Get the Look: Perfect Eyebrows

Perfectly groomed brows can make a big difference to your look, but it takes patience, practice and, sometimes, a professional touch

Neatly plucked, trimmed, arched and highlighted eyebrows can transform an otherwise unmade face into one that looks inherently youthful and polished

This year’s runway shows presented models with very thick, full, luscious eyebrows. If for no other reason than to stay on-trend, stop plucking now! Brows that are too thin instantly age the face and will make your jawline, cheekbones and nose appear larger.

Once overplucked, brows fall into a vicious maintenance cycle when the stubblies appear. While the growing out period can feel like a lifetime in the Ninth Circle of Inferno, make the effort.

The following tips and tricks from the pros will help you ease and even speed up the growing-out phase, and help you groom your brows and choose the right brow product (and the right colour!)

Start with a Professional Eyebrow Shaping

You’d never consider giving yourself a new hairstyle, so use the same caution next time you’ve got a pair of tweezers in your hand. Instead, seek professional help, at least for an initial consultation. You can always tend to the obvious strays on your own as they grow in, but until you get the hang of understanding your brow shape, go back to your brow professional every 3-6 months.

A professional eyebrow shaping will map out exactly where your brows should start and end, and show you where your arch is. While you should always think of your eyebrows as sisters, not twins, realistic symmetry is the goal, and this kind of mapping allows you to really see the natural architecture of your brows.

The transformation above was courtesy of Bombay Brow Bar, which specializes in brows and nothing but. A session there is just $23 and will have you walking out with groomed brows, an action plan (if you need one), and some tips on how to fill in your brows with the right makeup so you can at least create the illusion of full brows even if that’s not the reality.

For actual shaping or hair removal, Bombay recommends threading over waxing, which offers greater precision and a little less pain. If necessary, they’ll also trim individual eyebrow hairs, which is surprisingly effective for producing an instantly tidier brow line.

Ravy Mehroke, co-owner of the Bombay Brow Bar (and a reformed over-tweezer herself), has seen business increase steadily since opening in 2010, and not just with women – about 20% of Bombay’s business comes from men looking to tame their unibrow ($19). They’re more interested in a very natural but tidy appearance; more grooming, less shaping. Regardless of gender, everyone leaves looking refreshed, youthful and polished, and some say even thinner. That’s the power of a good set of brows.

Credit: Sephora

Brow Enhancing Serums: For Thickening Up Thin Brows

If your eyebrows are looking a bit sparse or thin from over-plucking, there are brow-enhancing serums you can apply to speed up re-growth. This only works if you have healthy follicles – they’re not miracle elixirs and can’t force hair to grow where no follicles exist.

Bombay recommends using basic, all-natural castor oil. Castor oil is thick and sticky with a faint scent that some may find unpleasant, but it’s inexpensive and easy to find. A small bottle will run you less than $5 and can be bought at nearly any drugstore. Dip a clean cotton bud into the bottle for each application to avoid contamination (or better yet, decant a small amount into a smaller container). Apply to brows and gently massage in with fingertips.

There are also serums available that are made specifically for brows, such as the Anastasia Brow Enhancing Serum Advanced, $55.

Many claim that enhancers for eyelashes work just as well on eyebrows and since there are far more of those on the market, it may be easier to find one you like, such as Peter Thomas Roth’s Lashes to Die For Platinum starting at $25.

Like the castor oil, apply these serums to your brows and gently massage in. The upside of using a serum over oil is that you can use these products during the day. Give each of these products 3-4 months to take effect. Both are available at Sephora.

Credit: NARS

How to Choose a Brow Colour

Like most other colour cosmetics, the key is finding the right shade. Go too dark and you’ll end up looking severe and extreme. Pick something too warm and you’ll look conspicuously artificial.

As a general rule of thumb, go lighter and ashier (grey). Even if you have dark brown or black hair, go lighter. And unless you have very warm undertones in your face and have warm toned hair (such as strawberry blond, red or auburn), go with something that has a grey undertone.

For a truly professional look, use two colours: darker on the outer half, lighter on the inner half (using very little product on the inner corners). If you’re looking for precision and need to draw in a few missing hairs, try a pencil or marker. If you need to fill in larger gaps or define the arch, use a powder. And, of course, you can always do a combination of both.

