Eyebrow Shaping 101

You don't have to pay spa prices to get beautiful eyebrows. Certified eyebrow specialist Karen Garcia of Dimitri Dermatology and the Glow Beauty Salon in Kenner, LA, offers eyebrow shaping tips to help you look your best.

Before you get started with hair removal, consider what you want your eyebrows to look like and what shape best suits your face. Garcia offers this advice regarding eyebrow shaping.

  • For deep-set eyes: Keep the brows separated by the full length of your eye, with a low to natural arch. If the arch is too high, you could look either angry or surprised.
  • For close-set eyes: Keep the brows separated by less than the length of the eye.
  • For wide-set eyes: Extend the brow inward a bit, but not so close that you appear to be frowning.

Eyebrow Shaping Tips

Brush your eyebrows up and snip the longest hairs beyond the natural arch using sharp, tiny nail scissors, taking care not to take off too much at the outer corners. Brush brows down and trim what is below the brow line in the same way. “My preference is to find the natural arch,” Garcia says. “You can find it by drawing an imaginary line from the outside of your pupil up to your brow bone. That’s where your arch should be.”

If you’re having a hard time visualizing a good shape, or if you have sparse brows, try brow stencils. You can also try free-hand if you draw well, says brow and lash specialist Twanna Smith, owner of Glam Eyelash and Brow Bar Salon, in Duluth, GA.

One you have the shape in mind, it’s time to figure out how long your brows should be. “I create an imaginary line — or grab a ruler — from the outer corner of the nose to the outer corner of the eye,” Garcia says. Do this on each side to get a sense of brow length. But, she adds, don’t extend your brow past the outer corner of your eye. “This can give you a droopy look.”

When tweezing, to lessen discomfort from plucking, wipe the brow area with a cotton ball soaked in an astringent. The coolness of the astringent can have a brief numbing effect. You might also want to use a warm wash cloth to open the pores and make plucking a bit easier.

Do's and Don'ts of Eyebrow Shaping

  • Do invest in a pair of quality tweezers. Garcia says her favorite tweezers are stainless steel. “Other metals can irritate your skin,” she notes. Look for those that have a slanted tip, and always keep your tweezers clean.
  • Do most of your tweezing under the brow to get the shape. Only tweeze the occasional hair over the top of your brow line, Garcia advises.
  • Do brush your brows daily. If they are curly or can’t seem to stay in place, use a brow gel, Garcia suggests.
  • Don't use a magnifying mirror. “It gives you a false view of what your brows should look like,” Garcia says. The danger is that you’ll pluck aggressively and thin your brows too much, she explains.
  • Don’t over tweeze.The main cause of most thinning brows is over-plucking, which irreparably destroys the hair follicle so even serums can't help the brows grow back, cautions dermatologist Lisa M. Donofrio, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology. If your eyebrows seem to be getting thinner, and you don’t tweeze aggressively, talk to your doctor, Dr. Donofrio adds. This could be a sign of thyroid disease.
  • Don't dig tweezers into skin. If the hair is too short for tweezing, putting the tweezers into the skin may result in scraping, bleeding, infection, or even scarring.
  • Do give your brows some rehab. If you’ve over-tweezed or you just don’t like your current shape, take a tweezer breather. “You’d be surprised how much you can achieve by just letting them grow out,” says Garcia, who recommends leaving brows alone for three months with just minor clean-ups over that time period. Then find a brow pro to help you identify a brow shape you can maintain.

Additional reporting by Madeline Vann, MPH.

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