Hands up if you bleach your eyebrows. No? Me neither. Celebrities use a pre-event brow-bleaching session as a way to shock on the red carpet (think Kim Kardashian West at the Met Gala in 2016) and Lady Gaga, who confessed to Vogue that she bleaches hers on the daily, saying, “I like to keep them light. They’re more versatile for a beauty look. You can draw [your eyebrows] any way you want when they’re bleached.” It’s a beauty trick often used backstage before catwalk shows too, mostly when the designer wants the models to look “otherworldly” (read: like an alien).
Many a time, I’ve been backstage at fashion weeks surrounded by models milling around with brows slathered in bleach that looks like Fluff marshmallow. I am not Lady Gaga, nor do I have a catwalk appearance anytime soon, so I wanted to know whether bleached brows could work for us non-celebs IRL. After all, the brow du jour right now is big and bold, so would bucking that trend make me feel more confident or like a duck out of water (literally, as ducks don’t have brows)? And so I picked up a box of Jolen Crème Bleach (£11) at Boots and promised to bleach my brows at the first opportunity.
I didn’t bleach my brows at the first opportunity, the second or even the third. It took me almost a week to pluck up the courage to just get on with it. The thing is, I like that blonde, beachy hair/dark brow look. I’m more than happy using my Benefit Goof Proof Eyebrow Pencil (£20) to fill in my brows each morning, making them look bigger and darker. I was also doing some extensive online research about brow bleaching when I came across an article where the writer mentioned brow roots (the horror), and so that put me off for a good few days.
For this to work as a good before and after test, I knew I had to go light with my brows, but I didn’t want to go white blonde. Even the most gorgeous models can’t pull off that one. And so I followed the instructions to the letter. I also snapped the whole process so you can watch it here.
I’m not one for the rules, but I felt a patch test was necessary since that stuff is on your face and near your eyes. Rules are there to be broken, but not this one, unless you want to break your face (no, me neither). As per the video above, you simply mix the crème and the powder together in the pot provided, using the spatula to mix and apply. Funnily enough, it doesn’t smell like bleach until it’s on your brows doing its hair-lightening thing. The box recommends leaving it on for eight minutes, removing, and then if you want to go lighter, reapplying for a further five minutes. I left it on for about 10 minutes. I must have been on edge because when the timer gave off a loud, shrill, beeping noise, I physically jumped.
I rinsed off the bleach and my first thought was What have I done? followed by Don’t panic. My brows always look a bit patchy before I fill them in, so all I needed to do was neaten them up. Trouble was I hadn’t thought about the fact that I would need blonde brow-filling products. Cue a mad dash around my bedroom to find a brow brush and some kind of powder (anything!) that could do the job. The matte putty colour in the Nars Duo Eyeshadow in Bellissima II (£25) worked a charm. Once my makeup was touched up, I didn’t hate them. I looked sort of sun-kissed, a bit like I had spent a couple of weeks on a beach catching some waves (I can’t catch a ball half the time, let alone a wave, but I looked like I could).
So what did my friends and colleagues think? And come to think of it, what would my boyfriend say? Our assistant editor, Elinor Block, said, “I really love the lighter ones. Your eyebrows were great before, but this makes you look fairer and sun-kissed.” Who What Wear’s editorial director, Hannah Almassi, was also a fan. “Almost feels more modern and summery. Perhaps we’ve reached peak strong brow? Time for a change?”
Huh. Could we really have reached a peak for the bold brow look? It certainly feels fresher. My longtime school friend who has had to look at my face for about 18 years said, “I can honestly comment that your face looks completely different. Matches your also bleached hair very well. You had quite statement brows before, whereas now your eyes stand out more. You look more beachy, and it’s more relaxed.”
Another school friend commented on them saying, “It’s like an expertly smudged smoky eye, but for your face. I’d say it makes your hair colour look like it’s 100% natural too. And I think it’s more feminine.”
Blimey, these were definitely not the comments I had been expecting when I pitched this feature. I thought I would get “you look like an alien” or “who do you think you are, Lady Gaga?” Even my boyfriend was impressed: “I like it. I think it lengthens your face and brings out your eyes.” *Mic drop.* Anything that lengthens my round, moon-shaped face is a winner.
I had booked an emergency brow tinting appointment in preparation, but perhaps I’ll postpone. Well, at least until those brow roots come through.
Opening Image: Imaxtree