With salons closed for the foreseeable future, we’ve had to take our beauty routines—from gel nail polish removal to hair colouring—into our own hands. But eyebrows are a completely different ball game. If you’re used to getting your brows waxed, threaded or plucked by a pro, the thought of cleaning up or shaping your arches yourself can feel overwhelming and, well, a little scary. We tapped Veronica Tran, founder of Toronto salon Pretty In The City, and Breigh Bellavance, National Brow Artist for Benefit Cosmetics Canada, for their best tips on at-home brow maintenance—including how to find the best eyebrow shape for your face.
Here’s everything you need to know before you reach for the tweezers.
What is the best method to groom my eyebrows at home?
When it comes to at-home brow maintenance, less is definitely more. Both Bellavance and Tran agree that tweezing is the easiest way to clean up your arches yourself and that more complex brow-shaping techniques—like waxing and threading—are best left to the professionals. “Tweezing is the best kind of insurance policy, because you are choosing hairs one by one,” says Bellavance. “Waxing removes several hairs at once and there are lots of variables, so it’s more of a gamble—you don’t want your brows to be an experiment.”
What tools do I need?
All you need to take your brow grooming into your own hands is a pair of tweezers and a fine brow pencil to map out your shape.
A good pair of slanted tweezers is key. Tweezerman tools are a popular choice among brow experts, but Belleavance swears by the Benefit Cosmetics tweezers, which have a handy grooming brush on one end.
Good light is also crucial to achieving the best possible results. “Natural light doesn’t lie,” says Bellavance, who suggests finding a comfortable spot near a window.
What you most likely don’t need is a magnifying mirror—it distorts your reflection, which will likely lead to over-plucking. To avoid giving yourself thinner brows than intended, use a plain old tabletop mirror instead.
How do I find my eyebrow shape?
The best eyebrow style for your face is typically the one you naturally have, so honouring your natural shape is important. To find your ideal shape, Bellavance suggests mapping out your brows, using a brow pencil as a guide. This creates a “box” around your brows which acts as a safe zone, and you can then pluck the hairs outside of that box without worrying about altering the natural shape of your eyebrows. Here’s how to find your shape:
To find where your brow should begin, take your brow pencil and hold it at the outer nostril and upwards, so it intersects with the top of your brow. Using the pencil, mark that spot with a line.
To find the arch of your brow, take your brow pencil and hold it at the outer nostril, going across the outer iris, marking the spot with a line.
To find where the tail of your brow should end, take your brow pencil and hold it at the outer nostril, going to the corner of the eye and once again marking the spot with a line.
When you’re done, connect these points with straight lines, taking care not to hug the brow too closely. “You want to see your brow inside this box, so you know that you’re not digging into your shape as you’re plucking,” adds Bellavance. If the mapping process seems overwhelming, Tran’s simplified trick is to fill in your eyebrows with makeup as you would when getting ready in the morning and tweezing around that shape.
How do I tweeze my eyebrows the *right* way?
“When you’re tweezing, you should always keep the skin tight,” says Tran. “Put your finger at the base where the root is and tweeze in the direction of the hair growth.” This helps minimize the pain and ensures you’re not damaging the hair follicle.
Both experts also say you should avoid tweezing above your arches and stick to the stray hairs underneath and in-between your brows when going the DIY route. “You need more of an aerial view to see what those hairs at the top are doing for you,” says Bellavance, adding that over-plucking the top can can drag down your features. If dark, coarse hairs are interfering with your shape, you can carefully pluck them by lifting up each one with your tweezers as you go to see what your brows would look like without them. “Even one hair out of place can mess up the shape,” says Tran. “When in doubt, just leave it.”
How do I achieve a defined, precise arch?
The secret to those sharp, defined brows you see all over Instagram? “More often than not, it’s a mixture of a great brow shape and makeup,” says Bellavance. A fine pencil can help create the crisp shape you’ve always dreamed of. She suggests achieving as close as your desired shape as you can naturally, and sharpening the outer edges of your brows with a few hair-like pencil strokes.
On top of that, brows are rarely symmetrical, which means you will likely need a little makeup magic to achieve an even look. Trying to match them up by removing hair could result in brows that are thinner than intended. Changing the natural shape of your arch is tricky and requires precision, so keep it simple when shaping your own brows and leave extensive reshaping to your brow artist.
Should I trim my eyebrows?
Much like trimming your own bangs, trimming your eyebrows has the potential to go very wrong, very quickly. “Your brows are front and centre—just one wrong snip can create a jarring effect, whether it be a little dip or a hole,” says Bellavance. If you can’t wait until your next salon visit to get overgrown brows under control, the key is to proceed with extreme caution.
First, set your brows with a clear gel, sweeping the hairs up to see their full length. Using small brow scissors (not kitchen scissors!), single out the hairs that are too long and trim them one by one at an angle, following the shape of your brow. “Trim one millimetre at a time, and don’t pull the hair while you’re trimming—when you let go and it bounces back, it’s going to be a lot shorter,” says Tran.
If you’re not comfortable trimming your eyebrows, both Bellavance and Tran recommend investing in a good brow gel to keep unruly hairs in check.
What about an at-home brow tint?
A brow tint—a semi-permanent dye that lasts on average 3 to 4 weeks—adds oomph to sparse, fair brows and instantly makes them appear fuller but, like waxing and threading, it should be left to the professionals. “There’s a science to it—we look at your hair colour, your hair texture and the density of your brows and those things can really make a brow tint turn out very differently,” says Bellavance.
Thankfully, you can easily fake that well-groomed, bold brow shape at home without resorting to DIY dye. “That’s when you bust out your tinted fiber gel,” she adds. “It’s your at-home brow tint, and it works even if you want to cover greys.”
How do I grow out my eyebrows?
Growing out your brows takes time, so you’ll need to be patient. The first step is to put down the tweezers—you might be tempted to clean up your brows in-between appointments, but Tran says that waiting it out will give your brow artist more to work with, which will result in a fuller, more defined shape. “If you need to, only tweeze the light hairs that are really low [under your brow line] and leave everything else. Let yourself get hairy.”
If you’re looking to give your arches a bit of extra love, adding a growth serum to your daily routine can result in thicker, healthier brows in the long run. Tran recommends coating the brows in eyelash growth serums, while Bellavance loves the Benefit Cosmetics Browvo! Conditioning Primer, which contains keratin and soy protein to help brows look thicker, fuller and healthier.
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