I’m not sure why blondes should have more fun, but I can tell you it’s not true in the lash and brow department. Having transparent lashes and barely distinguishable brows leaves your face sort of featureless: I describe mine as ‘new-born mouse.’ If you’ve ever seen one (or me, of a morning), you’ll understand what I mean.
So, while some won’t be seen dead without their lipstick or foundation, I wouldn’t even go for a sweaty run at 6am without my cosmetic security blanket of fine-liner and pimped brows. There’s a reason why makeup brands like Charlotte Tilbury now offer entire collections of brow products: layering them is the key to building fashionably full-looking, face-lifting, feature-enhancing arches. Here’s how to do it.
If You Have Very Sparse Brows
Start by drawing on the perfect arches as a base to build your brows from, using a pomade or brow powder and an angled brow brush. Your brows should start right above the middle of each nostril and end at the point you find by laying a pencil alongside the outer corner of the nose and outer eye corner. The highest point of the arch is above the line that connects the side of the nose with the middle of the pupil.
Once painted on, diffuse your brows to no more than shadows with a spoolie brush or even a fluffy brush with a little concealer. Then draw little hairs on top with the flat edge of a brow pencil, followed by even finer ones using the edge of an angled brow brush dipped in pomade or a fine-tipped brow ink pen like Kevyn Aucoin True Feather Brow Gel Duo, $28.50. All this will create the illusion of texture and dimension.
Colour depth-wise, your hair’s roots are a good guideline, but “choose products more than two shades darker than your natural hair colour,” says Charlotte Tilbury Global Pro Artist Alessandra Macsim. She advises looking at the tones in the whole of your hair to determine whether you need a warm or cool-toned brow colour. “But don’t go too orange or too ashy, as colours at the extreme ends of the spectrum can look fake and wash out your complexion.”
If you have light or gappy brows
Brushing your brows up with a spoolie brush first will determine where you need filling and any shape correction. Using the brow measuring pointers above, put concealer dots where your brows should begin, peak and end, then “set about creating and defining the shape with a pencil, using feather strokes to fill in sparse areas and slightly widen brows,” says Macsim. “One of my favourite tricks is to fill in the brow just above the arch - instant mini brow lift!” For precision work, she uses Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Brows, N/A: “The tip is tiny, and perfect for shaping the start of the brow, filling in gaps and elongating the tail with miniscule strokes.”
“Follow this with a brow mascara to add fullness and texture: Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Brows, N/A, has the slimmest, smallest brush that lets you precision-direct your hairs while depositing just the right amount of colour,” says Macsim. Wiggle the brush as you stroke upwards through the hairs for stronger colour and a more feathered look, or choose a brow mascara with added fibres such as Hourglass Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel, $35.10, for an even fuller-looking effect.
If you have dark, unruly brows
“Avoid creating an over-the-top brow by keeping naturally full ones well groomed,” says Macsim. “You can trim them back to create a softer, more relaxed shape. Just pinch and press them into the shape you want them to be, and carefully snip any unruly hairs.” She emphasises the importance of getting the brow proportions right by measuring them correctly, especially if they’re heavy: “For example, if the placement of the arch is too close to the nose, it can make your features look too close together.” Once groomed and shaped, Macsim recommends using a clear gel “to set your brow shape all day and night.” Try Chantecaille Full Brow Perfecting Gel, $40.00.
Inge is author of Great Skin: secrets the beauty industry doesn’t tell you (Gibson Square, £12.99)