Ultimate Eyebrow Shaping Guide

Ah, the elusive perfect eyebrow–as sought after and timeless as the Little Black Dress. While the perfect brow does depend, to some degree, on what is currently “in,” there is no denying the beautifying effect a well-shaped and well-defined brow can have on a woman’s appearance. Unkempt, unruly brows can darken an otherwise vivacious face, and an over-plucked, overdone brow can lend a cartoonish vibe to an otherwise elegant visage. Although numerous salons boast (expensive) services to shape brows into a perfect arch, much of the footwork can be completed easily from the comfort of your home.


Do My Eyebrows Really Need…Shaping?

The short answer is yes. While eyebrows do have a definite shape from the get-go, the shape is not usually clearly defined, and is frequently hidden beneath a massive amount of hair growth—or, in some cases, obscured by years of over-plucking or over-waxing. Although brows can go unshaped, well-shaped eyebrows can take years off of your face, and can easily enhance your features; just as your nose is uniquely yours, the overall shape of your eyebrows is unique and complements the remainder of your features better than forced shaping or thinning.

Although it may be intimidating, eyebrows can easily be shaped at home. There is no need to shell out the big bucks for a professional shaping; most of the materials needed to shape your brows may already be found in your medicine cabinet. Using the tips and guidelines outlined below, you will be well on your way to enviable eyebrows.

Okay, I Want to Shape My Brows. How Do I Know What Shape to Go For?

This is a common question, and is fortunately fairly simple to figure out. To discover what your eyebrows’ natural shape is, you will need a white eyeliner pencil. Take the pencil and begin to color over any hair that seems astray, or does not quite fit in with the bulk of your brow. After you shade in all of the applicable areas, you should be able to see a clear shape: straight, high arch, low arch, or curved.

Straight brows are (as the name suggests) straight across. There is no clearly defined arch or curve to the brow from one corner of the eye to the other. These brows are easy to tweeze and shape, as they require little to no effort to bring out the lovely, natural shape.

High arches and low arches are a little trickier. An arch is not merely a curve, but looks more like two straight brows joined at an angle. Arches are, arguably, the most difficult shape to really define, and typically require more upkeep than straight and curved brows. Speaking of which…

Curved brows are brows that form a single, continuous curve, without the breaks found in high and low arches. Like straight brows, curved brows are generally easy to maintain and define, as they have a clear, simple line to follow.

What Are Some Ways to Shape Eyebrows?

Shaping can be done in a number of ways, some of them more intensive and painful than others. The three most common (tweezing, waxing, threading, and applying makeup) are identified in greater detail below:

  • Tweezing is the easiest, most precise, and cheapest way to shape brows. Using a pair of tweezers, women can pluck stray hairs with greater precision and care, resulting in a clean, clear line.Although tweezing offers the most affordable and easiest means of shaping your brows, it can also be the most time consuming for both maintenance and when just starting out; if your hair is especially prolific, removing each individual hair takes time and patience—not to mention a thorough steaming to assist in removing hair more easily.
  • Waxing is the most common method to shape and maintain brows. Waxing involves applying hot wax to the area, applying a cloth to the heated wax, and rapidly ripping the wax away, in the direction opposite hair growth.While waxing is quick and easy, it can prove painful to some women and, due to the large amounts of hair moved at one time, is not as precise as tweezing. Additionally, many women with sensitive skin suffer small breakouts at the site of waxing, as wax residue is typically removed using oils that clog the skin.
  • Threading (see photo) serves as a sort of middle ground between tweezing and waxing; it removes larger portions of hair at one time, but maintains some of the precision involved in tweezing. Unlike tweezing and waxing, threading is generally done by a professional esthetician or cosmetologist. Two strands of thread are taken and, using a rolling and jerking motion, hairs are caught in the threads and quickly pulled out.
    Most women employing this method find the pain comparable to the pain of waxing.
  • Finally, applying makeup may assist in achieving a clearly defined brow shape. Though makeup can often appear heavy-handed, if brow pencils are used correctly, the result should be natural and simple. To use this method, your brow shape must first be identified. From there, you must locate a pencil with a shade one darker than the shade of your eyebrows. Gently outline your brows, and fill in with quick, smooth strokes of the pencil. Finish with a brow brush and some clear mascara for all-day definition.

I’ve Got My Supplies…Now What?

The first step in shaping your brows is identifying your individual brow shape (see above). The second step requires the use of a brow pencil or other means of measurement, in addition to the white pencil mentioned above.

To determine where your brows should begin and end, place the pencil against your nostril, pointing straight up toward your forehead. This is where your brow should start. Color in any stray hairs outside of this starting point. Next, line the pencil up with your nostril and the outside corner of your eye, making sure the pencil extends past your brow. Your brow should end where the pencil falls.

After you have found your beginning and end points, fill in the appropriate stray hairs with the white pencil, remove the stray hairs, and marvel at the simple beauty of a pair of natural, well-defined brows.

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