Oh, don't pretend like you don't have one!
"Here's something I'd love help with someday, though it might be a massive undertaking: How do you find the "right" brow routine after coloring your hair? I recently henna'd copper over light, ashy brown hair. Right now I'm using a lunatic blend of two pencils and a brow gel, and it STILL doesn't look right." - Kate, via Facebook
SUCH a good question, and one that could not be more timely, as you guys may have noticed that my hair is looking a little different lately…
This was an accident. I’d coloured my hair its usual dark blonde the week before I went to New York, but the Wednesday before I left, I said, “Hmm, my roots are looking a little brassy. I’m going to tone that mess a little.” I was not about to go to xoHeadquarters with sub-par hair!
So I did. And obviously I did it a little too well, because the next thing you know, I have chocolate-brown hair with auburn undertones, because my hair does not want anything as much as it wants to be red.
It doesn’t look bad; in fact, I really like it. But it was certainly a shock, and along with that shock came the realisation that I’d have to change quite a lot about my makeup routine to make it work with my new, darker hair.
The first thing I realised I’d have to change is my brow colour. This was especially important because since it’s winter, my bangs are a little shorter and so my brows are front and center.
The general rule of thumb that I stick to is that if my hair is light, I keep my brows one shade darker. If my hair is dark, I keep them one shade lighter. You never want your brows and hair to match EXACTLY--that rarely happens in nature and can easily end up a little uncanny valley. You want a little bit of colour variation!
Sticking to this basic rule keeps my hair-colour scheme looking really natural, like it all just grew this way. Nobody will know that I am a super-ashy blonde who has been drastically greying since she was 22!
Except that I just told you. Curses.
The other trick I have (which I’ve mentioned in articles but never really explained) is to use powder eyeshadow and an angled brush for my brows, rather than pencils (never look natural) or waxes (ditto). And those “special” brow powders? They work exactly the same as eyeshadows, come in fewer colours and cost twice as much! What is the point?!
This is why I stick with regular matte eyeshadow. It comes in eight billion colours and works just fine, plus it’s as cheap as you need it to be.
My brow favourites right now are two Studio Gear eyeshadows in Sable and Dark Chocolate. They are both true neutral browns--no sneaky yellow or red casts here, which is SO IMPORTANT, as those can seriously mess up your brow game--and they work with every hair colour I’ve ended up with over the last three years. That ranges from platinum blonde through copper, all the way through purple to ash blonde to today’s dark brown. That is a VARIETY.
These are the two colours I would recommend for most people looking to give their brows some definition post-dye: neutral browns. I would also tell you to start with the lighter colour and see how that looks first. If it doesn’t look quite right, move on to a slightly darker shade.
Here are my natural brows, combed upwards with a clean mascara brush and held in place with a little bit of hairspray. You can see that their natural colour DOES NOT EVEN COME CLOSE to matching my bangs, or my eyelashes with one coat of black mascara, for that matter.
On the left, I’ve lightly traced my brow’s natural shape with my angled brush and the shadow in Dark Chocolate (dark brown, duh). On the right, I’ve done the same thing with the shadow in Sable.
Though the dark brown matches my hair colour almost exactly, it makes my brows look heavy and my face look very severe.
Since I’m already an Anglemonster from Angle Planet, I don’t need any extra severity--which is why I’m going with the lighter brows with this hair colour. They look defined but still natural, they draw attention to my eyes without being the equivalent of a harsh black frame, and they don’t make me look like I’m planning to cook and eat small children who try to nibble on my gingerbread house. That should always be your brow goal.
Now, a few sundry hints on brow colours:
If you’ve dyed your hair red, please don’t also make your eyebrows red. This is one of the biggest colour mistakes I see people making! It is VERY HARD to get shades of red and auburn to match, even slightly, and even with all the shades of eyeshadow out there. Natural redheads usually either have very, very blonde brows (which they should fill in with a light brown shadow--Wedge by MAC is freaking brilliant for this as you can see here) or dark brown eyebrows. Please stick to that colour scheme! Too much red hair on one face looks a bit bonkers.
Now I’m distracted thinking about hot redheaded dudes for some reason. Umm…I’ll be right back.
OK, I’m back. I won’t tell you how long I was away, daydreaming.
Make sure the eyeshadow you pick isn’t shimmery, unless you are going for that look and you have very fine natural eyebrows. The shine creates a weird, weird look if you use it over thicker or coarser eyebrows. I learned this lesson the hard way.
You can use those brow stencils if you really want to, but they are always so perfect that they look strange. Nobody has exactly even brows! By all means, use them as a guide--but remember, it’s our little imperfections that make us the most gorgeous. If you have slightly differently shaped brows, it’s OK--we all do! I have two very different arches in mine, and one day I will write about how to make them more even.
In the meantime, define your brows as best you can and WORK that slight unevenness! I promise that nobody notices it as much as you do, and I happen to think that subtle differences are the most beautiful things about our faces.
I hope that this is helpful! I have SO MUCH MORE TO SAY on the subject of brows, and I will get to it. Remember, if you have a question for a future installment of my beauty advice column, don’t hesitate to ask either in the comments, via Twitter, email AND NOW via Facebook, too!