I don't know what it is about baby boomers -- maybe it was all the acid -- but a lot of them haven't realized that shaping and grooming your eyebrows will take 10 years off your face. I'm about to head to my 30th college reunion, and I'm already cringing over what I'm going to see -- a bunch of unshaped, heavy caterpillar eyebrows. Think Susan Boyle ... but without the voice.
Eyebrows circa 2010
Nothing updates your face more than updated eyebrows. And the good news is that updating your eyebrows is easier now than it's been for over a decade.
If you've survived the over-plucked 1990s, you'll be glad to hear that fuller brows are back in style. The pencil-thin brows of Pamela Anderson have been replaced by Megan Fox's full, dramatic, dark arches.
This means that the amount of shaping you'll need to look fashionable is minimal, compared to a decade ago. Which is great news! Life is a lot easier when you're not obsessively tweezing your eyebrows like a gardener clipping a topiary.
To clean up your brows successfully, you need to figure out where they begin and end, and where to put the arch. The photograph at right illustrates how to determine this. Imagine a line starting at the outside edge of your nostril and going straight up; that's where your brow should start. Now imagine a line starting at the same place and running past the outside of your eye. That's where your brow should stop. Finally, to position the arch, imagine a line from the tip of your nose passing through your iris. Where that line would touch the brow is where the arch should be.
Often women pluck their brows when their problem is long eyebrow hairs that are unruly. Comb or brush your eyebrows straight up. If you see hairs growing far past the top of your brows, try trimming them with a cuticle scissors. Don't take too much off; you can always cut more. Take a bit off and brush the brows back into place.
Tweezing, Waxing, or Threading?
I've become increasingly disenchanted with eyebrow waxing. I don't find waxing particularly painful (eyebrow waxing, that is) and it's wonderful for banishing every last tiny hair, but I have sensitive skin, and I find that the area above my eyebrows stays red for a couple of days after I've had my brows waxed.
Waxing is great for laying the groundwork, though, and if you keep up with your tweezing, you might only have to do it once.
Threading used to be a specialty process that you'd have to travel to find, but recently I saw a sign in my neighborhood offering eyebrow threading for $5, which means that threading has gone mainstream. Threading doesn't traumatize the skin the way waxing does, and is a good alternative to waxing for people with sensitive skin, or those who use Retin-A, Renova, or skin creams containing retinol.
Eyebrow filling, coloring, and grooming
Once you've cleaned up your brows, you might find that they're looking a bit sparse. Or you might discover that your trimmed or formerly-tweezed, now grown-out eyebrows are looking a bit unruly. My eyebrows have bedhead first thing in the morning, and need to be brushed and tamed just as much as the hair on my head. I also find that as I apply my makeup, I need to brush my brows to remove traces of moisturizer and foundation. And then, if I've added a bit of brow color, I find myself brushing through them again.
(What do you mean, I'm obsessed?)
If your brows are unruly, a tiny bit of hair gel applied with an old toothbrush will hold them in place. If you want to add color, you can use powder eyeshadow. To avoid a Groucho Marx look, pick a color that's lighter than you think you need, and apply it lightly. You can also buy brow tint in a mascara-type tube; Bobbi Brown makes a good one, and E.L.F.'s Treat and Tame treats, colors, and tames the brows, for only $3.
To fill in bald spots, nothing works better than an eyebrow pencil. Keep your pencil sharp, and carefully draw in individual hairs. I use a pencil to fill in the top of my arch, which for some reason, appears to be missing. Then I color through the rest of my brows with a light blonde shade of brow color mixed with a bit of brow wax.
For the truly eyebrow-obsessed, there are great all-in-one eyebrow kits available. Chanel got the ball rolling with their Sourcil de Chanel, but at $65, it has always been too rich for my blood. I have (and adore) tarte's The Toolbox, which has everything you need: tweezers, a brow pencil, a tube of clear brow gel, a pan of powder brow color, a pan of brow wax, a brush to apply them, and a mirror -- all in a container the size of a match box. It's currently on sale for $18.
And at the low end, E.L.F. makes a brow wax/color combo, as well as the treatment/color product shown below.
More BlogHer eyebrow adventures--this time with Metalia.
Poppy's other eyebrow rant includes an illustrated history of eyebrows in the 20th century.
More product recommendations at Lipstick, Powder and Paint
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