The Elite Brow Artists who model eyebrows in New York and Los Angeles
If brows frame a person’s face, mine are the equivalent of a clear plastic photo sleeve. Statement brows have been in for two decades. Mine have been whispering all along. I’ve seen the rise and fall of microblading. I thought of Latisse. I stuck with two pencils and brow gel and hoped for the best.
Then came a pandemic and after 18 months in the harsh presence of Zoom, I decided to make an appointment to see Azi Sacks. Sacks had landed in New York from DC the previous summer, arriving in a metropolis desperate for her services. Concealed masks and unveiled masks – the exposed part of people’s faces had to be not only cared for, but also weeded out. She started out with a rented chair in a salon until her clients overwhelmed the front desk.
Customers await the promise of their brewing gospel and wait contentedly.
In early 2022, Sacks moved to a one-room studio in Chelsea. She has been tinting and shaping brows there ever since. Some eyebrow gurus like a severe arch. Others prefer full fluff. Sacks is different. She doesn’t push for a particular look. She’s less of a specialized tweezers and more of a brow trauma therapist. She uses her time with clients to quiz them about grooming and asks them to throw out their pigmented brow gels, which she believes can harm the follicle.
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As she evaluates her work, the women (and men) in her chair open up—about faith, about their childhood, about Supreme Court cases, and aging and parenting.
“I do the ancestral brow,” Sacks tells me. It’s in her Persian blood to celebrate people’s roots – literally and metaphorically – by bringing a new kind of architecture to their faces. No wonder conversations quickly become personal.
“I look at least 14% prettier,” I wrote to a friend.
Creative strategist Zara Rahim began consulting with Sacks to grow her unibrow. Others stretched out their bows – the effect sluggish and undulating. A fan base grew. on Instagram, sports illustrated Swimsuit model Brooks Nader took selfies while Sacks tugged. Actress Blake Lively sent someone on her team to test Sacks’ handiwork. Word got around and I helped spread it. I got up from Sack’s chair with more fluffy and defined brows than I ever thought possible. We had spent the 75 or so minutes that I was with her contemplating the nature of ambition.
“I look at least 14% prettier,” I wrote to a friend. When I sent her before and after photos, she recorded a voice memo of her yelling. “At least 22%!!!!”
Six months later, Sacks is booked through April 2023 and has a waitlist stretching into the hundreds. Singer Lily Allen was there for weeks. “She was so patient,” Sacks tells me with a motherly smile. People have described getting the chance to see her as a divine experience. Which makes sense – because it seems inevitable that it will soon be easier to seek an audience with the Pope than it is to secure a visit to Sacks. Customers await the promise of their brewing gospel and wait contentedly.
Experts elsewhere have noted a similar surge in demand for eyebrow care. Sania Vucetaj, who has run Sania’s Brow Bar right next to Sacks’ new salon for nearly three decades, has had clients flocking in after she reopened her salon in the summer of 2020. Dozens of them had scaled back their makeup and now wanted to do their brows the kind of attention that was once reserved for skincare. Vucetaj is in the process of perfecting an eyebrow “shampoo” formula to promote healthier follicles. In Los Angeles, Kristie Streicher — loved by her so well it’s her trademark feathered brow — also credits the months clients spent at home for her explosive interest in her work. Her brows remained untouched and out of reach of the waxers’ overzealous hands. She writes in an email that upon returning to the outside world, people were “inspired to find a more experienced brow specialist and allow them to reinvent the shape.”
Jamie Rosen – a post city Country Editor – Was Sacks’ first client in the new room. She had never made a habit of doing her brows, but Sacks sold them. Sometimes Rosen rambles when she leaves the studio – let’s call it a crisis of faith. Had it become too dark, was the shape too much?
“But then I see a picture,” says Rosen. “And I’m like, ‘Oh! You look so much better.’”
Mattie Kahn is a writer based in New York. It covers politics, style, culture and dangerous women. You think candidates come and go, but the Oxford comma is forever.