Fashion Week Eyebrows

By Maggie Mulhern | 09/08/2009 12:14:00 PM


Editors get the greatest invitations during New York Fashion Week and unfortunately most of us have very limited time to indulge and miss out on some wonderful opportunities.

Elke sent out a mass invitation to the press to come BEFORE the shows begin to get their eyebrows “prepped” for the crazy, busy week of fashion. She is expecting up to 80! This is quite generous considering Elke charges $65 for first time clients and $55 for returning clients for eyebrow attention.  She MUST be doing very well. ..she sees 13 clients each day and works 6 days a week! Some clients come every 2 weeks and many travel great distances to see her (one client comes quarterly from Singapore!)

Born in Germany, Elke came to the US and earned her Estheticians license in Orange County, California in 1982 has been a brow expert ever since.  While she returns to LA frequently for celeb appointments, she is based in New York at the Janet Rufin Parlor where I met her and she met my brows. Going beyond just a little shaping and correction, Elke kind of redesigns the brow, giving advice and instruction along the way.

Elke Von Freudenberg working on a client at the Janet Rufin Parlor.

As I plopped myself in her chair I realized she had her work cut out for her. I am NOT blessed in the eyebrow department. There’s very little to pluck, tweeze or wax (I am a freakishly hairless person), but she didn’t seem too perplexed. Turns out I am not even close to the biggest disaster she has ever seen. That honor goes to a client that was totally MISSING one brow! “I believe brows should be more than sisters,” says Elke, “they should be twins.” The single brow client walked out looking almost perfect and over a couple visits the brow grew back. Elke’s other great challenges these days are the clients over indulging in Botox, while one brow is north and the other south.  “That really can present problems,” she says, “sometimes I have to rebuild a brow in a whole new place!”

So, back to me. There was little to shape, but lots to build…even though I have yet to play the Botox game. When she asked how I felt about “tinting” my brow, I answered “Hey Elke…my brows are in your hands…whatever you want to do.” She looked at her watch.

Elke selected 2 different shades (one close to and the other a bit darker than my natural color), mixed each in the tiniest bowls I have ever seen and then meticulously placed the color along where my brow SHOULD be using a brow brush. She repeated this process three times, leaving the tint on no longer than 30 seconds each time. “It’s easier to just keep building on it rather than making it too dark the first time.” Elke did tweeze a bit , but there was little more to do.  “By the way, Maggie,” said Elke, “you DO have a nice brow…it’s just blonde and you can’t see it.”

WAIT!!!!!  WHAT?????  “Elke, are you saying I am actually a natural blonde? This is one of the best days of my life!!!!”

OK, back to Elke. She owns anywhere from 50 – 60 tweezers, and while she sometimes waxes, she does not like threading…and has never seen a good tattoo job. “They just fade so funny,” she says. “And keep in mind, eyebrow fashion changes every ten years, and if you get the tattoo job in like year 9…you could be unhappy for quite a while.”

I must say I LOVE the finished result. This is the first time in my cosmetic life I haven’t had to “address” my brows while doing my make up. This was a real treat for me and I can’t wait to hit the tents (and return to Elke).

There’s good news for you too! Elke offers lessons to professional make up artists and for those looking to specialize in eyebrows. She is also developing a line of products designed specifically for the professional, hopefully available this winter. To learn more and to find out when she is holding classes, go to

Elke Von Freudenberg holding her favorite tweezer…the “Body Tweezer” by Tweezerman and some of her products in her eyebrow line of cosmetics.

The top six things I learned for the professional:

-The consultation is key and should be done on each visit
-Give at least 30 minutes to each client
-Shaping the top of the brow is as important as cleaning up beneath (It’s easier to change the arch than you think!”)
-Highlight the entire length of brow when applying make up
-Brow strands grow in 2 cycles, meaning the plucked strand could grow in anywhere from 2 – 6 weeks
-The eyebrow pencil should be a shade lighter than the natural eyebrow






ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maggie Mulhern

Maggie Mulhern is the Beauty & Fashion Director at Modern Salon magazine.


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