Monday 21 October 2019

God had a wicked sense of humour when it came to giving us hair. Supply and demand never quite matches our needs or desires

Bairbre Power. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Bairbre Power. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Last summer as I lay at the most idyllic poolside venue soaking up the rays, I couldn't but reflect on God's wicked sense of humour when it came to doling out human hair and deciding who got what.

The man upstairs had a right to a bit of fun when it came to working on that particular gene. I know we are descended from the apes but looking across the pool in France at the assortment of young, 30-something guys with their wives and babies, three out of four were bald, but they were not follically challenged on their chest, arms and legs.

Girls, to their credit, can do their own 'maintenance'. The Saturday beauty regime of nails and a blow dry has morphed into longer pampering days with bikini waxing and eyebrow maintenance. So far I've been doing relatively okay on the hair front. The ones on my head are good if increasingly grey and I've recently discovered I've a double crown at the back of my head. It's a hair gene thing because my mum had it and was forever trying to back-comb over it.

The irony is that the one place I really want and crave hair refuses, like an obstinate child, to behave, and that's my eyebrows. I do think that eyebrows are important - they frame the face and add structure, but mine are beyond fair, thin and tend to disappear if I don't define them. Whilst on that sun holiday, I didn't bother to pencil them every morning because they simply slide off and evaporate in the sun, but on the last day as I packed and prepared to fly home, I pencilled them in for the first time in ages and couldn't believe how different I looked.

Back home, I made a mental note to get them dyed regularly but that went by the wayside, not least because it can be a roll of the dice as to colour and shape. I don't want stripes and I'm picky about the colour.

The root of my eyebrow dilemma is all of my own making and goes back to those teenage years when, as a wilful 15-year-old, Bairbre knew best. I borrowed tweezers and with far too much zeal, I stupidly plucked my eyebrows into a state of oblivion. Sadly, they never really recovered but at least the gap I gave myself mid brow eventually grew back. It's interesting when you see photographs of women in their teenage years and 20s, how many of us targeted our eyebrows and gave them a severe going-over while aiming for something more 1920s flapper.

I don't know why I was such a warrior with the auld tweezers because my eyebrows were never big in the first place. They certainly never rivalled the eyebrows of the tall and rangy Hemingway sisters, the impossibly stylish Mariel and her late sister, Margaux, who famously refused to pluck hers when instructed by her model agency.

The eyebrows I had were neat and expressive. They framed my dimpled face nicely and stupidly I obliterated them when I got pluck-happy.

Over the years, I've got them dyed professionally and you need to be forceful about what you want. I definitely don't want tear-drop 'tadpoles' or those massive statement 'scouse' brows that look like street markings marching from left to right above your nose. I didn't subscribe to the bleached out, barely-there look and the worst ones I had looked like apostrophies of sorts.

Clearly I'm no one to be giving out about other people's choice of eyebrows because I don't own a decent pair and if a Frida Kahlo unibrow you crave, then go for it.

Stepping away from the tweezers and magnifying mirror, I now know where I went wrong in the first place. I targeted the centre of my brow and worked away solidly on one when I should have been trimming each side a little at a time. Great to know after the event.

Recently I decided to take matters into my own hands after two unfortunate incidents. The first faux pas resulted from a 6am dive into the make-up bag in the dark and I pencilled in my pair. Not too dark, not too arched, just a gentle wave.

Sisters rather than twins is what I'm aiming for on the eyebrow front. I hate matchy-matchy and besides, our faces are never symmetrical. Imagine my horror around lunchtime when returning from a meeting I detected a faint red hue from my brows. On closer inspection, I realised I had used the stub of a lip pencil rather than the stub of my favourite Rimmel pencil. Embarrassing to say the least. But it seems I'm not the only one to have made that dress-in-the-dark mistake.

The morning after the Xpose awards I was up with the lark. I had the day off and wanted to get so much done. I dressed in my gym gear and trainers and grabbed the dog for a long morning walk. It was going to be a no make-up day and I didn't bother putting on the eyebrows either.

I parked the car with the dog inside and raced into the office to collect a valuable family photograph I wanted to return to a woman and, sure, wouldn't you just know - I walked right bang into a VIP office visit. Me, with no make-up and no eyebrows kept the head down and raced out as fast as my legs would carry me.

As fate would have it, the next day I found myself sitting beside Kim O'Sullivan who is regarded as the Queen of Eyebrows. The Phi brow semi-permanent technique she does involves drawing in the shape calculated according to facial morphology and the maths' world golden proportion known as phi 1.618.

After they measured my face, she got to work and two sessions later, I have Bairbre eyebrows and they are most definitely not matchy matchy. They are the nearest thing I want to a facelift because I do think a good brow lifts your features and your spirits.

For all those ladies out there who love to keep a tweezers in the car for those gridlock moments, my advice is to go easy. Did anyone ever tell you that a short eyebrow can make your nose look bigger!

Irish Independent

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