Eyebrows have seen their fair share of trends throughout the years, from the pencil-thin and sky-high brows of the ’90’s and 2000s to the ultra-carved “brows on fleek” trend of the 2010’s and now, in their most lawless form, the bushy brow.
Benefit’s global brow expert, Jared Bailey, describes this perfectly imperfect brow as “lived in layers. These brows don’t have crisp defined edges, they are fluffy and full of contrasting colors that embrace a more a natural, lush-looking brow.”
Bailey has had a front row seat to the many eyebrow evolutions over the years. He suggested that bushy brows, á la Brooke Shields in the 80s, actually became popular as a kind of opposition to the overly-done days of “baddie-Instagram” yore.
“I think this trend is relevant given the times we’re living in. After the last year or two in lockdown, most of us have said goodbye to a full face of makeup and the carved out ‘Instagram brow,’” he said. “We’re wearing less makeup and reaching for products that are quick and easy to use, look natural and help our features pop.”
Brett Freedman, a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist with a knack for eyebrows, described the key elements to achieving what he called “non- cookie cutter brows.”
“Brow hairs are brushed up and out so brow gel is a must ― the furrier the better. In the past, a properly tailored brow would be defined and the brow hairs were pomaded into place and directed toward the temple in line with the top of the brow. Now we want those ‘spikes’ to break the top brow line,” Freedman said.
Bailey recommends product layering as a way to create dimension and realistic volume.
“Layering multiple shades and formulas together is key. Similar to your complexion, when you use one color alone, the result is flat and one dimensional. The same is true for brows: One color will will result in a lifeless look. Always opt for multiple shades, but with the same undertone,” Bailey said.
Freedman added that no matter which way you choose to style your brows, they “are the one feature we can change ourselves (without surgery) that can alter our appearance.”
“Over the past few years, brows have become the new playground of self expression. [They] bring balance and proportion to your face and eyes and are fundamental no matter which type of brow look you are leaning into,” Bailey said.
Now, if you don’t have naturally lush brows, don’t fret, because there are some tricks and products that can help create the illusion of volume. Put down the tweezers and keep reading to see what products these makeup artists and brow pros use to get beautifully trendy unkempt brows.
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A complete Glossier brow routine
Jane Meng, a New York based makeup artist, said brow products like Glossier’s Boy Brow eyebrow gel marked the beginnings of the no muss, no fuss brow look. Six-odd years later, it’s still a popular choice.
This brow essentials set from Glossier contains their tinted grooming pomade Boy Brow, which fluffs and shapes brows, and their Brow Flick pen, which you can use to sketch eyebrow-like hairs in a matte finish.
For less-defined, lighter or sparser brows, nearly all of our brow experts recommended tinting to provide a fuller yet natural-looking base. Ardell’s eyebrow tinting kit is an easy way to tint brows that can last for up to two weeks.
A precision eyebrow pencil that can mimic hair strokes
Bailey recommended a technique called brow mapping, which entails identifying a shape that’s going to bring balance and proportion to your face.
“Start by finding where your brow should begin by following a straight line up from the dimple of your nose to the front of the brow and make a mark,” Bailey said. “Next, find where your brow is naturally at its highest by measuring from the outer edge of the nose across the center of the eye and make a mark. Finally, mark where your brow should end by following a diagonal line from the outside of your nose to the outer corner of your eye. This will show you where your brow should end. After you make the points, connect them by lightly sketching from point to point. Any hair that falls outside of the shape can be removed. The hair that falls inside the shape is what stays.”
He uses Benefit’s Precisely, My Brow defining pencil to provide ultra-fine strokes that can also be blended out to create a more feathered look.
A micro-fiber brow gel to make sparse brows look thicker
Benefit’s Gimmie Brow tinted and volumizing brow gel is what Bailey recommends for brows that are not naturally thick, largely because it contains tiny micro-fibers that stick to the hair, creating the illusion of greater thickness.
“Try a stipple-and-sweep technique,” Bailey said. “Simply stipple the tip of the wand onto your skin to add the pigment and then, sweep the bristles of the wand over that exact spot to create a natural, hair-like texture.”
A tinted eyebrow gel that won’t make brow hairs stiff
When she’s working on eyebrows, Meng told HuffPost that she likes to start off using Charlotte Tilbury’s Legendary Brows tinted gel, which contains glossy emollients, conditioning vitamin E and a natural elasticizing wax that offers a softer hold.
“I apply it up, down, right, and left to grab every little hair possible. I focus on just the hairs, to make sure it doesn’t transfer to the skin,” Meng said.
Meng told HuffPost how to get the latest iteration of the bushy brow look: the laminated brow. “I apply a thick layer of the Refy Brow Sculpt and Shape gel in an upward motion. Using the attached brush or a clean mascara spoolie, I brush it up while pressing against the skin. This gives the glossy pressed look versus a textured one,” Meng said.
Refy’s consistency is unique because it’s more of hybrid between a gel and a conditioning wax that’s extra effective in keeping hairs in place. Its formula also contains a moisturizing and antioxidant complex.
To fill in any sparse gaps after using a brow gel, Meng told HuffPost that she likes to use NYX’s Microbrow mechanical pencil to achieve “quick upward strokes to mimic hair.” This pencil has an ultra-fine tip for precise application and a slightly waxy formula for a longer lasting wear.
Bornales’ favorite way to fill in the gaps is to use something more dimensional, like this inky eyebrow pen by K-Palette. Create a few dark hair strokes over a powdered base. Those with oilier skin may find this stays on longer than more traditional brow pencils.
A velvety powder duo to help add depth to your brows
To help create fuller brows, Freedman recommended using “a brow powder that’s a touch lighter than your brow hairs. You want a ‘shadow of definition,’ not a solid fill in. This will give depth. When you brush your brow hairs up and out with gel (which even clear gel will darken them a touch) you want them to really pop against the ‘drop shadow’ definition underneath,” Freedman said.
Anastasia Beverly Hill’s brow powder is finely milled for smooth application and is buildable to customize the look of fullness that you want to achieve.
A double-ended tool to brush brows and apply product
This double-sided brush by Morphe can be a great tool to have in your eyebrow arsenal. The spoolie side can evenly apply waxes, gels or tints, while the ultra-thin angle brush can apply powders and liners with precise strokes.