How to get the best brows in the country
Getting an eyebrow tattoo isn't as terrifying as it sounds, as Netia Walker discovers...
I had a bit of a mishap on my quest to find rural gems for this column, when the poor lady threading my much-loved eyebrows removed rather more than I was hoping for from one side, leaving me looking distinctly moth-eaten. I didn't make a fuss, as I was rather embarrassed by the whole episode, but, boy, did it make me realise the importance of good brows. And, unlike elsewhere on the body, the hair here can take an infuriatingly long time to grow back. How was I going to face the world until it did?
I went into my local bank and chatted this first-world problem through with my favourite cashier. 'I once knew a lady who drew her eyebrows on with a ruler every morning,' she said, as we held up the long queue of cross Cirencester folk. 'Though the straight line was a bit disconcerting...' Sadly, that technique just isn't an option: the mornings are far too manic and I am not going to have time to paint on an eyebrow every day.
Then I had a brainwave. What about tattooing? It would mean waking up every morning to find that those hairs that are currently MIA would magically be there. I wouldn't have to do a thing! But had I got the guts to go through with it? The answer, dear reader, is no. However, I was intrigued, so I found a trusty guinea pig instead.
It took much longer to find a practitioner who I trust. After all, you can't muck up - brow-tattooing leaves a permanent mark, so you need to get it right. Wendy Stellard specialises in permanent make-up and works between her treatment rooms in Marlborough and London (why is it that when researching a rural practitioner I see that they have worked in London I instantly feel more relaxed?), covering eyebrows, eyeliner and even nipples for breast-cancer patients.
Wendy is delightfully cautious, championing the 'less is more' theory. She is also sceptical of following fashion when it comes to your eyebrows: 'Fashion is great, but follow it with a pencil. Trends come and go, but a classic brow will stand the test of time.' She also gets us rural lot - she understands that we want to look groomed, but that we delight in making out how terribly low-maintanance we all are. 'Good brow-tattooing shouldn't look like make-up. I think of it as putting back what nature has taken away.' Having met Wendy and witnessed her consultation with my crash-test dummy, who herself has very pale eyebrows, I am now kicking myself for being such a wimp and not testing her out myself.
The treatment starts, and I can't lie, it looks painful, but my tester doesn't screech or writhe around. The worst part seems to be the constant wiping that Wendy has to do to clear the pigment that has dropped down onto the skin so she can see where she is going: my tester says that when the rubbing begins to get uncomfortable, a jot of local anaesthetic takes the edge off. Before my eyes a new eyebrow is slowly created. 'You can never take it away if it is too dark, so I would rather build the colour up slowly,' says Wendy. When it's all over, my tester sits up and is handed the mirror.
Any thoughts of pain are instantly forgotten as she squeals with delight at the magnificent set of eyebrows that Wendy has created. No thick Scouse brows here, just a stronger shade of what was naturally there. The 'hairs' actually look like hair. It is so natural that no one would be able to tell, and the impact it has on my tester's face is remarkable: suddenly her eyes pop and her face genuinely looks more lifted.