Want to wow the gents in your life with the bat of an eyelash and the wink of an eye? Sultry soap star eyebrows will help. Soapdom's Look Like a Soap star columnist, Norm Bryn, a former make-up artist on All My Children, shows us how. Read on... I'm back after a wee hiatus (life & work), here with more soap star beauty secrets. We will delve into the importance of eyebrow grooming as a fashion essential, with my own illustrations from my book, "Makeup & Misery: Adventures in the Soap Factory," available at www.makeupandmisery.com
But first, my insider's take on recent soap developments. Some of the possibilities broached in my last article seem to be panning out in the shrinking daytime drama world. All My Children, now produced in a cheaper (non-union) Los Angeles studio after its move from New York, is morphing into what I call Pine Valley West as inevitable changes are rung from its relocation. Despite initial reports most of the east coast cast would remain on board, comparatively few were invited to do so it seems--certainly not so many on a contract basis. To wit...
Ray McDonnell (Joe Martin) opted to retire, David Canary (Adam Chandler) has exited, and Susan Lucci allegedly shoots all her scenes for the year in a matter of a few months rather than relocate home and family to the west coast.
Former contract cast members such as Jill Larson (Opal Gardner) make do with recurring status for the time being, though Jill used some of her down time for a brief but striking appearance early on for director Martin Scorsese in Shutter Island. Pounds of creepy character makeup for her role as an eerie psychiatric inmate didn't fool daytime fans, who screamed "It's OPAL!" during the screening I attended. When I worked with her at AMC, Jill was never a fan of excessive makeup, nor did she have much of the attention span it requires. I couldn't help but think of that when she popped up in Shutter Island...perhaps the honor of working for Scorsese turned Jill into a trouper in the makeup chair?
In "Makeup & Misery," I forecast much of what we are seeing in the daytime world today, with more soap cancellations and the inevitable transfer of creative personnel in what has always been a downright incestuous industry. We have heard much about the end of Procter & Gamble's As The World Turns (which ceased production in June) insofar as movie stars like Julianne Moore returning (reverently, briefly) to their old roles, but more significant really is the announcement that head writer Jean Passanante has been hired aboard ABC-Disney's last New York soap, One Life to Live. This recycling of personnel is cited in my book as one of the chief reasons audiences have deserted daytime serials in droves for newer, fresher programming since veteran writers--cast adrift from one soap--quickly turn up at another to pen more of the same old stuff. This was a tradition throughout the tenure of the daytime industry when there were so many serials on the air, but the writers and everybody else are fast running out of lifeboats to jump to with just a handful of soaps left afloat.
ABC announced the cancellation of SoapNet earlier this year in favor of a preschool-oriented cable channel (Disney Junior) by 2012, which speaks volumes, I think. It's interesting also to see a number of former "A-List" stars from movies and primetime TV taking up soap roles in the waning daytime cycle, often troubled performers with heavily publicized addiction issues or other problems which have relegated them to Hollywood's back burner for years. David Hasselhoff, Eric Roberts (both with soap roots decades ago) and Sean Young have all taken up roles on The Young and the Restless in 2010, a bold experiment to stave off the ratings decline, it would seem.
But, on to eyebrows! Grooming of the brows is, historically, as significant a fashion statement as lipstick or the length of your skirt, with the arch and thickness of the brows a time capsule of pop culture. Like during the 1960s, when Liz Taylor's very heavy brows from the 1963 Cleopatra movie prompted the purchase of brow pencils for years to come as women everywhere emulated the exotic eye makeup trend which blew less from the Nile River than it did the makeup trailers of 20th Century Fox.
During my five years at All My Children, I spent a lot of time tweezing the brows of our cast into styles dictated by the fashion magazines at the time, but in a TV studio brow grooming served a more basic purpose for Susan Lucci and many others. I quote from "Makeup & Misery," page 107:
"A very important aspect of Susan's makeup--and for most women over forty--was the shape of her eyebrows. I groomed them with quality tweezers (no waxing or threading) very precisely to form a subtle arch which complimented her brow-bone, allowing for optimum placement of her eyeshadow. I say optimum because too often the effect of eyeshadow is compromised by brows which slant downward or grow so low they tend to obscure the brow-bone entirely. As women seem to be running in droves for surgical 'eye-jobs,' it is worth noting that a proper balance between eyebrows and eyeshadow can make a tired eye appear much more youthful and vibrant--without so much as a stitch of suture! Susan knew that, allowing me to pluck hairs as needed both above and below her brows."
Above AND below--I've never been able to figure out how that Old Wives Tale about never tweezing above the brows got started! Above or below, brow hair is brow hair; it's all the same and, as my sketch here illustrates, you must pluck wherever needed to achieve the desired arch and thickness when shaping your brows. The red hairs in the figure two drawing map the portions which need removal so the heavy brow in figure one may end up as the tapered, properly arched brow of figure three.
My makeup job on Susan Lucci in the photo (seen in her uncharacteristic short haircut from 1995) shows the benefit of brow shaping, providing unencumbered use of eyeshadow and a prominent brow-bone accented with a cosmetic highlighter for good measure. Her eyes look youthful and refreshed as a result, and all I did was to make optimum use of the bone structure La Lucci was born with.
You ladies can do as much for yourselves with a bit of practice and diligence to keep your eyebrows in shape. You don't need to spend a lot on tweezers, either; Tweezerman puts out an excellent slant-edged model which retails for about $20 in most drug stores. It's really more about keeping up with your grooming every few days; you don't want to lose the pattern of the arch you have uncovered by allowing those brow hairs to take over again like crabgrass on your neatly manicured front lawn! You will find the maintenance is well worth the trouble as it makes a world of difference in the effectiveness of your makeup application.
Norman Bryn, a thirty-year makeup veteran, has spent years at soap operas including All My Children, The Guiding Light, and One Life to Live. His experiences are chronicled in the cosmetic tell-all, "Makeup & Misery: Adventures in the Soap Factory," available exclusively at www.makeupandmisery.com