What is eyebrow waxing like?
October 17, 2004 11:15 PM   Subscribe

Eyebrow waxing: is it torture? Is it simple and easy? Somewhere in between?

I've been offered a free "sculpting" by an aesthetician friend but I'm wary. I don't dig pain, especially not for something as frivolous as more shapely brows. (I swear I think about my eyebrows maybe once a year.) Should I do it? Should I run screaming far, far away from this friend and her implements of doom? If you've done it, share your experiences -- especially the worst of them.
posted by Dreama to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total)
In my experience, eyebrow waxing is no big deal. I'd be sure to discuss what your expectations are in terms of shaping, so that you don't wind up with something more radical that you would normally want. Bikini line and upper lip are both way more sensitive, at least for me, than eyebrows. It may look a little angry for half an hour or so (more if you have very sensitive skin) so factor that in when scheduling.

Taking two advil about 45 minutes beforehand is also helpful.

And be wary of putting any creamy concealer-type concoctions on it- I've had aestheticians put creams on afterward that make me break out.
posted by ambrosia at 11:59 PM on October 17, 2004

Best answer: Dreama, it's not so bad. If you've ever worn a cheap underwire bra all day, you've suffered more than this.

Your attitude is key: if you go in dreading it, it'll hurt more. Get a massage or have a stiff drink first, if you think you won't be relaxed enough. But you really have no reason to be uptight: if she's a professional aesthetician, I'm sure she's skillful; she'll do one big blob under each brow, quickly get remove them with paper in a single motion, and tap the areas firmly to deaden that ow I've just had hair ripped out with wax feeling. She'll then tweeze the hair nearer to the brows, and this is usually more uncomfortable to me than the actual waxing, except when I'm in skilled hands. She should then put a cooling antiseptic cream on the areas, and off you go, considerably cuter than you were before. The more you have it done, the more inured you become to the pain; I don't even wince anymore.

Hint: Don't do this immediately before your sexy date or any public appearance requiring your full cuteness, because you will have prominent pink patches and swelling around your brow for the first few hours. You can ice these or throw a couple of cucumbers on.

Really, don't worry about it. It's a very nice service and you are lucky to have a friend who knows what she's doing and wants to give it to you for free.
posted by melissa may at 12:12 AM on October 18, 2004

How does it stack up against plucking one by one? I hate doing that so much and prolonging the pain that I've considered just going with the one-time pain pull of wax.
posted by mathowie at 12:21 AM on October 18, 2004

It's much more preferable to plucking one by one. Over quicker, plus you will probably end up with a nicer result.

(At least, I always tend to overpluck when I do it myself. Or just overpluck one eyebrow without realising it and end up lopsided. Which for some reason I can't see when looking in the mirror, but becomes bloody obvious in photographs.)
posted by arha at 12:41 AM on October 18, 2004

I've only had my eyebrows done once and it was fine. The upper lip was another story!

Plucking, as is with the waxing, is much better when you pull the skin tight. And do it after a shower. And look up into a regular mirror after a while and do little bits at a time (I tend to do a little on one brow, then try to match it up on the other before I move on).

So, Matt, when I do it (albeit only a handful of times a year) it doesn't really hurt at all. So hard for me to say if one is better than the other. You can always try it once and go back to plucking.
posted by evening at 4:32 AM on October 18, 2004

I agree that the pain of waxing is no big deal, but I do offer this warning: My "Let's just try it this once for fun" free waxing at the salon I'd been going to turned into a $15/month habit. It really does make a difference, even if it's just a subtle "reshaping."
posted by ferociouskitty at 5:10 AM on October 18, 2004

I swear I think about my eyebrows maybe once a year.

If this is true, then why do it? I have to confess to being somewhat challenged when it comes to fasionable grooming, but are there really people out there who make aesthetic judgements about eyebrow shape/texture?

(OK, the unibrow is not good, but other than that...)
posted by weston at 6:17 AM on October 18, 2004

I make aesthetic judgements about eyebrow shape/texture, and I don't even give a rip about unibrows.
posted by kenko at 6:43 AM on October 18, 2004

WAY less painful than plucking, since it gets it (mostly) over with in one go. Although it will probably make you jump. I found getting my eyebrows waxed No Big Deal, whereas getting my legs or (dog forbid) armpits waxed was far too painful. I say go for it, a good aesthetician can make quite an effective (if minor) change to your appearance with a good eyebrow shaping job.
posted by biscotti at 6:59 AM on October 18, 2004

It really doesn't hurt as much as you'd think, and I second biscotti - you'll be surprised at how much more awake and pulled together it can make you look. The waxing only hurts for one split second per brow, seriously, and the shape will last for a long time. If you decide to maintain it afterward, it’ll be really easy because you can follow the neat line from the waxing. Even if you don’t want to deal with maintaining it, they’ll still be neater as they fill in.

Matt, in my experience, the pain is FAR less than that of plucking, and does a much better job, much faster.

One tip for you or anyone else who tries it – if your skin tends to get oily (like mine does), wash your face right before you go. If you can’t, then just wipe the area quickly with toner before you go in. Having oil built up on your skin will make the waxing hurt more and be less effective.
posted by boomchicka at 7:11 AM on October 18, 2004

Best answer: I would like to add to the common concensus that eyebrow waxing is no big deal. Particularly if it's your friend doing it--she'll be far more gentle than a stranger.

