Restoring botched brows can be a major pain in the arch. (Hyuck, hyuck.) So we asked top groomers how to reshape eyebrows and get the fullest, shapeliest, best results — minus all the growing pains. Said “best results” means different things to different people. Some of us love the bushiest brows possible, while others want a lean, super-clean shape to top of their eye makeup and balance their facial features. But without diligent grooming, any brow shape can go astray.
Whatever your brow problem — whether you’ve over-tweezed them and want fuller brows back or you’ve let them grow out a little more than you’d like and lost your preferred shape — there are solutions. Some take a little patience, but ultimately, you’re just a few easy steps away from getting your eyebrows back on track.
With the help of some of the top brow groomers and makeup artists in the biz, we’ll teach you how to reclaim your ideal brows.
How to Reshape Over-Tweezed Brows
Anyone with a magnifying mirror and tweezers can recklessly prune their brows, but patiently growing them back? That takes real pluck. Here’s how to undo the damage.
Retire the tweezers.
It takes three to four months to see real change and up to a year for brows to grow back entirely. “The first week is the hardest. It feels like the hairs are mocking you,” says Ramy Gafni, a New York City brow groomer. “But if you leave them alone, those random little hairs will eventually form a full brow.”
If a stray is growing at an odd angle, resist the urge to tweeze — trim it instead. “You want to resist the urge to touch your brows,” says makeup artist Maribeth Madron, even if that means hiding your tweezers from yourself. “If you can’t get to the tweezers immediately, the urge to pluck will pass.”
There’s one exception, however, to the no-tweezing policy: If you’re prone to sprouting a few hairs between your brows, we’re not going to tell you to walk around with a unibrow for months if that’s not your style. To make sure you’re not over-plucking, Madron recommends using your finger as a guide. Place your index finger between your brows and draw a line on either side of it with an eyeliner pencil. Remove your finger and only tweeze the hairs in between those two lines.
“You don’t want to remove too much hair from the inner corners,” says Madron. “It’s very hard to get the hair to grow back in those spots, so I always err on the side of caution.”
Fill in eyebrow gaps like an expert.
Even though you can’t pick up your tweezers, you can still pick up your makeup. There’s no avoiding it: Your brows will go through an awkward phase during the grow-out process, and makeup is going to come in really handy.
“This is where brow fillers, pencils, waxes, and putties come in very handy,” says Madron. “If your brows are a good shape but you’re filling in holes, pencils and powders are best.” Madron recommends Maybelline New York Brow Define + Fill Duo, which is a dual-ended stick with a pencil on one end and a powder on the other.
If you’re growing out more than just a few sparse patches, pencil won’t cut it. “What you want to do is paint on the brow shape you’re desiring,” Madron explains, “covering up all the patchy, new growth inside the lines with a wax/powder combination or a putty-like product, both of which are more forgiving, allow for less precision, and tame stubborn hairs.” We’re fans of Giorgio Armani Eye & Brow Maestro and Nyx Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade.
As far as color is concerned, go one to two shades lighter than your hair if you’re a brunette, or try taupe if you’re blonde. Gafni’s advice? Use short, angled strokes in the direction of hair growth to beef up bald spots, but stay within your natural brow line. “Never create an arch with makeup,” says Gafni. “Even the right shade can look obvious. Your bone structure should create the arch for you.”
Facilitate eyebrow growth by conditioning at night and taking hair growth supplements.
A brow conditioner will help speed the growth process along. Madron’s favorite is RevitaBrow, a peptide- and vitamin-rich serum that she recommends to many of her clients to help encourage hair strength and prevent breakage and loss. But one conditioner doesn’t necessarily fit all. “You may need to try different products with different active ingredients,” says Madron. Talika Eyebrow Lipocils Expert is quite good — it promises to stimulate growth and even intensify color — but you may also want to try talking to your dermatologist about prescription-strength options.
How to Define Fuller Eyebrows
If you prefer thinner, more arched brows, you can make that happen. “Strong brows need to have shape and separation,” says eyebrow groomer Kristie Streicher. “Otherwise, they’ll overwhelm your face.”
Divide and conquer.
Unibrows can looks fabulous, but if it’s not your personal style, you’ll need to grab the tweezers to create separation. (We love the classic Tweezerman Slant Tweezers.) Hold a pencil vertically from the outer edge of your nostril to your eyebrows to determine where each brow should start.
Make the cut.
Removing bulk from your brows doesn’t always mean pruning them. Nine times out of 10, a trim is all you need. Comb your brows straight up with a spoolie eyebrow brush like Tarte’s Fill Service Brow Brush and Spoolie, then use eyebrow scissors — we love the Arches & Halos Surgical Stainless Steel Brow Scissors — to trim only the longest hairs, staggering the length as you go. “Cut one hair a little longer and one a little shorter, so your eyebrows don’t get a crew cut,” says Streicher. Follow up with a brow gel like the Allure Best of Beauty Award-winning Benefit Gimme Brow + Volumizing Eyebrow Gel to keep hairs in place.
