Say goodbye to eyebrow missteps with advice from top beauty experts.
Often ignored, neglected or mistreated by many women, eyebrows are a facial feature that not only enhance facial expression but can dramatically alter one’s appearance. “Brows are the pillars of the face – they are incredibly important to your facial structure, they help frame your face and define your beauty,” says Charlotte Tilbury, British celebrity makeup artist and founder of her eponymous beauty brand. Somehow that point eludes numerous women: they either overpluck or they don’t pluck; they over define or they don’t bother to define. Whatever the action or inaction, brows are often beaten or neglected.
For those who can’t be bothered at all with their brows but recognize they should, the professionals recommend, yes, getting brows done by professionals. “The must dos in achieving perfect brows for your face is to leave them in the hands of a reputable professional and staying regimented with your appointments,” advises Breigh Bellavance, Benefit’s national brow artist.
Determining the right shape is paramount by finessing the brows’ natural line. Trends ebb and flow through the years, or sometimes only last seasons. Bushy were the rage for a few seasons, and then, recently, there was a spurious rumour that thin brows were back. “Shapes come and go with fashion. Recently, we are seeing a straighter brow than before,” says Caitlin Callahan, MAC senior artist. “But for a classic shape,” she advises, “we tend to follow the eye line up from the inner, follow to a natural arch, and line out towards the temple.”
For Tilbury, she uses her “browfomation technique” to achieve the right shape. “Using my Brow Lift as your brow compass, start by lining the pencil straight up against the side of your nose to mark where your brow begins, and then simply tilt the tool diagonally across your iris to see where your brow should arch, and then complete your perfect brow by tilting it again to reach the natural end-point.”
Benefit takes the guess work out of achieving the perfect shape with what they term “Brow Mapping” which is done at the Benefit brow bars. This way there are no surprises with the final result. This technique “uses your natural brow and facial features as landmarks to determine where the brow shape should start, arch and end. Any Benefit expert can teach this very easy technique so that it can be achieved at home as well,” says Bellavance. Social media, she says, has created more brow awareness for what to do and what not to do, and it’s clear that brows shouldn’t be overdone. “I am all for a clean, waxed brow and while trends are fun to embrace, they are better done so with make-up, rather than reinventing our actual brow shape with every trend shift. Your hair follicles and future self will thank you.”
After shape, colour is the most challenging decision if using fullness or shaping products. Callahan suggests starting with a shade lighter than your natural hair colour. “By trying lighter, you can always darken if it feels like you want more definition.” Bellavance agrees and advises to look at your root colour to determine the correct shade. “Choosing one shade lighter than your root colour will allow for perfect definition, without competing with the rest of your face. When it comes to undertones, a helpful hint for finding your brow makeup undertone is by referring to your foundation colour. If your foundation is more golden, choose a warm or neutral brow colour. If your foundation has a hint of pink, opt for a cooler toned brow colour.”
Tilbury states that when in doubt, it’s better to go lighter as darker brows can be aging. For those with grey hair, Bellavance recommends steering clear from rich or warm brow tones by going with a true grey-toned brow product to create a natural and flattering look. Benefit’s recently expanded brow collection colour range now includes Cool Grey.
Aging delivers brow challenges beyond a colour change. Not only do overplucked brows often not grow back, but aging thins out the brows. But there are a number of techniques and products created to camouflage sparse brows. “Full, handsome and lush brows are the epitome of youth. Depending on the shape of them, plucking the arch can give you an instant lift that will open up the look of the eyes,” Tilbury explains. “Use a shape, lift and shade tool like my Brow Lift, to thicken and lift the appearance of your brows. Start by revealing the shape by brushing up the brows with the comb, then fill in any gaps using the soft pencil using upward strokes.”
Bellavance concurs that enhancing thinning brows is key to maintaining a youthful look as we age. “I love to naturally enhance the brows by creating natural hair-like strokes with an ultra-fine tip pencil, like Precisely, My Brow Pencil by Benefit. This keeps the brows looking realistic and soft but defined.” The visual impact of great brows can be dramatic: giving definition when before it was lacking and imperceptibly lifting the face to appear more youthful. To achieve the best effect for your brows, Callahan urges you to “give yourself the full advantage of your eye space, meaning always brush your brow hairs up, a little clear brow gel helps. Go lighter with colour. And check them when you get into your car: that rear view mirror tells the truth!