Thursday, August 25, 2016

Brows Two Ways

There's an old saying I'm fond of: "The grass is always greener on the other side." We look at others and we say, "Oh, man, if I could have ____ like them, I'd be so happy!" In doing so, we forget that we likely have some characteristic or trait that others envy. During my blogging career, this has played out in a rather consistent way: almost everybody who says, "I wish I had skin like yours!" has eyebrows I would kill for.

Because, you know, I don't really have eyebrows. There's a general shape there, just very few hairs, especially from the arch back. I can thank my father for this, since he is one of the most hairless humans on the face of the planet. That means I can skip shaving my legs for a month and nobody will notice*...but it also means less hair from the neck up.


To be clear, I am not an expert. I do not have naturally fabulous brows, I am not a super-talented makeup artist, and I don't have a weirdly chic or super easy** routine worked out like some people. I'm just a hobby blogger who said, "Hey, maybe this post will help somebody."

I'll also give a warning to those who haven't been here before: my eyes are asymmetrical. My right eye (the one with the freckle) is smaller, more hooded, and has a lower, straighter brow than my left eye. I used to be really funny about this, and it's one of the reasons why I got in to the habit of taking full-face photos at an angle. But I've kind of just accepted that this is my face and I should enjoy my quirks. If you're a stickler for perfectly-matching brows, though, this post will drive you nuts.

As per the Lisa Eldridge video linked above, I think "feathery strokes" are key, no matter what you do. I know some people like to actually draw straight across, but unless you like a very stark look (and hey, you do you!) or you're an expert, it's easier to get even lines and a textured/somewhat natural look if you do light strokes. Just pretend you're drawing on individual hairs!

Oh, and if you're like me and you like a sharp point on your pencils? Stick them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. It hardens up the pencil briefly and makes it easier to sharpen for that fine point without wasting tons of product.


I've been going for a heavier brow lately, in part because I've been wearing strong lipstick or more obvious eye makeup. I prefer a creamier or waxier pencil for this method; these days, I've been using the Milk Makeup Gel Brow. This also works well with pomades like Anastasia Dip Brow.

To start this kind of brow, I brush my brows straight through with a spoolie. (My favorite is the cheapo ELF one.) Then I start filling in the very front of my brows. I do a few strokes and blend them with my fingertip to prevent harsh lines. Repeat until you get the depth you want: stroke, stroke, stroke, blend, stroke, stroke, stroke, blend...

My brows get thinner after the first third, so I have to draw in the shape. I sketch along the top of my brow line first, moving from the arch to the outer corner. Then I work back inward and create a bit of a "tail," but I don't outline the whole way in with the lower part of my brows. If I try to outline my entire eyebrow, I will always always always make them too thick.

Once I've got my outline created, I start filling in my brows, working from the arch to the outer corner with those light, feathery strokes. I use the brow spoolie again to get off most of the clumps that come off of creamier pencils.

This method and these creamier products tend to create a super drawn-on look that irks me a little. Hence, I go back over the brows with a q-tip, smoothing out the pigment and pulling off any remaining clumps. Weeee, the texture is back!


I think this method works best for me when I use a hard pencil. The star of my kit is clearly the Shu Uemura Hard Formula pencil they'll bury with me.

I start by brushing my brow hairs down to see where I'm especially bare at the moment. This helps me see where I need to apply a bit more pressure, slash, do a few more strokes. Then I brush the hairs right back in to place.

Instead of doing an outline, I just start filling in my brows, going from the inner corner to the outer.  I like to brush my brow hairs up and down once again to catch light spots (they're almost always on the tail), and I add more pencil as is necessary.

Because these brows tend to be lighter, I often like to add a bit of texture so they don't just "disappear" in to my face. I brush the front third of my eyebrows straight up with a brow spoolie; from the arch back, I go up and out--that lifts the brow without making it stick up, so you get the texture without exposing your bald spots. I fill in any now-bare spots with more pencil before setting the hairs in place with clear brow gel. My favorite is from Anastasia.

