Brows are a big deal. Structure, dimension, expression—they're the framework for your face! To keep up daily arch appearances, most Beauties resort to plucking in lieu of waxing or threading. So, we've decided to focus on the most popular brow hair remover: tweezers. Can you honestly say you've ever met any Beauty (man or woman!) without a pair in their stash? "Tweezers are one of the best beauty investments you'll ever make," says Hilary Foote, a brow expert, makeup artist, and licensed aesthetician with almost 20 years of experience. The self-professed Arch Empress swears by her Tweezerman's, and earned her royal title tweezing over 15,000 pairs of brows in 2011 alone! We sat down with Hilary for a little tweezer talk.
Medical- or cosmetic-grade, tweezers come in a wide array of sizes, shapes, and finishes. Always stick with stainless steel—no nickel or alloys—to avoid infection from rusting when plucking around an exposed hair follicle. "Think of tweezers like a pair of earrings—you want to use a metal that doesn't aggravate the skin," explains Hilary, who helped author Cameron Tuttle pen Benefit Cosmetic's brow book, Raising Eyebrows. Most tweezers are calibrated at around 3.5 inches in length, designed for the most ergonomic use on your skin.
"Shape-wise, stick with either a slant or pointed tip," advises Hilary. Slant tweezers are cut at a precise angle and are the most user-friendly of the bunch. The sharply angled head enables you to hold the tweezers flat against your face so you can see which hairs you're actually plucking. Pointed tweezers come to a thin spike, and are ideal for plucking fine or ingrown hairs and splinters. A better choice for personal use, most professionals don’t actually use pointed tweezers on clients. "It's illegal for professionals to dig out ingrown hairs with pointed tweezers," reveals Hilary. "That's out of the scope for a licensed aesthetician, which is why it's important for self-practiced Beauties to own a pair!" Long story short: A personal-use precision instrument is meant for people who know what they're doing.
Stay away from flat, rounded, and square tip tweezers when perusing different options. "There's no precision with any of these, and you never want to tweeze large chunks of hair simultaneously, which it seems these all do," says Hilary. "Rounded tweezers are like the safety scissors of tweezers—they would only work for those just learning how to use their first pair."
Pulling hairs is serious business—you need a license in most states to tweeze—so technique is just as important as your tool. "The most important thing in tweezing is removing the root," says Hilary. If you don't reach the ball at the end of the hair follicle, you break the hair at the thickest point of the follicle, and it'll grow back appearing bushier. For the least painful tweeze, pull the skin between the hair follicle taut, not tight. Tweeze hairs parallel to the direction of their growth (pull to the right on right-sided brows, the left on left-sided brows). "Usually, I pull up in the middle," refers Hilary to the wildly growing hairs right above the bridge of your nose. Speed is also important, and Hilary advises rapid movements for less pain. If you're sensitive to pain, apply a numbing cream to the area 15 minutes before-hand, then ice the area only after you've removed all of the offending strands (hairs fall out easier with warm skin).
Tweezers, as any instrument you purchase, degrade over time and wear. With proper care, however, you can prolong the life of your plucker exponentially. The easiest step? Storage. "A lot of people store their tweezers like brushes and dull the blade, that's bad!" exclaims Hilary. Any friction on the tip causes dullness—read: ineffective tweezers—so lay your pair flat on a soft cloth when not in use. If you're truly invested, you can also get your tweezers professionally sharpened at a knife store, and some companies such as Tweezerman sharpen them for free.
With so much new info on hand, it’s never been easier to achieve a perfect arch. Get plucking!
This article was originally published April 2012.