Expert Tips on How to Get Your Best Brows With Makeup

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It’s no secret that bold, beautiful brows are having more than a moment—from runways to Instagram feeds and everything in between, confident, groomed arches are here to stay. And because thin brows are a thing of the past, creating your best brows shouldn’t involve tweezers (especially if you’re in the process of growing them out). Here, helpful tips straight from celebrity makeup artists on how to make any pair of brows look their absolute best with makeup—no tweezers allowed. 

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Double Team It

Celebrity makeup artist Michael Patterson says though we might not think about it, two brow pencils are always better than one, and that creating a naturally full and dimensional brow begins by layering pencils. “Choose a pencil with a shade closest to your hair color and one slightly darker. Apply the lighter shade by using small, light pressured ‘hair-like’ strokes, following the direction of hair growth,” Patterson adds, explaining that this technique will create volume. “Switch to the deeper shade and use the same technique, this time focusing more toward the middle and tail of the brow for added definition.” Patterson’s favorite: MAC Cosmetics Eye Brows Pencil ($17) “for the best precision and color range.” 

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Brush Down, Then Up

Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon says that instead of immediately brushing brows upward (you should still do this to set them), try brushing them down first with a spoolie brush to visualize your brow shape and get stray hairs out of the way. “Brushing your brow hairs downward allows you to see the line of natural hair growth and gives you a guide for filling in the thin spots,” she adds. Once your brows are filled in (you’ll be amazed at how well this trick works), take the same spoolie or brow setter and brush them back into place. Voila! 

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Try a Trifecta

“My preferred method for making the most of a pair of brows is with a combination of a brow pencil, brow pen and brow gel,” says celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles. Once the brows are brushed into place, Stiles says she’ll start with a brow pen to address in any areas that really need filling. “I like the pens from SUQQU ($45) because they have a transparency to them without feeling dense the way a powder can, so the brows still look natural. Then I’ll go in with a pencil (I like the one from Fiona Stiles Beauty ($16) because it’s got more wax in it versus other pencils, so it deposits less color and looks more realistic) and shape the brows,” she adds. The last step is setting brows with a clear gel. “Setting the brows with a gel gives them more definition and can instantly make them look fuller.”

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Start Strong

“The key to better brows is using a harder formula like a pencil,” says celebrity makeup artist Molly R. Stern, adding that her current go-tos are the Shu Uemura brow:sword ($35) and Kimiko Super Fine Eyebrow Pencil ($27). “By using a hard formula, you’re able to fill in the brow with hair-like strokes that won’t smudge or smear,” she adds. “Next, finish with a great brow gel.”

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Don’t Forget to Set

“Don’t underestimate the power of a good brow set,” says Patterson, adding that these “brow mascaras” come in clear formulas or a range of tints to deliver a host of different finishes from all-natural to a bold finish. “I love Glossier’s Boy Brow in Clear ($16) to lock brow hairs in place and to create full and amazing brows,” he adds, instructing us to follow a strategy when grooming: Comb the brow hairs closest to the nose straight up, the remaining hair upward and out at a 45-degree angle, then follow the direction and angle of the tail outward. “This will open up the eyes and give added definition.” Aharon adds, “I always set brows in place with a brow gel whether I’ve filled them in or not.”

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Find Your Shape

To find the ideal brow shape for your face, Patterson explains that you’ll need a thin-handled makeup brush (or similar shaped object, like an eye pencil). “Map out an imaginary straight line on the face by aligning the handle to the side of your nostril and the inner tear duct of the eye.” This imaginary line represents where your brow should start. “Look straight ahead and align the brush to the side of your nostril and pupil. The point where the line crosses your brow should be the height of your arch. Move the brush to align with the nostril and outside corner of the eye. This is where the tail of your brow should end. Follow this formula to create the perfect frame for your eyes.” 

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Lighten Up

“I find the most common mistake when filling in brows is using a color that is too dark,” Aharon says, adding that surprisingly, the shade we should be reaching for isn’t exactly the one that matches our strands. “Unless I’m dealing with blond or very light brows, I opt for a shade lighter than the natural hair color. This way, brows look softer, diffused and natural rather, than hard and block-like.”

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Bring Out The Concealer

According to Aharon, concealer isn’t just for dark circles and blemishes—the beauty staple is a key step in her brow routine, too. “Use concealer under the brow line to camouflage any stray hairs and make the line appear cleaner and sharper. You can play with this technique to define your arch, too!” Stiles adds that she’s not opposed to using concealer under the brow or along the tail to sharpen it a bit, but reminds us to be mindful when using the technique. “What looks good on Instagram looks crazy in real life. The key here is to apply it subtly. Use a light hand and a concealer that closely matches your skin. Anything too light and it will be hugely noticeable.”

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