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Eyebrows are one of the most misunderstood areas of makeup artistry, and having an artist’s understanding of eyebrows is crucial to impeccable makeup.
As a makeup artist, you need to be situational when correcting, filling in or shaping a brow -- making decisions based on the needs of your client and the final look you trying to create. Many makeup artists want to add a dramatic eyebrow into every makeup application, but an inappropriate eyebrow can age your client, distort the shape of the face, provide an unwanted emotion or take away from the desired focal point of your makeup design.
Tweezers and scissors are your first line of defense against offensive brows. With these tools, you can create shape as well as adjust thickness and length. Every artist should have a great pair of slant tweezers (some artists favorites are Tweezerman and Lavaque) as well as safety scissors, which are essential for trimming and adjusting.
For a true artist trick, try a pair of “twissors” (a scissor-tweezer hybrid) from Alcone or Cinema Secrets. Because they can cut hair really close to the skin without cutting the skin itself, twissors make eyebrow sculpting even easier: you can get rid of hairs that are too long or growing in the wrong direction without the time commitment of tweezing, or redness it can cause. I also recommend carrying a brush or comb for setting the brow hairs into place.
Many artists leave eyebrow pencils out of their makeup arsenal, but don’t make that mistake—pencils are a must-have. Pencils work perfectly on brows, because the marks sit on top of the skin and add dimension, providing volume to a flat or thin brows. Use them to fill in sparse or patchy eyebrows with a natural look that mimics missing hairs. I prefer mechanical pencils, as the thinner tip allows for precise application and appears more natural. My favorites include Kevyn Aucoin’s The Precision Brow Pencil, MAC Eye Brows, and Anastasia Brow Wiz.
Shadows and other powder-based products bring dimension and depth to brows, especially those that might are on the too-full side. They are also ideal for long wear and allow a range of effects from natural to dramatic. I prefer those that are dense in pigment and have a matte finish. I recommend carrying powders from soft taupes to rich browns to complement natural eye and hair hues, as well as burgundy and burnt sienna for matching processed hair colors. Try Too Faced’s Brow Envy Kit, Senna Cosmetics Brow Book, or Inglot Cosmetics Matte Eye Shadows in any shade.
Gels and waxes are wonderful for lightening a darker brow or holding a disorderly one in place. Softening or sculpting the brow can take years off of the face and can help spotlight certain elements of the face. For example, if you want the focus to be a smoky eye, lightening up the eyebrow a few shades can direct attention where you want or need it. For a collection that’s as universal as possible, carry brow gels or waxes in clear, blonde, ash, and taupe. Many brands have amazing brow gels, but some of my favorite shades come from Anastasia and MAC. Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Brow is a waterproof formula that stays put in every situation.
For a modern brow, you need to see skin and individual hairs. I also aim to have high and low points in every brow look I create. A great pro trick is to use a brow pen or gel liner with a small precision brush to mimic the look of individual hairs. Just a few subtle strokes can make even the thinnest or most over tweezed eyebrows look terrific. I love pens specifically designed for this purpose, like Anastasia’s Brow Pen, but a brown gel liner from any line will do.
Great eyebrows are a secret essential element. When applied correctly, an eyebrow frames the eye, flatters the face, and provides balance without competing with the rest of your makeup. Be prepared to deliver the perfect eyebrow with every application, and your makeup will always be beauty page perfection.
Check out parts 1–6 of James Vincent’s Building Your Kit series here, and stay tuned for Part 8 on eyeshadows, coming soon!
As Director of Artistry for The Makeup Show, The Powder Group and On Makeup Magazine, makeup artist James Vincent has touched every facet of the industry with his talent. With specialties in film and theatre, television and celebrity work, editorial and runway work, James is foremast a passionate educator, training for brands such as MAC, Stila, CNN and Lancome. He continues to inspire the next wave of artists with his beauty expertise. Follow James on Twitter @JVincentmakeup.