Define the arch (the brow’s highest point, just beyond the iris as you look ahead) by yanking a few hairs beneath it. “The most common mistake I see is people taking too much off the ends,” says Streicher. Eyebrows that fall short look tadpole-y, and they age our faces, since the ends thin as we get older, she says.
“It’s a sin to shorten beautiful, long eyebrows,” says New York City brow groomer Joey Healy. Unless the tails of your eyebrows dip too far below where the heads begin (which can result in a dragging effect), leave the length alone. Make sure to taper the ends to a clean point for a sharp finish.
How to Reshape Eyebrows that Look Like Commas
What’s a comma brow? It’s basically a brow that has been plucked within an inch of its life, but only under the arches and at the ends, creating a comma-like effect. But you can achieve balance by filling in the eyebrow tail.
“Taking weight from the front will actually make the ends appear thicker,” says brow expert Eliza Petrescu. “Your brows will be instantly more natural-looking.” Lightly fill in with a brow pencil, concentrating color on the sparser tails.
How to Calm Down Angry Brows
“Angry brows” look like an upside-down V. These type of eyebrows can make you seem perpetually mad, says Gafni.
Avoid the point.
For a friendlier effect, remove a few hairs from the top of the arch. “Forget the old rule that says you should never tweeze above the brow,” says Tonya Crooks, owner of Mirror Mirror Beauty Studio in Los Angeles. “If a few hairs are interfering with an ideal shape, they need to go, period.” You can also lightly fill in the area directly beneath the point to soften its angularity.
Focus on the front.
Using a spoolie brush, comb up the inner half of your brows and trim any hairs that extend far past the top. (Those hairs in front can get really long and make your eyebrows appear way thicker than they will after a small trim.)
When All Else Fails…
If you find yourself waiting (impatiently) for your eyebrows to grow out and the steps above aren’t enough, Madron has a couple more outside-the-box ideas to help you love your look in the interim.
Employ distraction techniques.
Keep the attention as far from your brows as possible. “Wear bangs, a statement lip, whatever you have to keep people from focusing on your brows,” says Madron. And avoid cat eyes and winged liner. “Wearing liquid liner with strong edges during the growth phrase isn’t a good choice: The sharp lines direct eyes straight to your brows, where they will be able to see every hole and gap,” says Madron. That said, if you love yourself in liner, go right ahead — whatever looks best to you is the way to go.
Try eyebrow tinting.
“Brow tinting is life-changing. It’s helped me so much when growing out my brows because it bulks up all those baby-fine hairs,” says Madron. Your best bet is to go to a professional rather than trying it at home. “The other benefit of seeing a professional is they can paint on the tint in your desired brow shape.” Just make sure, before attempting to walk right in, to check with your favorite salon about whether or not they’re open during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and if so, what precautions they’re taking to ensure the safety of their clients and employees.
Now That Your Eyebrows Have Grown Back…
If you’ve waited out the four months it took to reshape your eyebrows after one too many plucks, it’s time to carefully craft the shape you actually want.
We recommend leaving it to an eyebrow waxing or threading professional, but if you prefer to tackle them at home, Madron stresses the importance of good lighting. “You want to be in front of direct natural light if possible. Overhead lighting creates shadows, which obscure your view.”
To determine your perfect brow shape, look at pictures of yourself before you started plucking them and assess your face shape. “It’s all about balance,” says Madron. “If you have small, petite features, like Kirsten Dunst, Winona Ryder, or Halle Berry, for example, your brows shouldn’t be too large; and if you have big features like Keira Knightley or Sofia Vergara, your brows can also be bigger.”
Eyebrow shaping can really change the look of your face. If you have a long or rectangular face, you can make your face appear shorter or more proportional with a straighter, flatter eyebrow. If you have a heart-shaped face, thick eyebrows can throw your face off-balance. Similarly, thick eyebrows can overwhelm a tiny face. These types of faces look great with well-groomed brows that are neither too thick or too thin.
On the other hand, if you have a square jaw, a thick, heavy brow can balance the top half of your face by making it match the bottom. If you have a diamond face shape, curved eyebrows can lessen the angularity of your faced.
What eyebrow shape looks good on everyone? Soft, angled eyebrows look lovely across the board, regardless of face shape.
Once you’ve determined your perfect shape, it’s time to carefully clean up errant hairs with tweezers. But before you start plucking, break out a black or bright-colored eyeliner penciland outline the shape you want. Get really close to your mirror and, using slanted tweezers, only remove what is outside the pencil lines. Then wash off the pencil to see the results.