Benefit Brow Bar
I visited a Benefit Brow Bar at my local Ulta to whip my eyebrows into shape for the first time. I plucked for years (more on that in a minute) but was ready for some professional help. But first, here’s why I eschewed it until my mid-twenties.
Prior (Jaded) Experience
Let’s rewind a handful-or-so (cough) of years. I was getting my nails done and my nail technician offered a brow wax. I had no idea what the heck to do with my eyebrows. For only $7, I figured it would be fine. (Narrator: It was not fine.)
She whisked me to the rear of the salon and plopped me into a chair next to a few vats of warming wax. She grabbed a coworker and spoke to her, gestured to her own brows, and directed her back to me – evidently not everyone was qualified to perform waxing services. Fair enough.
Wordlessly, this new employee tilted my head back in the chair and grabbed a popsicle stick. She didn’t speak to me, ask what I wanted, if I had done it before; immediately, she dipped the stick in the wax and spread it around my brow, applied a cloth, and ripped with no warning. She did this several times, then moved to my left brow. She repeated the same process on the left. When she moved to the tail area of the brow, she pressed the cloth down and yanked again. It was far more painful than the other previous yanks of cloth-and-wax. I opened my eyes, wincing, and noticed her eyes were wide and concerned. “Oops…” she said.
So…that’s how you end up with half of an eyebrow. From the arch to the tail – gone. Thankfully, I wore side bangs at this time (because I had neither the product or the skill to fill in my now-misshapen brows). I eschewed waxing for years and plucked instead. Can you blame me?
Get in Shape
I was scarred (emotionally) for YEARS, so I plucked on my own. I later noticed that reputable area salons and spas in my area offered brow services along but couldn’t help but wonder:
Although someone knows how to effectively rip hair from your body with sticky goo, do they know shaping best practices?
Legs, underarms, and Brazilian waxes don’t exactly require much shaping; many cases like a closeout sale everything must go. That isn’t the case with our eyebrows, though, as they serve to frame our eyes and face.
I discovered that Benefit offers select waxing services at their Brow Bars located in Ulta stores, Macy’s locations, and a half dozen other places. Members of /r/MakeupAddiction on Reddit passionately instruct newcomers to take their their untouched brows to a Benefit Brow Bar to fix them up.
Plucking up Courage
I looked into it, and Benefit does seem to be the bees knees when it comes to brow shaping. Using a technique called, “brow mapping,” they create an ideal brow shape for you based on your own features. Benefit employees are actually trained on how to create a flattering shape for you, not just how to rip hair out of your face. Knowing that, I felt confident that I could go in and not wind up looking like a clown.
Taking the Plunge
Unsure of whether or not I needed an appointment, I called my local Ulta to check – fortunately, because it is so quick, walk-ins are just fine. I dropped into the store after work, approached the Benefit Brow Bar and spoke to the (friendly! knowledgeable! approachable!) employee there, and told her what I was looking to do. She then proceeded to ask me a series of (important!) questions like whether I use any:
- retinol or Retin-A products
- prescription Benzoyl Peroxide
- laser peels
- microdermabrasions, etc.
Standard health and safety questions that anyone about to provide waxing services should be asking you. She also made sure I wasn’t a minor – she didn’t card me, but mentioned that sometimes they have teens come in without parents and that they have to have a parent present (fair enough).
She asked if I had ever had a brow wax before (so she could explain the procedure if I wasn’t sure what was going to happen), to which I replied yes and gave her a condensed version of the previous story. We chuckled, she assured me that they definitely render better service.
She had me sit at a stool by the bar, wiped my brow area down with a cleanser to make sure I didn’t have makeup on and explained that we were going to map my brows. This is a three-step process:
- Take a thin stick (or pencil or whatever, as long as it is straight) and hold it straight up from outer edge of your nose (outer nostril). Using a brow pencil or powder, make a small vertical mark where that stick hits your brow. This will be the “front.”
- Then, looking straight ahead and keeping the bottom of the stick at the outer-edge of your nose, angle the stick so it diagonally crosses your pupil. Make another small vertical mark where the stick hits your brow. This is your arch.
- Finally, still keeping one end by the outer-edge of your nose, move the upper part of the stick further so it hits the outer edge of your eye. Make a small mark at the brow where that hits – this is where your tail should end.
Repeat this on your other eye. Connect the three marks (but don’t fill them in) – this will make your ideal brow shape. Then,she handed me a mirror to show where my brows’ new boundaries would be.
Ripping the Band-aid, er Wax Strip
Once I agreed, she removed the lid from a small warming unit. Inside was a pearly, champagne-colored wax that she scooped out when a thin wooden stick and very precisely applied to my brow area, taking caution to follow the shape she made and making sure it was thinly and evenly distributed. After doing so, she pressed a small strip over it and smoothed it out gently but firmly, then warned me before she yanked.
The first pull stung a little but was not as bad as the past or what I was expecting (I’ll attribute this to them having an awesome wax formula) and was done relatively quickly (under ten minutes) Any stubborn individual hairs that remained she quickly whisked away with tweezers.
After shaping, she made sure I had no almond or nut allergies and cleaned up any wax residue with an oil. Next, she applied a cooling gel to cleanse that away and soothe my skin. After that, she applied Benefit Gimme Brow to give my brows some life without making them look, “done.” Finally, she gave me a slip to take up to the register with me, but did not hurry me to ring out; I was welcome to browse as I pleased. I eventually went up front to check out and left a tip (because it’s the right thing to do, dangit – tip your estheticians!).
The Bottom Line
For a few months now, I should be able to maintain the shape that the expert/artist/brow wizard created for me. It was a very positive experience! I am happy with the process and results and would highly recommend the Brow Wax service at a Benefit Brow Bar.
Although $20 sounds like a lot for a brow wax, consider the time they take with you: they listen and walk you through the process. They craft a brow shape rather than just eyeballing it and slapping on some wax where they see fit… completely worth it. I confidently recommend this service from Benefit and urge you to give them a try next time you’re considering a brow wax.