Tonya Crooks’ first piece of advice? Don’t tweeze more than once a month.
Our beauty obsession with brows shows no sign of slowing down – and Tonya Crooks, founder of cult brand Brow Gal, has tended to some of the best in the business, from Eva Mendes to Megan Fox and Halle Berry.
We sat down with her to get her ultimate tips for brow greatness.
You’re a classically trained artist, how does that help you with brows?
I use my classical training always, everyday without even realising. It’s second nature to look at someone’s face and see exactly what I’d do. In my life I never dreamed I’d be a make-up artist or eyebrow expert, but as soon as the client lies down [for a treatment] I just know what to do.
What was the inspiration behind your product range?
I worked on my product line for ten years. I wasn’t happy with the colours out there – I felt everything was too warm, and being ash in colour myself it bothered me a lot. I started mixing my own in my kitchen then I began using those colours on my clients.
Megan Fox has been one of my clients for ever, and in 2010 when she was getting really famous with Transformers she said, “Tonya, you have to give me something I can use in my brows, because I only like my brows when you do them. I need something to make them look the way you do when I’m not with you.”
I’d have clients saying they couldn’t get an appointment with me near enough to a big event, so they’d have me do their brows then just wash their face around their brows until the event so they could keep them on. I’d hear that over and over and I’d feel guilty, so I knew it was time [to launch my own product range].
Who has great brows right now?
This is a really hard question, because every single person’s brows are different and unique for them. Take Megan Fox, who has an arch, and Natalie Portman, who has a straight brow. If you switched them, they wouldn’t be as beautiful as they are. It has to be what’s best for you.
What brow trends do you think we will see in 2018?
With brows, you need to fix any issues first. If you want a trend brow you can go from there, but you need good foundations first, otherwise it’s like trying to put a roof on a house with uneven walls. The eye needs to focus and balance. The brows can make or break your face for this reason, more than any other facial feature.
For this reason I don’t really like ‘trends’ as such, but I do think that in a few years we are going to see the return of the very thin Nineties brow.
Who have you worked on that’s had the best brow transformation?
Probably Megan; when I first met her she had about six hairs on each brow. She used to over-tweeze and when I met her in 2003 she surrendered her brows over.
What can we really do about overplucked brows?
If you want your brows back then put the tweezers down. If you’re tweezing often – and more than once a month is often – it’s too much. It takes 52 days for a new brow hair to grow, so you want to try and nurture that growth. If I put you on a regime with me I’d say don’t tweeze between appointments, not even one hair, because [plucking hairs] is like potato chips: one is never enough.
I created a growth product too, Second Chance Serum. It took 2.5 years to create – it’s a vibrating wand technology that you brush back and forth every night on clean brows to help them grow. The physical vibration of the wand strengthens blood circulation, meaning more nutrients reach the hair follicle, plus the vibration pushes the serum deeper into the follicle to aid growth further.
A regular [serum] applicator relies on gravity; that’s why you have to apply it at night and lie down. I wanted something to almost force its way in.
What about microblading?
I call it the last stop. You want to see what your brows can do on their own first. I do microblade my clients but if someone comes in and wants it straight away I say, “Let’s see what we can do with shaping and maybe a growth serum, and then we’ll think about microblading.”
There is a massive margin of error in microblading, and once you have it done you’re stuck with it. I have so many people come to me with bad microblading and removal is such a huge process.
If you really have no brows or have lost some hair though scarring or something then it’s a perfect solution, but do your research and go to somebody really skilled.
What’s your essential product from the range and how should we use it?
Brow Gal Skinny Eye Pencil is a great place to start, and really easy for beginners. It has an amazing lead and you can do anything from natural or intense because of its pressure sensitive tip. I call it goof-proof, because if you put too much in you can just brush it out.
Draw it on in the direction your hair grows, start with your pencil really sharp and line up where the nostril meets the nose to start then draw a mark. Next, draw another mark up from the outer corner of the eye, then work from one to the other.
What’s a brow no-no for you?
Over-tweezing the centre, mismatched brows or making them too short. All of these things can make you look ten times worse. I believe in better brows, not perfect brows.
Images: Rex Features / Brow Gal