The Cost of Maintaining Eyebrows

by Vanessa Ellingham

For the uninitiated, plucking one’s eyebrows is a high-risk slippery slope situation. Remove a couple of extra hairs on one eyebrow, and then you need to make the other side match. Accidentally yank out one extra hair on that brow, and then you have to go back to the first eyebrow to try to make it line up. It is entirely possible that eyebrows gradually became thinner and thinner throughout the nineties and aughts, not because of any particular It-Girl trend, but rather because women like me kept accidentally over-plucking. It’s comforting to imagine the likes of Christina Aguilera suffering from the same affliction as me.

When model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne popularized thick, bushy eyebrows a couple of years ago, I knew my time had come: I was going to grow my eyebrows thicker again. Little did I know the eye-watering maintenance costs awaiting me. These are the costs of one year maintaining my eyebrows.

Three trips to the ‘brow beauty bar’ per year: $75

After two months of banning myself from approaching my eyebrows with the old tweezers to allow them to fully grow back, I was ready for a professional to have a go at them. The brow bar beautician, having worked solely on eyebrows for who knows how long, had obviously thought long and hard about eyebrow personification. This was made clear when she told me: “I can’t make your eyebrows look like twins, but let’s aim for sisters.”

Despite my best efforts, I still seem to slowly work my new brows out of shape over the course of a few months, so then I book in for a re-shape. Each appointment costs $25; I had three appointments over the last year totalling $75.

Maintenance tools: $23

Once I saw the solid pair of tweezers the beautician was wielding, I wanted a pair for myself. And when I saw a set of three (rounded tip, slanted tip and combination tip) I was all in ($9). Sucker, I know. She also trimmed my brows, something I’d never even thought to do, but when I saw a package deal online for a set of brow scissors and a brush to comb them into place ($14), it was an easy sell.

Eyebrow makeup: $42

After a couple of months of loving my new brows, I noticed that there were a few patches where, no matter how long I waited, the hairs I had diligently plucked out for years simply refused to grow back. I had read about creams and gels you could use to promote eyebrow growth, but that seemed a little over the top, so instead I took a trip to MAC to pick up some eyebrow makeup.

The saleswoman helped me try out a pencil for coloring in any patches of thin hair ($21), and then she up-sold me on some clear gel mascara used for setting the eyebrows so they don’t move around during the day ($21).

Looking back on a year of insane eyebrow maintenance costs, I never thought I would drop $140 on one single feature of my face in a year. I wish I had thought to celebrate my eyebrows long before they were trendy. But the joy of knowing my kind of eyebrows are finally the ones women want — somehow, ridiculously, that’s cause for financial celebration.

This story is part of a series examining our financial vices.

Vanessa Ellingham is a writer and editor based in Berlin, Germany.

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