MyTopFace team already tried a number of BrowGal products last year and we were impressed with them. Check out an exclusive interview with a founder of this amazing brand – Tonya Crooks.
MTF: How did you start working with eyebrows?
Tonya: I actually just fell into it. I’m originally a classical trained artist. My background is in fine arts. But I started to work with makeup and really enjoyed it because it was a different canvas.
MTF: How did your history in classical art influence your work with makeup and eyebrows?
Tonya: Studying fine arts you have to pay a lot of attention to details and have knowledge of symmetry and balance. What I noticed was I didn’t like my photos that came back because of my eyebrows- they lacked balance and were making me look off. So I applied my knowledge of symmetry from my fine arts background and used it to find a better balance with my face. After that, I found my photo shoots were coming out a lot better. Then I began to apply this to other people who became my clients.
MTF: So now that you have experience in both. Do you like makeup or paint more?
Tonya: I hope this doesn’t sound too odd… but I believe that certain people are born with certain gifts. Some people can sing. I can’t carry a tune in a basket. But I was born with the gift of being creative and having an artistic eye.
Do I like to paint more than makeup?
No. Do I like more arranging flowers more than writing? No. I enjoy everything that has to do with creating.
The win for me is that I get to make other people happy; have more confidence when walking out of the studio. This is what keeps me going. Knowing that what I am doing is not selfish, knowing that I am making some feel better for me- this is a double win!
MTF: Which celebrities do you think have to-die-for eyebrows?
Tonya: Megan Fox, Lucy Hale, Beyoncé, Julianne Moore, Eva Mendes. Megan Fox is a client of mine whose eyebrows have been through a transformation over the years. She has fine hair so it’s been an overall project for both of us. I love the fact, I get to witness a transformation and help another person feel better about themselves.
MTF: Why do these big name celebrities keep coming back to you? What is unique about your work?
Tonya: The reason I have so many clients coming back to me is because of my history of really understanding art extensively and how important the balance of symmetry on the face is. I believe it’s my experience in fine arts and how I directly apply it to my work.
Everyone’s face is different, it’s my job to make face look more balanced and to consider all these factors within a blueprint. There are so many variables that go into this computer, that’s why stencils do not work. What works instead is understanding of different eyebrow shapes and what works for each person and educating and empowering clients to be able to use these resources and do it themselves at home.
MTF: Why don’t stencils work?
Tonya: Stencils, in my opinion, back in the early 2000s, were the most innovative way to be savvy but now because of the digital era, people have access to more research and the average customers are much more savvy and smarter and so it’s a time to look forward and to move forward. Instead of resorting to a stencil, I prefer to educate my clients on how to find and keep the best shape.
Not every brow shape is the same. Like, if I were to put Fergie’s eyebrows on Megan Fox’s face they aren’t the same person and it won’t look good. Once the shape is executed successfully, your eyebrows will follow, you’ll never look angry or Cruella de Ville.
MTF: What’s the most important factor in eyebrows?
Tonya: Shape is most important. Eyebrows are about a lot of precision and its details. Three little hairs out of place can make such a difference
The average eyebrow cycle is 52 days. As we get older, this cycle slows down and that’s why eyebrows over time get thinner and sparser. You don’t want to damage the hair follicles, you want to treat your eyebrows with care and allow them to transform. For example, lets just say I’m a product of the 90s and I’m Pam Anderson and I have thin brows, which I agree was popular, lets just say I tattooed those – that’s not acceptable. I don’t believe in being dramatic. I believe in them looking natural and well groomed. Natural and well-groomed work for anyone and everyone.
You just have to know what your own unique shape is and once you determine what that is, your eyebrows will transform.
When a client who’s unhappy with their eyebrows comes in, I tell: ‘My goal is to fix this situation, but this is a team project, you’re going to leave them alone, and fill them in the way I tell you to and in 3 or 4 visits with me you’ll be fine.’
MTF: Do you cringe when you see a bad set of eyebrows?
Tonya: No, I don’t cringe or get angry. I just become sad because when I see a bad set of eyebrows that the eyebrows have lost their way over the years. They just need a better balance. People notice good eyebrows but they’ll notice bad eyebrows more.
MTF: Have you always had great eyebrows?
