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the benefit brow bar: brows mapped to perfection

You guys know how much I love a good brow. And your massive response to my last brow feature kinda confirmed that you do too, so let's talk arches! I've always had skinny brows that are shorter than I'd like, and since entering my thirties I've noticed they've become more sparse too. My anemic little arches were a hit in the 90s but nowadays I prefer heftier brows -- I just can't seem to grow 'em on my own. So I enlist a little help.

Maeve of Benefit Canada invited me in to try the Benefit Brow Bar located located inside Sephora at Rideau Centre, and I was all too happy to give it a go. I've been a fan of Benefit Cosmetics for over 13 years because they create products that really work: Benetint, High Beam, and The POREfessional are cult faves for a reason, you know? Naturally I was thrilled to try their brow bar because they set such a high standard.

Benefit was founded back in 1976 by sisters Jean and Jane Ford, who were models at the time. Blast from the past: they were the Calgon girls! They constantly found themselves doing their own brows because makeup artists simply didn't do much with arches then. And sure enough, they'd get asked about their perfectly structured brows all the time, with makeup artists turning to them for pointers. Realizing that modeling careers often have a short shelflife, Jane and Jean decided to delve in to makeup and Benefit was born. The brand is now an international powerhouse owned by the LVMH Group, which also owns Sephora and almost all the luxury fashion, perfume, cosmetics, and spirits brands you can think of.

But over the years and throughout all their growth, Benefit's sense of humour and attention to detail remains. And as you might expect, they've deveolped their own approach to brow shaping:

Step 1: Determine the 3 key points of the brow: the start, the arch, and the tail.

Step 2: Map out the ideal positioning for each of these three points, like so:

Step 3: Outline the ideal brow shape, waxing and tweezing any stray hairs that fall outside that shape. You can also ask for a little brow trim to tame any bushy/unruly bits for a neat and tidy look.

So that's the overall approach: precise and polished. Now it's my turn!

When I arrived at the Benefit Brow Bar, Maeve greeted me with a smile and helped me get settled in. FYI, this brow bar is a semi-private experience (like most brow bars): it's nestled into a quiet corner of Sephora's Rideau Centre location away from the busiest areas, but you won't be in a private treatment room. First thing worth noting: in true Benefit style, everything is pink!

I settled into the chair and Maeve pinned my hair out of the way, then clipped a pink serviette onto my shirt to protect my clothes in case of any stray product. She asked me a few questions about my brow wishes (fuller, please!) and complaints (too wimpy and sparse), and we got to work.

Since I wanted to bulk up my brows, Maeve started by preparing some brow tint that she carefully matched to my hair colour. Before applying any tint she lined my brows with an oil-based cleanser to make sure my skin wouldn't be stained by the dye. Smart, because stained skin is a huge pet peeve of mine whether I'm getting my brows or my hair done. Thanks Maeve! She then carefully applied the tint and set the time with the cutest little pink timer, doing very short increments at a time so she could check the colour and avoid too-dark brows.

Here I am with the brow tint doing its thing:

When the timer rang, Maeve carefully removed the tint and treated my brows with a smidge of alcohol, which she explained prevents the colour from developing any further. Next step: mapping! She charted out the ideal starting point, arch, and finishing point for my brows. Check out my scariest selfie ever below!

We talked about the desired heft and shape of my brows and she carefully traced the shape, then removed everything that fell outside that area by waxing and tweezing. This wasn't your average 'apply one strip of wax and tear everything off' approach, Maeve did tiny sections at a time to make sure she never removed too much, stepped back to take a look, then did another section. Again, smart. After waxing she carefully tweezed away any strays, then trimmed any unruly, too-long hairs.

To finish it all off she gave me a mini makeover, covering any redness with Benefit's ledgendary Erase Paste concealer and I think a bit of Boi-iong too. She added a touch of Lollitint to give my cheeks a hint of violet, and added some High Beam to my cheekbones for a subtle strobing effect. The whole appointment was short enough for me to fit in over my lunch hour (appointments are typically about 30 minutes long), and thanks to my mini makeover that concealed any redness, I could head back to work without scaring the crap out of anybody. Awesome!

Here's the finished product, whadda we think?

So to sum up: I loved my experience at the Benefit Brow Bar. It's easy to get to (accessible by all bus routes serving Rideau Centre), thorough yet quick (yay for lunch hour appointments!), and affordable with services starting at just $20 (I've pasted their price list below for ya).


Want some sleek new brows? Give Maeve a shout!

Call Sephora Rideau Centre at 613.567.1830 and they'll book you in. Walk-ins are accepted too but calling ahead will ensure you get the date and time you want.

Go get yourself some perfect arches!


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