A Beginner’s Guide to Brows

November 3, 2018

Nikita Shah

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For two strips of hair located on the bottom of one’s forehead, eyebrows play a rather significant role in facial recognition and personal beauty. Not only do they frame the eyes, but they also play an important role in eye protection by trapping dust particles and moisture before they enter the eyes. Almost everyone I’ve talked to can recount some kind of traumatic story centered around their brows, ranging from regrettable overplucking to hot wax mishaps. In many cases, beginning a brow grooming regimen can mark a rite of passage from child to adult. Regardless of how badly someone wants to “fix” their brows, it can be a daunting task. With the sheer number of hair removal options and constantly changing brow trends, brow grooming can be incredibly intimidating. Although threading is relatively new to the Western world, it has been a popular grooming technique among Persian, Indian, Afghani, and Middle Eastern women (even some men) for hundreds of years. Women in my family have been threading for generations, so I knew the drill when it was my turn. Here is a quick and easy breakdown of brow grooming based on my own journey:

The Full Brow

Natural, full brows are having quite the moment. Although we have moved away from the painted on, Kylie Jenner-esque Insta-famous brow, thick brows are definitely still in. However, the term “natural” does not mean those of you with sparser or thinner brows can’t enjoy this trend. My three go-to brow products are pencils, pomades, and gels. Brow products can be tricky to master, but with some practice, they are definitely worth it. Pencils are a great way to fill in sparse areas and give your brows a more defined shape while still being able to control how dark they turn out. If you have lighter brows, go with a pencil that’s a shade darker, and if you have darker brows, go a shade lighter. For a more defined look, I would recommend a thicker pencil (the ones that look like actual pencils). For a subtler, more precise look, thinner, twist-up pencils are better. Use the spooly end to brush your brows up and out, then use the pencil with gentle strokes to fill in sparse areas. This is not coloring class! Your goal is not to press down as hard as you can, the softer, the better. If you really want to amp up your brows, brow pomade is a great product. However, it is also the most difficult to master out of the three, because it is very thick, creamy and highly pigmented. Taking an angled liner brush, gently dip it into the product. Your goal is to barely pick up any product, in fact, I would recommend brushing it on the back of your hand a couple times to get rid of any excess. Once you have shape in mind, run the brush with short strokes over your brows (usually the edges and arches). Finally, finish off with some brow gel, brushing a coat on with the same up and outward motion. If you want an extra boost of color, use tinted gel, if not, use clear. The gel will keep all your hairs in place and can also be used on its own.

Types of Brow Grooming

The client/esthetician relationship is one of deep trust. Whether it's browsing Yelp and comparing ratings or simply trying new places, I take my brow grooming routine very seriously. Two major hair removal options are waxing and threading. There are pros and cons for both, so it really comes down to personal choice and preference. That being said, your experience will depend on the expertise of the waxer/threader, so no two experiences are equal. Threading essentially involves twisting the thread around hair and plucking it out. Both waxing and threading are relatively quick, good for large portions of hair, pull hair from the root, and last for at least a couple of weeks. However, threading is usually better for precisely shaping the brows and can reach even very fine hairs while waxing can have a larger margin of error. In addition, threading does not use chemicals like waxing does, but it can be more painful.

Places in Providence

If you’ve decided to give threading a try, I would recommend checking out Aviva on Wickenden Street. This salon exclusively deals with threading, in fact, its motto is “for that perfect arch.” If waxing is more your speed, check out Luminous Spa and Salon on Pitman Street. One of the estheticians, Michaela, walked me through her methodical brow waxing process, from measuring eye-to-arch distance to making personalized shape recommendations. “It’s important that the waxing expert is a licensed esthetician and has lots of experience,” she said, stressing the importance of proper waxing technique so that the client always goes home happy.

At the end of the day, brow shape, like everything else, comes down to personal choice.