“Would you like feminine, or masculine?” asks the beauty therapist as she reclines my chair.
“Masculine, masculine,” I insist, suddenly at her mercy. “Very subtle, please.”
She instructs me to pull my forehead towards my hairline with my right hand, while grabbing my cheek with my left hand, so that she can work her threading magic on my shaggy brows. Before I know it, her fingers are skipping delicately across my face, thread-in-hand, like an ant colony working in tandem. Ouch. Ow. Ah.
I never knew you could get your eyebrows threaded until my brother, a semi-professional footballer, came home with them pristinely shaped.
But Emily Gordon-Smith, a director at trends company Stylus, says there has been a significant rise in brow waxing and threading for men in the past few years as the market has grown.
“The modern male groomer no longer sees women-centric treatments such as threading and eyebrow tinting as taboo,” she says. “Progressive consumers are blurring the boundaries between hard masculinity and soft femininity, with inclusivity, feminism and non-binary futures shaping new attitudes to beauty and male grooming.”
Vanita Parti, founder of Blink Brow Bar where I got mine knocked into shape, also says they have seen an increase in male customers for their signature threading services.
“There is a lot less stigma attached to all areas of gentlemen’s grooming now, and keeping your eyebrows looking defined and polished is simply one aspect of that routine. We have even had a stag party all having their brows threaded together.”
I found my own experience excruciating at points – but would the Instagram critique be even more painful? I post a photo of my new brows and hope for the best. “Flawless”, “Threading hell, mate”, “Slick”, “Britain’s next top model”, come the comments. Some urge me to be braver next time and go for a more extreme look, or opt for eyebrow extensions to even out any gaps. “Great threading!” says model and influencer Robyn Bevan. “Got the shape just right for your face … I think more guys should be open to a bit of eyebrow shaping.” I have to admit, I like the look of my new brows: a little more defined, having shed my faint monobrow. Almost “on fleek”, as they say.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010