Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Ardell Brow Shapers Cold Wax Strips

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I just last year graduated from plucking my eyebrows to sugaring. I used SecretLifeofaBioNerd’s DIY hair removal tutorial to work through my sissy baby terror, and that served me well for a while: It was cheap, it was low-risk, and I could do it in the privacy of my own home. (There are some really inappropriate remarks I could make here, but I won’t.) But there are some drawbacks to that method, too, primarily that it’s hard to get the mixture to exactly the right consistency and temperature. If you cook it too long, it hardens up beyond usability; if you don’t cook it long enough, it doesn’t stick to your hair. And even if you get it to the right consistency, the timing issues continue; you have to let it cool long enough that it doesn’t burn the bejezus out of your eye but use it before it’s too cold to be effective. I suppose I could bring a candy thermometer into the mix, but at that point we’re crossing the line into complicated.

Ardell Brow Shapers Cold Wax Strips
Still, a home waxing setup seemed like an unnecessary expense. So when I spotted Ardell Brow Shapers Cold Wax Strips at Fred Meyer, I figured they were worth a try. The plastic strips come pre-coated with adhesive and pre-cut into a curve, and the package was super cheap. Seriously -- like, three dollars cheap.

The package comes with 21 “shaping strips,” which are essentially clear stickers, each of which has a vaguely eyebrow-shaped curve cut through the middle so you have a sticker for the top of your brow and a sticker for the bottom. The process is pretty intuitive: Peel. Stick. Pull. The adhesive stops shortly before the edge of each strip so it’s easy to lift away from your skin. Pretty idiot-proof (which is good for me.)

The adhesive was effective and the right amount of hair came out, so in that regard, the Ardell Brow Shapers worked really well. The problem, though, is that the cuts are symmetrical and identical -- so if they’re not the right shape for your brow (which was the case for me), you’re going to have to do some cutting. I ended up cutting some strips in half, but then I had a new problem, which was that the halves had to be positioned in such a way that in order to pull the strips off in the direction of hair growth, I had to pull from the new edge I’d cut, which meant no little uncoated tab -- I had to peel up a little corner of the adhesive surface and then rip. Which is how I ended up ripping off a little bit of skin, which was both gross and painful. (Incidentally, the package shows the model pulling the strip off in the wrong direction. You’re supposed to pull in the direction the hair grows to prevent breakage and ingrown hairs.)

Ultimately, I’m glad to have these on hand in case I need to do an emergency touch-up. Occasionally -- very occasionally -- my job calls for me to make TV appearances, and usually when that happens I’ll be lucky to get a couple of hours’ warning. That’s not enough time to heat up wax or cook sugar -- and of course, usually it also happens on days when my personal grooming has been uncharacteristically neglected. I can see myself using these again for last-minute brow touchups, although probably not for routine brow maintenance.

Ardell Brow Shapers Cold Wax Strips
Bottom Line: Too generically shaped for routine use, but handy for emergency brow touchups.
Price: $

Tip: You’re probably going to have to customize these a bit; make sure you cut in a way that leaves you a non-adhesive edge to pull from.

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