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Do lay it on thick

Be proud if you're blessed with bushy eyebrows

It is news that will please Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy: big eyebrows are back. Of course, eyebrow fashion doesn't have an impact on most men, but it wouldn't harm either pol itician to be a teensy bit fashionable for, some might say, a change.

I am blessed with superb eyebrows. They are neither bushy nor like running stitch, but well formed, arched and worthy of a star of the Hollywood golden era. I say this with no im modesty, because I had nothing to do with it: they are a gift from my mother (my father's, bless him, are big, strong eyebrows that could never be tamed).

Mine are plucked, very gently, into neatness with Tweezerman tweezers, the very best in the business. But be prepared to pay about £15 for a pair. It is one of the few things that make me panic, appearance-wise: if I mislay my tweezers. So now I have two pairs.

Thankfully, I am further blessed by never having understood the fashion for pencil-thin eyebrows, and also blessed with eyebrows that do grow back (some people's don't once plucked, be warned). So any mistakes have been easily rectified. Not that I've made many, because my mother terrified me at an early age about not touching my eyebrows (I didn't even dare tidy them up until I was 30). Yet the fashion this season isn't just for neat brows, it is for positively hedgerow-like ones, the sort that birds could nest in quite safely. This proves a real conundrum for women who have overplucked throughout the years. I simply can't understand why you can have almost anything done to your face: wrinkles plumped up, lips plumped out, eyes lifted, lashes extended; but you can't, at least not easily, have eyebrow extensions put in. Surely, there's a gap in the market there?

But I am glad of this fashion for girls who have big, bushy, unapologetic eyebrows because they needn't feel ashamed of them. In fact, it can be the perfect excuse to spend money on them. Both Urban Decay and Benefit do little boxes that contain brow powder, wax, tweezers and a mirror - perfect if you're the sort of person to spend hours fiddling with your face. I have personally never got on with brow pencils, gels or powders, but I'm sure they have a place in the world.

What you do need if you have brows of any depth is a good brush/comb specifically for this purpose. Kent does a great one, the Eye Groomer, with a comb on one side (fantastic for getting clumps of mascara out of lashes or foundation out of eyebrows) and a brush for, well, brushing. Taming gel is also a good idea if you have a brow-shape that's basically good but prone to dishevelment: Boots No 7 does one (still £10, though!), as does Cosmetics à la carte. Some people advocate Vaseline to keep them in line but if you get even a smidgen over the browline, you look shiny and weird. Mind you, that's next season's look.

Annalisa Barbieri was in fashion PR for five years before going to the Observer to be fashion assistant. She has worked for the Evening Standard and the Times and was one of the fashion editors on the Independent on Sunday for five years, where she wrote the Dear Annie column. She was fishing correspondent of the Independent from 1997-2004.

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2008 issue of the New Statesman, The battle for Labour: How to save the party