brow products

HD Brows: Before and After + Review

The Retreat Linlithhow

The Retreat Beauty Salon, Linlithgow, West Lothian

HD Brows Review at The Retreat, Linlithgow

It’s a far, far braver thing I do today than I have ever done before, people: I’m posting close-up photos of my eyebrows. Untweezed. Un made-up. All natural eyebrows, in da house. Gulp.

Before I get to the photos, though, I just… you all totally just scrolled down to the photos, didn’t you? DAMN YOU. Well, OK, now that you’ve scrolled back up, and before I get to the actual review part of this post, let me first of all tell you WHY I’m posting close-ups of my eyebrows on the internet…

It’s definitely not because I LIKE them, that much is for sure. In fact, I normally try to crop my eyebrows out of close-up photos, purely to avoid having to look at them. Oh, and also to avoid getting comments about them, too, if you want to know the truth. I’m lucky enough not to get many mean comments on this blog, but of the ones I HAVE had, quite a few have been about my eyebrows, and have ranged from the short-but-sour “OMG THOSE EYEBROWS!” to the memorable observation that my eyebrows “let my shoes down”. That’s something you didn’t even know you should be worrying about, huh, folks? Do YOUR eyebrows do your shoes justice, I wonder? (Note to self: write article on how to match eyebrows to shoes…)

I think the people who send me these comments are assuming that either a) I don’t KNOW my eyebrows are terrible or b) I DO know, but don’t feel quite bad enough about it, and need to feel worse. They’re wrong on both counts, as it happens: no one hates my eyebrows more than I do, and I’ve been painfully aware of them ever since the year I started high school, which is when they started their record-breaking attempt to build a bridge across my nose.

The campaign was a success: the eyebrows finally joined forces in the middle of my forehead, and I immediately mounted my own campaign to be allowed to tweeze the hell out of those bad boys.

For a long time, my mum stood firm in her determination to keep the tweezers out of my sweaty hands, but eventually my whining got too much, and they were handed over, in a small ceremony which heralded the start of many long years of over-tweezing. For years I walked around with a permanently startled look on my face, my eyebrows reduced to two thin lines, floating somewhere just south of my hairline. Even to this day, I’ll sometimes find myself getting a little bit carried away with the ol’ plucking, and that’s why my eyebrows are now a really strange mixture of bushy… but with bald spots. It’s the worst of both worlds, basically.

When I say I wasn’t blessed in the brow department, then, I’m seriously not joking. They’re bushy. They’re straggly. They have bald spots. They’re two completely different shapes (Yes, I know: brows are supposed to look like sisters, not like twins. Mine don’t even look like they’re related, though, and that’s actually NOT anything to do with my over-tweezing: that’s just them getting on with their bad selves…). The hairs all point in different directions, so even when tweezed, they STILL look all kinds of crazy. So when The Retreat got in touch and asked if I’d like to try out one of the treatments on offer at their new Linlithgow salon, I had no hesitation in going for the HD Brows treatment.

“What IS HD Brows, anyway?” I hear you ask.

HD Brows (or High Definition Brows, if you want to get all fancy) is basically a complete eyebrow overhaul. Consisting of a combination of tweezing, waxing, threading and dyeing, the idea is to taken even brows as badly-treated as mine, and whip them into shape. I’ve actually had the treatment once before, a couple of years ago, and while I was happy with it, the brow tech who treated me explained that I’d probably need a few follow-ups, and quite a bit of growing-out, for my brows to get even close to “normal”.

