I typically leave eyebrow shaping to the professionals. Trying to shape my brows myself has always mystified me—I end up plucking too many hairs on one side or accidentally flattening my arches. My brows just look so much better when I have someone who knows their way around a brow pencil and a pair of tweezers handle them.
The problem with this is that I often can't find time to fit a shaping appointment into my schedule, and my brows end up suffering the consequences. If you, like me, aren't good at shaping your own brows but want to learn how, I reached out to some of the most coveted brow experts out there for more information. Keep reading for the answer to every question you've ever had about shaping your brows at home.
Where should brows start and end?
Everyone's face is different, which by default means that everyone's brows will be different, too. There are, however, a few guidelines that will help you get the most flattering brows possible while still tailoring them to your face shape. "Making sure you have proper brow placement really helps to frame the eye with more symmetry," says Tweezerman pro makeup artist Mary Phillips.
One way to ensure your brows always look as good as possible? Brow mapping. Benefit Cosmetics has an easy-to-follow brow-mapping technique that anyone can use to get their ideal brows. Benefit’s national brow and beauty authority, Autumn Estelle Reid, says that you should use your nose as an origin point when mapping your brows. Here's her step-by-step breakdown:
Step 1: Measure from the outside of your nose straight up to figure out where your brow should begin. "This creates a slimming effect on the bridge of your nose," says Reid.
Step 2: "Next, find where your brow is naturally at its highest by following a diagonal line from the outside of your nose across the middle of your eye," says Reid. This is where your arch should be. If you're having trouble finding your arch, celebrity brow expert Kelley Baker says that as a general rule, your arch should start at the outer part of your eye's iris.
Step 3: According to Reid, you can find the end of your brow by tracing from the outside of your nose to the outside corner of your eye.
Step 4: Mark each of these spots, and then sketch a few lines to connect each of them on the top and bottom of the brow. "Hairs that fall outside those lines are the ones you should remove when tweezing and the ones that are inside the lines should stay," says Reid.
What's the best way to shape brows if you have sparse brow hair?
If you have sparser brow hairs, you'll want to focus on filling in your brows rather than plucking hairs. "I always start by brushing through the brows in an upward direction to make sure the hairs are in place," says Phillips. "Then I fill in with a pencil using fine, hairlike strokes, really focusing on sparse, thin areas. If extra volume is needed, I like to lightly layer on a brow powder to create more density and fullness. Lastly, I use a clear brow gel to fluff up the hairs for a natural-looking feathery brow that will stay in place."
What's the best way to shape brows if you have thick brow hair?
Tweezing your brows at home is tricky, particularly if you have thicker hair. "Precise trimming is key when you have thick brow hairs because the cut of the hairs will stand out more," says Phillips. "I like to trim each hair individually to avoid over-trimming. I also like to stagger the lengths so brows appear more natural." Phillips also recommends minimal filling in and instead encourages opting for a strong-hold wax to keep brows in place. It's tough to get it right when you're shaping thicker brows, so don't be afraid to go to a professional for help.
What are some common brow-shaping issues, and how do you fix them?
The mistake: Going too hard on the trimming. "People trim their brows too short and that will completely change the shape and look," says Baker.
The fix: Brush up your brows using a brow gel to make them appear fuller. "Moving forward, I would trim the hairs one by one to create a fluffier look with no holes," says Baker.
The mistake: Over-plucking your brows.
The fix: "Before you begin the shaping process, be sure to use a microliner to fill in your brow to the desired shape before you remove any hairs so you can see which ones need to go and which ones need to stay," says Reid. "Pencils like this are great because the formulas don't spread, and they adhere to the skin instead of the hair."
The mistake: Making your face appear downturned because of how you fill in your brows.
The fix: "When filling in the end of the brows, be sure to apply product in an upward direction," says Phillips.
Katie Berohn is the associate beauty editor at Who What Wear. Previously, she worked as the beauty assistant for Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and Prevention magazines, all part of the Hearst Lifestyle Group. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a major in journalism and minor in technology, arts, and media, and earned her master's degree at NYU's graduate program for magazine journalism. In addition, Katie has held editorial internships at Denver Life magazine, Yoga Journal, and Cosmopolitan; a digital editorial internship at New York magazine's The Cut; a social good fellowship at Mashable; and a freelance role at HelloGiggles. When she's not obsessing over the latest skincare launch or continuing her journey to smell every perfume on the planet, Katie can be found taking a hot yoga class, trying everything on the menu at New York's newest restaurant, or hanging out at a trendy wine bar with her friends.