DIY Grooming for Gorgeous Brows, According to a Celebrity Stylist
This is part of our new weekly series called Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, as well as explore new techniques IRL.
For years, I've relied on pros to keep my thick brows in check. Every month or two, I usually head to the salon for a brow grooming service and, after some artful tweezing and trimming, leave feeling polished and put together—the same feeling I get after a good haircut. At home, I use a pencil or powder to give them some definition, but, except for plucking an obvious stray hair here or there, I didn't mess with the shape.
Obviously, this strategy needed revising during the lockdown. My overgrown brows were looking wild, so I spoke to Joey Healy, celebrity brow stylist, and owner of Joey Healy Brow Studio in New York City, for some DIY advice. ″Learning how to do some general clean up and shaping is a must now,″ says Joey, who assured me I could actually tweeze and trim at home. ″The goal of a home brow shaping is to make them tidy and clean and presentable." With my new brow know-how, I'm feeling confident about maintaining an artful arch at home.
Tip 1: Get the Right Tools
You can find complete brow tool kits for home grooming, though you may only need or two items to round out what you already have. Healy recommends stainless-steel slant-tip tweezers, a spoolie brush for combing, and a pair of small sharp scissors, ideally your designated cosmetic scissors (so you don't have to borrow the ones your husband uses to trim nose hair, Healy says). What you don't need: A magnifying mirror. Pros assess your whole face to create a balanced brow shape. If you come in too close, you may lose that perspective and over-tweeze. Try the Joey Healy Essential Tools Kit ($55, Amazon).
Find everything you need to perfect your brows at home in this kit, including tweezers, double-ended brush and spoolie, a dermaplane tool for peach fuzz hairs, and pressure scissors that you can use with either hand.
Tip 2: Figure Out Your Shape
To shape your brows, you need to know where they should begin, end, and arch. (Here's where beauty videos and expert tutorials are helpful.) One trick is to use a pencil (or squeeze your tweezers together) to map out the perimeters. You want the front of the brows to align with the bridge of the nose. Next, align the pencil with the corner of the nose to the outer corner of the eye; that line is where the end of the tail should hit. The arch is more personal, but generally, it should start about two-thirds the way up the brow. ″You don't want it to be in the center of the brow, which is a common mistake I see,″ Healy says. Remember, when it comes to tweezing, less is more; stay away from the brow bone. The areas away from the brow bone (like the dead center of your brows, the forehead, the upper eyelid, and the bridge of the nose) are the safest spots to tweeze.
Tip 3: Trim a Little Off the Top
Tweezers are probably the most popular tool associated with brow grooming, but I've discovered that scissors are crucial for managing my genetically bold brows. My dark brow hairs are long and feathery, so yanking out one wrong hair would leave a noticeable hole in my brow. With a teeny-tiny trim, I can tidy up the top line while retaining fullness. Only snip a tiny bit off the top of the hair. ″Hold the scissors at an angle and trim one hair at a time. You don't want to trim in a straight line because it will make the brow appear blunt, which doesn't look natural," Healy says.
Another great pro tip: Brush your brows upward with brow gel or clear mascara before you trim them. I like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel ($22, Sephora). It has a nice amount of hold without getting flaky during the day and is perfect for casual days when I want a natural, fluffy look without adding color. The gel also holds the hairs in place, so you don't have to worry about them moving as you snip. When in doubt, only tackle the obvious stragglers—the longest hairs that stick out the most. ″A little snip of the ends where they kink or bend," Healy says.
Tip 3: Define with Makeup
Once your brows are in good shape, you can fill in any patchy spots or thin areas with makeup or style them a bit, playing with the texture and intensity. Here are some brow products to get you started.
Tinted brow gel deposits a sheer layer of color as you comb it through your brows, adding volume with a few light strokes. You can also use it over pencil and powder to set your brows. In my experience, it’s best to apply tinted gel to the center and tail of the brow first, so there’s less product on the brush when you get to the front of the brow.
“A pencil allows you to build a little more geometry into the brow. Use it to slightly heighten the arch or extend the tail,” Healy says. I tend to reach for a pencil the most because it’s quick and versatile; you can also get soft definition by using a light hand and blending the color with a spoolie brush.
A brow pen allows you to draw hairlike strokes, so it’s a good option for sparse brows that could use extra coverage. (The effect looks similar to microblading, the professional semipermanent tattoo technique). The color doesn’t move once you apply it, which is great for staying power, but it also means you can’t blend the color so it will be more obvious than pencil or powder.
Pomades add texture along with rich, creamy color, which is ideal for creating bold or dramatic brow and for richer skin tones. Sometimes people with richer skin tones need more definition to make brows pop, and a pomade provides a deeper level of contrast, Joey says. Like powder, you need a brow brush to apply it.