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Arch Nemesis: Top Tips for Brilliant Brows

By: Liz Washer 

Who doesn’t envy those lucky folks who have balanced, symmetrical eyebrows that frame their features perfectly, express their emotions adeptly, and beautifully match their hair? If you weren’t born that way (and, trust me, few are!), here’s what you can do to achieve perfect arches:

1. Go with a pro. Even if you hope to achieve brow independence, your best bet is to start with a professional shaping and maintain it from there. But don’t just opt for the add-on wax at any old salon; you want to find a skilled brow shaper who will create the perfect frame for your face. (My preference is for plucking and threading, but there are good waxers out there, too.) Then, all you’ll need to do to “stay in shape” is remove the hairs that grow outside of the lines. Determined to go it solo? is a great resource for shaping!

2. Step away from the magnifying mirror! Try your best to avoid using mirrors that make every pore in your face look like a crater on the moon. These mirrors encourage excessive plucking (not to mention irrational levels of insecurity!) They are largely to blame for a lot of overzealous – and regrettable – eyebrow plucking. The trick to brow maintenance: less is more. It can take weeks for plucked hairs to reappear, so don’t overdo it. Full, natural brows are always on trend and youthful, while overplucked ones are aging.

3. Trim first, pluck second! One commandment of brow happiness: TRIM before you pluck. Long errant brow hairs might actually be supporting the shape of the brow, and once they’re gone, you’re left with an unsightly gap. Instead of reaching for the tweezers prematurely, use a brow brush or a clean mascara wand to brush your brows straight up. Any hairs that reach well beyond the brow shape can then be trimmed, carefully, with the smallest, sharpest pair of scissors you can find (I use cuticle scissors). You can brush them down, too, to see which hairs on the bottom might need to be shortened a bit. Only THEN should you pluck the hairs that grow in outside of the brow shape you want to maintain.

4. Get your fill. So, your natural brow hair doesn’t match your fabulous red locks, whether au naturel or bottled beauty? Not to worry! Lots of redheads have nearly invisible blonde brows that can be easily tinted with an auburn-toned brow mascara. If your brows are much darker than your hair, consult a qualified cosmetologist to lighten them chemically (do not try this at home!) To fill in sparse eyebrows, I like to use a mix of matte or satin eyeshadow and pencil eyeliner – the powder gives the brow a backdrop (just don’t go too dark!), and the eyeliner, applied in subtle tiny strokes, mimics the 3-D look and sheen of real hair. The result is believable, not drag queen (unless that’s what you’re going for!)

Liz’s product picks: MAC eyeshadows in Brown Script and Corduroy, Lorac Creamy Brow Pencil in Auburn, VanityMark Ultra-Brow pencils in Gingerella and Auburnista.

Rock it, ladies!