In the fifth grade, a boy told me I should “really comb my eyebrows” and ever since, I’ve been conscious of their unruliness. Things took a turn for the worse when I learned about tweezers, and I spent all of high school and most of college plucking my brows to the high heavens—until all that remained were thin strips of hair.
But then, when I was 20, thick brows came back into style, and I saw stars like Cara Delevingne and Lily Collins confidently sporting bushy brows. I began to envy their perfectly-shaped-yet-undone eyebrows, and realized that fuller-looking brows would better frame my face, too. So I began the long journey towards my dream eyebrows. Now, three years later, I can proudly say that my overly tweezed arches have grown back, and, despite a few sparse areas, I’m closer than ever to being my own #browgoals.
Claire Jones/Julia Naftulin
I’m not going to lie: Getting to the point I’m at now wasn’t easy. But after enlisting the help of some key products and tools to grow, shape, and fill in my eyebrows, I was able to fake the fullness I wanted until they grew back on their own. Throughout the process, friends and strangers would ask me the “secret” to my amazing eyebrows. Little did they know it was all about the right techniques.
While I still don’t go totally au natural when it comes to my eyebrows, I’ve been able to significantly decrease the amount of products and time needed to achieve my ideal arches. Read on for the tips and tricks that have helped me up my brow game.
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Fake it until you make it
When I decided to say “so long” to thin arches, I knew the growing-out process wouldn’t happen overnight. So I picked up e.l.f.’s Eyebrow Kit ($3, target.com) from my local drugstore to shade in my brows for the time being. The wax-based kit was perfect for my college-student budget, and came with a tiny angled brush to help me create thin, natural-looking strokes where I wanted “hairs” to appear.
Strengthen your brow hair
Faking thick eyebrows was a good start, but I still wanted fuller brows of my own. To kickstart the process, I used Benefit’s BROWVO! Conditioning Primer Nutrient Rich Eyebrow Primer ($28, sephora.com), a gel-based product in an easy-to-use pen applicator that helps strengthen existing brow hairs. After about a month of applying this primer every night, I noticed that my hairs seemed to be growing back at a faster rate.
Once the hair on my brows began to grow in, I tended to strays and extra-long strands with Tweezerman tweezers ($24, dermstore.com) and tiny scissors ($8, walmart.com). Unlike when I was in high school, though, I was careful not to go overboard with plucking and cutting; instead, I only let myself remove hairs that were far outside my arches. Then I used a spoolie brush to comb my hair upwards and lightly trim the edges. But stay far away from magnified mirrors when doing this: because they show every single detail on your face, they encourage you to over-pluck.
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Work with your natural shape
After college, I retired my e.l.f. kit and invested in Benefit’s Goof Proof Brow Pencil ($24, sephora.com) and Benefit ka-BROW! Cream-Gel Eyebrow Color with Brush ($24, sephora.com), which helped me work with the natural shape of my eyebrows to create a more subtle look. When I want a more budget-friendly pencil, I opt for NYX’s Professional Makeup Micro Brow Pencil ($10, target.com).
Technique is important, too. I’ve learned how to fill my eyebrows in with more of a gradient, with the tails darker and the hairs closest to my nose a little lighter. I apply Benefit ka-BROW! in the outer half of my eyebrows for a sharp tail (my preferred look) and use the pencil to lightly fill in sparse spots in my inner brows. After filling in my arches, I brush the hairs up and over to complete the look.
After years of perfecting my brow game, I can now get them full and groomed in just five minutes. Growing out over-plucked brows is no easy feat, but it’s so, so worth it.