If you’re new to makeup or maybe just not super comfortable with it, I’m going to bet that all you’ve probably ever done with your eyebrows is pluck them. Am I right? You’ve also probably over plucked them. Hey, I know I’m still recovering from my over plucking days. I won’t go over shaping your brows with respect to plucking, as all you need to do is Google that and some simple diagrams will show up. If these look too complicated, or you just don’t trust yourself, get your brows professionally done once. Then you can keep them up yourself following that as a guide. Just make sure the professional doesn’t take too much off. Even they aren’t perfect. The simplest thing I can tell you is to pluck any stray hairs in your unibrow area. Just make sure not to pluck to far. You don’t want to shorten the length of your brows. Then pluck stray hairs under the out half of your brows, under your natural arch. A good tip is to not use one of those SUPER magnification mirrors. You’re almost guaranteed to over pluck. You need a good view of your whole face when you’re plucking. That way, you’ll stop before your pluck too much!
Now that we shaped our brows (at least, theoretically), we can begin to fill them in. Trust me, once you begin filling in your brows, you’ll never want to stop. Your brows frame your face. Filling them in and grooming them will polish up your whole look and make up look more put together. I’ll describe all the different forms of filling in your brows, going from the simplest to the more advanced. Let’s get started!
Before I even begin discussing formulations for filling in your brows, I want to mention color! The rule of thumb is to match your eyebrow product color to the natural color of your eyebrow hair, NOT the hair on your head. That being said, rules are meant to be broken. If you’ve dyed your hair a color that’s much different from your own, it might be more flattering to bring in elements of that shade in your brow. For example, my eyebrow hair and hair hair (aka the hair on my head! Haha) are a medium ash brown color. I dyed my hair to be a warm, sightly reddish brown. When I matched my brow products to my eyebrow hair, my eyebrows looked too ashy and dark. I bought a color that was slightly warmer than the previous products I’d been using and was very pleased with the results.
You can also personalize your brow products by choosing a pencil or powder in one color, and then maybe using a brow setting gel in a slightly different color. Added blonde highlights to your naturally brown hair? Use a pencil/powder the same color as your brows, and then try a caramel-tinted brow gel to add a bit of warmth!
1) Eyebrow Powder
Choosing a shade:
Eyebrow powder is, by far, the easiest eyebrow shaping item to use. They’re great if you’re already got super thick brows that don’t need much filling in. The tricky part, however, is choosing the right color. You can purchase a specific eyebrow powder or use an eyeshadow. The problem, however, is that most people make the mistake of choosing too vibrant a color. Eyeshadows usually aren’t ashy enough (FYI, when we say ashy, we mean gray). Gray on my eyebrow?! Yes. Trust me. You can even go and try out some shades. Grab an eyeshadow you think look like your eyebrows. Then get an eyebrow powder that’s your shade. Dollars to doughnuts, you’re going to find that the first powder your chose look too dark and intense.
Ok, now that we’ve picked a shade (or had some help at our local makeup counter), you want a small, angled, natural hair brush. Fill ‘em in, and you’re set.
2) Eyebrow Pencil
Choosing a pencil:
Eyebrow powders are great, but they aren’t enough if you have some seriously sparse brows. They also don’t give you great definition. If you want your brows to have a slightly more defined and polished edge, you’re going to want a pencil. Again, these pencils are going to look a lot more ashy than an eyeliner. Unlike eyebrow powders, where you could get away with using an eyeshadow (provided you find the right color), I have to insist that you DO NOT USE AN EYELINER ON YOUR EYEBROWS! Even if it’s the right color. Why? Eyeliners are too soft and will deposit way too much pigment. They’ll also smudge far more easily. Nobody wants smudgy eyebrows! Eyebrow pencils are harder and feel more dry when you’re applying them.
If your brows only have a few sparse spots, draw the pencil on using light, short strokes in those areas. Then use an eyebrow powder all over to blend the pencil in with the rest of your brows. If you want to use the pencil to truly shape your brows, use those same little, short strokes all over your eyebrows. Be careful around the edges of your brows. You don’t want to see an outline like you’re a cartoon character! Again, use an eyebrow powder to blend all those little strokes together. It will also help set the pencil, so it stays all day.
Like eyeliners, eyebrow pencils can come in a form that looks like a traditional pencil that you sharpen or in a plastic tube that you twist up. Either is fine. This is strictly personal preference. The traditional pencil can be annoying because you have to sharpen it; however, the twist up kinds can be annoying, because you can’t tell when you’re about to run out! Also, be careful with the twist up kinds. Don’t twist up too much, otherwise you’ll break off the tip.
3) Eyebrow Gel/Pomades:
These are, by far, the trickiest little buggers to apply. They are also the formula that will stay all darn day! So if you’ve got super sparse brows or need your brow color to stay put during your hot yoga class, these are for you.
Choosing a color:
You can actually go with a slightly less ashy color when using a pomade. Don’t ask my why, especially since these opaque formulas are naturally intense. Trust me, however. If you use a super ashy formula, you’re going to look like a corpse. Ew.
These are, to be frank, super duper hard to apply. Plan to spend a while getting the hang of it. You might even want to go somewhere and have an artist show you how to apply it once. You’re going to want to use a small angled brush, just like for eyebrow powder. Lay edge of the brush into the pomade. Don’t apply any pressure. Then place the brush in the middle of your brow and begin using short strokes to fill in your brows. You’ll have to go back into the pot a few more times. Just remember, be careful! You don’t want to treat it like eyeliner. You barely want to get any formula on the brush. Your pomade should last you a few years if you’re using it correctly. Otherwise, you’re using too much and are going to look like a drag queen (actually, drag queens know how to do their brows. Don’t apply so much brow pomade that they’ll laugh at you).
Personally, once I’m done applying my pomade, I like to add powder. Using a different small, angled brush, lightly dust just a little brow powder over your brows. It will set the pomade and blend together any areas you may have missed. Since the powder is a little more ashy than your pomade, it will also tone down the color a bit. Making it look a bit more natural. And you’re done!
4) Eyebrow Stain
Harder to find, but some brands do carry eyebrow stains. These are usually felt-tip pens. Again, apply these in light, short strokes. If you make any mistakes, use a little makeup remover on a cotton swab to clean it up. Luckily, it’s harder to lay down too much color with these stains. Finish with a little powder if you want everything to look seamless.
5) Eyebrow Gel in a Tube
Eyebrow gels can be either colorless or tinted and are applied to your eyebrows after any powders/pencils/pomades/stains to groom them. They come in tubes with a spooly brush, just like mascara. A tinted eyebrow gel can be used alone to groom the brows and add just a hint of color to make your eyebrows look a little fuller. It can also add a little more color if you’re using a powder, pencil, or other product on your eyebrows.
If your eyebrows are particularly unruly and wiry, here’s a trick I learned that, I find, works better than any expensive eyebrow gel. Save spooly brush from an old mascara or an eyebrow gel. Spray hairspray on it, then comb it through your brows. You can also use a toothbrush, but I find spooly brushes work better. Not all brushes will work the same. Some might deposit too much spray, while others might not deposit enough on your brows. Try a few out, and see which one you like.