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Published: Sunday, 3/20/2011

Eyebrow waxing, shaping: Increasingly, it’s a guy thing

NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Ryan Seacrest Ryan Seacrest
BUSINESS WIRE Enlarge
Taking Propecia and using Rogaine for more than a decade have helped to slow hair loss for Michael Sultana. Meanwhile, a few inches below his receding hairline, hair grows like kudzu with no pharmaceutical assistance whatsoever.

“I wish the hair on my head would grow as fast as my eyebrows,” said Mr. Sultana, 62, a real estate developer who lives in Forest Hills, Queens, and Panama. “I have very bushy eyebrows, and I can look like Groucho Marx.”

Five years ago, Mr. Sultana made his first appointment with Ramy Gafni, an eyebrow stylist in Manhattan whose celebrity clients include Britney Spears and Naomi Campbell, and who charges $75 for a service he calls “eyebrow sculpting.” After trimming Mr. Sultana’s brows, Mr. Gafni used tweezers to pluck hair primarily from the bottom and a bit from the top.

“It’s not a feminizing thing,” Mr. Sultana said of the results. “He has a very conservative approach.”

“I call it ‘guybrows,’” Mr. Gafni said. “I don’t create an arch for men. You want to take the weight out of it and groom the brow, but you don’t want it to look ‘done.’ Sometimes I even leave a couple stray hairs so it looks less done, and I would never do that for women.”

While male clients represent less than 10 percent of his business, he said that number has tripled over the last few years.

In Beverly Hills, Anastasia Soare, another eyebrow expert, has seen her male clientele grow to about 20 percent of her eyebrow appointments, from about 5 percent six years ago.

“Men used to be so afraid to walk in the store because they thought this was a woman’s treatment,” said Ms. Soare, whose male eyebrow clients include Ryan Seacrest and David Beckham.

“A man should not get his eyebrows shaped, he should get them groomed,” said Ms. Soare, who said the effects of her primping, which costs $50, were comparable to an eyelift. “Hair on the eyebrow droops because of aging, so a groomed eyebrow on a man opens the eye and makes him look younger.”

Not long ago men did little in this area beyond unibrow abatement, surreptitiously plucking to avoid looking like Bert on Sesame Street, but this is changing.

At the Grooming Lounge, a men's hair salon and spa with locations in Washington and McLean, Va., appointments for eyebrow waxes ($30) were up 8 percent in 2010 over 2009, according to Michael Gilman, a founder. Clients often make an initial appointment just to remove hair between brows ("the unibrow is like the gateway drug," Mr. Gilman said) and then are persuaded to tend to their arches as well.

For do-it-yourselfers, eyebrow-trimming attachments increasingly are included both on small electric razors once geared just for noses and ears, and larger ones aimed at beards and sideburns.

Andy Rooney Andy Rooney
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
"Before it was all about the beard, all about the goatee, all about the mustache, but the game has changed," said Carl Kammer, director of product development for Remington. "Fifteen years ago, you wouldn't have seen a product targeting eyebrows, but now is the time of the eyebrow."

Remington now makes five multipurpose trimmers that include comb-like eyebrow attachments. The newest, its All-in-One Groomer ($19.99), includes three smaller attachments suitable for brows.

A Remington consumer survey found that 63 percent of men regularly trim their ears, noses, or eyebrows, fewer than those who trim groins (69 percent), but more than those who trim their heads (44 percent), chest (40 percent), or armpits (31 percent).

From Wahl, the new Micro Groomsman ($14.99), available online now and in stores in June, is a pen-shaped device with one attachment for noses and another for brows.

Steven Yde, senior product manager at Wahl, said that in earlier models, men would simply use nose attachments for eyebrows as well, "but there was a yuck factor, because people look at the nose as a dirty place."

When Eyebrowz.com, which sells eyebrow accoutrements, started 14 years ago, a man placing an order "would be a big topic of conversation" around its office in Sumas, Wash., said Nancy Parker, a founder of the company. Today men account for about 20 percent of buyers, ordering items like the Men's Deluxe Eyebrow Grooming Kit ($47.15), which includes small brow razors, scissors, clear brow styling gel, and stencils modeled after eyebrow shapes of celebrities like Tom Cruise, Sean Connery, and Denzel Washington.

Still, Ms. Parker said: "We get a lot of women phoning in for men. Their big thing is, 'My husband's eyebrows are a total mess, and I think it's affecting his career, and he needs to get this fixed.'"

As men age, their eyebrow hair tends to grow longer, though many choose to ignore it.

"When men have excessive and crazy eyebrows, like Gene Shalit and Andy Rooney, it becomes like their thing, and they think it's cute and funny," said Mr. Gafni, the stylist. "But I'm a straight shooter, and I tell people like that, 'Nobody thinks it's cute, nobody thinks it's funny.'"

Tweezerman, which makes precision tweezers and other grooming tools, markets the His Tweezerman Moustache Scissors with Grooming Comb ($18) for brows as well, while the unisex Tweezerman Slant Tweezers ($20) are recommended for plucking.

When Parissa, a Canadian brand of hair-removal wax strips, set up booths at trade shows and community events in recent years to provide free waxing, men lined up to get their eyebrows done, according to Janet Chao, a marketer at Parissa. So in 2010, it introduced men's Brow Groomer strips ($8.99 for four two-sided strips and an after-care towelette).

Many prefer to leave it to the professionals, however, like Doug Cowan, 39, an information technology sales manager from McLean who was given a gift certificate to the Grooming Lounge 18 months ago by his girlfriend. Now, each month, along with a haircut and manicure, he gets the eyebrow wax.

Mr. Cowan says the brow wax is subtle, yet gives him a "cleaner, more polished look."

But when he suggests that male friends get the treatment, what he sometimes sees are raised eyebrows.

"Most of my friends say it's a little girly for them," Mr. Cowan said.



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