Boom! That's how I pretend I have eyebrows.

* If anybody ever does notice that I haven't shaved my legs in a while--which usually only happens when I mention it--and they get snitty, fuck 'em. We're mammals, we have hair, and it's not harming anyone. Whether or not you decide to go along with a certain culture's beauty norms is your personal choice.

** Into the Gloss asked me to link to their website's brows section. I was going to do it anyway, but they also emailed me after the fact, soooooo full disclosure!


  1. Wait, why did ITG ask you to link to their brow section? Just as part of their SEO strategy? Are they going around looking for people blogging about brows and making this request? I don't object to any of it, I'm just very curious.

    1. You know, I'm not totally sure. I've been asked if I'd like to produce editorial content in exchange for a percentage of resultant revenue (I declined because that's not mah thang), and there was another time I was asked to write a post and link back to them--I think it was my every day staples or some sort. I didn't have a post like that planned, so I declined. I was, however, working on this brow post and planning on linking to their brows section anyway, so I just felt it necessary to mention that I was also asked to provide the link. I'm not as well-versed in marketing strategies as some other people are, but my best guess would be that it's a way to get more people to the site and build some connections.

      I do feel like I'm an odd choice, though, because my brows are such crap. And I certainly don't use Boy Brow on myself!

    2. I got one of those messages too a while back. They didn't offer me anything in return, and I don't even use their products, so I didn't understand why they thought I would be interested. At least you use and like Glossier products, so that makes more sense. And your brows look great, btw!

  2. Lord, I would have to delve so far back into the past to revisit my natural eyebrows, lol. I've shaped the tails of mine so thin (on purpose) that I don't find pencils work especially well for me, or any product that uses a spoolie brush. Forever walking that line of preferring a very precise and necessarily high-maintenance brow look but wishing for a product that would do it in less than a minute.

    Interesting but maybe not wholly surprising that ITG would ask for links from you, as building an accessible social media base seems to be their thing. I am more surprised that they'd pick such a thoughtful and honest reviewer, but that's probably a sign I need to lower my cynicism toward the brand.

    1. I think the Glossier site gets a decent amount of traffic from my blog (not saying I'm some SUPAH HUGE INFLUENSTA, but my Glossier credit suggests a good number of people start here), and there are a few Glossier products I've rated quite highly. It's still surprising, though, given the fact that I am very obviously not on the Boy Brow hype train.

      I always think your brows look great, but I'm sure there's a good amount of work that goes in to it!

  3. I really like both looks on you! I like your bold brows because they still look real - that's the trap too many people fall into, I think. I've been doing my brows the same way for 3 years - same product, same look. I find it really interesting when people vary their brows with their makeup look. It makes sense, but I honestly wouldn't know how to do my brows any other way.

    1. As Dita Von Teese once said, "We all have our own drag." :)

  4. I'm so flattered that I'm your example of "naturally fabulous brows"! :D I do have to pluck some stray hairs every few days, so there's that. But I feel lucky that I don't have to do much else. (Weirdly, though, I don't have much leg hair.)

    I'm so weirded out by ITG's aggressive approach to bloggers (not that I've experienced it myself, but I've seen a few accounts of it, including yours). You've sent customers to their site AND written exhaustive reviews, and they still have the nerve to suggest you need to do more?

    1. Brow envy like wooooooah.

      I don't know if it's that, because I've turned them down several times and they've always said, "Hey, that's fine!" They get an A for customer service and relations, no matter how much I may snark. But it seems like an odd thing to request. I'd be shocked if they were building up the consumer base for another brow product, because Boy Brow is so popular. And I'm not exactly a makeup artist or a blogger who does something exceptionally cool with their brows. The brand is already exceptionally popular, too; they have massive waiting lists, tons of Instagram posts, and enough people buying their stuff that my affiliate link pings me regularly. I dunno, I understand advertising rhetoric pretty well, but I think I'd need someone in marketing to help me totally fathom the approach.