Monday, March 11, 2013

How to: Eyebrow Grooming for Women

Ever since I was a little girl, my eyebrows have been bushy and unruly. In my 6th grade school picture, my eyebrows were so thick that they literally formed a unibrow! As I got a little bit older, I plucked my brows into obscurity and then a year later Brooke Shields became famous, making thick eyebrows fashionable. 

Over the years, I've known lots of women who have either overplucked their brows or who have far more than they can manage. For the past month, I've been intending to write a post about eyebrows so I neglected my grooming while on my cruise to have some (ahem) "material" to work with. Click below to see how I shape and groom my brows!

I have some of the craziest brows known to womankind. Not only would they grow straight across the bridge of my nose but would also be thick and extend well up onto my forehead, if I left them to their own devices! The red arrows show the strays; you can see that not only is hair growing in all the "normal" places (under the arch, at the end of the tail, between the brows) but also above the brow line and well up onto the forehead. It's very attractive.

My eyebrow hair grows very quickly and easily becomes obscenely long. In short order, I begin to resemble Andy Rooney. 

Before we get to my grooming process, let's take a look at the best way to figure out an attractive brow shape.

First is the length of the brow. A common way to determine the proper length is to take a pencil, ruler or any other straight edge, position one end near the nostril and then angle it so that the other end grazes the outside edge of the eye. Using this point as a guide, you are assured that your brows are at the right length for your face. When I was in seventh grade, I plucked my brows much too short and that was an incredibly awkward look. Don't make the same mistake!

The starting point of the brow is just as important as the ending point. There's almost nothing worse than brows that start too far from the inner corner of the eye! Taking the same straight edge, position one end next to the nostril, leading straight up past the inner corner of the eye. That's where the brow should start.

Next is the arch. Again, position the straight edge near the nostril, angling it past the outer edge of the iris, so that it intersects with the brow. This is where the top of the arch should be positioned. 

At this point, you have the blueprint for your ideal brow shape. To remove excess hair, you can pluck (like I do) or wax (which I've done in the past---you should use a professional for this). If your brows are too thin, you can add shape with pencils, brow powder, tatooing (I know several women who have done this with great success) or use one of the kits on the market that include brow stencils which are then filled in with either pencils or powders.

Back to my grooming routine...

First I pluck away all of the stray hair below my brows and at the ends of the brows. You've probably noticed that I have white hair among the dark. Some I pluck but others I don't because they are integral to my brow shape. Those I leave and color them with a colored brow gel. Once the under brow area is "clean," I begin with all of the stays above the brows. You've probably heard that you should never pluck above your brow line. That is really good advice as you can easily ruin the upper line of your brows. For this reason, I recommend consulting with a professional. If, however, you are like me and have eyebrows that grow halfway up your forehead, you may want to tackle that area yourself (only if you're comfortable). Get that area good and clean before moving on to the next step.

Not only are my brows thick, the individual hairs are disgustingly long. They also grow sideways, rather than growing upwards, which may or may not be an issue, depending on your taste. Personally, I wish mine would grow upwards. Anyway, my eyebrow hair must be trimmed to lay correctly.

To trim the hair, I brush all of it if straight up with an eyebrow grooming brush. There are many kinds available. Most of them have an eyebrow brush on one side and an eyelash separating comb on the other. The comb I'm using in the picture above came in an eyebrow kit. You can see here that I am combing the hair upward and then trimming with a pair of curved manicure scissors. I trim the whole brow, from the inside corner to the tail, making sure that the hair is short enough that it does not curl awkwardly (mine does this when it is too long). 

What I'm left with is the "raw material" that I need to do my makeup. You can see that the skin above and below my brows is slightly red. This fades quickly and the entire process was not painful. I've been plucking for years so the hair generally comes in very fine as it grows back. Waxing is fast and one gets used to the momentary sting. It also results in redness but, again, that faces quickly.

At this point, I'm ready to put on my makeup. I always "do" my eyes after applying whatever I'm using on my face in the way of foundation or tinted moisturizer. By starting with the brows, the face is framed and you will often need less eyeshadow to achieve a well defined look than if you started with eyeshadow first. I fill in my brows using either a tinted powder (or eyeshadow), pencil or gel, depending on the look I'm going for. If I want a particularly strong brow, I may use a slightly darker shade for the fill than I normally would. Whatever you choose, make sure it is the right color (go one to two shades lighter than your brow color for fill unless you have gray brows, when you should go one to two shades darker). Make sure that your brow powder/tint doesn't have too much red in the formula, especially if you are a brunette. At some point, I should probably do a tutorial on brow shades!

Here's the final look. I'm wearing a few strokes of dark brown eye pencil to lightly fill in the inner part of the brow (be careful that this is not too opaque---as we get older, it can look harsh). I also applied a coat of "brunette" tinted brow gel to temporarily color the white hair and to set the individual brow hairs.
What's your brow routine? Do you use any products that you really like? Please share!!