at FACT from the 25th-28th of April and tell us about your brows.