Because my mother does not mess with makeup and my stepmother’s beauty philosophy was to never deviate from the exact instructions the Color Me Beautiful lady gave her in 1984, most of what I know about putting slop on my face in order to be more beautiful comes from fellow Louisianan Kevyn Aucoin. In middle school, his books taught me two important lessons: The first is that lightly contouring cheekbones is not that hard and makes all the difference. The second being that if your eyebrows ain’t shit, you ain’t shit. Both lessons I took to heart much more than anything I ever learned in Sunday school.
And the golden rule of Kevyn Aucoin’s eyebrow gospel is that no matter what shape one draws with the eyebrow pencil, it is crucial to brush the eyebrows straight up like the spine fur of a hissing cat. Just as a cat’s fear puff is meant to make the creature look larger to predators, the vertical brush is supposed to make the eyebrows appear big and complicated, frightening to straight men, like all cosmetic enhancements should be.
As I passed the pandemic the way a lot of other people did, rubbing my thumb over my Instagram feed for the 40 percent of my day I wasn’t sleeping or reveling in other people’s misery via r/AmItheAsshole, I noticed that the vertical scared-cat brow had become standard for the 20 or so English makeup artists I follow. In its professional form, it’s called brow lamination, where I guess someone at the eyebrow salon shellacs one’s eyebrows in place, and for $150 they stay that way for six weeks. As I did not want to spend that kind of money for the sole pleasure of looking at my own lovely eyebrows over the bathroom after I peed for a month and a half, I began investigating other options: Glossier’s Boy Brow, for instance, which makes my eyebrows look exactly the same, only slightly sticky. I wanted the cult favorite Brow Jam, but getting a pot of the perpetually sold-out product is more difficult than acquiring a covid vaccine at this point. It wasn’t until a very helpful salesperson at Nordstrom with the most absolutely snatched eyebrows I’ve ever seen told me she used Göt2B gel and nothing else, no pencil or anything, that I realized how dumb I’d been. Of course, the same product responsible for the regrettable icicle-spiked frosted tips of ’90s boyband members would do the same thing for my oddly long and incredibly willful eyebrows.
But I didn’t have any Göt2B spiking gel because I’m not a 14-year-old boy and it’s not 1999, so what I used was the Aveda Control Paste I do have and a squirt of Aussie hairspray that I bought two years ago to make my Halloween hairstyle stay. The results were the initial scared cat look I want, softening over time to a bit of an Abe Vigoda upward fluff. Good, but could I do better? This morning, I bought the Got2B Spiked Up styling gel to see if I could simply glue my eyebrows into whatever shape I’d like.
The results were disappointing! On the right we have a generous scoop of Göt2B gel brushed straight up with a spoolie, given about a minute to set, then brushed up one more time after a smattering of hairspray I sprayed in my hand then rubbed across the brow with my pinky. On the left is the Aveda paste, which, as you can see, creates a much more effective, though still imperfect, angry cat eyebrow.
Here they are again after having about 5 minutes to calm down.
While nothing in life is perfect including my eyebrows, the paste/hairspray combo is clearly giving me the hot but scatterbrained male literature professor eyebrow I’m looking for, while the gel is is just a bit of “oh that lady’s eyebrows are a little unruly but not truly deranged,” and who the hell wants that.
Anyway, stop wasting your money on Boy Brow and put whatever goo you use for your hair into your eyebrows instead. In Kevyn’s name we pray, amen.