Bring Your Brows Back to Life

Even a perfect brow can develop bald patches, coarse grays and surprising sags. Fortunately, $5 drugstore tweezers—plus the following tips—will help you feign flawlessness

by Deanna Pai • Associate Beauty Editor
brow products
Clockwise from top left: Touchback Browmarker, Shiseido Eyebrow Styling Compact, Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel, Maybelline Define-a-Brow, Jane Iredale Purebrow Gel, Benefit High Brow Highlighting Pencil

ARCH ENEMY: Sparse Growth, Bald Patches
As we get older, our brows become less dense, just like the hair on our heads. For many women, this means patchier growth, especially in the “tail” (the temple end of the brow). Michelle (below) struggles with barely-there brow hair and disappearing tails.

Brow tinting is the fastest, most effective fix, says Jared Bailey, brow shaper extraordinaire for Benefit Cosmetics. “Dye grabs and colors even the finest, lightest hairs, making brows instantly look fuller,” he explains. You can have your brows tinted at most salons during your hair-color appointment or by a brow-shaping professional, like the ones at Benefit’s Brow Bars in Ulta stores nationwide. Bailey discourages trying to tint your own—at least initially—because the dye color should be mixed and customized for you, and that takes expertise. As a rule, however, brow color should be one or two shades deeper than the hair on your head. Tinting lasts three to four weeks.

Once your brows have been tinted, Bailey says, lightly fill in the remaining sparse spots with brow powder or a pencil, in a color that blends with the tint. Bailey used Benefit Brow Zings grooming kit ($32; on Michelle. We also like Shiseido Eyebrow Styling Compact ($30;, which includes two blendable shades. After applying the color, Bailey used a clean mascara wand to brush the color through Michelle’s brows. Brushing is crucial, he says, because it softens the finish and keeps your brows from looking drawn on. He also recommends aiming for an ombré effect, with the brow color darkest at the arch’s apex and slightly lighter at both ends. Finally, Bailey used Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel ($22; to set Michelle’s brows and keep the hair brushed upward. The gel is tinted and contains microfibers that cling to existing hairs, much like a fiber mascara, and make brows look thicker.

ARCH ENEMY: Coarse, Gray Hairs
A sprinkling of silver fades your brow’s color and disrupts its shape, since the grays often grow long or stick straight out. In Nancy’s case (right), grays appear throughout the brows and are so abundant that a traditional brow powder will not adequately cover them.

Do. Not. Pluck. Grays. Tweezing them will leave you with bald spots, says Bailey. He suggests embracing the grays instead, particularly if, like Nancy, you’ve elected to let the hair on your head go silver. The key is to deepen the color just slightly so that your brows are a uniform hue (rather than salt and pepper) and a shade deeper than what is on your head. For Nancy, Bailey used a graphite tint. Applied at a salon or brow boutique every three to four weeks, a tint will work for most, but also effective is marker-style brow color, such as TouchBack Brow Marker ($20; touch​ Similar to temporary hair dye, marker color goes on wet, coats the grays and dries to a water-resistant finish. Bailey also recommends that women with gray brows consider waxing rather than tweezing, because they often have fuzzy gray hairs all around the brows and getting rid of them opens up eyes. Finally, to tame the unruly, coarse grays, he swears by brow gel, which is just like hair gel: It makes everything stay put. Try Jane Iredale PureBrow Gel ($17;

ARCH ENEMY: Brow Asymmetry
Some unevenness is common, but a difference in height or shape can be exaggerated by muscle-inhibiting injectables such as Botox, Dysport and Xeomin. In Laura’s case (next page), her right brow sprang a little higher than her left after she got Botox.

First published in the June 2014 issue

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