A few weeks ago, I experienced a little bit of a shock. I was in the middle of a deep, arctic-level dive into my camera roll when I stumbled upon a series of selfies from my senior year of college. Scary stuff. Of course, there were the usual cringe-inducing suspects—too many layers of bronzer, a too-thick cat eye (at least for an 8 a.m. literature class), and an unhealthy amount of hydrogen peroxide. (How do I still have hair on my head?) Anyway, what was perhaps most alarming was the staggering thinness of my eyebrows. And even more staggering was my recollection that senior year of college was probably my brows' peak stage of thickness since, say, freshmen year of high school. My 2019 full-browed self was floored. I've diligently steered clear of my banished stash of tweezers for years now and solely rely on seasoned brow experts a few times a year to administer any kind of shaping or upkeep my brows require. I know that I've been on my best brow behavior. I just didn't realize how significant an effect it's had or how much of a difference it's made on my overall appearance.
I sent the most alarming of college selfies to my mom and friends, and they immediately vocalized what I couldn't help thinking the second I laid eyes on them: My much less alarming brows of 2019 make me look so much more put-together and, frankly, all around better than my uneven, ultra-thin brows circa 2015. Of course, everyone naturally has a different shape and thickness. This is not to say thin eyebrows are in any way bad, but the realization made me extremely thankful for my current set of arches and the numerous brow experts who have nurtured and shaped their way back to compliment-worthy rather than cringe-worthy status. Finding and cultivating your best shape is kind of an art, and unfortunately, it can be a rocky and intimidating road. (Just look above at my brows before—and honestly, that's when they had grown out some—and my brows now, as shown below.) Granted, I realize I'm fully made up in the more current picture, but you get the idea.
I've learned a lot about brows over the years, and being a beauty editor, I have access to the world's best brow products and experts. This isn't a blessing I take lightly, so I thought I'd spread the wealth by tapping two of the industry's most sought-after brow artists who cater to some of the most arch-blessed beings on the planet—models, actresses, singers, and anyone else you might spy on the red carpet or sipping coffee in West Hollywood. Keep scrolling for the seven pillars of fantastic brows, according to celebrity brow and makeup artist Stevi Christine (who grooms my brows) and Kristie Streicher, The Feathered Brow expert and co-owner of Striiike beauty studio. Sit tight. Your best brows ever await.
Pillar #1: Respect Thy Natural Shape
Okay, so this might not come as a huge surprise, but working with the natural shape your parents blessed you with is pretty much the most important step to achieving your best, most uniquely flattering brow shape. So what's the best way to find said natural shape and put your ultimate brows in motion? Forget about them.
"Stop tweezing, stop everything, and see what grows in," says Christine. "Don't be obsessed with your brows, and kind of forget about them for months. Yes, you heard me: months. And then see a brow professional for advice. When I'm helping a client find their best shape, I take everything into consideration, from the more obvious like face and eye shape but also the less obvious like their fashion sense."
Pillar #2: Choose Tweezing Over Waxing
First things first, if you regularly use retinol, you should avoid waxing at all costs, as it can injure your skin. That aside, both Streicher and Christine prefer the naturalness tweezing lends over waxing regardless.
"I prefer the gentle and precise results that only tweezing can give," Streicher shares. "I like to work with the natural shape of one's eyebrow, and if someone has been over-shaped in the past or is tweezing too much on their own, my technique helps to grow out the natural shape of the brow. I only tweeze the few hairs needed to shape and create a more symmetrical look. Too often, clients do not realize how much hair is being taken from their brow with waxing or other forms of depilation, and that can adversely affect the shape of the brow as well as traumatize the follicle."
Pillar #3: Invest in a High-Quality Growth Serum
"I suggest a growth serum in conjunction with a growth plan and lots of patience," says Streicher. "Education is very important and clients need to understand it can take a year to fill in your shape. Tweezing the hair effectively every six to eight weeks is the most efficient way to fill in your brows."
So yes, patience is a virtue, but investing in a high-quality serum might move things along and help your brows reach their full potential sooner as you're working on your shape with an artist. Christine is also a fan of using serums to supplement growth and recommends incorporating a product like NeuBrow (shown above), as long as you're not pregnant.
Pillar #4: See a Pro
As mentioned, figuring out how to find your best shape on your own can feel daunting if not impossible altogether. So after heeding Christine's advice and not touching your brows for months (and perhaps using the aforementioned growth serum to expedite the situation), it's time to find a pro. But of course, there a few things to keep in mind when searching for your brows' soulmate groomer. If you've scouted someone you think you'd like to work with, Streicher recommends stalking their Instagram or asking to see their work so you can get a thorough idea of their results and aesthetic. Or if you see someone with brows you admire, compliment them and ask where they get them done!
"Some artists are known for the overgrown, very full brow. Some are known for the very crafted, super-defined, and very filled-in brows. Then there are also artists who are individual and really work with your face and your goals," explains Christine. Your job? Think about what you truly want from your brows and what kind of aesthetic you're after.
