Thursday, November 14, 2013

Top Secret ::: Under the Arch

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It amazes me how many gorgeous women I see walking around with full faces of well applied makeup, but almost non-existent brows. Not necessarily always over-tweezed, but just...not finished and therefore "disappearing" from their faces.  Just a little filling in, and bam! they'd be perfection.

Photo by Matt Irwin

While not everyone's face suits it, the trend these days is super thick, borderline unkempt brows. See Cara Delivigne above, model du jour, and her, for lack of a better description, forehead-caterpillar friends. 

See also: actress Jennifer Connelly.

And actress Lily Collins.  

Filling in the brows, whether you prefer yours thinner or thicker, like the above examples, is a step no one should skip. It takes just a few seconds, and can change your overall look so dramatically and adds instant polish to even the most light-handed makeup application.  Over the years I have bounced around with my preferred medium, but almost always land back at powder, because when the right color powder is used, it is the most natural option.  

Being a redhead, there is often a serious hole in the market for appropriately colored products. Longtime readers will know that for a long while I lived and died by the Touchback markers, however the color formula changed sometime last year, and left it looking very unnatural on everyone, and ridiculous on all but the most obviously artificial redhead.  The loss of that product as my standby led me to Vanitymark, which has been my go-to for a good while.  

I have also been using the Vanitymark brush/spooly combo in place of my previous standby, a MAC 265 angle brush.  I prefer the Vanitymark brush because it's got a smaller head, and it also lays down the powder in a sheerer manner, which makes it easier to "fix" if I mis-place my brush in a haze of exhaustion in the morning and end up with a really wonky brow.

The first step in laying down a serious and shapely brow, is knowing where to start it, end it, and where the arch belongs.  The easiest way to figure those things out is to start with your brush, or a pencil, and align it with the inside of your nostril. Anything that falls outside that line, generally goes. 

There are exceptions to that rule however. If your eyes are wide set and or you have a larger nose, you may not want to pluck those inner hairs or you will appear to have TOO much forehead between the brows.  If your eyes are closer together or you have a narrower nose, you might want to come in further one "row" of hairs than the pencil/brush indicates, to give you a wider eyed appearance.  Once you have identified the correct spot, mark it with an eye pencil similar to the color of your brow hair (slightly darker is easier to see) and repeat on the other side. Err on the side of caution. You can always take more away later. 

To find where the end of your brow should be, place the brush/pencil against your nostril, and line the other end up with the end of your eye. Where that brush crosses would be where your eyebrow should end. You can pluck outside of those "lines" to clean up the shape. Since you have identified that spot, mark it with an eye pencil.  Repeat on the other side. 

When determining the arch,  you would again place the brush/pencil against your nostril, and this time, line up the pencil with your pupil.  Where the brush/pencil crosses above that line would be where your arch goes. Using an eye pencil, mark that spot.   

Hello, crazy eyes.

How sharp of an arch you go with is really determined by your natural brow shape. Some people have straighter brows, some have naturally higher arches.   Before you pluck anything, determine that, plus the look you're going for. 

When you've figured out the goal shape, draw in the brow at it's boldest with an eye pencil so you can see what you're going for. 

Now that you have the shape determined and outlined, it's time to start cleaning up the strays.  Using a spooly brush, brush the hairs up and using a pair of cuticle scissors, trim any hairs that fall outside of that shape.  

After you've trimmed, pluck only the hairs that fall outside of that drawn-on line, one at a time, using the slanted tweezers.  

Using the pointed tweezers, take care of stubborn or short hairs. When in doubt about a whether or not to pull out a hair, don't. It's easier to go back later than it is to wait for it to grow back--and that's if it grows back. Plus, overtweezed is not a good look.

Once you're finished, wipe the area down with a baby wipe to clean up the eye pencil. Once the skin and hair is dry, using a spooly, brush your hairs upward.  

Fill in your brows with a brow pencil or brow powder that matches or is a shade lighter than your hair, to confirm the shape is appropriate.  When I am not smiling, mine are even and shaped well. 

Other methods of shaping besides tweezingm such as threading and waxingm can speed up the shaping process, however, make sure you have seen the esthetician's work before you trust them with your brows, and if you use retinoids regularly, it's a good idea to reconsider waxing because you can get some serious burns (and unfortunately, I've experienced how violating this rule works out firsthand!). If you proceed anyway, make sure you tell the esthetician in advance that you use retinoids so he or she can use a different wax, or otherwise prep your skin to avoid burns and tears to the skin. 

After you've laid down the basic shape, it's easily maintained, and makes your daily "fill in" quick and easy.   

Who has your favorite brows to emulate? How do you tend to your own "forehead caterpillar friends"?

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