Any beauty-lover knows that brows are a key part to transforming your whole look. And though it’s nothing new that the most coveted shape is thick and full, what has changed are the amount of tools and products available to take aim at their shape and size. From waxes and powders to pencils and mascaras, the products that can be involved in creating picturesque brows read like a very long laundry list. It’s safe to say grooming, shaping and maintaining the brows has taken on an overwhelming undertaking. But relief is in sight..
Whether your brows are slim arches or more voluptuous, keeping them groomed doesn't have to be a big chore. Eyebrow hairs grow out just like the hairs on your head, so it’s important to keep that pretty shape (whatever it may be) maintained. We tapped London-based pro makeup artist Mo Pear to give us a few simple tricks of the trade to help you make your brows picture-perfect, even if you only have five minutes to spare. Here’s how to get started.
If You Have Thin Eyebrows…
The Tools: For thin brows, a razor-sharp pencil is essential to fill out the shape and make them look naturally full and flawless. “I like to use a NYX's Micro Brow,” says Pear. To work with the hair you do have, go with a brow gel like Maybelline New York Brow Precise Fiber Volumizing Mascara.
The Tips: The key when shaping thin brows is to use a light hand. “You can do an outline easily with the pencil, then the gel to fill, apply in fine strokes,” instructs Pear. “Another advantage of the gel is that it's waterproof, which makes it great for the gym!”
The Maintenance: Because your brows are already sparse, it’s important to let them grow out as long as possible before you go in with tweezers and trimmers. While hair growth cycles are a case-by-case matter, a good indicator of when it’s time to bite the brow bullet and snip the shape, is the shag factor. Yep, you know when your brow hairs start to get uneven and exceed the normal shape you keep them in.
At this point, brush your hairs upward and, along the top of the brow, minimally trim the hairs that go past the top of the natural brow (using brow scissors). Then and only then can you go in with tweezers. But keep the plucking to a minimum — stick to the hairs under the brow and along the brow bone.
If You Have Naturally Thick Eyebrows…
The Tools: If you’ve got naturally lush, bold “boy brows,” you are one of the lucky ones as an effortless full shape is the most enviable. The beauty of this shape is that you don’t need a ton of amo to make your brows impactful. The thing to remember when picking products is they should help keep your long, full shape under control, as unruliness is the biggest risk here. “I recommend a clear setting gel, to keep them looking neat and manicured,” says Pear. Try Maybelline New York Great Lash Clear Mascara.
You can also go the mascara route when locking down that brow shape. Just be sure the product you pick is precise and able to cover every part of the brow (and not just the inner half). “I find many of the brow mascaras on the market have too large of a brush,” says Pear. Smaller, more narrow brushes are “perfect for catching even the finest of hairs.” Try NYX Tinted Brow Mascara or YSL Couture Brow.
The Tips: When styling and grooming thick brows, less is more. Avoid overdoing it on the pencils and powders. Instead, brush the hairs upward with a clean spoolie brush. Then use brow gel or mascara to set the shape.
The Maintenance: “Regular brow shaping appointments are a must to keep brows under control,” advises Pear. For DIY maintenance in between visits, keep a well-sharpened pair of tweezers on hand at all times. If you see strays, tweeze them before you bolt out the door. Get them when they're small!
If You Have Archless Eyebrows…
The Tools: If your brows are flat-lining (read: sans arches), you need to have the right tools to add some much-needed definition and shape. “A good eyebrow palette should be in your beauty drawer at all times,” says Pear. Look for one like NYX Cosmetics Eyebrow Kit with Stencil, which contains four universally flattering shades. Fill in any noticeable gaps with powder and you’re good to go in seconds.”
The Tips: So, here’s the thing with arches, they have to be symmetrical with the rest of your face and can’t just be created out of nowhere. Here’s how to find the right shape for your brows: Take a pencil and hold it vertically against the bridge of your nose and just over your nostril. Pivot the pencil until it’s parallel to the outside corner of your iris. That point should be where your arch is.
For added definition, don’t be afraid to take charge of your eyebrow shape. Use a pencil eyeliner to trace the shape of your lower brow very lightly for a little extra something before you go out of the door.
The Maintenance Plan: Stick to regular grooming plan, but make sure you avoid or are VERY cautious of the top of the brow. Since you’re already working with no shape, you want to keep as much of what you already have.
If You Have Short Eyebrows...
The Tools: Like archless brows, short ones require some artistic abilities, so a solid, razor-sharp pencil is essential. Try It Cosmetics BROW POWER Super Skinny. “The pencil is very precise as it's quite thin, so it's a great way to shape the brows. First, I use the spoolie-end of the pencil to comb through the brows. With the pencil itself, I will mark out where I want the brow to start, where the arch should be and then where the tail will end, as you can draw on individual hairs with it (and it looks so natural!). Lastly, I use the spoolie-end again to blend the product.”
The Tips: Not sure how long or where the tail-end should land? Try using the same arch-finding technique explained above. Using your tweezers or brow pencil, lay the measuring device of your choice against your cheek, so that the end hits the bottom of the nose and the other end reaches the outer corner of the eye. The spot where your device intersects with your brow is where the shape should end. If your brows are way shorter than this point, mark the area they should end at and start shaping them in.
The Maintenance Plan: Again, like your arches, grooming your brows should still be done regularly (according to your hair growth pattern), yet strategically. Be VERY light in handling the end of the brows and make sure to only tweeze or remove blatantly stray hairs.
If You’re Growing Out Your Brows…
Been a bit too tweezer-happy in the past and are now suffering the barely there brow effects? Don’t worry. We’ve been there and we know your pain. In addition to the shaping tips above, there are steps you can definitely take to get your brows back to a fuller, lusher place. Now be warned: Growing out the brows takes a TON of patience as it can take anywhere from five months to a year to fully grow out your brows and get a natural shape back. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to (a.) speed up the process and (b.) keep them looking great during the growth process.
Just like the multivitamins that help our bodies grow and recharge, nutrients are essential for resetting brows and encouraging hair growth. “For those growing out brows, there are products that can definitely help,” says Pear. “I recommend a conditioning eyebrow primer, that’s packed full of nutrients. And for anyone trying to grow their brows, patience is probably the most important thing.” Try NYX Proof It! Waterproof Eyebrow Primer.
What are your favorite tips for a picture-perfect arch? Tell us in the comments!