I discovered a simple hack for getting the spookiest eyebrows

The other day I was browsing through Instagram when I came across my friend Chester Lockhart‘s Instagram stories.

For those who don’t know Chester, they’re an actor/entertainer/performer/singer aka ALL the things. In any case, in their stories, their brows were lifted, combed, perfectly in place. I’d tried lifting my eyebrows with made brow pomades from the likes of Anastasia of Beverly Hills (duh!) to NYX’s own Tinted Brow Mascara. Though I may have shaped and lifted them, no pomade was powerful enough to go against gravity. AKA by the time I left my home and got into a subway, they went back to their shapeless – albeit glossy – form.

And so I DMed Chester and asked them about their secret. “Gel and hairspray and a blowdryer.”

I don’t know why I was so taken aback by this. Obviously gel and hairspray and a blowdryer would certainly hold hair in place. But it was so genius in its ease that I decided to try it immediately. But instead of having to use a brow pencil, mascara, or anything else to fill, I went for mascara.

I was traveling last week to NYC and didn’t have enough room to pack everything in my kit and so out of practicality and desperation, I decided to lift my brows with a tube of Milk Makeup’s Kush Mascara. If it can lift my lashes certainly it’d be able to do the same with my eyebrows, I conjectured. What came next was a result so good, I needed to share with all of you.

All you need is mascara in your own shade – mine’s easy because they’re black – gel, and a blowdryer. The easy steps I’ve laid down for you below:

Spooky eyebrows

Spooky eyebrows (Photo by David Yi/ Very Good Light)

1 Fill in and brush up

For some reason, mascara brushes and the formula are a lot more powerful than ANY eyebrow pomades I’ve used. It makes sense. Eyelashes need to stay curled for the entire day and so mascara formulas are usually stickier and heavier. Take the brush, fill in but brushing up and out. When you’ve filled in brush them way up.

2 Add gel or hairspray

Like Chester instructed, take just a pea-sized amount of gel or spray your fingers just a tiny bit and add to your brows. Then, take your mascara brush and brush up again.

3 Use a blowdryer

This isn’t mandatory, no. But it will ensure that your brows are in place before your leave your home. Set the blowdryer on medium and “cool” so you don’t 1) burn your face 2) break out into a sweat. Blow-dry up for 30 seconds. Voila! You’re done.

The result? I’ve never had better brows – and compliments – in my entire life. And it literally took less than a minute!

3 individuals on why they decided to get plastic surgery

When it comes to men, plastic surgery is surging.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ annual Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, 8% of all procedures in the United States in 2018 were by men. From only a decade ago, that’s a surge of 29% of men who undergo the knife. 

SEE ALSO: I spent over $100,000 to look like BTS’ Jimin

Even though the numbers seem small, Dr. Jason Roostaeian, a LA based plastic surgeon, assures us that interest is growing exponentially, “Every year, male plastic surgery is one of the fastest growing parts of plastic surgery,” he tells Very Good Light.  

Why is male plastic surgery growing so much? Dr. Roostaeian says it’s due to the stigma of guys and aesthetics disappearing. “Guys have always cared about their looks, there’s just way more social awareness about plastic surgery,” he explains. He credits social media for further emphasizing people’s appearances. It’s coupled with social media’s ability to spread information about plastic surgery – of its existence and how common it is. More so, social media is now perhaps destigmatizing enhancement surgeries altogether. According to Dr. Roostaeian, it’s also more accessible than ever. 

And with it comes the bigger question: Why is plastic surgery stigmatized in the first place? If it promotes confidence, well-being and empowerment, what’s the fear? For many men and male-presenting people, investing in their appearances has become a sort of means to feel more whole. While the reasons for plastic surgery is a very personal choice, it varies from person to person. Very Good Light spoke with three people, inspired by conversations on redefining masculinity and male beauty, on why they chose to alter their appearances. Here’s why each decided to go under the knife and their candid thoughts after. 

