What do Lucy Hale, Cara Delevingne and Lily Collins have in common? Gorgeous eyebrows! Ask any makeup artist: brows can make or break your face. Read on for grooming tips and how to deal with too-thin or overly bushy eyebrows. We talked to Baltimore-based makeup artist Rachel Lew for the lowdown on eyebrows.
1. Pick a shape
What’s the coolest, chicest way to do eyebrows these days? Keep them natural! “Most women tend to match best with their natural eyebrow shape, which is usually along the lines of naturally full and slightly arched,” Lew says. Translation: don’t fight your eyebrows! Where the hair tends to grow is probably a good look.
But, depending on your face shape, you may find a different shape looks better. “If you have a rounder face, you can get away with a stronger arch,” Lew says. “If you have a square face shape, stick with a softer arch. If you have an oval face, a medium arch will suit you.”
Not sure what shape your face is? Stand in front of a mirror, comb your hair back and get a good look at your hairline. Then, check out this guide to properly determine your face shape. When in doubt, though, keep what nature gave you and don’t worry too much about calculating exactly where the perfect arch should be.
2. Tweeze them
“It's important to invest in a good quality tweezer; otherwise, you risk getting dull ends that make it difficult to pinpoint and pull out specific brow hairs,” Lew says. Lew recommends Tweezerman tweezers—their basic slant tweezer is $22 at Sephora.
Start by pulling out the hairs that are very obviously straying from the others far above or below your natural shape, as well as those and between your eyebrows (to avoid a unibrow). Then, go in and pluck around your natural shape. You probably already have an arch, but if you want to make it more defined, a good frame of reference is to put the arch above where the iris of your eye ends.
“Keep the shape clean, but don't over-tweeze them!” Lew warns. You’ll know you’ve over-tweezed if your brow hairs are sparse and you can see a lot of skin between hairs. To avoid this, Lew recommends not getting too close to the mirror. “Look at your entire face from time to time while you're tweezing,” she says. “If you're overdone it, no worries! You can fake it with a brow pencil until it grows back.”
3. Trim them (if you need to)
Super-bushy eyebrows may benefit from a slight trim. Lew recommends starting with a “spooley,” which is the word for the makeup brush that looks like a mascara wand, just without the mascara. Brush your brows upward toward your forehead. Then, if you see any hairs that extend far past the top of your eyebrow, trim them slightly with a pair of hair or eyebrow scissors.
This should be a last resort, though. Only trim if it’s absolutely necessary! “If you over-trim, your eyebrows can easily look uneven,” Lew says. Prevent this by just snipping off the tips of hairs that extend far past the spooley when you comb them toward your forehead.
4. Fill them in
This step definitely applies to those with naturally sparser eyebrows, but even girls with thick eyebrows can up the ante by filling theirs in a bit. That’s the key to the Cara look! First, “set your brows with a clear brow gel (or clear mascara!), which keeps your brow hairs in place,” Lew says. Lew suggests Anastasia Beverly Hills clear brow gel ($22 at Sephora).
The next step you take depends on your natural eyebrow thickness. Girls with thin eyebrows, take note: Filling in your brows can either look super unnatural or very polished, so take caution. “The trick is to fill them in to make them look as natural as possible by using your existing eyebrow,” Lew says. “A brow powder is your best bet if you want natural-looking brows, but if you're looking for more definition, a pencil or brow gel will get the job done.”
Try Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow ($22 at Sephora) for a brow gel that’s super easy to apply since it has a built-in brush you can use directly on your brows. For brow pencils, Lew suggests tarte EmphasEYES High Definition Eyebrow Pencil ($20 at Sephora) for its precise tip. For thicker, more intensely colored brows, Lew recommends Anastasia Beverly Hills DIPBROW Pomade ($18 at Sephora). Apply it in light, feathery strokes.
Lew suggests picking a gel or pencil color that’s slightly lighter than your natural hair or eyebrow color. “For example, if you have dark brown hair, you want to use taupe or a medium brown to fill in your brows,” she says. If you decide to keep it super subtle, use a powder and then “use thin, feathery strokes with a brow brush (find one a with a fine tip) to fill in your brows,” Lew says. Want to be a bit darker and dramatic à la Lily Collins? Pick a pencil or gel and use the same motion—thin, feathery strokes. The last thing you want is to look like you just colored in the lines with a crayon! Finish your look with some eyeliner to complement your bold brows.
Cool, sexy brows take a bit more work than going completely au naturel, but if you keep them in shape and fill them in a bit, you might be surprised by how much your eyebrows define and brighten your face!