Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio
My mom, Sania Vucetaj, has been doing brows since long before it became the "cool" thing to do. As a result, I have been hyper sensitive to all things brows my entire life. While the girls in middle school were off getting their brows waxed in half, my mom made sure my thick brows remained intact (and I thank her every day for that). She started her career at Bergdorf Goodman before opening her studio, Sania's Brow Bar, over a decade ago. Her signature style for the past 25+ years has been full, bold brows and she has built a very strong following that includes celebrities, models, high execs, and beauty-industry leaders.
My mom dreamed of expanding her brand into a family business for a while. When the opportunity finally arose for her to take over her entire floor of her building, my sister Suzy, cousin Bona, and myself were ecstatic to join her establishment and expand the brand. We have been working on friends and family member's brows for a few years now but never professionally. And last year, after taking a business trip to LA with her for the Emmy gift lounge, we were more excited than ever at the thought of joining the SBB team.
Our method for brow shaping is strictly tweezing because it's the most precise way and best for the skin. Since a New York state license for tweezing does not exist, Bona, Suzy, and I enrolled in an aesthetics course to obtain a waxing license for hair removal. This course required 75 hours, which meant we had class several nights a week for approximately three months. We enrolled in one of the most esteemed aesthetics schools in NYC (which basically means the world). Our instructor was extremely sweet and very knowledgeable when it came to body waxing. But when it came to brows, our course was lacking — big time.
Lucky for us, we had a head start since we were raised in the brow world. Our expectation going in was to learn some new brow trends and techniques — and most importantly, gain more experience practicing on models. Given the latest brow boom, we wanted to see how the curriculum changed in the last 15+ years since Sania took the same course. And the sad (and scary) truth was that nothing at all has changed.
During my first week, I learned that almost all of the girls in my class were there strictly so that they could become brow specialists. Brows have become such a booming business in the last few years and it seems everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. But I was actually shocked to learn that almost all of them had never even shaped a brow before and did not have any basic brow knowledge. You should at least know where brows should start and end!
During the course of the class, we learned how to wax arms, legs, and underarms. There was no discussion of brows minus the short few paragraphs in our textbook that describe how to wax them. It provided all of the wrong tips, such as the brows' center should align with the nostrils — which is very, very wrong. (FYI: they should align with the inner bridge of the nose.) The only brow demo we received in all of those three months was when the teacher laid a student down on a table and waxed off her brows while standing behind her. How can you visualize the arches you are shaping if you're not looking at them face on? And not to mention, waxing stretches this delicate skin!
At the end of the course, one of the girls expressed her frustration that she was to begin working in a luxury Brooklyn salon with the title of "brow specialist," but was scared to admit to her new boss that she had not in fact ever shaped a single brow. And another girl told us that she was sent to get a license so that she could be a brow specialist for a top beauty brand — and she also had never practiced brows. Yet, here they were, about to go off into the world to shape (or, more likely, ruin) brows of unsuspecting clients. The companies most likely assumed that they would be experts by the end of the course, which was obviously not the case.
I must say that I cannot blame our school for the lack of brow training out there. They are merely working with the curriculum issued to them by the state. They cannot be expected to teach brows when they have never been trained themselves. Essentially, this license is not indicative of any brow training or brow knowledge. We "graduated" from this academy with the same exact brow knowledge and experience that we had entered with.
Prior to letting us even think about working on our first paying customer, Sania had us do extensive training for months on models until she felt we were up to par. She taught us her tweezing method and tricks by bringing in models (female and male) with all different types of brows. She demonstrated as we watched. And then she observed and critiqued us as we worked on arches. She taught us all her secret tips and tricks that she has learned over the years. There were definitely tears shed along the way but she made sure that we were truly prepared before letting us hang up that license — and use her name.
Many people ask what method is best when it comes to brows, and our stance is that it's more important to know who is behind the work than the method used. The truth is that a license means nothing when it comes to brows — we know firsthand from our experience. I am fortunate enough that my mom is one of the leading pioneers in the brow industry, so I've always understood the importance of good brows — but it's scary to think that this is not the case for most of the brow experts out there.
For those looking to have their brows shaped and groomed, our advice would be to really do your research. Read online reviews, find out what method they use, ask questions if necessary, or set up a consultation first. Lastly, let us not forget that hygiene and safety are essential. We make sure that we sterilize every single tweezer we use. You should always stay alert to this. Threaders hold the thread in their mouths, which is unhygienic and has led to facial warts for some people. And putting scalding hot wax near your eyes does not sound safe.
Sania could have expanded years ago but she held back until now, because she wanted to ensure she had a team that cared as much as she does about her clients and brows. Bottom line: be protective of your brows, always.
Image Source: Courtesy of Sania Vucetaj