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
Keeping up with my eyebrows is an extreme sport I swear
— cupid (@taqawi_05) May 25, 2019
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
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Excited to share my latest tutorial – HOW TO: Fill In Sparse Brows // Whether you have little-to-no hair, misshaped, or no shape at all… you can achieve a natural looking brow by strategically building your products. The most important key is to work with what you have; making it look believable and the most natural. Follow along and achieve this look at home! Link in bio. #browtutorial #featheredbrowsbyks #fillinginyourbrows #browtips #sparsebrows #naturalbrows
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.
Build Your Brow Kit:
- Joey Healy Brow Renovation Serum, $125
- Grande Cosmetics GrandeLash – MD Lash Enhancing Serum, $65
- Hourglass Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel, $28
- Glossier Boy Brow, $16
- Joey Healy Luxe Brow Powder in Corduroy, $28
- Benefit Cosmetics Fool Proof Brow Powder, $24
- Anastasia Clear Brow Gel, $22
Images: Felipe Bustillo / Unsplash; kristiestreicher, joeyhealybrows / Instagram; @taqawi_05/Twitter
I’ve written before about the wonders of microblading: the magic treatment behind so many celebs’ perfect, make up-less brows. While microblading is slowly becoming more common, the treatment is expensive enough—and permanent enough—that I assumed my microblading days were years away, if they existed at all. Perfectly sculpted brows first thing in the morning were a luxury for the rich and famous—I, who struggles to go a single day without spilling food on my shirt, was not worthy. Cut to: in an exchange I thought maybe I had dreamed, EverTrue Microblading Salon offered me a treatment with their head stylist. I (obviously) couldn’t accept fast enough, and two weeks later, I’m confident it’s the best beauty treatment I’ve ever gotten. Read on for details on the procedure, aftercare, and some dramatic before and after shots.
WARNING: Side effects of this procedure may include taking a disgusting amount of selfies, a small obsession with what other semi-permanent treatments could also improve your face, and a general spike in vanity. WORTH IT.
The Microblading Procedure
I got my brows done at EverTrue’s Flatiron salon, with their Master Therapist Michelle Wu. (Pictures of her work, and other brow specialists, are available on the salon’s Instagram.) Wherever you go, make sure that you look at samples of your stylist’s work beforehand, and even speak to past clients if possible. With semi-permanent makeup, there’s no such thing as being too careful. While I’d been daydreaming about this procedure for years, I found myself getting nervous the night before. What if I hated it? What if it hurt? Was I crazy for going through with this?
Luckily, both the salon (pictured above) and Michelle herself were incredibly soothing—and it didn’t hurt that everyone there, down to the receptionist, had flawless brows of their own. Before diving in to the procedure, Michelle did some tweezing, and we discussed brow shape and color. My brows, as you’ll see in a moment, have always been lighter and patchier than I’ve liked, which meant about 20 minutes spent with my Anastasia brow pencil every morning. They’re also lacking when it comes to having a defined shape, or noticeable arch, something that’s harder to fake with my particular makeup skills.
After listening to my concerns, Michelle drew in my brows with pencil, showing me exactly where every stroke would go, and what the end product would look like. The first time through, she gave me a very natural look, following the existing shape of my brows and just filling in. On a second draft, I asked her if she could give me more of an arch, even if that meant tweezing my brows further to fake it (it did). She drew it in, I fell in love, and she went off to mix up a pigment that would match my natural hair. Twenty minutes of numbing cream later—and 30-45 minutes of Michelle individually drawing in each “hair” with a tiny, pigment-carrying blade—I was all done. In less than 90 minutes, and with no pain other than a slight soreness toward the end, my brows were complete.
My brows, before and after:
Honestly, most of my night-before fears about microblading weren’t about the process itself; they were about the aftercare. Mostly, I blame this InStyle article, which led me to that my brows needed to be on full lockdown for a week following. No moisture (including sweat), no showering unless you wanted to tempt fate, and don’t you dare roll over in your sleep—unless you want to ruin your brows like this author’s unfortunate, side-sleeping co-worker did. Obviously, this writer had no malicious intent, but as someone who believes basically everything she reads on the internet, I was pretty f*cking stressed.
After carefully rattling off my concerns to Michelle, she gave me a few pieces of good news. Given improvements in the pigment they use, microbladed brows now only need to stay dry for 48 hours after the procedure—not a full week. And short of sleeping fully on my face, she was very skeptical that I would manage to mess up her work overnight. Phew! That being said, I had still just gotten eyebrows tattooed onto my face, and she was clear that certain aspects of aftercare were non-negotiable. For one week: apply a thin layer of healing balm (provided) twice daily, don’t get any product on your brows, and don’t apply direct pressure. This means when people see your brows and immediately try to touch them, you back the f*ck away. (Maybe no one in your life will do this. But all of my weirdo friends definitely did).
So yeah, my showering regimen definitely took a hit the following week (I could get them wet after 48 hours, but I was scared of stray body wash or shampoo getting in there). And I may or may not have yelled at my boyfriend every time he tried to kiss me, but every rose has its thorns and all that. It was a slightly annoying week with 3-5 heart attacks that I’d fatally messed up—but I never had, and my brows remained intact.
The Final Results
Finally, I didn’t realize how much your brows change in the weeks following the microblading procedure. For the first few days, they were much darker—now, two weeks later, they’re almost too light. This is all a normal part of the healing process, as your skin scabs, heals, and grows back, and as the pigment adjusts to your skin. Brows will reach their “final” color 4-6 weeks after the initial process, and just in time for a mandatory touch-up session, where your stylist can fill in any holes, go bigger if desired, and make adjustments to the shade.
I have to say, though, both at their darkest and their lightest in this healing process, my brows look the best they’ve ever looked. Even my sister, who is skeptical of all beauty treatments that take more than water to remove, was thoroughly impressed. And of all the slight modifications I’ve made to my appearance over the years—eyelash extensions, laser facials, coloring my hair—it’s made the biggest and best difference. Having thicker, filled-in brows gives me the exact boost I sought out with my minimal makeup routine: I look more put-together, and frankly, more natural than I did before.
Me, one week in and feeling myself:
Something about having these permanent (technically, one year to 18 months) brows makes me want to wear less makeup on the rest of my face, too (obviously, the above selfie notwithstanding). While I know these brows aren’t actually natural, I feel like they look like they could be—and appreciating a natural look goes a long way toward putting down the eyeliner and taking on the world with nothing more than my fancy new brows. It’s boosted my confidence, cut down my morning routine, and flooded my DMs with questions about the procedure. If you’re able to make a beauty investment right now, and you’re wondering what to go with, run, don’t walk, to EverTrue, or your nearest (reputable!) microblading salon.
Images: Alexandru Zdrobău / Unsplash; EverTrue Microblading Salon (2); @evertruesalon, @louisabhaus / Instagram