It is one of nature’s cruellest jokes: by the time we are old enough to be entrusted with eyebrows, we have often already ruined them. The effects of improper eyebrown maintenance in our teenage years may last a lifetime; a battlefield massacre you see reflected back at you every time you look in the mirror.
But even into adulthood, eyebrow-related mishaps may occur. This week, the Sun reported that 37-year-old Colline Rees from Llanelli, south Wales, had a family holiday ruined after a botched eyebrow treatment left her too embarassed to pose for photos. After a trainee therapist accidentally waxed off most of her right eyebrow, the salon attempted to fix the mistake by painting thick, black dye on Rees’s brows. “All my close friends and family were saying I look like something out of the Angry Birds,” Rees said.
At least Rees was left with eyebrows – sort of. When Hattie Grylls decided to shape her eyebrows while on a family holiday aged 13, her dad’s rusty old razor was the closest implement to hand. The 26-year-old Londoner, who works in publishing, says: “I still get a rash from embarassment just thinking about it.”
At the time, thin eyebrows were in vogue. “I’d just started shaving my legs and got my period. I was like, ‘I’m a woman now.’” Plus, Grylls had started a tentative holiday romance with a boy called Alex, and she hoped her new, adult eyebrows would seal the deal.
“I was trying to do it methodically,” Grylls says. The trouble is, a razor isn’t that precise. “I’d overdo it on one side, so I’d do a bit more to even it out on the other side.” Reader, she shaved her eyebrows off.
After surveying the damage to her face, Grylls borrowed her mum’s eyeliner, drew them back on, and went downstairs for lunch. “Dad said: ‘You’re never using my razor again.’” It wasn’t all bad: even sans eyebrows, Grylls managed to kiss Alex later that week.
Not all victims are so lucky. When Ben Horsley-Summer was 20, he was into “shouty” music, and had a face full of piercings and long black hair to boot. Two eyebrow piercings in an unusual place – the centre of his brows, directly above his pupils – seemed like a good bet.
“It would be a bit different,” Horsley-Summer, a 34-year-old marketing manager from Guildford, recalls. “Get something no one else has. The guy in the piercing shop said: ‘Are you sure?’”
When Horsley-Summer took out his piercings five years later, he realised what the piercer had meant: he had two bald spots in the centre of his eyebrows.It took nearly a decade for the hair to grow back. His advice to anyone thinking of getting an eyebrow piercing? “Don’t do it. Get a tattoo where no one can see it.”
If a calamity should befall your eyebrows, don’t do as 27-year-old Kimberley Hall did, and heap disaster upon disaster. Hall, a police service adviser from Edinburgh, bought a precision hair trimmer with the intention of tidying up her eyebrows, but a combination of a hangover and a momentary lapse in concentration proved ruinous.
“I shaved half of my right eyebrow off by accident,” Hall says. “Then I thought, I can’t have half an eyebrow – so I decided taking it all off was a better decision.” (It was not.) Looking upon her work with despair, Hall made yet another unforced error, and decided to get a fringe cut to cover it up. “It was a double disaster,” she remembers. “I had to tell people about the eyebrow straight away, because they were judging my terrible hair.”
Sometimes, the decision is out of your hands. Two years ago, Humzah Malik, 20, a student at Exeter University, fell asleep at a house party. He woke up to find his eyebrows had been partly shaved off. “I had to wear makeup for about a month afterwards, which would usually melt off halfway through the day, making me look incredibly strange.”
To any teenagers who may be reading this, about to absent-mindedly do some facial landscape gardening using your mum’s Venus: put the razor down. Unless it’s already too late – in which case, don’t worry. They’ll grow back. Eventually. Probably.