Our eyebrows are perfectly designed to protect our eyeballs from dust and debris and frame our face, though for some, a face without visible eyebrows is "A Look."
For those of us just trying to look natural, the importance of a well-groomed, full brow cannot be overlooked. Subtly-defined brows can shave years off our appearance without having to resort to other aids, like a surgical brow lift. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
This article addresses brow makeup, but there is no shortage of information on brow shaping and grooming, much of which can be done for you in a salon. Style and beauty bloggers occasionally discuss it. See, for example, Une Femme's recent article on threading, as well as an article Perilously Pale wrote this past summer on the importance of brows.
Brows are important. But without resorting to using a Sharpie to give shape to our eyebrows, finding the perfect texture and color can be a challenge for some of us, especially as we get older and our brows change.
Eyebrows are not a particularly hot topic. A new brow color rarely reaches the same level of excitement as a new lipstick or palette from the current season's collection. In fact, I'd guess that most of us are not nearly as fickle with brow products as we are with lipstick or eyeshadow. We find something that works and we stick with it because it's easy and doesn't require much thought; it's not like we have to decide each morning between brown or blue, matte or metallic.
But what happens when our tried-and-true product no longer works?
I gave my eyebrows almost zero thought when I was under 40, other than tweezing strays and keeping them neat. I assumed the eyebrows I had at 17 would be the same eyebrows I had at 87. Wrong. Not that I'm 87, I'm barely pushing 85, but still. My brows were the one constant in my mirror, until the day I noticed that my faithful brow powder was starting to look a bit harsh.
Genetics and race determine what our brows look like, but many of us enjoy full, natural brows when hormones are on the rise, well into and past their peak. As hormone levels change or decline, such as during and after pregnancy or when we become perimenopausal, some of us notice that our once-full brows now look sparse; perhaps we can even see skin through them or lighter hairs are growing in. Loss of volume could be the result of chronic overplucking, certain medications, poor nutrition, low iodine levels, hormonal imbalances, skin disorders, or a thyroid condition. But in many cases, volume loss is simply a part of the aging process.
If you notice a marked change in your eyebrows, discuss it with your doctor, who will want to rule out any medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid. One sign of hypothyroidism is hair loss at the outer third edge of the brow, closest to the temples.
|Blackout bar used to protect woman's privacy|
Does that hair ever come back? It has not for me.
I have read good things about home remedies using certain oils, such as castor and coconut, which are reported to encourage hair regrowth if applied to the brow area before bed and left on overnight. Apparently, the vitamins penetrate the skin and stop protein loss.
There are also plenty of OTC lash grown serums, some of which can also be used on brows. I tried two different serums over a period of 6 months, but all they did was make the tail end of my brow hairs longer. I could have curled them up like this:
In any case, I saw virtually no change in volume on brows or lashes, but I did notice an increase in super-fine, downy blonde hair under the brows. No thanks.
Makeup to the rescue!
If I can't reverse mother nature's mean tricks, I can certainly fake it. It's amazing what a little well-placed brow makeup can do to improve the appearance and lift the eyes. Look at the woman's eyebrows in the following before-and-after image.
In the "after" image, she looks younger, fresher, and more awake, even more confident and approachable.
My brows are are still well shaped with a defined arch, but they have become so sparse I rarely need to pluck anymore (and plucking stray hairs used to be a task I performed 3-4 times a week). So I thought I'd share my tips that give me my 20 year-old brows, at least until I wash my face:
- Choose a brow color that is 1-2 shades lighter than my hair. When I am 100% grey/white, I will switch to a color 1-2 shades darker.
- Using a stiff eyebrow brush or clean spoolie, brush the hairs downward and find the arch.
- Using a thin angle brush, lightly apply color to the arch with short, feathery strokes.
- Brush brow hairs up and out and use the angle brush to fill in sparse areas only. Brow powder (which should be slightly stiff, even waxy) gives my wispy brows definition; it's also a great choice for those seeking a more natural look. Pencil (or gel) provides a more dramatic look or is useful for anyone who is actually missing whole sections of the brow, such as that outer third I mentioned earlier.
- Very lightly use what's left on the brush to almost-imperceptibly extend the tail end.
- Set in place with a clear mascara.
Because my natural brows appear lighter, thanks to volume loss, my biggest challenge has become finding the right color. I find myself stuck at step #1 in my own process. My beloved Clinique Brow Shaper in Shaping Charcoaled is starting to look a bit dark, although it has been THE perfect cool, ash brown for my pure ash eyebrows for many years.
Too dark? Big deal, buy something new. I tried, and I was completely unprepared for the disappointment. How hard could it be? Well, it would appear that there is no shortage of brow products for warm-toned people, but for those of us with light hair that has an ash base, it is proving to be more challenging than I ever imagined it could be.
Everything I have tried is either too warm (yellow or red), including all of the so-called taupes, or too dark. I don't want to think about the money I have wasted on various cool-looking eyebrow powders and pencils, including the famous Shu Uemura Seal Brown, which looks a bit green on me. Most of them have been the wrong color, and when I managed to find a harmonious match in color, it would be too dark.
So if you have made it this far, I have to disappoint you. There is no new holy grail. I have halfheartedly settled on using up an eyeshadow I was no longer using on my lids: Bobbi Brown Slate. It's not waxy, so it does not last all day, and it is still too warm. So I will keep looking until I find that holy-grail brow product that will carry me into my 87th birthday!
If you have begun to notice thinning brows, what is your favorite brow product? Do you prefer pencil or powder or gel?
Photo credits: (1-8) google images, (9-10) mine