Brandon 

In order to fix a severe underbite  Brandon Katsuyama underwent a maxillofacial surgery at 18 years old. He’d always been insecure about his jaw and even after braces worn throughout middle and high school, it was still apparent. 

“I was having an identity crisis,” Brandon says. “I was just thinking, Was this the right decision?”

And it wasn’t solely something he felt was aesthetically obtrusive. His doctors continually warned him that the underbite would lead to problems further down the line. With his underbite getting in the way of him chewing properly, Brandon was already dealing with chronic digestive issues. Perhaps worst of all, Brandon recalls being too insecure to even smile. “If I did, I would have my bottom jaw jutting out from under my top teeth,” he recalls. In his eyes, “it just looked really terrible.”

Desperate to live his life to the fullest, Brandon turned to plastic surgery as a last resort. The maxillofacial surgery in and of itself is invasive. It’s one in which the jaw is broken, grafted onto steel and then reshaped. For good measure, his doctor also suggested breaking his nose and pushing it up so it would be more aligned with his jaw. With such a major operation coming up, Brandon was nervous.

When he woke up from his surgery on December 31, 2014, he watched the New Year’s ball drop on TV from his hospital bed. After he’d healed, he looked in the mirror and realized he couldn’t recognize himself. Even after the swelling from the surgery had settled, he grappled with his new face and was weighed down with regret. “I was having an identity crisis,” Brandon says. “I was just thinking, Was this the right decision?”

Eager to get the surgery over with and start a new chapter of his life, Brandon hadn’t considered how his face would entirely change. He trusted his doctor to do what was best for Brandon medically, but the surgeon had taken liberties shaping Brandon’s new face. 

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A hapa –half Japanese and half caucasian – Brandon’s “flat Asian face,” something that helped him feel connected with his Japanese family, was gone. “The surgery created more angles to my face, appealing more to Western appearances,” he observed. “Once I had the surgery done, I saw that I was further out of my Asian identity.”

While Brandon eventually settled into his new features, found the confidence and self-acceptance he was looking for going into surgery, and was able to find new ways to connect with his heritage, there’s still a lot he thinks he should have done differently. He wonders it he was too young. He admits he rushed through his surgery instead of asking all the questions he should have asked. 

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For anybody considering a cosmetic procedure? “If you’re having any doubts or facing any anxiety, that’s a red flag to slow down and really rethink it,” Brandon advises. “If you go through with something and it’s irreversible, that’s one of the bigger regrets.”  Today, Brandon has come to appreciate himself – from the inside out and is growing into his own. 

Rudy

Working in the cosmetics industry as a makeup artist, Rudy, or Ru, as he’s called, found that he was surrounded by perfect faces. However, it wasn’t the genetic jackpot or impeccable makeup that made them so beautiful, he’d realized that most of his coworkers had gotten enhancements like lip injections, fillers, Botox, or some combination of all of the above. 

He eventually gave into the curiosity and decided to try out lip enhancements for himself. 

“I didn’t have a problem with my lips before – they were a good size,” Ru explains to Very Good Light. “But I’ve always been fascinated with perfecting things and making everything as good as you can get them. I love the idea of changing yourself and making yourself feel happy in your own skin.”

Ru’s initial experience with lip fillers ends there. It was only very recently that he picked up where he felt off with cosmetic procedures. In the last few months, Ru has re-plumped his lips, and he’s tried out cheek fillers, midface rejuvenation, Botox in the jaw, and three non-surgical nose jobs. 

To perfect his features, Ru used fillers to create flattened cheekbones more in line with a chiseled bone structure. The Botox relaxed his jaw muscle to square out his jawline more. Strategically injecting fillers, Ru says he was able to straighten out a small hump in his nose and give his nose a slight “ski-slope effect.”

Today, Ru says he’s extremely happy with his refined look, and is grateful he was able to use non-surgical methods to see how he would look, first. He recommends the same for anybody thinking about going under the knife.  