With that in mind, once I knew I’d be having this treatment, I decided to put down the tweezers, and just let those brows GROW. Here’s what happened:

HD Brows: Before

HD Brows review: eyebrows before HD Brows treatment

HD Brows: Before

This was after about three weeks growth, and I DID continue tweezing down the middle, otherwise I’d have had a unibrow in that time. And no, I’m not exaggerating. To be honest, these photos don’t really capture the full horror of the grown-out brows: they looked much worse in real life, and I was very glad when my appointment rolled around, and it was time to have them Dealt With. Of course, to PROPERLY grow out your eyebrows, you need much more than three weeks – it can actually take months, which is a truly horrifying thought. I wanted to give the salon as much to work with as possible, but as you can see, those three weeks did nothing to repair the bald spots towards the bridge of my nose, particularly on the left brow. I didn’t touch those areas during the growing-out period, but although the hair grew in all the places I DIDN’T want it, the bits I DID want to grow remained stubbornly bald. GAH.

Because part of the HD Brows treatment involves dyeing the eyebrows, I was sent a patch test to do first, to check for sensitivity or allergic reactions:

HB Brows Patch test

HD Brows patch test

This is basically like one of those stick-on transfers: it has to be applied at least 48 hours before your appointment, and is removed before the treatment, using wax, (No, it isn’t painful) thus allowing the beauty therapist to both check the temperature of the wax she’ll be using on your brows, and to remove the patch test.

My beauty therapist was called Emma, and she had reassuringly perfect eyebrows, having had the HD Brows treatment herself a couple of days earlier. She showed me to a treatment room, and I instantly relaxed to the soothing music and soft candlelight: The Reteat Linlithgow has only been open a couple of weeks, and is a really gorgeous salon, with a fabulously opulent feel to it. It’s all thick carpets and rich purple hues, and it’s instantly relaxing, as all good salons should be. Once inside the treatment room, I got up on the bed, and Emma started mapping out where my brows should be:

HD Brows Review

HD Brows treatment at The Retreat, Linlithgow

HD Brows: During

I think this is probably the most important part of the whole treatment. Eyebrows are such an important part of the face, and can make such a big difference to your appearance that you really want to know you’re in safe hands, with someone who really understands what they’re doing, and how the brows should look. I had no fears on that score: Emma took her time chatting to me about how I wanted my eyebrows to look “(Just… better,” was my helpful answer), and explaining what I’d need to do to achieve it.

As I suspected, I have a lot of growing-out still to do, and Emma recommended I try the HD Brows Lash and Brow Booster to encourage those bald spots to grow back again. A brow booster is something I’d never in a million years have considered buying – my aim has always been to STOP them growing so much, so I worry that with a little bit of encouragement, they’ll take over my face – but the bald patches don’t seem to want to grown on their own, and although this product is pretty expensive, the fact that it can also be used on lashes makes it a bit more tempting.

With that done, we moved onto dyeing, which is done over a much larger area of the face than would be the case for other brow treatments, the aim being to highlight all of those little baby-fine hairs, so they can be removed, as well as to emphasize the brows themselves. I’d explained that I REALLY didn’t want my eyebrows too dark, and that previous experiences have taught me that they turn black in a very short period of time, so Emma only left the dye on for a matter of seconds, to keep the look as natural as possible.

Then came the bit I was worried about: waxing, tweezing and threading. I’ve had all of these treatments individually, and all of them have been painful to some extent. Even tweezing, which isn’t painful at all when I do it myself, can really sting when someone else is in control of the tweezers, and threading always leaves me with tears running down my face. Not this time, though: I could obviously feel what was happening, but Emma had such a light hand I can honestly say it all three treatments were pretty-much pain-free. I was amazed.

Emma finished off the treatment by carefully shading and penciling the brows to create the HD Brows look:

HD Brows : a review of HD Brows treatment with before and after photos

I actually didn’t get round to taking proper “after” photos until a few days later, so the photos below don’t include the professional shading, but here’s the end result:

HD Brows: after

HD Brows@ after

I still have a long way to go, obviously, but hopefully this will be a step in the right direction: going cold-turkey on tweezing for those three weeks has really helped me cut down on my addiction (I was tweezing my brows almost every day before that. Yeah.), so fingers crossed I can continue the good work, and maybe one day – ONE DAY – my eyebrows will no longer be the bane of my life, and I can move onto obsessing over something else instead!

