Andrea Mara

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“Would you like them tinted too?” is the question I am asked every time I get my eyebrows done, and I always decline.

“Up-selling…” I sniff to myself each time, refusing to be sucked in.

Though a tiny voice in my head usually says, “But maybe they’re right – maybe a tint would really add definition and transform your face – maybe they’re not just trying to make extra money?”

Then I go back to imagining the manager tapping her foot, hand on hip, asking the staff how many gullible women they cajoled into extra treatments that day.

Today I said no as usual. Then I faltered. “How much longer would it take?” I asked.

“Maybe an extra ten minutes?”

This was starting to sound interesting. I do enjoy getting my brows waxed. I get to lie down for twenty minutes, with my eyes closed, music playing in the background, and someone makes me look better. Yes, it also involves having hot wax poured on my face, and tiny hairs being plucked out of my skin, but it’s a small price to pay for twenty minutes of peace.

And an extra ten minutes to give me tint-induced definition and make me look super fabulous? Sold.

“OK, I’ll do it. I don’t want anything too dramatic though – can you do a light version?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “I’ll do a really light version – you’ll hardly notice a change. And next time you can ask for something darker. It’ll be gorgeous!”

Thirty lovely, relaxing, slightly painful but mostly wonderful minutes later, she held up a mirror for me.

I stared at two giant black caterpillars on my forehead, and screamed. A proper scream.

I looked like Frida Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo - Office Mumimage credit: Kent Baldner/

And unlike the usual “Lovely, thanks a million…” answer I give when asked about a mediocre meal or a less than lovely haircut, I couldn’t pretend to be anything but horrified.

“Oh my god, they’re so black – can you reverse it?” I asked, still screaming in my head.

“Em, well, yes, but not until twenty-four hours have gone by, because your skin might come off too,” she said.

“Can you thin out my brows then, so it doesn’t look like they cover half my face?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t think that would help really, and it would ruin the shape…”

The shape? They are caterpillars. That’s not a shape.

“How about I put some concealer on,” she said. “That’ll make them look better – there’s no make-up around your eyes at the moment.”

With no other options, I lay back, and she got to work.

“I know exactly how you feel,” she said. “I was the same the first time I got mine done – I was horrified too. But they were OK after a few days.”

Seriously? Now you’re telling me this? *numerous swear words go through my head*

She did some damage control with concealer, relieved me of €30, and sent me on my mortified way.

I’ve learnt a valuable lesson about the evil that is up-selling. I’ll be back to saying “No thanks, I don’t need an expensive shampoo with my haircut today,” and “No thanks, I already have six thousand tubes of shoe protection cream at home,” and “No thanks, I don’t need garlic bread or chips on the side” (OK, yes to the last one)

And when I need a half hour of peace and quiet, I’ll go back to locking myself in the bathroom – cheaper and less likely to end in tears.

PS, if you see me in real life in the next few days, don’t laugh at the caterpillars.






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