Eyebrows are weird. You don't really notice them on other people unless they are really bad, and when they are really good, you just think, "Wow, that person looks great!" without attributing it to the little strips of hair that rest above their eyeballs.
So how do you get a great set of brows? You can go at them yourself with tweezers or--if you're brave--a home waxing kit. You can go to a salon and have a professional groom them for you; this is definitely recommended for newbies.
Plucking, waxing, threading, trimming--and that's just the shaping. Then you have to fill them (powder vs. pencil?) and wax them (stick vs. brush?), and then you've got to start on the rest of your face.
It's an awful lot of work, but luckily for our eyebrows, Al Gore invented the Internet.
In addition to the opening video, here is a handy step-by-step guide to help you get started learning the basics about your brows. Learn about shape, thickness, tools, and more. A few general rules of thumb:
• Don't pluck the top hairline of your eyebrows, only pluck in between and underneath to define the arch. You can pluck errant hairs on the top hairline, but don't thin out the brows from the top--you'll lose the natural shape. • Place tweezers alongside your nose, and only pluck inside the tweezers. Your eyebrow should start at the outside of the bridge of your nose. If you pluck too far toward your eye, the proportion will be off. • When plucking, stand back periodically from the mirror. Perspective will help you decide the right shape, and where to pluck next. (And, more importantly, when to stop.)
Plucking vs. Waxing vs. Threading
I used to be a waxer, until a friend (a male friend, no less) told me he preferred plucking because waxing pulls too much on the skin. Now I get the occasional wax, and I pluck myself to maintain. It's a whole lot cheaper, and I only need two tools: tweezers, and a magnifying mirror. I prefer pointed tweezers, but some like square-head and others prefer slanted-tip. It's a personal preference thing. Tweezerman products are a cult favorite, but I've been using my Revlon pointed-tip tweezers for about 15 years and I love them.
Waxing is good, but home waxing is bad for all but the most confident and sure-handed. There are kits that are supposed to minimize mistakes but if an entire eyebrow comes off, don't blame me. Internet videos make it look easy, so proceed with caution. Some favorites:
• Anastasia Pro Wax Kit ($12, Sephora.com): I love Anastasia brow products, and though I'm not brave enough to wax at home, I have friends who really like this affordable kit. • Sally Hansen Microwaveable Eyebrow, Face & Lip Wax ($5.99, drugstores): Hot wax ahead--danger. Be careful, test temperatures, and be sure to test a patch of skin before going all the way. • bliss Poetic Waxing Strips for Face ($25, blissworld.com): Bliss products are great, and these wax strips do not require heat; warm between hands to prep the wax, and then go. Very travel-friendly.
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Threading is something I have virtually no experience with, outside being attacked with a piece of thread in New York City last spring. My girlfriend and I went out looking for a mani/pedi, stumbled into a very weird salon where the women yelled at each other, fought over whether the windows should be opened or closed, spent the entire 90 minutes we were there trying to upsell us, and then freaked out when we asked them to break a bill larger than a $50. I let one woman thread one eyebrow for about 10 seconds before turning down her offer to go at my whole face for $7 (apparently, she wasn't a fan of the blond, invisible hair on my upper lip). Glamour offers up some "Do's and Don'ts" on threading, which is really just plucking with thread.
Powders vs. Pencils vs. Au naturale
To fill, or not to fill? If you have big, thick, beautiful eyebrows you can probably skip it, but most of us have those little bare spots that really need filling in. A little product goes a long way, and you'll have to play with products to see what you prefer. The point is not to create BIG BOLD DARK BROWS. Remember, great eyebrows should make your face look great--they should not prompt anyone to wonder about your actual eyebrows. Here are a few brands who are making eyebrows easy:
• Anastasia: Anastasia Soare really turned eyebrows into an art. She has a wide range of products to suit your needs, expertise, and comfort level. She makes it all: gels, tweezers, powders, pencils, serums, and personalized brow kits. • Benefit: Benefit Brow Bars are staffed by licensed professionals who deal in all matter of hair and grooming. According to Yelp, we have one here in Houston (!!!) at the Houston Galleria Macy's. Guess where I'm going this weekend? • Laura Mercier: When Laura Mercier gets something right, she hits it out of the ball park. Her tinted moisturizer is a cult favorite, her lip glosses are incredible, and now her brow products are pulling me away from my first love, Anastasia. LM has a lot of super-natural colors that are very easy to work with--worth a trip to the LM counter.