A few longshot bits of advice: Since you're a bit of a n00b I would recommend not drinking anything the 24 hours prior to getting it done--particularly wine. Wine has histamines, and histamines will make you more puffy after the wax is pulled off. (A Benadryl beforehand might aid in avoiding the puffiness.) Also, alcohol thins your blood, and though the likelihood that you'll bleed from an eyebrow wax is near nil, it's just a precaution. (TMI: I *have* bled from a bikini wax. That was lovely.)

Also, and again, YMMV, avoid waxing close to the beginning or end of your 28-day cycle. (Pre-)Menstrual women have more sensitive skin.

In my experience, deep breathing exercises are beneficial too.
posted by cowboy_sally at 7:28 AM on October 18, 2004

having your eyebrows waxed doesn't hurt at all (way less than plucking) and is one of those things that once you've had it done, people will be doing the "wow, you look really great today! did you [insert random look altering things here]?" for days afterwards. on a scale of blowing my nose to having my nose pierced, eyebrow waxing is a 2; toe waxing is an 9.

you can't have it done if you've used alpha-hydroxy (? i don't use anything at all on my face, so i don't know what they are) treatments on your skin within 24 hours. i personally wouldn't recommend doing *anything* special beforehand (a good beautician will wipe you down with something to remove the skin oil if necessary), except thinking pleasant thoughts and breathing deeply and evenly.

the redness on my face goes away by the time my haircut is done, but my sister's face stay red for about 12 hours.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:48 AM on October 18, 2004

I agree with everyone else. It really does make a big difference in how you look, and it's really not painful at all. The first time I had it done, I was afraid that it would feel like ripping a bandaid off, but it's not even close to that.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:45 AM on October 18, 2004

I wouldn't go so far as "doesn't hurt at all," but the pain is brief and tolerable. I would say it hurts about as much as getting blood drawn at the doctor. There's a little blip of pain, but you know it's coming and then it's over.

I get my (ape-like) brows done professionally maybe twice a year, and wax them at home the rest of the time. The kit I use is Sally Hansen sugar wax, which works well and only costs about $5 for a kit that lasts at least 6 mos. The key is to spread a thin layer in the direction of growth, press on the strip firmly, and yank fast against the grain.
posted by bonheur at 12:14 PM on October 18, 2004

It hurts more below the brow than above it, but it's so fast. My biggest problem - and why I pluck instead of go to the professionals - is that the wax also strips away the tiny peach fuzz hair, leaving shiny bald strips above and below the brows that look especially weird and prominent if you put makeup on over them.
posted by kmel at 2:11 PM on October 18, 2004

It hurts but it's bearable and totally worth it. I was impressed with how easily I got hooked on it.

If you can find someone professional to pluck your brows that's even better, but I can't do it myself. It hurts to much and I can't get them to match. For some reason when someone else is doing the plucking it doesn't hurt very much.

I don't much think about how I look either, but eyebrow shaping makes you look much more put together (which means you can slack even more on the rest of your appearance).
posted by small_ruminant at 2:39 PM on October 18, 2004

I had my eyebrows threaded today - pure research for this discussion. So now I've tried waxing, threading and tweezing.

I was getting my hair cut and talking to the hairdresser about wax vs tweezing (I like wax). She mentioned she had just learned threading and offered a free shaping if I let her practice on me.

Tweezing comes in dead last. Waxing is quick but I do have problems with redness lasting a long time and there's always some tweezing afterwards. Threading turned out to be about as painful as waxing, but it does take more time. Upshot is, no tweezing at all, and I don't have big red areas on my forehead - nor those bald spots with no peach fuzz as mentioned.

So right now I would put threading at the top of the list. But to each her own.
posted by Salmonberry at 3:43 PM on October 18, 2004

Coincidentally, I had my eyebrows waxed for the first time this morning (got to look swank at my cousin's wedding). It hurt a bit, slight eye-watering going on and it stung for an hour or so afterwards, but really it was nothing amazing in the pain department. It does definitely make me not want to ever experience that anywhere near my crotch, but for the eyebrows it was okay. And now my eyebrows are smoking hot.
posted by frenetic at 4:28 PM on October 18, 2004

I flew to Pennsylvania for a big family reunion/wedding a few years ago. The day before I left I had a haircut, a facial, and my eyebrows waxed. The wax was apparently too hot and burned me. I had bright red arcs over my eyes for three days followed by peeling-- not a pretty sight and impossible to cover with make-up. I've gone back to tweezing.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:13 PM on October 18, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Since puffiness is my default status, there's no risk of me being cute, having a hot date (my husband would frown on that, I think) or drinking wine, and I've got a week before I need to appear in public, I think I may just go for it for the heck of it.
posted by Dreama at 6:40 PM on October 18, 2004

[D'oh, Dreama et al, I meant to say "don't drink any alcohol for 24 hours before. Nonalcoholic beverages are of course fine.]
posted by cowboy_sally at 7:28 AM on October 19, 2004

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