There was a time in my life when brows were all but forgotten. In high school, I was terrified of the pain that tweezing inflicted and refused to really groom my brows until my early- to mid-twenties. This was fortuitous since most women my age are now facing the repercussions resulting from over-tweezing during the skinny brow trend of the 90s.
Nearly 20 years later, because my hair is dark and my Western European heritage is strong, I have an ongoing battle with hair and its desire to sprout up in all the wrong places. The hormonal changes that take place during and after pregnancy, and as I start to look down the barrel of 40, have only increased this problem. As a result, I’m now a regular at my local Benefit Brow Bar.
It took me a while to work up to actually filling in my brows, but now I can’t wear makeup without at least lightly filling them. Once I got the hang of it, I started to see how it pulled together a look. A filled-in and well-defined brow seals the deal.
I prefer a fuller and “natural” looking brow. I place “natural” in quotes because if I were really going for natural, I would just brush them out and maybe add some brow gel. What I really mean by “natural” is that I don’t completely go the route of Instagram Brows. For the record, I’m not knocking this brow trend. It looks super amazing in photos. At the end of the day, you need to do you, and I just happen to go for a slightly less sculpted look.
My primary methods for filling in my brows are powder, —MAC eye shadow in Brun; and brow pomade — Dipbrow Pomade from Anastasia Beverly Hills in Medium Brown. I don’t really prefer one over the other nor do I use them together. It depends on my mood as to whether I choose powder or pomade on any given day. I will say that the powder tends to result in a softer brow, while the pomade offers a more precise and bold finish.
When filling my brows, I try to follow their natural shape while also improving their symmetry. You may have heard brows described as, “sisters, but not twins.” That’s the truth for most people. As you can see in the photos, one brow is a bit lower than the other, and one has a better arch. I’m not going to point out which one I prefer, but everyone has a favorite brow, right? Or, is it just me who does that?
There are varying arguments as to whether you should fill your brows before foundation, after foundation or even as the very last step in your makeup routine. I don’t really believe one way is any better than the other. I usually fill my brows after I do my eye makeup, but prior to doing my foundation. Once I complete the majority of my look, I may go back in to clean up and further define my brows as needed.
With both powder or pomade, you should start small. Using light, short strokes I build the product. The brow pomade in particular is super pigmented and a little goes a long way. I dip my brush into the pomade and then wipe off the excess inside the lid, using the lid as a palette of sorts. I then stroke the pomade onto my brow, starting in the middle and blending out. I go a bit heavier in the middle and toward the tail of my brow, and lighter as I move toward the bridge of my nose.
I don’t always use a brow gel to set the brows. It depends on whether or not they are acting super unruly. If/when I do use a gel, I use the NYX clear brow gel. However, my preferred method of taming brows is brow wax. Milani makes a great brow wax. I often use it on the tails of my brows, which seem to have a mind of their own.
I’m a bit hesitant to recommend other drugstore brow products. I’ve used the NYX micro brow pencil in Brunette and Espresso and while they could be considered dupes for the Anastasia Brow Wiz, they were still a bit too warm-toned for me. I also wasn’t crazy about the pigmentation or color pay off. I felt like I really had to press the pencil into my skin in order to successfully fill or outline my brows.
While both products I use are considered high-end, they are good investments, and just haven’t had a need to check out other products. I’ve used the same MAC shadow for two years and have yet to hit pan. The Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade also has serious longevity. It does get a little dry after a while, but I’ve seen YouTube videos and Pinterest pins with hacks for reviving your pomade to give it longer life.
If you have a drugstore brow product success story, please share it in the comments.