Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raising the Brow

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A Bit About Brows

Brows can make or break your face. It can be a challenging project to find your ultimate brow shape, but it is such a crucial part of your appearance and often underestimated. I have several friends who are experts in the field of brow design, and I want to introduce you to two of them. The first is Lisa Wasylychyn, or Lisa W., as I call her, who shapes and educates at Benefit Cosmetics in San Francisco, California.

Lisa and I were talking about the beautiful arched brows of cinema legend Elizabeth Taylor, above, who died last year. A screen siren who was a notorious perfectionist about her eyebrow shaping, Elizabeth believed that each hair makes a difference. A lot of women do not realize how important every single hair is in the process of shaping the brows, especially for those with dark hair. It is a good idea to consult an expert at first before you ever try to shape your own brows.

You want to strive for a high arch and an overall full shape with a long tail. “Elizabeth Taylor’s brows are timeless,” Lisa said. “Even today many women strive to achieve the full, shapely brows that she is known for. If you look at photos of Elizabeth, you will be drawn to her eyes and high cheekbones. This is what well-designed brows will do—frame the face and show off your features,” she stated.

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“And remember,” she said, “brows are sisters, never twins.”

That is so expertly-phrased, concise, and true. Your brows are going to be a little different from one another. Even the best brow experts are not going to clone your brows. Each side of your face is different, and the brows are no exception, but it’s important to keep it looking natural. Believable. Do not fight Mother Nature. You have to go with what you’ve got.

Tools of the Trade

Lisa recommends using Benefit’s Brow Zings Brow Shaping Kit, below, $30.

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This is a nice little kit that you can use at home or throw in your purse. It comes in light, medium (pictured above), and dark and all three of the palettes are very natural looking. The left side is a tinted wax you use to shape and groom the brows, and the right side is a powder for adding definition. Included are two little brushes and a pair of tiny tweezers for touchups. I love this kit for travel or to carry in my purse for brow styling on-the-go.

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A stiff flat angle brush like the one by Japonesque, above, and Ben Nye cake eyeliner work well for me personally; due to my dark hair, the color is perfect and this is what I use in the mornings, dry. The cake liner lasts a really long time and I can use it wet for eyeliner as well.

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Another great tool is the Pointed Slant Tweezer, above, $30, made by Tweezerman for Benefit Cosmetics. These are my favorite tweezers, ever. They have a good springy touch, and the sharp and slightly hooked tip allows you to reach underneath the arch with precision. Brush your brows straight up, then tweeze the hairs under the arch with the sharp side and watch the arch develop by removing just a few hairs. This is a trick I learned from Robert Williams at Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco, California.

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Robert, pictured above, is a makeup artist and brow designer who has worked at runway shows on supermodels alongside cosmetic giant François Nars. His deft fingers have blended and beautified the faces of Linda Evangelista, Gisele, and countless other famous beauties. Every time he shapes my brows, I am reminded how lucky I am to have him for a friend. He is so talented.

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Robert recommends the Sisley eyebrow pencil, $55, above. This pencil is long and narrow and creates the subtle shadowed appearance of individual hairs. It is smaller in diameter than ordinary pencils which can look crude or make harshly-drawn lines. It has a much finer point.

Robert uses the pencil perpendicular to the brow to make short vertical lines, and then he turns it on its side for light feathery strokes to fill in the arch along the top of the brow, also known as the “steeple.” Drawing a nice precise peak with a soft pencil really makes the brows stand out and creates a beautiful, provocative eye.

Trimming and cleaning up untidy edges is your final step in brow design. I have found my Twissors and Eve Pearl tri-fold eyebrow razor to be absolutely indispensable.

Alcone’s Twissor, pictured below, is only 18 bucks and smartly expedites the brow design process.

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Brush your brows upward, then carefully trim outside the line with these tiny scissors, which are angled for detail work. Ordinary scissors are cumbersome and do not allow the same kind of control and precision as this handy little tool. You can easily slide the blades under individual hairs and cut them as necessary.

I love love love New York makeup artist Eve Pearl’s thoughtfully designed tri-fold brow razor, below, for cleaning up any bits of fuzz left behind. The tri-fold design renders it perfect for travel or stashing in your makeup bag. Another beauty bargain, it is only five dollars and I consider it invaluable.

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Try growing your brows out to their full potential, if you can stand it, and then going in for a brow design by a pro. You may feel like a hairy monster for a week or two, but the results are worth it.

“Growing your brows full and then shaping the brow from the lowest front of the brow, by the bridge of the nose, and creating a straight, clean line to the top of the arch and then down to the end of the brow–toward the outer edge of the eye–will give you a very high arch, as well as defined,” Lisa said.

For Overplucked Brows and The Less-Endowed

More is more with eyebrows, but many women suffer from sparse or thin or overplucked brows, which can be quite aging. In this case, you can always turn to a nice brow serum for help with regrowth.

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Revitabrow, $110, above, gives you a second chance for fuller and more shapely brows. Remember to treat the steeple and the tail of the brow. From the same people who bring us Revitalash, this serum also helps to condition the brows for a more silky appearance if your brows are unmanageable.

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