The brows have it
The rise and rise of bold brows and eyelash extensions are accounting for a huge slice of the beauty market with salon owners keen to specialise in the booming trend, writes Anita Quade.
In the past decade many beauty salons dedicated solely to eyebrows and lashes have started popping up offering a service menu to women ranging from brow waxing to microblading along with lash extensions and lash lifts.
Among the pioneers of the dedicated brow space was Benefit who opened their first Australian Browbar in Sydney during 2009. Fast forward to today and to date in 2019 Benefit BrowBars are waxing 20,000 brows per month and such is the popularity the brand now has 29 Myer BrowBars and by October 2019 will boast 19 bars in Sephora. Benefit also operates more than 2,800 BrowBars around the world in 43 countries which sees the company wax over 5 million brows every year.
Benefit, National Brow Artist Hannah Mutze reveals that the company’s founders Jean and Jane Ford always believed in the power of great brows. Benefit offered waxing for brows in its very first cosmetics store in San Francisco in 1976, well ahead of the brow resurgence of the last 10 years.
Mutze says that trend for brows can be attributed to many factors including the popularity of celebrities including model Cara Delevigne who made brows cool again by embracing her famous oversized pair.
“The beauty trend space as a whole has grown exponentially in the last decade. Fuelled by social media, trends are shared globally within seconds and recreated within minutes. The hashtag #browsonfleek has over 3.5million tags,” she says.
Hannah also admits that the launch of a wider range of products has contributed to the brow craze. “The one shade suits all pencil of yesteryear has been replaced with an abundance of gels, pencils, waxes, creams and crayons.”
While lash tinting, curling and lifting are on the rise in popularity, she says Benefit doesn’t have any plans to offer these services at this stage and although dedicated Benefit Boutiques exist in other markets including the US, UK and Europe there has been discussions about a potential stand-alone boutique but there are no definite plans at this stage.
It’s not just major franchises that are seeing the opportunity – budding entrepreneurs have cashed in on the enormous trend and have managed to build a multi-million dollar business. One of the USA’s wealthiest self-made female billionaires, Anastasia Soare (founder of Anastasia Beverly Hills) amassed her fortune estimated at $1.2 billion by shaping women’s brows. She set up her own self-titled salon in Beverly Hills in 1997 and launched a line of eyebrow products in 2000.
On a local scale more and more salon owners are realising the value in brows and lashes and are opening spaces to meet the demand.
Bat Your Lash owner Nadia Eizadi opened the updated version of her company in March 2018 on the popular Greville Street strip in Melbourne after operating a small salon for five years which was tucked away upstairs on Toorak Road in South Yarra.
“I planned to expand and improve the business once we moved to Greville St so it could be a vegan, cruelty-free, toxic-free and eco-friendly boutique salon that specialise in lashes, brows, manicure, pedicure, make-up and waxing,” she said.
The urban oasis originally started out offering just lashes and brows and Nadia reveals it was booked out every day but now it has also expanded to a more extensive beauty menu.
She reveals that staff training in lashes and brows can take up to one week but says she thoroughly trains her staff because of client’s high expectations.
“Once staff are hired by us, I spend 3- 6 months doing intense and ongoing training. It’s not just the skill it’s also having the right personality and passion,” she says.
The salon’s most requested eyebrow look is a fuller brow, in line with many social media influencer trends.
“We generally try to not always follow trends as I believe everyone’s face is different, so we like to cater to each client individually to enhance their natural beauty,” Eizadi says.
Another service she offers is eyelashes, which has become big business as a complement to the brows offering.
“The most requested eyelash look is definitely a mix of natural and full, our clients come to us because of our precision work and natural finish. At Bat Your Lash, we use minimal glue and precisely apply high-quality lashes directly on top of your own natural lash making sure it doesn’t damage your own lashes nor weigh them down.”
Nadia says more and more people are trying to look natural as “putting a lot of makeup on can funnily enough make you look older sometimes.”
Sydney brow artist Jazz Pampling also realised there was a massive opportunity in the market and launched her own self-named business in mid 2010.
“I didn’t mean to launch my business, it all just kind of took off on its own. Potentially the more you know sometimes, the less likely you are to jump into a challenge. I initially started driving to clients all over Sydney, as I couldn’t afford a salon. I also worked part time in hospitality, and after three years I had a client base strong enough for me to rely on full time,” she says.
