Please don't think I have been staring at you. I am checking your eyebrows.
My curiosity about eyebrows has become an obsession to the extent that I can't take my eyes off brows. Whether it is a person-to-person contact, a published photo, someone on television, or even old family photos, I am drawn to their brows.
I have even been known to compliment a person on his or her eyebrows, which is not always accepted graciously. It's OK to mention jewelry or clothing, but eyebrows?
Are the brows bushy and thick, pencil-thin, or painted black? We do need brows for the total look. They don't perform any major bodily function, but without them we look naked.
I've concluded during my brow-browsing that it's disturbing when someone with snow-white hair has jet-black eyebrows, or when the match between dyed hair and eyebrows is off by several shades.
You may be thinking, "Poor thing, she doesn't have enough to do." The truth is, this brow thing has a serious personal side.
In my high school photo my brows are absolutely perfect. They are nicely arched and appear to have the right thickness. I am sure they were a gift of Mother Nature because I certainly did nothing to enhance my brows. One swipe of bright-red lipstick and my face was made up.
Then little by little over the years they grew heavy, as I remember my father's brows were - like John L. Lewis, if you remember him. In recent years, my brows have gotten patchy. That is probably what sparked my eyebrow studying.
It seems that young people in particular are fussing over their brows by removing most of the natural hair and replacing it with dark liners. That requires a steady hand - it is always best if left and right sides are even.
As most women know, there are many methods for shaping your eyebrows, but none that don't hurt. The most common way is the time-honored tweezers method.
For 30 years I subscribed to electrolysis by a licensed technician who tended my brows with an electric needle as I lay on a table for half an hour. I was delighted when it was over for two reasons: I was much improved and the hurt was over.
Waxing is fast but it stings when the tape is ripped off. Three waxing episodes were enough.
Then last week, while I was noticing a friend's perfectly arched brows, she asked, "Have you ever had them threaded?"
Eyebrow threading may not be new in Toledo and many other cities, but it was to me. The name is accurate because a thread is the only instrument used. With thread and skilled hands, hair is removed quickly The method involves twisting a piece of thread into a double strand which picks up the hair or several hairs.
Manal Cheaib, a technician at the Beauty Bar in Toledo who learned the profession in her native Lebanon 10 years ago, believes its popularity in the United States began about six years ago.
"Threading is a custom that pulls long and unwanted hair in a twisted motion to trap the hair and lift out the follicle. The result lasts six weeks. It does not dry or irritate the skin and works well on people with sensitive skin," she said.
At Brow Art at Westfield Franklin Park mall, it took about 15 minutes for the technician to do both brows by manipulating black thread she unwound from a standard spool of cotton thread. When I asked her who invented the method she said, "Someone very smart." Did it hurt? On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 4.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.
Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.