Wax On, Wax Off


To wax or not to wax.

It’s never been a question. At the ripe old age of 14, I began a dutiful pilgrimage to the nail salon in the center of town to have my eyebrows separated and defined. “No baby oil, please,” I’d request for fear of the dreaded post-waxing pimples that would surely ensue.

And I’d lie down in the coconut scented back room, a member of the Secret Sister Society of Those Who Are Born With Unruly Eyebrows. Or furry upper lips. Or other behind-closed curtain occurrences that pre-pubescent me didn’t want to imagine.  I have vivid memories of inhaling deeply and repeating, “pain is beauty” over and over in my head as the hot wax was spread, smoothed and ripped off of my sensitive skin. Good lord, I actually said that.

“Please don’t let me get the rough one”, I’d pray to myself, thinking of the woman who was less interested in making the experience bearable and more interested in her next client, whose tip would amount to more than the meager one added on to a $7 wax job.

Once, the rough one was in such a rush that she cleared a section of hair in the middle of my eyebrow. I’d never seen her emit such  kindness. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m soooooo sorry!” She bawled and scrambled to find her eyebrow pencil, and filled in the gaping bald spot in order to protect herself from the leering eyes of the salon owner. “Don’t worry”,  I reassured her. “It will grow back. It always grows back.”

I walked out angry because I didn’t want to get her in trouble so I paid for the botched wax job. My sisters were equal parts hysterical and horrified by my new look. They couldn’t contain themselves and soon enough, I too, was laughing.

“Remember the time when you shaved half of your eyebrow off?” Kristen cackled, reminding me of the day when my mother agreed to let me take razor to leg for the very first time. Worried it wasn’t working, I tested my new plastic pink razor on my right eyebrow only to find that the razor worked just fine. For the next several weeks I sported a horrific side bang look that made me look moody and sullen. My first foray into alternative appearance.

So yeah, I’ve had some bad wax jobs, but for the most part they’ve all been fine. I walk out of the salon feeling fresher, more beautiful, more whole. Less like my brother, Ike. (Sorry, Ike….your eyebrows are very handsome, I swear.)

Waxing has been a way of life for me.

During my pre-kids years, I had them done every two weeks. Once kids arrived, less often which resulted in even more coveting and sprouting feelings of ineptitude during those in-between weeks.

Then I moved to Vermont. And could not find a reasonably priced nail place that offered waxing. ANYWHERE.

A local hair salon did it for $25 and completely neglected the middle patch. THE MIDDLE PATCH! That’s Eyebrow Waxing 101! Something odd was going on in my beloved Green Mountain state.  As I began to look around, I realized that Vermont is full of naturally browed women. I had never noticed the abundance of brow hair until I looked. With my sharp, twenties inspired brows, I was the minority. Huh.

brows 6

And I began to slow down on my brow maintenance. Aware of this lag in waxing, I decided to calculate how much I’d spent over the years. To be very modest, my dependence on waxing has set me back no less than $4,000 over the past 19 years. Yes, you read that correctly.

The kicker was the day I submitted myself to another BuzzFeed Quiz. This time, I answered personality questions about myself to determine “what kind of brow” I should have. The result? NO EYEBROWS. I immediately dashed to the mirror and covered up my eyebrows, imagining what I’d look like a-la Mona Lisa. It was horrifying.

Brows 4

I wiggled my furry little caterpillars up and down, feeling a sort of fondness for them.  They signal my sarcastic replies,  beef up my displeased “mom face” and most importantly, accompany my laughter. They’re the perfect complement to my beloved deepening crow’s-feet. (Really, I think crow’s-feet are beautiful and not just on Brad Pitt.)

Brows 5

I haven’t gone totally Brooke Shields.  I still rely on my tweezers every 5 or 6 weeks and attack the middle patch like nobody’s business.  Sometimes in the weeks between,  I pull out the magnifying mirror and am horrified by what I see. But I’m starting to believe that no one sees me the way that the magnifying mirror does. It’s false advertising.

Brows 2


  1. I can relate to the whole fuzzy face thing. My face is particularly fuzzy…everywhere. Maybe it’s a by product of growing up in such a cold state, it was probably an extra layer of warmth for me during the winter months. I recently had my lip waxed for the first time, I’ve been wanting to do it for years but have been so embarrassed. When I finally asked the technician if she could do it I whispered it. But when it was done…I can’t believe it took me so long to do it in the first place. Thanks for bringing some levity to this topic.

  2. Yay for you! I wish I could stop. It’s like an addiction with me. I started when I was 13 and haven’t stopped. I’ve had some horrible experiences and have even spent 5 years waxing my own face (my mom says I have an unnatural pain tolerance when it comes to waxing). Now that we live in Vermont I’ve been going longer between because of the price, but every visit to my home state I always make an appointment the day I get there with my most trusted eye brow lady. One day I will give it up! I feel like I’m getting closer!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here