The Pluck-a-phobe's Guide to Eyebrow Shaping

Afraid to pluck? There are other options.
Afraid to pluck? There are other options.
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In the words of the immortal Elle Woods (of "Legally Blonde" fame), "Why let someone else do for you what you can do yourself -- except in the case of eyebrow maintenance." Truer words may never have been spoken. A pair of tweezers, a set of unruly eyebrows and your untrained self can often be a disastrous combination. It's painstaking -- and painful -- work, and some of us just don't have the patience or the know-how to tweeze every little hair by ourselves.

So, what are your options for eyebrow grooming if you've sworn off tweezers? Should you find a professional eyebrow guru, or can you wax at home? Is there a perfect eyebrow shape for your face? And how do you keep your brows looking neat and well-groomed between appointments? We'll answer all these questions and more -- and tell you about a surprising new eyebrow trend.

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Wax On, Wax Off

The most popular choice for non-pluckers is waxing. It takes hair two to three (and maybe more) weeks to grow back after a waxing session, so it's very effective. However, it can get pricey, with professional waxing jobs costing about $15 a pop, plus tip.

Waxing is pretty painful, and it isn't recommended if you have sensitive skin or are using any retinoid products -- it could further irritate or even tear your skin. You also need about a quarter-inch of hair growth, so you could end up looking a little shaggy between appointments.

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If you're serious about saving money, click to the next page to see if at-home waxing is for you.

DI Why?

There are plenty of home waxing kits out there, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart. If you're hesitant to tweeze on your own, you probably won't want to rip hot wax strips off your face. That said, it is a cheaper option than the salon (maybe about $10 per treatment), so here are a couple of tips if you want to be brave.

  • The waxing kits with pretreated wax strips are easier to use than the ones with microwaveable containers of wax.
  • Apply the wax or strips in the direction your hair grows and rip it off -- quickly! -- in the opposite direction.

You might not have heard of the next technique on our list, but it could be right up your alley.

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Common Thread

Threading, a hair removal method that's been popular in Asia for centuries, is starting to catch on in the United States. Simply put, it involves a twisted piece of cotton thread that yanks out hair by the roots. It's comparable in price to waxing, but it's faster, less painful (some say) and more precise. It's certainly not something you'd want to try at home, though.

Threading is chemical-free and doesn't remove any skin, so many find it to be a less irritating alternative to waxing. Also, you need only a sixteenth of an inch of hair growth for threading, as opposed to a quarter-inch for waxing.

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If you've decided to shape your own brows, where do you start? Find out on the next page.

Golden Arches

Before you pull out the waxing kit, sit in front of a mirror and devise a plan of action. Eyebrow shape does depend, to some extent, on your face shape and personal tastes, but there are a few general guidelines that everyone should follow:

  • The space between your eyebrows should equal the width of one eye.
  • Hold a pencil vertically against your nostril: The point where it meets your eyebrow is where your eyebrow should start.
  • Angle the pencil to the outer corner of your eye: This is where your brow should end.
  • Align the pencil with the outside of your iris: This is the highest point of your arch.

Mark these spots with a white makeup pencil, figure out exactly which areas you need to eliminate, then wax away!

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You've Over Plucked -- Now What?

We've all been there -- you get a little overzealous with the tweezers and suddenly have a bald spot or an inch-long right brow. Don't panic, says eyebrow expert Ramy. "The best thing to do is STOP!" he says. "Go back to square one [and] let your brows grow back for about three weeks ." In the meantime, fill in the problem areas with eyebrow powder or tinted brow gel (pencil will just look harsh). Then make an appointment with a pro to get your brows back on track.

Now that your brows have returned, how do you keep them looking their best?

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Brow Maintenance

It might sound weird, but brushing your brows keeps them looking neat -- and how you brush them does make a big difference. If you want to bulk up sparse brows, brush them upward. For a thinner look, brush them sideways. If you have particularly unruly or long brows, you can trim them (carefully!) with nail scissors. Fill in your brows with tinted gel or powder only if you need to, and use a shade close to your natural color or slightly darker. Again, pencil is usually a no-no -- it tends to look unnatural.

For more information on eyebrow care, go to the next page.

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More Great Links

Sources

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