Pillar #5: Find the Right Product to "Fake" Better Brows
So here's the thing: Everyone is going to have different preferences in terms of tools, and what's more, your brows might require different types of products at different stages.
"Not using the proper product to 'fake' a brow is one of the biggest mistakes I see when someone is trying to achieve their best shape," Streicher says. "There are many quality brow products on the market now to help people have their best brows, but people aren't always sure how to use them."
"Eyebrow products are incredible," agrees Christine. "Depending on the shape and stage of your brows, you can use pencils, powders, eyebrow gels (either tinted or non-tinted), and eyebrow pens to achieve amazing and believable results." This is something you'll want to discuss on a more personalized basis with your expert, but as for her own approach, Christine says she loves to alternate with her eyebrow filler (which is like a powder but housed in cool, pencil-like packaging that you can also use as an eye shadow and/or eyeliner) and her eyebrow pencil, which will deliver more hairlike strokes. Both, she says, will leave a very soft yet naturally defined finish. I use her pencil every single day to add depth in addition to filling in any sparse areas, and I've never gotten as many compliments on my brows.
Pillar #6: Less Is More When It Comes to Maintenance
After seeing your brow artist and setting up an appointment plan based on how quickly you experience regrowth, you really shouldn't have to do much maintenance at home other than applying growth serums or using products to fill them in. Christine tells me that less is always more when it comes to aftercare, and trying to tweeze or trim daily won't do you any favors if you're trying to grow out your brows, especially if you don't really know what you're doing. She recommends trusting your brow artist, following their lead with any post-appointment instructions, and putting the tweezers and scissors down.
As Streicher says, the goal is to grow out your natural brow shape as much as possible. Then, at home, only tweeze super-obvious strays, which will keep your brows looking arched, lifted, and symmetrical.
Pillar #7: Your Brows Don't Need to be Perfectly Identical
That being said, complete symmetry isn't necessary for perfecting your brows. In fact, according to both Streicher and Christine, a little asymmetry will likely make your brows look more natural and believable—the imperfections are what will make them look perfect.
"I say this all the time, and need to remind myself too, that your eyebrows don't need to be identical. They simply need to accentuate your face," explains Christine. "Regardless of whether you're tweezing or filling in your brows, if you try to make them identical, you actually beg the risk of over-tweezing or -filling." But if you do want them to look more symmetrical, always reach for a pencil or powder (not the tweezers!) to achieve the result you want. Or wait until you're able to get back in to see your pro.
To get your brow rehab in motion, we asked Streicher which products she loves and recommends most. Keep reading for seven of her must-haves.
"You will find the same scissors, tweezers, and spoolie brush I have been using for over 20 years to create feathered brows all over the world. Made with precision by Rubis, the tweezers and scissors are part of their Classic Gold line, handmade in Switzerland for over 60 years. Keeping with the Swiss tradition of exceptional quality, these personal tools are designed for longevity with exceptional attention to detail. The leather case is hand-stitched in Los Angeles, inspired by a vintage manicure set from the 1930s that I have cherished for years. My kit includes access to exclusive tutorials needed to create your perfect feathered brow."
"This is a great pre-tweezing oil made with organic argan oil, a blend of calming and soothing essential oils, rich in vitamin E and suitable for all skin types. I use this oil before tweezing to help take the edge off the sometimes irritating and painful tweezing process. I find it's not only a nourishing oil for the brow hair; it is also a wonderful serum for the face, and the cuticles love it too!"
"This all-natural, soothing, and cooling gel-cream formula is recommended for its post-tweezing benefits: calming, cooling, relieving redness. Après, meaning after, is recommended to use after tweezing to soothe the skin. This lightweight gel contains camphor for an immediate soothing and cooling effect on the skin."
"Without the side effects of Latisse, this high-potency serum actually works! I recommend using it on clean, dry skin throughout the brow using one dip per brow morning and night. Let it soak in for two minutes before using other products. I recommend applying the serum in the same areas mapped out for pencil/fill-in use."
"This very user-friendly pencil is great because the color is on point and it has the ease of a pencil with the soft, natural look of a powder. The triangle tip and powdery formula are great for filling in sparse areas, adding fullness and definition to the brow. Use it to lightly shade skin under the hair using short, feathery strokes. Use it gently, going against the hair growth direction to get underneath the hair. Then blend out with the brush side of the pencil under the cap."
"This clear brow gel from Mary Kay offers great hold without being flaky or too stiff. The brush gives perfect texture to the hairs, making them look thicker. I suggest using small, upward brush strokes to brush all hairs up and out."
"I LOVE THIS PRODUCT! Use it gently, brushing backward against the hair growth direction. This picks up the hairs and wraps the fibers around the follicles, fluffing them up! Adds instant volume! This can be the quickest fix in creating a fuller brow. Think of this as mascara for the brows! When you add volume and richness to the lighter hair/fuzz that grows around and between the thicker brow hairs, it creates the illusion of a fuller, more natural brow."