“Every single day, when I look in the mirror or take a photo with friends, I notice my nose and see a huge difference to my profile,” Ru shares of his nose, post-surgery. Although most haven’t noticed the change, he knows a rhinoplasty operation would be worth it because of how much more confident it gives him.  

“Think to yourself, Okay, am I prepared to deal with this if it happens?”

One thing to be cautious of, Ru advises, is that even minor cosmetic procedures like fillers or Botox aren’t a walk in the park. Injectables are often perceived as quick, painless procedures where you walk into the clinic and walk out five minutes later with perfect results, but that’s not the entire reality. 

“When I got my third nose procedure, I was a little too confident in the healing process,” Ru admits. The first two were quick and painless, but the third time around was difficult for Ru. “There was a lot of bleeding and I was bruised on my nose for maybe a month after it. Really serious bruising,” he says. “It was the first time I had any serious reaction from any procedure, and I know it could have been a lot worse.” 

While non-surgical procedures absolutely are a milder alternative to surgery, it’s still important to Ru that injectables are taken with seriousness. “Read about what can happen, Google examples,” Ru advises. “Think to yourself, Okay, am I prepared to deal with this if it happens?”

Tresor

As a non-binary person, Tresor Prijs struggled with gender dysmorphia, which affected how they viewed themself and impacted their self-esteem. “As a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to look like somebody else because what I saw on the outside and what I felt on the inside were just very different,” they share.

Every time they looked in the mirror, they were simply unhappy with the reflection that stared back at them. Their low, droopy eyebrows in particular were a large point of scrutiny for Tresor. They hated how masculine they were and wanted nothing more than a brow lift.

No matter how desperately they knew they wanted a brow lift, they took their time researching and reflecting. 

They started out at the library, researching what cosmetic procedures were an option for what they wanted. From there, they went online to find plastic surgeons who were skilled in these procedures. 

Consulting with the doctors in real life, it took Tresor three tries to find the right doctor – somebody who they could trust. “If somebody isn’t going to make you feel personally comfortable, it’s best to step away,” Tresor advises. “Give it some time and look for someone who can align with your own end goals in a more fluid way.”

What did patience get Tresor? 

“I found someone who was able to accommodate the fact that I was still quite young and treat me with the kind of tenderness and gentle nature that you need with someone in my position and not take advantage of the insecurities and all those feelings.”

“Wow, I really look like me today.”

While studying up on plastic surgeries, Tresor also had the privilege of going to therapy, and they had a space to work through their gender identities and their insecurities. For Tresor, a key breakthrough was that no matter how much they altered their face, they could still feel the same conflict and unsettling feelings internally. 

Focusing on therapy first, sorting out everything they were feeling on the inside, Tresor was able to narrow down the alterations that would genuinely make them happy and the ones that wouldn’t. In the end, they realized they only needed one thing: a non-invasive brow lift.

They went into surgery feeling confident, informed, and empowered. Small incisions were placed under their brows and polypropylene sutures were placed the skin, creating the lifted but natural look, the “bitchy brows,” Tresor wanted.

After a couple days of recovery time, when they felt ready to be out and about, they looked in the mirror, and they were astonished. “That was one of the first moments when I looked in the mirror and I was like Wow, I really look like me today,” they share. 

Although it was just a cosmetic change, it wasn’t simply cosmetic. It was everything from self-care to a way for Tresor to express theirself. 

“It gave me a little pep in my step,” Tresor explains. “When I did my makeup, I felt better about my brows.”

It was the little confidence boost that was right for Tresor at the time. They loved their brow lift, and they’re still beyond happy with it. But it helped them realize that appearances only mean so much, and Tresor wants to shift the emphasis from the outside to the inside. 

“Loving yourself is a process, a daily act. It takes time and work,” they explain. “Take the time and energy into focusing on what you love about yourself.” After that, when you’ve done the work and there are still things you want to change about yourself, you’re free to do so. 

