Waxing and Waning: Life after the Loss of My Eyebrow

I am deeply saddened to announce the loss of the end of my left eyebrow as well as some of my eyelid. I debated whether to post my story, but as hard as it is for me to discuss, if sharing my story can spare another woman the same agony, then my experience will not have been in vain (though it was born out of vanity).

Me, mere days ago, skin intact with perfectly symmetrical brows + glitter

So much can change in an instant. Just last week, I was glittering my brow for Mardi Gras. And then, The Incident. In an effort to save time and money, rather than making an appointment with my usual aesthetician, I asked the lady at my nail salon to clean up my brows. This didn’t strike me as a bad idea since my brows are well-maintained and should therefore be a fairly simple wax. The paper on the table crinkled as I got situated. I pulled my hair back, and she applied the warm wax. And then the removal. I winced in pain as my eyes began to water. It wasn’t usually painful for me, but maybe her wax was stronger or something. She plucked the last few strays and applied aloe vera before handing me the mirror. And then I saw it, or well, the lack of it: the missing skin and the missing brow.

After The Incident…but my manicure is flawless!

The fault is not hers alone. How could she have known that I’d recently increased the strength of my retinoid? She didn’t mean to peel sheets of skin off my face. I have forgiven her, and I ask that you do the same; I’m not interested in browbeating her into a refund or anything. Perhaps things could have turned out differently. The signs were there. After all, her own eyebrows were stenciled and painted on. And my face had been really dry lately. That’s the hardest part: knowing that if only I’d paid attention, this tragedy could have been prevented. It’s like a piece of me is missing; my whole life, everyone has known me as the girl with two whole eyebrows.

Sometimes, during the day mostly, I am able to forget about The Incident. I can tolerate the stinging when I blink or wash my face. But the nights are lonely and cold as I lie awake and my mind wanders. I consider whether it’s too soon to use my retinoid again and contemplate how it would look if I glue on a few fake lashes to make a sort of eyebrow toupée. Could I pull off oversized sunglasses full-time? I wonder about the fine print on the prescription box that has long been discarded; I remember something about avoiding sunlight but don’t recall seeing anything about facial waxing.

Now all that’s left are the memories. My first wax in seventh grade before my first Homecoming dance. So many minutes looking in the mirror teaching myself how to raise only one brow. Christmas Eves spent wiggling my brows along with Kevin McAllister in that iconic scene from Home Alone when he thinks he made his family disappear. All the lovingly applied pencils, gels, and tints. The unconscious furrowing during every nursing school exam. As I prepare to face my regular brow artist and take ownership of my healing, I fondly recall the good times yet look forward to new growth.

Ladies, hold your eyebrows close tonight, and do not take your brow artist for granted. Make sure your skincare routine and hair removal process are compatible. Nothing is certain in this life.

Alyson Haggerty
Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their 8 and 5-year-old boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education and is now a full-time nursing student. In her hypothetical free time, Alyson would enjoy flipping furniture, writing, dancing, and painting. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.

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