“I came into brows 10 years ago, just as the wave of brow popularity was hitting. I approached brow shaping with the idea that brows should be more natural and fuller, which was the trend at the time and still is in many ways. I believe this coupled with my consultation process, is why I was able to succeed in the industry. There is a level of service that is expected once you start charging certain prices, and I’ve always prided myself on ensuring I meet the highest standards of service with my clients.”
“Brow artistry as a profession has really taken off. When I first started brow shaping people scoffed at my work, thinking it was over kill. Women and men all over started to realise they were damaging their brows, professionals started to realise the same and there was a general shift towards stopping that.”
Jazz admits the 90s were a dark time for brows and the thin trend resulted in brows slowly disappearing all together as women’s entered into the 2000’s with nothing left above their eyes.
“We now see brow focused stores everywhere, it’s a service that an individual can provide on their own, with minimal outlay, which is in line with much of the beauty industry. Eyebrows are big business, everyone has jumped on the trend over the years, from small business owners to big businesses such as Benefit. It would be amiss of someone to under estimate the value it can bring to a company,” she says.
Jazz pinpoints social media, influencers and cosmetic injectors who have played a big part in the rise of this industry as people are more conscious than ever about how they look.
“ I work with cosmetic injectors because their services directly affect mine and vice versa, so it makes sense for these industries to connect and drive each forward in popularity.”
She says she doesn’t forsee a let up in the brow trend thanks to the introduction of microblading and feathering which has driven the world of brows further into the spotlight.
“It’s possible we have taken our brow obsession too far (yes, a brow artist said that). There is a misconception that brow tattooing is quick easy money for minimal effort. Actually, it’s a lot of money and investment into tools and education,” she says.
Makeup artist and brow specialist Juliette Carroll set up her own business five years ago and says microblading is a huge part of her turnover and she recently got certified to offer the service to fill demand.
“I would say the majority of my business is dedicated to brows. I started my career as a beauty therapist – shaping, waxing and tinting brows, to expanding it as a professional wedding makeup artist and microblading artist. Eyebrows are the first feature (the most important in my opinion) I start with on my brides, they can make a face look awake and fresh or dull and ageing,” she says.
“Thick bold brows have been on trend since 2010, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon. What has changed is seeing really dark, thick, defined, polished brows, known as the ‘Instagram brow’ to a more natural, thick fluffy brow.”
She also reveals that lashes are particularly popular with brides and have become more natural over the past five years and have changed from thick, dark strip lashes that can look overdone to a more simple flare lash.
Juliette says thanks to the strong demand for brows it was important to upskill and become certified in microblading.
“It took me six months to get certified. I did an intensive online course with an international academy, Phi Brows, but there are many courses that can range from one week to six months.”
She says the microblading trend at the moment is similar to powdering and a combination of both, depending on what depth clients like their brows.
“I definitely think celebrities have a big influence, one being the Kardashians. I find most of my clients will bring a reference picture of one of the sisters to their trial. ” she adds.
Sydneysider Amy Jean who specialises in brows and lashes is no stranger to the celebrity trend – having tended the brows of A-listers including Naomi Campbell to Danni Minogue and has the moniker as ‘Arch Angel to the stars.’
She opened her first salon in Queensland in 2004 and has since grown her eyebrow empire to include a Brisbane James Street site, an opulent space in Sydney’s CBD, Double Bay at the Intercontinental Hotel and recently a luxe space in Byron Bay. Amy says: “Semi-permanent brow and lash treatments have broken new ground in terms of time-saving beauty.”
Amy admits that constantly keeping up with education is hugely important to stay ahead of the trends.
“While I’m abroad I make the most of the opportunity to extensively research new ingredients and delivery mechanisms for her own products and services.”
The new mum also has her own line of products titled Amy Jean Privee.
In testimony to the popularity of her range and the brow and lash trend – in February this year, her line was the first international luxury eyebrow collection to be launched on NET-A-PORTER and included her Brow Veil to sculpt brows on the go, the micro-stroke pencil and brow beam highlighter.
“It’s such an exciting, ever-developing beauty niche. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel blessed to be a bespoke brow artisan at this moment in time.”