Ask BX: How Do I Get Brilliant Brows?

Confused about brows? We'll help!

Confused about brows? We’ll help!

Dear BX,

I don’t have a clue about what to do for eyebrows. Do I wax or tweeze? Do I try it myself or leave it to a professional? I never know what shape I’m supposed to go for. I hear thicker brows are back, but does that mean the arched look is out?

-Raquel W.

Raquel, Raquel — we’ve all been there, believe me. There are so many options for eyebrows and so many brow “trends” that it’s no wonder you’re confused. Try these tried-and-true eyebrow taming tips to help you sort out what’s best for your own eye-framers.

Get Plucky. Which hair removal technique is best — waxing, tweezing, threading or electrolysis? Well, a lot of it has to do with your personal choice (and how permanent you want your look to be, in the case of electrolysis). That said, Celebrity Makeup Artist and Eyebrow Specialist Elke Von Freudenberg believes tweezing is your best bet for precision plucking.

tweezers“Tweezing to me gives the most precise technique,” she said. “I can change an eyebrow with one hair if I need to. I use waxing to remove hairs that do not belong, like between brows, or way below or above the brow. But I always tweeze the shape and do all correction work with tweezing for the most accurate shape.”

Eugenia Weston, founder of Senna Cosmetics and an Emmy nominated celebrity makeup artist, concurs, believing that wax is too harsh for the delicate eye area.

“Eyebrow waxing pulls the delicate skin around the eye area and can cause sagging,” she explains. “The hot wax can burn or cause trauma — especially when skin-thinning products are being used like Retin-A, alpha hydroxy acids and Vitamin C. There is also the risk of taking too much out.”

Eye up Your Shape. As women have gone from bushy brows to thinner curves to more refined arches and back again, it’s not surprising there’s confusion about what shape is best for eyebrows right now. But perhaps that’s because the best option is to skip the trends altogether and focus on the right shape for your personal look instead.


A classic brow shape

Raychel Wade, makeup artist and founder of cosmetic consulting company Cheek to Chic, says for brow shape, your goal is not to change the shape completely but to work with the one you already have.

“Well-groomed brows open your eyes and instantly erase a few years — and who doesn’t want that?” she said. “They are like the equivalent of curling your lashes — they actually give the appearance of brighter eyes, taking years off your appearance! The most flattering shape that enhances your eyes and frames the rest of your face is a clean brow that reach from the inner corner of your eye out a bit beyond the outer corner.”

“The Brow Diva” Deanna Netti Cahill, owner of the Brow Diva studio and product line, agrees, explaining that the “classic” brow is always in style — a full brow that is thickest on the inner two thirds, climaxing to a soft arch, ending in a gradual decline to the end. (She actually had us feeling a little steamy with that description!) However, Cahill warns that when it comes to brows, less of them is not necessarily more. She says over-tweezing and over-trimming are two of the biggest mistakes women make when it comes to their brows.

“Never use a magnifying mirror,” she instructed. “You are guaranteed to over pluck. And no one sees your brows that close up so what may look perfect magnified could look strange to the naked eye.”

Other looks that we believe are never in style — the “fuzzy caterpillar,” the “puny paisley,” the “upside down Nike swoosh” and the “Joan Crawford curve.”

You Can Do-it-Yourself…but Do it Right. You don’t always have to go to a professional to get a banging pair of brows, but just be sure you don’t end up being a brow beater in the process.  Von Freudenberg says that you should start with a professional shape-up to get the baseline look, and then you can conduct maintenance on your own.

“I always tell my clients to come in for a major shaping to get everything fixed up, and then keep an eye on them by cleaning up and tweezing every day as they come in,” she said. “By keeping an eye on them daily, it’s much easier to maintain for a longer period of time. I have clients that can go three months between shapings this way.”

Photos: Confused brows – Jef Bettens; Tweezers – David Lat; Classic brow – Heidi Eckert