Sunday, 27 January 2013

Brow-nton Abbey

I describe myself as having Labrador eyebrows. They start off strong but then just peter out to nothing. As problems go, it’s probably down there with running out of tonic water at a party or missing the beginning of Grease at Christmas but I decided I wanted to do something about it. 

I’d been to BrowHaus on Floral Street in Covent Garden to get my eyebrows threaded and whilst there, had seen their flyer for “Brow Resurrection” as they call it. It sounded very dramatic. My brows weren't dead, they were - just frail.

The process involved tattooing a more defined brow to compliment what was already there. I decided to give it a go. When I booked in, the girls spoke very highly of the technician who performed the procedure. In fact, she was the only one in the place who did the brow resurrection. I didn't know whether this was reassuring or not. Was she some kind of facial hair genius or did the others not have the faculties to cope with something like this. I didn’t dwell on it. My main thoughts were, as long as she doesn’t mess it up and make me look like one of Gallaghers, we’re good.

One of the receptionists pointed to Shante (or whatever her colleagues name was) and told me she had had the procedure done the day before. I stared at Shante’s forehead. I don’t know if ‘nice’ is a useful adjective to describe eyebrow but that’s what they were. That was reassurance enough for me and I bade them all goodbye, saying I’d see them in a fortnight.

A couple of weeks later I found myself lying back on the operating table, a little nervous. The technician, whose name I never discovered (so let’s call her Xiu) had prepared her work station and even had a mask on. I felt like Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man – but there was a twist. Xiu, whilst a diligent beautician, was a crap linguist and had asked Lin to translate for her.

Ok…. I said.  

As well as choose the colour of my brows I also had to fill a health and safety questionnaire which Lin took me through. Lin was Xiu's ditsy, young helper and I kind of felt like me a Xiu would be OK without her which was never more apparent than when she came to the question about menstruation.
For some reason, it was imperative that she know if I had the painters in that particular day. What my menstrual cycle has to do with my eye brows I will never know. When you’re having a procedure done on your face, it’s only going to worry you when people start asking you about your hoo hoo. Where the hell are expecting to tattoo? Are you thinking if this works out, you'll tattoo me a Brazilian??

Anyway, I discretely whispered to Lin that I was in fact "on the blob". I kept my voice down because there were other innocent souls having threading and eye brow tinting done and they didn’t need to know about my goings on. Lin, bless her retarded self, then tried to communicate to Xiu this information using that well know Chinese subdialect - one word English sentences. She leaned across me and muttered to Xiu “Menstruating”. Xiu looked up from mixing the black dye and simply said, “?”. Lin leaned in again. “Menstruating” “?”. She tried another tack, raising her voice saying. “Period?”. Again, nothing from Xiu. All this while I was lying there thinking, you’re supposed to be a translator and all you’re doing is shouting at her in ENGLISH. I could have done that you, pretty idiot! Lin was not giving up though, she persisted “Period. Period. BLOOD?!” I’m pretty sure not only the other clients but passers-by in the Covert Garden streets above, heard her. I’m sure basking sharks in the Atlantic Ocean had paused for moment, thinking “ Kev, did you hear someone say blood?”. 

Once this ritual humiliation was over (I assume that was a special they were offering that week), Lin fucked off, thank God and left Xiu to do what she did best, scratch at your face with a small blade that has gloopy dye on the end.

Prior to this, and while Periodgate unfolded, she had begun the process of numbing my eyebrows. This involved a gel that was left on for 20 minutes. Once they were completely numb (I couldn’t feel a thing. I felt like Geri Halliwell) she began making small scores, along my eye brows. The process is intended to replicate the look of individual hairs and she takes about 20 minutes to half an hour to painstakingly achieve this. Because my eye brows were completely frozen the strongest sensation I had was the sound of Xiu scratching at my face - deep inside my head. It was like I had mice, in my brain.

It can be quite unnerving lying there while a woman scars you. Unlike most tattoos which you can see as they unfold, this time, I had to wait until the mirror was presented to me at the end. Please God don’t make me look like a hairy snake fell sleep crawling across my face.

She held up the mirror. “You like?”. Hmmm. Not bad at all, I thought. “Yes. Really good” I beamed.
I was actually really pleased with the results. Drawing in eyebrows when applying make-up isn’t that much of a hassle, but there's something quite nice about having them well shaped - all the time. And for me, no more Labrador eyes is a very welcome development.

The price was a little bit of a shocker but I looked at the results and thought, you know what, it’s worth it. That was until I got to the counter to settle up and they hit me with the news that apparently I had to buy this “repair kit” to look after the work and make sure it 'took' properly. I basically paid 70 quid for a pot of Vaseline and a tiny vial of ambiguous liquid. I’m not convinced that what I bought had a street value of 70 pounds but by now I was keen to get out of the place so reluctantly bought it. Probable slightly motivated by the fear that, what if, without this stuff, my eye brows would fall off. I would have asked Xiu about it but I wasn’t about to start shouting at her in one word sentences. I’ll leave that to Lin. I thanked them and left as eyebrowed up as a girl can be. I chuckled to myself as I thought, ha, this was the closest to plastic surgery I’ll ever get.



all done
*You need to return for a follow up/ touch up session within a month to ensure the dye has taken. The brows last approximately 18 months – 2 years.


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