The latter is a sentiment shared between the three: Brandon, Ru, and Tresor, a message that if somebody wants to change their appearances to empower themselves, they should. After all, everyone has autonomy over their bodies. 

For Korean men, groomed eyebrows is a signifier of masculinity

(Getting my eyebrows trimmed – the most masculine act you could do, grooming-wise.)

SEOUL – Traditionally, you wouldn’t think of a barbershop as the first place you’d go to get your eyebrows groomed.

But that’s exactly where Seoul men flock to when they’re in need of managing their own. In the past few years alone, barbershops (바버숍) have popped all over Seoul and are having a moment. But unlike their American counterparts, where guys go for the sole purpose of cutting their hair or shaping their beards, Korean barbershops are where men feel comfortable getting beautified.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Seoul’s most famous skincare clinic

At the barbershop called Swagger, in the hip neighborhood of Hongdae, men not only shape their brows, receive perms, but spruce up their complexions with B.B. creams which are applied by barbers themselves. The shop is owned by Hellen Choo, who also owns the Swagger grooming brand, a product line that includes hair pomades, gels, sprays, body washes, to eyebrow markers. The brand is now so popular, it’s sold at places like Olive Young, Korea’s answer to Sephora, 7-11, as well as other drug stores. Hellen is now expanding the brand to the States, where it’s called “Ssanai,” (man, in Korean) as Swagger’s trademark has already been taken.

Hellen, who comes from a design background, having studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, was surprised when conducting her initial research. After surveying college-aged men, she was surprised to find that younger guys were more progressive in their grooming than she thought.

“I was talking to these 21-year old, 22-year old guys and meet them weekly,” she tells me. “What they were saying was that they don’t really do their hair. They don’t have time. ‘We just take a shower and rush to class,’ is what they, for the most part, told me.” But what they always made sure to do? “Their eyebrows,” Hellen says. “Guys won’t do their hair but they say they’ll always wear B.B. cream and wear their eyebrows.”

Which was no surprise to me when I was in Seoul. Rarely, if ever, did I spot any South Korean guy with messy or unkempt eyebrows. Each had them had perfectly shaped, symmetrical, thick and dark. It makes sense for a country that’s extremely trend-driven. A look at any billboard, advertisement or YouTube channel will show how all South Korean male celebrities have the same thick eyebrow shape, one that resembles a single paint stroke. It’s called the “straight eyebrow trend,” one that made its dominance in 2014.

In the States, having too primped of eyebrows raises a few eyebrows. They either conjure memories of the Jersey Shore (or Cristiano Ronaldo), or suggest guys are ~way~ too into their physical appearances (which, obvious isn’t a bad thing). In Seoul, having brows that are less than trimmed or shaped means that not only do you not care about yourself, it could suggest you are lazy, a slob or tacky altogether – something I’ve quickly learned is something all Seoulites are allergic to.

(Taeyeon, the popular barber, teaches me how to properly shave my eyebrows.)

“Your eyebrows make the first impression and are super important,” Hellen explains to me. “You don’t want it to look too done and it needs to look natural. But if the eyebrows aren’t dark enough, you look really bland. The bolder the brows, the stronger the overall look of a guy. They have this thing in Korea where fortune tellers read your face. A thicker, more defined brows gives you a strong impression. That means you’re luckier, you’ll be wealthier, more successful.”

Which, I suppose, from my naturally bushy brows, was not me. When I stepped into Swagger’s barbershop, Hellen, taken aback at its lack of shape, gasped: “Your brows … they make you look so 둔해 (dull).” She immediately sat me in a chair to fix this problem. Taeyeon, Swagger’s popular female barber, who is booked for weeks, kindly tended to my brows, what was sure to be shocking for her. After snipping them to a shorter form, she took some shaving cream and started shaving them as you would your mustache or beard. The key, she told me, was to make them look sharp. A few minutes later, she applies Swagger’s own eyebrow marker, what Hellen says is pressed powder. With a swipe up and over, my eyebrows are super bold, super black. They’re thick, shapely, and I feel like a new man.