HD Brows Before and After photos

HD Brows Before and After

HD Brows: Before and After

[Disclosure: my treatment was complimentary; all opinions and straggly eyebrows are my own.]

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  • I didn’t scroll straight to the pics! They look pretty awesome though (your brows).

    September 12, 2014
  • ooh your brows look awesome!

    September 12, 2014
  • Jayne


    I didn’t either! I made myself wait to build the suspense, so l expecting far worse brows!

    I like the end result.

    September 12, 2014
  • Maria


    Erp, I totally scrolled to the end first. Sorry!! Your brows look great though and I’m impressed with the subtle dye job.

    September 12, 2014
  • EagleVision1999


    I didn’t scroll down either 🙂
    I feel your pain, my brows also want to join and become one *sob* and become quite bushy if left alone. I never had a fancy salon treatment but I’ve visited a Benefit brow bar once. They wax and dye eyebrows. Mine didn’t need to get dyed but they waxed them quite nicely and they stayed in shape for weeks. It’s so expensive though…

    September 12, 2014
  • Don’t feel bad about your eyebrows. Mine also firmly refuse to stop growing in on the bridge of my nose. My dad has a horrid unibrow and he passed it on to all of my siblings! Eeep! I can really tell that this process has helped your brows out a lot. I think I’m going to have to look into it.

    P.S. I’ve never looked at a photo of you and thought anything was wrong with your eyebrows so you should just ignore those nit picky people. It’s pretty sad if a person has nothing else to do but troll the internet and say mean things about other people’s eyebrows.

    September 12, 2014
    • Katharine in Brussels


      Hi, I second that I always thought your eyebrows looked nice in photos. Everyone’s brows look slightly different from the other, it’s based on fetal development, and gives a nice dimension to the face, but again I always thought you have a lovely pair of matching eyebrows. IMO you do a better job than the salon because your brows are such a nice complimentary colour to your hair, and the salon’s dye job grabbed a bit just like you expected. It is just funny that some people think it’s worth their time to be publicly critical of eyebrows–have they nothing else to do? C’mon. Probably just jealous. Too bad they give in to trolling others. Hold your head high!

      December 31, 2014
  • Honestly, your “before” eyebrows are NOT that scary, but I do appreciate how much definition well-done eyebrows give your face and how they draw more attention to your eyes. The dying in particular turned out beautifully!


    September 12, 2014
  • Wow, love it! To be honest, with the ‘before’ pictures you posted at the beginning, I was all like – “I don’t really know what she is talking about, those brows look perfectly normal to me.” (And they still do! Maybe I’m oblivious, but I really don’t see anything wrong with them.) But those ‘after’ pics – you go girl! Makes your whole look even more polished, it really does make a difference! (Now I’m all insecure about my own un-treated ones, ah the joys of being a woman… ;))

    September 13, 2014
  • They look fab!

    I’ve been toying with the idea of HD brows. I’ve always had rather full but slightly wonky eyebrows, and like you, I’ve ended up with a bit of a plucking addiction.

    September 13, 2014
  • I had no idea my brows were supposed to match my shoes. Anna Wintour never told me that.

    Your new brows look fab.

    September 14, 2014
  • Ada


    I don’t thinks your eyebrows are bad but I understand where you come from. Mine consist of super long coarse sparse hairs and are completely different from one another, they are not really bushy or big so making them even is really tricky and while most people wouldn’t say they look bad per se when they are groomed (which takes a while) it makes such a HUGH different in my face everyone notices something is different and better.

    September 15, 2014
  • I went with my niece once when she got her brows threaded and thought that I should get mine done. I have still not gotten up the courage to do it. I try not to think too much about my brows or they will just make me depressed. I grew them out some earlier this year and tried tweezing them a different way after, and I am a little happier with them now than I was before. I think they are another one of those things that you notice more than anybody else does. I’m always nitpicking at mine, but I can’t think of anyone who I thought had awful eyebrows. Yours look great, by the way.

    September 16, 2014