Before starting, use a brow comb or clean spoolie to brush the hairs down, so you can better see the overall shape and any gaps. Start at the arch and work toward the tail; finish with minimal product on the inner corners. As you finish, brush through your brows to tidy everything and soften up any edges, brushing the hairs upward to the arch, and then downward and outward after the arch. As a final step, if needed, use a little brow gel to set everything and keep all your hairs in place throughout the day.

Credit: Shu Uemura, Clinique, Dior

Eyebrow Pencils: For Precision Brow Work

Brow pencils are best for precision work and are quick and easy to use, depositing colour exactly where you need it. Use fine, light feathery strokes to mimic actual hair. Avoid pressing too hard or drawing harsh continuous lines. Brush through as you work to blend the product in with your brows.

The Shu Uemura Hard Formula is a cult classic; a favourite among celebrities and their makeup artists. This pencil is specially formulated so it only works when it interacts with hair. If you try to run the pencil across the back of your hand, no colour will deposit. But try this on your forearm (with hair) the pencil begins to do its magic. Also, while you could sharpen it with a regular sharpener, ideally you would take it to a Shu counter and have a staff member there hand sharpen it with a blade, producing an extra thin, long flat edge that mimics the shape of an individual hair. Smudge-proof and long lasting, it’s available in three different shades at Holt Renfrew, $29, with complimentary re-sharpening.

Clinique’s Instant Lift for Brows is dual-ended retractable product, with a brow pencil at one end and a shimmering highlighter at the other. The brow product is a lovely, waxy consistency that deposits colour easily and blends well. Use the highlighter just under the arch (the highest point of the brow bone) to subtly add shimmer and provide a lift to the area, giving the whole eye a refreshed look. Available in three different shades at Clinique counters, $20.

Dior’s Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil has a retractable pencil at one end and a brush at the other making quick work of defining and filling in brows. Available in one universal colour at Dior counters and at Sephora, $30.

Credit: Sephora

Eyebrow Powders: For Filling in and Shaping Brows

Brow powders are best for shaping eyebrows and filling in sparse areas, offering a softer look than pencils or markers. When using brow powder you’ll need a stiff angled brush for application. To apply, load up your brush with a good amount of product, tap off any excess and then start at your arch working your way down to the tail, then using what’s left on your brush, fill in the front ends. Never start at the inner ends. It will look far too heavy and you’ll only end up being mistaken for an angry bird.

Many consider Anastasia Beverly Hills to be the ultimate in brow makeup. It’s one of the only brands whose entire collection is devoted to making brows look amazing. Its Brow Powder Duo comes in a tiny container that delivers big impact. It provides two colours for a truly professional yet natural look. Available in five different duo shades at Sephora, $30.

Illamasqua is a luxury brand whose Eye Brow Cakes come in five intriguingly different shades. If you’ve had a hard time finding a colour that matches your eyebrows and skin tone, try this brand. The pigmentation is perfect and can be used with a wet brush for a more defined look. The colour “motto” (shown) is a greeny-grey-taupey colour, which sounds and looks odd, but is surprisingly versatile and is especially perfect for Asians (really). Available in five shades at Sephora, $28.

Smashbox’s Brow Tech comes with two shades of eye powder and brow wax as well. This is perfect if you like to use wax to keep your brows in place. Note that wax tends to naturally darken the eyebrows (even if you don’t add any colour) so use a lighter touch. Available in four different duo shades (plus wax) at Sephora, $30.

Credit: Sephora

Eyebrow Pens and Gels: For Sharp, Sleek Brows

Eyebrow pens and gels will give your brows a slightly sharper look, even sleek depending on how much product you use. They also tend to come in waterproof and sweat-proof formulas, so they’re ideal for hot, humid climates or if you just insist on gorgeous brows, beachside. For gels, use a stiff angled brush (as you would when using powders); for pens, use light feathery strokes (as you would when using pencils).

Anastasia’s Brow Pen is a long-wearing soft-tipped brow pen that will deposit colour on both skin and hair. This is a good choice if you need to draw in individual hairs to fill in larger gaps. Available in two coulours at Sephora, $27.

Makeup For Ever’s Aqua Brow is a highly pigmented gel that will shape and fill in brows. Its waterproof formula will keep the colour and your brows in place all day. Available in three colours at Sephora, $24.

Benefit’s Speed Brow is a coloured brow gel, making quick work by combining two products into one. While it’s tinted, it won’t deposit a lot of colour so this is best for those who already have full eyebrows but just need to tame them. This is another product that comes in one universal colour and is probably best suited to those with light to med-dark hair. Available at Sephora, $22.