Tonya: I have my mom to thank because she would never let me touch them. The first time I had them waxed I was 24! Honestly. And afterwards, I would just clean them underneath. I have fine hair by nature and a thyroid issue, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to create for myself and my clients the Second Chance product line. Megan and Julianne wanted to grow hair on their eyebrows more. I love green technology and I try to live a healthy lifestyle, (after all this is LA) so I created healthy products that encourage hair growth.
MTF: What made you start your own line of products?
Tonya: I’ve been doing makeup longer than brows and I’ve been doing brows for 16 years so the first 11 years of my career, I was only using the products that were already on the market. I’ve tried everything because I wanted to be in-the-know. But when I decided to go forward on my own, I wanted to make something that’s great. I use my own tools only – something that fits and works. I wouldn’t risk my reputation and my clients (who have over the years became my friends) I only sell them products that actually do work and that I stand by.
MTF: Which method of hair removal do you use? Do you prefer a type of method: wax or thread or plucking?
Tonya: I feel responsible for being proficient and knowledgeable in all hair removal practices. So I have certificates in all practices. I’m not speaking badly about one practice. I’m speaking as a professional, just giving my facts. My tool of choice – are a combo of waxing, trimming and tweezing.
A bad wax will rip the skin. Tweezing – no one likes hair to be removed one by one.
Threading is great if you want to treat your arms and your chin. But I wouldn’t recommend it on a coarse hair on your lip or brow. There’s no way to get the same precision as you would with wax. It’s really hard to get balance with threading.
If you never want to see hair again, thread the area but not on the face. Threading damages the follicle and it’s very painful for your hair follicles to recover. The follicle has been stretched and damaged so it’s not going to grow back the same. Not to say it doesn’t work for some people, it does. It’s just not my method of choice.
MTF: Do you use a special wax?
Tonya: I use a very expensive and specialized wax that contains a lot of essential oil. Then I create a pre-wax treatment that allows wax to stick to hair not the skin, the warmth of the wax allows the hair to come out with little to no pain.
MTF: How did eyebrow threading become so popular here in the states?
Tonya: I think because waxing has been around for a long time and it has gotten a bad reputation over the years. People aren’t always skilled at it and they may have been using the wrong wax, which can rip the skin. Also, they’re not asking their clients appropriate questions. A lot of people were talking negatively about waxing so people began looking for something different and new.
I have a high standard and I teach all the artists that work for me to have that same standard. I’m very careful when I work on my clients. And you simply cannot get the kind of detail for the shape of someone’s brow with threading. Waxing allows that precision.
MTF: What are your favorite products from your line?
Tonya: I never had the intention to create a product line and I worked for 10 years without one. Megan Fox asked me in 2010 to create something for her that she can use when I’m not with her. She tried everything, but only liked what I made.
Other celebs were also asking for that ‘same look’, this is what made me realize there’s a real need because of so many requests.
MTF: I see that you’re based in LA and BrowGal has 4 different locations! Tell us about Brow Gal.
Tonya: I have one child and literally, I had BrowGal as my second child. I am as passionate about it as of my family. BrowGal was first what I was known as, but it became a line. No one knew my real name so that’s what people call me as.
MTF: What makes it different from other eyebrow companies?
Tonya: Everyone of my products has a purpose. I’m a multi-tasker so I like products that have multiple purposes. For example, I love pencils because they allow detail. In art school to get details, we would get that with pencils. And I found you need sharp lead to get it. That’s why I created a sharpener at the end of the eyebrow pencil because getting the detail is very important.
MTF: What do you think about a micro-blading trend?
Tonya: This is a question that I’m been asked quite a lot. Now I think this micro-blading trend has its place. I would do it for my clients if we had a solution to oxidizing ink. Let’s remember even though they say the ink is not permanent, it does stay around.
Ink changes color because of oxidizing. This is a hiccup. So if it’s an extreme situation like where half of your brow is missing or something super distracting then, by all means, do it. But if you’re just somebody who has decent brows, I would really caution people to do it. They will look great for a little but come 6 months in or longer you’re going to have a problem.
My over goal is to make sure my clients feel better about themselves. So since brow trends change and they will change again, you might not want to do something so drastic. You don’t want to be limited.
MTF: Thanks, Tonya. If you would like video lesson by Tonya you can check our previous tutorial.
Tonya: Thanks, Mytopface team!xoxo