(BEFORE: My brows in its natural form. Do I look … dull?)

“Now you look really like a strong man,” Hellen remarks, after my transformation. “You look so much more masculine.”

My brows are shaped to a tee and I don’t know if I look bolder, but I feel fiercer, if not super Korean. My eyebrows aren’t only sharper, they’re thicker and darker. There’s no doubt that the shaped eyebrows really do make me look less “dull,” as Hellen would say, and I feel as if it changes my face shape altogether.

(AFTER: My brand new, shapely eyebrows. Am I ‘masculine’ AF yet?)

Do I feel more masculine after I spent 15-minutes tending to my eyebrows? Not exactly. But for the first time ever, I admit, I do feel more confident and dare I say, sexy. Korean fortunetellers, be damned, my thick, razor sharp eyebrows, with a slight Situation-like vibe make me  feel extra extra, and I’m totally into that.

Making your boy brows into men

Can a women’s product make a man feel more, um, manly?

I used to pray every night to Jesus Up Above that I’d be able to grow out a full, lush beard like every other male in the world who isn’t Asian.

After all, I already look prepubescent (you sure you’re 17, sir? This is Rated R!) and having facial hair, I figured, would finally make me look older, wiser, more mature. But when it dawned on me on my 25th birthday that I’d be relatively furless on my upper lip for the rest of my life, I came to terms that I’d have to move on. And so I did to the next best thing: my eyebrows. Brows, after all, are your forehead’s own mustaches, at least in my head. Mine are naturally bushy, thick and dark, but far from filled in.

SEE ALSO: How to get a brow job 

So it’s ironic, then, that after all of these years taking pride in my forehead ‘staches I reinforce my brows’ masculinity by turning to a women’s product. By that, I mean Glossier’s own Boy Brow, the all-in-one wonder brow pomade designed to create an illusion of bushier, more manly eyebrows. It’s used to fill in sparse hair, thicken, while also styling them in a brow side part if there ever was such a thing.

Boyish brows for girls go back to 2013 when thick brows became the thing to do thanks to Cara Delevingne. It’s a trend that’s been resurged from the ’80s when gals took to Brooke Shield’s own famed furry friends. Brows are now a big business. At least, according to market research by the firm, NPD Group, which reported eyebrow makeup neared $90 million in the past five years.

It makes sense, then, that it would ring true for guys as well. Ramy Gafni, a celebrity makeup artist with his own product line, saw such a spike of men requesting eyebrow grooming he coined the word “Guybrows” back in 2011. When he began his business 20 years ago, only 5% of his clients were guys, he tells Very Good Light. Today, it’s over 50%.

“It’s so accepted that I feel like men would almost be embarrassed if they didn’t get their brows groomed,” he tells us. For men, bolder eyebrows are having their moment because “they make you appear more sophisticated and flatter most face types,” Ramy says. Which explains why brands have their own men’s specific brow products like Ramy’s own Perfect Brow Wand for guys and the likes of Tom Ford have its own men’s specific gelcomb.

So why is it that I use a women’s products for my own boy brows? Simply put, Glossier’s version make the look very extreme and obvious. Instead of Tom Ford’s own, which is great a combing them over and putting them in place, Glossier’s fills mine in and makes them the better, bolder version of male eyebrows. Every other day, I’ll brush them up, fill in the bald spots and make sure they look as thick as Yanni’s upper lip. The entire process takes all of 15 seconds but gives me an entire day of security that I am over 21 and certainly strangely, more secure in my manhood.

Sure, it doesn’t make up for the lack of full grown beard, but does make my round cherub of a face look a little more grown up. Almost like a boyish face becoming more adult-like. Call it my version of Boy (Browz) II Men.