I can not remember the first time I pulled out my eyelashes and eyebrows. But I remember the hardship this compulsion had in high school before I realized why I did it or how to handle the consequences. Today, I know that when I'm having a bad killing spree that covers my poor eyebrows or eyelashes with bald spots, I can turn to all sorts of cosmetics – from pencils to gels to powders – to hide the damage. But in high school, I did not know about make-up. So I used a black pen instead.
It looked ridiculous. So ridiculous that a boy in one of my classes in tenth grade drew a huge outline of my eyebrows on the blackboard and filled them with wavy lines where the brow hairs should have been. "Why do your eyebrows look like this?" He asked and everyone laughed.
This story has a decent happy ending. As I grew older, I learned more about my habit, which for years I had regarded as an inexplicable and humiliating source of shame. Turns out I was dealing with a pretty textbook case of trichotillomania also known as a hair removal disorder, pulling hair out of the scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of your body, even though you're trying to quit. "Hair-pulling is one of several manifestations of what experts term" body-focused repetitive behavior "(or BFRBs). ; other forms of BRFBs include excessive skin picking and nail biting.
When I learned that other people shared this experience, to the point that there was an actual name for that condition, I felt less confused. anxious and alone. And the therapy helped me to better understand myself and my triggers. It also gave me the tools I needed to control these destructive drives, at least most of the time.
In the meantime, I also learned more about the power of make-up. More Positive Memory: A good friend of mine taught me how to apply eyeliner in a bathroom at a college party. Now, the bald spots in my eyelashes could be less noticeable. Transformative. Another friend pointed to some other women we both knew and who also pulled out their eyelashes and eyebrows, which I did not even notice, because they were hiding it much better than me. I took notes.
I rarely pull on my brows and eyelashes today to the point where it does noticeable damage that feels like a huge victory. Unfortunately my decade of repeated and compulsive tearing in my face has made my eyebrows extremely thin – it turns out that at some point the hair just will not regrow. I still rarely wear make-up, but due to my ultra-thin brows, I will not leave the house without filling it. If I do not know where my eyebrow pencil is, I feel a bit panic. I hate how my eyebrows look without makeup, and I'm worried about what people think about me. I feel like in high school again. Eyebrow make-up gives me the confidence to go out into the world and literally think of everything but my dumb, stressful, embarrassing eyebrows. Really a gift.
I've been thinking a lot about my experiences with trichotillomania lately, especially in the last few months when SELF editors tested and selected the winners for this year's Healthy Beauty Awards .  Would I prefer to be evolved, and I would not mind what people think about my eyebrows? Of course. I would also prefer that thin, spotty eyebrows are completely unobtrusive rather than being coded unattractive. that they did not signal that I do not know how to take care of myself, or that I am unwell or unstable. Above all, I would prefer it if the stigma of mental illness vanishes. But in the meantime I am very thankful for beauty products. They give me the strength to look like the person people should see.
Our approach to "healthy" beauty in SELF is that products can be powerful because they help you feel good. The best products can really help you deal with or deal with your skin type, hair type or, in many cases, actual health conditions. They can also help you express yourself in a way that makes you feel better and less self-confident.
Our test and selection process for the awards this year was more rigorous than ever and involved Among other things, 83 people have tested more than 1,250 products. Many of our testers suffer from eczema, psoriasis, cystic acne, scars, dark spots, dry skin, thinning hair and trichotillomania. You are serious about the products they use, because in many cases these products, like mine, can make a huge difference in their daily lives.
I hope you can care for your hair regardless of your concerns or needs Care and Cosmetics: These winners can give you the confidence, assurance and certainty that gives me a good brow pin.
Carolyn Kylstra is Editor-in-Chief of SELF.