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How To Train Your Eyebrows So They Don’t Suck

Eyebrow trends are fickle at best. At one time, your arches were supposed to be plucked and pencil thin, and now you can’t scroll through your discover page without seeing a close-up of a blocky, over-filled brows that Groucho Marx would envy. But when it comes to getting your best eyebrows, it isn’t all about beating them into submission. Try taking a gentler approach toward shaping that will be kinder to yourself and your brows in the long run… and also make them look better. Read below for tips on how to train your eyebrows so they don’t suck.

Find Out What You’re Working With 

Counterintuitive? Yes. But first get completely hands-off, says New York brow expert Joey Healy. To do that, you’ll want to let your brows go untouched for about four to six weeks. I know it sounds scary, but that’s the amount of time it takes for a full growth cycle. “Even if you’re plucking with the best intentions, you might be reiterating the same shape that you want to change,” Healy explains. (Aka if you don’t like how your brows are looking, it’s probably your fault.) Holding off on plucking is also the only way to see what fullness you can get back if you have patchiness. 

You can also try adding a growth serum to your routine, using it twice daily for those six weeks as a kick start. (Afterward, you can switch to once daily.) Los Angeles Brow expert Kristie Streicher notes that the first grow-out period is the hardest for those who have a habit of tweezing just a couple hairs a day (you know who you are), but it’s critical. “Once you start removing all the unwanted hair at once, it starts training the hair to grow where you want it,” she says.  Translation: Your brows will get easier to maintain and will naturally hold the shape you want longer. Yeah, it’s annoying to not have instant gratification, but you’ve got to keep your eyes on the prize.

Set Brow Goals

 

 

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Despite trends that come and go, there is a perfect shape where your brows should begin, arch, and end, and it’s based on your own face shape. Says Streicher, “This brow creates a frame above the eye that accentuates the cheekbones and opens the entire face,” Unfortunately, these may or may not be the brows you were born with. To find your ideal shape, all you need is straight edge like a pencil. Find where your brows should start by holding the pencil vertically against the bridge of your nose (not the nostril!) up to your brow bone. That’s where your brows should begin. Maybe mark it with eyeliner or something if you’re new to this. Tweezing those wispy front hairs away will make your brows look too far apart, but removing any hairs far past or underneath will help open up the eyes for a peppier look. 

To find the point of arch, use the same straight edge diagonally from the bridge of your nose, across your pupil to your brow. It will land about two thirds the length of your brow. A common mistake is making the arch too close to the bridge, which you should avoid at all costs, because as Healy puts it, “Centered arches always make you seem surprised, sometimes even worried.” Yikes. And worse, the rounded shape can exacerbate under-eye bags—so imagine having hungover, puffy face at all times. Finally, to find the correct end point, hold the straight edge against the bridge to the outer corner of the eye. Any hairs that grow past this can create the impression of drooping—get rid of them.

Then, Tweeze Away

For the artistic precision your sweet face deserves, stick to tweezing for hair removal. If you’re scared you’re going to mess it up alone in your bathroom, try a specialist who will hold your hand is going to take the time to go hair by hair. I’m sorry, but this means you’re going to have to break up with your waxer for a bit. While it may seem more efficient to wax or thread, over time those harsher methods can break down the elasticity of your skin. They can also cause new issues with your eyebrows by thinning the hairs you need or creating an odd geometry for the brows that’s hard to come back from. Instead, go slow with the tweezers. Perch next to a window for natural light and—this is the crazy part—ditch the magnifying mirror. “They make you lose perspective,” says Healy. “You look too closely and brows end up overly plucked.” Taking a step back helps you see the shape of your brows from a normal angle. If you do mess up—just take a pause. Don’t try to balance them out, because you’ll definitely end up f*cking your whole situation up even more. You might need to take a small L and put a pin in the plucking for a little while. Just keep using your serum and a little makeup to tide you over. Repeat after me: Do. Not. Pluck. More!!!

Keep It Up  

Consider your brows the same why you think about your highlights or clear skin—it’s not a one-and-done deal, and maintenance is required. After shaping, stay on a schedule of waiting to tweeze every four to six weeks based on how fast your brows grow. You’ll notice over time that the stragglers will start to fall in line and stop growing where you keep getting rid of them, helping you keep in mind your preferred shape with less effort (win!). Restraint is your friend when it comes to maintenance. Healy suggests if you’re worried about overdoing it at home, set a timer for five minutes and stop tweezing when the buzzer sounds—that way you can’t go too far into tadpole territory. If sparseness persists, the quickest fix is a little brow powder. Putting color on the skin between the hairs gives the illusion of fuller brows without looking unnatural. For thicker brows that still need definition and lift, grab a tinted gel to get the fluffy look that’s currently trending. The goof-proof way to apply product is to go from the tail towards the front of the brow—overly drawn and heavy in the tail makes you look out-of-date. If you’re uncertain about your color, cheat towards using a shade that’s a touch lighter and ashier than you think. Once you get a routine down, it shouldn’t take more than a minute to get awesome brows. After that, you can worry about everything else.

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Images: Felipe Bustillo / Unsplash; kristiestreicher, joeyhealybrows / Instagram; @taqawi_05/Twitter