They say that the brows are the most important aspect of the face, but when there is so much that can go wrong (looking at you, thin noughties brows) you might be wondering where to start. Like which are the best eyebrow productsand should you thread, wax or pluck? But fear not, knowing how to shape your eyebrows is not as difficult as you think.
To get the 101 on all things brow shaping, we called in the help of three experts—two brow technicians and a make-up artist—who break down what you need to know, from choosing your brow shape to the types of brow shaping you can do at home. Let’s get into it.
How to choose a brow shape?
Let’s start from the beginning: brow shapes. Now, unlike choosing a make-up look, brow shapes can’t really be copied or recreated from someone else—unless you’re going for brow art, but we’re guessing you want a natural look.
“It’s super important to choose a shape that compliments your face shape as this will frame the rest of your face, giving you the most structure,” explains Yana Gushchina, founder of Browfique. “If you have a rounder face, for example, you may find that a high-arched brow adds definition and lifts your eye area, whereas square or heart-shaped faces may suit softer, more rounded brows to soften angular features,” she adds. In addition to this, she notes that taking your natural eyebrow shape, thickness and arch into consideration is important, too.
To find this natural brow shape, all you need is a pencil. Simply take your pencil and place it on the side of your nose. Straight up is where your brow should begin, moving it in line with your pupil is where your arch should be, and “tilting your pencil from the side of your nostril to the corner of your eye, closest to your ear is where the tail of your brow should end,” says Yana. Make-up artist Lisa Caldognetto also recommends doing this, and stresses paying extra attention to the latter, as many people don’t extend their brow products far enough to reach the natural tail end.
If you’re unsure about shaping your own brows, it’s always best to visit a professional. The same is true if you want to slightly enhance your brow shape, which is something brow artist Kallinika Aynsley does. Although she chooses the correct shape that "flatters each individual client," she often lifts the tail of the brow. “This style is a go-to of mine [when enhancing a client's natural eyebrow shape], which works for all brow shapes to give the illusion of a more open, lifted and a more awake appearance.”
How to shape your brows at home
As with most things in the make-up category, there’s no true right or wrong way; it all depends on your preferences and the products you have and like using. Having said that, to get the most natural-looking brows you can, there are a few general guidelines and tips to follow.
1. Select your players (read: products)
The products you choose are all down to personal preference and budget, plus what you’re trying to achieve: hair-like strokes, total fill-in or quick brush up. There are four main types to choose from: a thin pencil, a pomade, a brow gel and a brow pen.
Lisa loves this pencil for those precise, hair-like strokes when you are in need of what she calls "brow surgery", where hair is lacking. Although pencils are precise, they are great if you don't want them to set in place right away, you can easily blend them if you need.
If you like a little more colour than just a few brush strokes, a pomade is a great option, which is a cream-based product used with an angled brush. This Refy Pomade is like a 2-in-1 as the bottom section contains the product and top contains the brush.
If you're a little low-key when it comes to your brows, a quick brush up with some brow gel can do just the trick. Glossier's Boy Brow is great for thick brows that need a little help staying put.
Lisa also loves the West Barn Co. Brow Pen for "calligraphy-type strokes", where you can get super precision. This is great if you're always wondering how to get thicker brows. Use this to fill in sparse patches or add hairs to give a fuller-looking brow.
2. Choose the right shade
Just as important as choosing the right product is making sure you also choose the right shade. "To make brows look natural is all about the tone of colour, a lot of the time we want to create shadow behind the hair and all shadows are grey," says Lisa. As a general rule of thumb is "don’t always match the brow hair colour, even if you are a redhead or a fair blonde, if you use the palest palest taupe grey that’ll work really well." She notes that no matter your skin tone or hair colour, don't go too warm otherwise it may not look as natural.
3. Don't copy someone else's brows
The most natural-looking brows are the ones you were born with so work with what you've got. That's not to say you can't enhance them but it's best to use the pencil trick to determine where your arch should be and tail should end. "That'll give you a balanced look for your own face rather than trying to copy a look you’ve seen on someone else," Lisa says, and we agree.
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4. Utilise the spoolie
An often-forgotten tool in our make-up bag is the humble spoolie, but it could be the trick to natural-looking brows. "Once I've filled in a brow, I like to use the spoolie to fluff and remove a bit of product," says Lisa. "The shape and firmness of the bristles almost lifts some of the excess off and makes it look more hair-like and textured. The best way to make your brows look really full is by brushing them before putting any product in them."
5. Lift the arch
Lisa explains that "you can manipulate the shape and sort of falsify the brow" in a few ways. "Some people like to underline a brow and then blend into the brow to bulk it up" and "another great place to give the illusion of fullness is around your natural arch."
6. Add bush to the brows
Brow gels are great for that brushed up or brow lamination look, but Lisa says that they also give a really great "groomed" look. "I find brow gels particular great if you have really dense hair and you just want to add a bit of gloss or colour to bulk things out a bit more because you can brush them in whatever direction." Don't have a brow gel? "Use a bit of hairspray on a spoolie."
7. Visit the experts
As with most things in beauty, the most dramatic changes are best left for the professionals. If you want to change your shape or neaten it up and still aren't confident in doing so, make an appointment with a brow specialist. There are so many treatments you can get to help perfect the shape of your natural eyebrows, including tinting, waxing, threading, lamination and microblading.
Whatever you do, don't get overzealous with those tweezers, promise?!
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Tori is a freelance beauty journalist and contributor for Marie Claire. She has written for various titles, including Allure, Glamour, Elle, Refinery29, Brides, and more. Currently training to be a nail tech, Tori is a total nail enthusiast and always has time to talk all things nail art. When she’s not writing about beauty and testing products, Tori can be found walking her rescue dog Pip, drinking great coffee, and eating as many croissants as humanly possible.
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