HD Brows Review at The Retreat, Linlithgow
It’s a far, far braver thing I do today than I have ever done before, people: I’m posting close-up photos of my eyebrows. Untweezed. Un made-up. All natural eyebrows, in da house. Gulp.
Before I get to the photos, though, I just… you all totally just scrolled down to the photos, didn’t you? DAMN YOU. Well, OK, now that you’ve scrolled back up, and before I get to the actual review part of this post, let me first of all tell you WHY I’m posting close-ups of my eyebrows on the internet…
It’s definitely not because I LIKE them, that much is for sure. In fact, I normally try to crop my eyebrows out of close-up photos, purely to avoid having to look at them. Oh, and also to avoid getting comments about them, too, if you want to know the truth. I’m lucky enough not to get many mean comments on this blog, but of the ones I HAVE had, quite a few have been about my eyebrows, and have ranged from the short-but-sour “OMG THOSE EYEBROWS!” to the memorable observation that my eyebrows “let my shoes down”. That’s something you didn’t even know you should be worrying about, huh, folks? Do YOUR eyebrows do your shoes justice, I wonder? (Note to self: write article on how to match eyebrows to shoes…)I think the people who send me these comments are assuming that either a) I don’t KNOW my eyebrows are terrible or b) I DO know, but don’t feel quite bad enough about it, and need to feel worse. They’re wrong on both counts, as it happens: no one hates my eyebrows more than I do, and I’ve been painfully aware of them ever since the year I started high school, which is when they started their record-breaking attempt to build a bridge across my nose.
The campaign was a success: the eyebrows finally joined forces in the middle of my forehead, and I immediately mounted my own campaign to be allowed to tweeze the hell out of those bad boys.
For a long time, my mum stood firm in her determination to keep the tweezers out of my sweaty hands, but eventually my whining got too much, and they were handed over, in a small ceremony which heralded the start of many long years of over-tweezing. For years I walked around with a permanently startled look on my face, my eyebrows reduced to two thin lines, floating somewhere just south of my hairline. Even to this day, I’ll sometimes find myself getting a little bit carried away with the ol’ plucking, and that’s why my eyebrows are now a really strange mixture of bushy… but with bald spots. It’s the worst of both worlds, basically.
When I say I wasn’t blessed in the brow department, then, I’m seriously not joking. They’re bushy. They’re straggly. They have bald spots. They’re two completely different shapes (Yes, I know: brows are supposed to look like sisters, not like twins. Mine don’t even look like they’re related, though, and that’s actually NOT anything to do with my over-tweezing: that’s just them getting on with their bad selves…). The hairs all point in different directions, so even when tweezed, they STILL look all kinds of crazy. So when The Retreat got in touch and asked if I’d like to try out one of the treatments on offer at their new Linlithgow salon, I had no hesitation in going for the HD Brows treatment.
“What IS HD Brows, anyway?” I hear you ask.
HD Brows (or High Definition Brows, if you want to get all fancy) is basically a complete eyebrow overhaul. Consisting of a combination of tweezing, waxing, threading and dyeing, the idea is to taken even brows as badly-treated as mine, and whip them into shape. I’ve actually had the treatment once before, a couple of years ago, and while I was happy with it, the brow tech who treated me explained that I’d probably need a few follow-ups, and quite a bit of growing-out, for my brows to get even close to “normal”.
With that in mind, once I knew I’d be having this treatment, I decided to put down the tweezers, and just let those brows GROW. Here’s what happened:
HD Brows: Before
This was after about three weeks growth, and I DID continue tweezing down the middle, otherwise I’d have had a unibrow in that time. And no, I’m not exaggerating. To be honest, these photos don’t really capture the full horror of the grown-out brows: they looked much worse in real life, and I was very glad when my appointment rolled around, and it was time to have them Dealt With. Of course, to PROPERLY grow out your eyebrows, you need much more than three weeks – it can actually take months, which is a truly horrifying thought. I wanted to give the salon as much to work with as possible, but as you can see, those three weeks did nothing to repair the bald spots towards the bridge of my nose, particularly on the left brow. I didn’t touch those areas during the growing-out period, but although the hair grew in all the places I DIDN’T want it, the bits I DID want to grow remained stubbornly bald. GAH.
Because part of the HD Brows treatment involves dyeing the eyebrows, I was sent a patch test to do first, to check for sensitivity or allergic reactions:
HD Brows patch test
This is basically like one of those stick-on transfers: it has to be applied at least 48 hours before your appointment, and is removed before the treatment, using wax, (No, it isn’t painful) thus allowing the beauty therapist to both check the temperature of the wax she’ll be using on your brows, and to remove the patch test.
My beauty therapist was called Emma, and she had reassuringly perfect eyebrows, having had the HD Brows treatment herself a couple of days earlier. She showed me to a treatment room, and I instantly relaxed to the soothing music and soft candlelight: The Reteat Linlithgow has only been open a couple of weeks, and is a really gorgeous salon, with a fabulously opulent feel to it. It’s all thick carpets and rich purple hues, and it’s instantly relaxing, as all good salons should be. Once inside the treatment room, I got up on the bed, and Emma started mapping out where my brows should be:
HD Brows: During
I think this is probably the most important part of the whole treatment. Eyebrows are such an important part of the face, and can make such a big difference to your appearance that you really want to know you’re in safe hands, with someone who really understands what they’re doing, and how the brows should look. I had no fears on that score: Emma took her time chatting to me about how I wanted my eyebrows to look “(Just… better,” was my helpful answer), and explaining what I’d need to do to achieve it.
As I suspected, I have a lot of growing-out still to do, and Emma recommended I try the HD Brows Lash and Brow Booster to encourage those bald spots to grow back again. A brow booster is something I’d never in a million years have considered buying – my aim has always been to STOP them growing so much, so I worry that with a little bit of encouragement, they’ll take over my face – but the bald patches don’t seem to want to grown on their own, and although this product is pretty expensive, the fact that it can also be used on lashes makes it a bit more tempting.
With that done, we moved onto dyeing, which is done over a much larger area of the face than would be the case for other brow treatments, the aim being to highlight all of those little baby-fine hairs, so they can be removed, as well as to emphasize the brows themselves. I’d explained that I REALLY didn’t want my eyebrows too dark, and that previous experiences have taught me that they turn black in a very short period of time, so Emma only left the dye on for a matter of seconds, to keep the look as natural as possible.
Then came the bit I was worried about: waxing, tweezing and threading. I’ve had all of these treatments individually, and all of them have been painful to some extent. Even tweezing, which isn’t painful at all when I do it myself, can really sting when someone else is in control of the tweezers, and threading always leaves me with tears running down my face. Not this time, though: I could obviously feel what was happening, but Emma had such a light hand I can honestly say it all three treatments were pretty-much pain-free. I was amazed.
Emma finished off the treatment by carefully shading and penciling the brows to create the HD Brows look:
I actually didn’t get round to taking proper “after” photos until a few days later, so the photos below don’t include the professional shading, but here’s the end result:
I still have a long way to go, obviously, but hopefully this will be a step in the right direction: going cold-turkey on tweezing for those three weeks has really helped me cut down on my addiction (I was tweezing my brows almost every day before that. Yeah.), so fingers crossed I can continue the good work, and maybe one day – ONE DAY – my eyebrows will no longer be the bane of my life, and I can move onto obsessing over something else instead!
HD Brows: Before and After
[Disclosure: my treatment was complimentary; all opinions and straggly eyebrows are my own.]