I know there are bigger things to feel self conscious about, like how the treatment for my hormone induced migraines makes me break out, and that my sea lace flares up, like, every time I want to wear something backless, but for some reason I choose to fixate on my eyebrows. I got my Chinese father’s eyebrows -- sweeping and wide like two haphazard brush strokes over my eyes. Faint watercolor brush strokes that are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Thus, I have spent the last dozen years perfecting my eyebrow game and mastering the art of fooling the world into thinking that my brows are natural and not the result of countless hours of research and preening.
Left to their own devices, my brows will grow pretty much wherever I let them, so grooming is essential. If you’re a grown person with an appropriate understanding of consequences, you can pay a professional to wax or thread your brows. I am not, so I do them myself with the same drugstore wax I use on my armpits.
Whether you’re waxing or doing a little tweezer maintenance, the easiest way to keep your hair removal on a tight leash is to draw in the shape you want and only remove the hair outside the lines. The easiest guidelines for how to shape your brows are as follows:
1. The inside corners of your brows should line up with your nostril and inside corner of your eye.
2. The arch of each brow should line up with an invisible line drawn from your nostril through the center of each eyeball.
3. The tail of each brow should line up with the line from each nostril through the outer corner of your eye.
Biology is imperfect, so roll with what you’ve got. For me, that’s one brow that’s a little short in the front and one tail that angles a little more sharply than the other. Whatevs.
Shape your brows from below, not from above. Follow the natural arch of the top of each brow as a guideline for shaping the bottom to avoid ending up like Christina Aguilera circa Stripped.
When it comes to highlighting and filling in my brows, I have two secret weapons: Benefit Watt’s Up? highlighter ($30)and Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($21). The highlighter is a sample I got from Sephora, so if you don’t want to shell out thirty bucks for a highlighter, you can use the nude shimmery eyeshadow of your choice. The brow pencil is essential -- don’t skimp on that. Brow Wiz is the perfect texture. It's firm so you get a nice solid line, but it blends well with the spoolie on the other end.
When you’re shopping for brow pencils, make sure you get the right color. I have wasted so much time and money on brow pencils that were just wrong. I’ve finally settled on Brow Wiz in Dark Brown, but only after asking a sales associate for recommendations and blind surveying random people at Sephora. In the end, the color that people preferred is one that the sales associate initially thought was too dark, but even she liked it the best it in the end. Get your A/B testing on with strangers!
Before going to town with the pencil, highlight under the arch of each brow and blend it into your brow bone. Light reflecting under each brow will add contrast and enhance the natural arch of your brows. This works even if you plan on adding eyeshadow or crazy liner later since nude highlighter goes with pretty much any look.
When filling in your brows, start by defining the lower arch and the tail. Fill them in nice and strong, then blend with the spoolie on the other end of the pencil. Blend upward, especially at the front of each brow, to create a softer, more natural look. Then fill in any areas that need extra coverage with short, hair-like strokes and blend again. Do not define the top of each brow with a hard line or your brows will start to look unnatural. Finally, clean up the tail of each brow with a concealer brush if necessary, and blend the head of each brow. They should fade in gradually since no one has natural brows that start so abruptly.
It’s easy to get winged-eyeliner-level obsessive if you hone in too much on the shape of each brow. My right brow, for instance, refuses to grow in evenly in the front. Brows are sisters, not twins, so focus on making them balanced, not identical. No one has two totally symmetrical or equally thick brows, so just do the best you can.
After years of practice (and some historically awful brow shaping phases), I’m proud to say that with two minutes and these two products I am no longer self-conscious about my invisi-brows.