Raising the (Brow) Bar

A salon in Shrewbury specializes in revitalizing eyebrows.

in 15-minute sessions, Melissa Clifton-Bahr's browistas give face-changing eyebrow sculpts to 550 clients a week.
in 15-minute sessions, Melissa Clifton-Bahr's browistas give face-changing eyebrow sculpts to 550 clients a week.
Photo by Andy Foster

Melissa Clifton-Bahrs knows faces—especially eyebrows. She says shaping those two sometimes unruly, often overlooked, ever-expressive lines of hair can be the key to dramatically improving your appearance.

“People say, ‘I want your brows.’ If I put my brows on their face, they would look ridiculous because my brows are for me; they fit my face. To look their best, they have to have the right balance and fullness [of brow] for them,” she says.

A former makeup artist, Clifton-Bahrs opened Arch Brow Bar in 2008 with four eyebrow specialists, called browistas. Since then, she’s doubled her browistas and the staff has grown to 17—all licensed aestheticians and cosmetologists meticulously trained by Clifton-Bahrs. The elegant, 1,000-square-foot unisex salon in Shrewsbury is spa-like, with crisp, white furnishings, wood floors and nature-inspired details.

Arch sees an average of 550 clients a week. In each 15-minute appointment, browistas work with a client’s bone structure, looking at a face straight on, rather than lying down. “You really don’t have the proper perspective unless you’re actually looking straight at the person,” says Clifton-Bahrs. She approaches a customer’s face like it is a drawing, paying attention to its symmetry and balance. “The brow should never be something that someone looks at right away. If people notice them right away, they are misshapen or off somehow.”

To accomplish their careful sculpting, browistas use wax to remove excess hair, followed by shaping with tweezers and then trimming. Brow styling is $33 to $50 for first-timers (depending on browista experience level) and maintenance appointments run from $25 to $39. The shop has a collection of brow pencils, powders and tinted gels, as well as post-wax products like Serious Serum, and Revitabrow, which Clifton-Bahrs says “is like Miracle-Gro for brows.” Facials and a full assortment of skin-care products are available.

Clifton-Bahrs, a dedicated single mom, is passionate about her work. “When [brows] are right, you notice the person’s eyes and face. It’s one feature you can change that will enhance your face and doesn’t require any surgery or injection.”

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