Expert Makeup Tips from Tana D’Amico: Eyebrows

Makeup artist Tana D’Amico shares her tips on how to get the best brows!

Have you ever been at a party, chatting among a group of people, and turned to the person standing next to you, and said, “My goodness, you have the BEST eyebrows …!” Well, I have. Since I can remember, I’ve always been a little fixated on eyebrows. I think it started with me visiting Sicily for the first time as a young girl of 12, watching my ultra glamorous aunt, religiously filling in her perfectly arched eyebrows daily. To me, she was the height of glamour – very La Dolce Vita! To this day, I associate being well groomed with well-groomed eyebrows.

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Eyebrows not only frame our eyes but our entire face as well. They provide a balance and symmetry and, when done correctly, give us a visual lift and a more youthful appearance. A full eyebrow IS connected with youth. As we age, however, our eyebrows get lighter, more sparse and lose definition. So if we want to appear well groomed, we need to pay attention to them. That means filling in gaps where the hair is sparse and giving definition where it’s needed to provide structure to the face. Paying attention to our brows is one of the best things we can do for ourselves each day to look better.

Where to begin though? With the cacophony of products available! Let me go over what’s what for you to help you decide what you may need.

When it comes to eyebrows, there are two ways you can go: shadow or pencil. In both cases, you should have two colours, one slightly darker and one lighter. In fact, most brow kits will already provide at least two colours, if not three. (I swear by the Clarins brow kit with three colours – and as a professional makeup artist who does a huge cross-section of  girls with different hair colours, it’s ALL I need!)

Go for colours that are neutral and nothing with too much red (unless you are a redhead) and NO black. Black looks completely unnatural, so just forget about it in this case. The colours you should look for are taupe, warm beige, soft brown and dark brown (again, not a red brown but a TRUE brown) Other much-lauded brow kits are by Benefit, Stila, Joe Fresh and, of course, from the Goddess of brows from Beverly Hills, Anastacia (available at Sephora).

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The reason you will need two colours is to give a more natural appearance. Our eyebrows, like the hairs on our head, are not all one colour. You will normally want to begin with the lighter colour to do most of the work and then go back in with the darker colour to enhance and give depth to what you’ve already done.

For example, you can use the darker colour to emphasize the arch and to fill in spots where there is no longer any hair, you can mimic small hairs by using  feathering motion strokes.

I, myself, prefer to use shadow to fill in brows. In my opinion, it gives a more natural appearance. But again, you can use what you are most comfortable with; just be sure to use a lighter hand with pencils as they deposit more colour and can get darker throughout the day when oil and heat have hit your skin. If you are a light-haired person, your brow colour should be a shade or two darker than your hair. If you are a dark-haired person, your brows should be a shade or two lighter than your hair.

If you decide you like shadows, then you will need an eyebrow angle brush, preferably with synthetic bristles, as synthetic bristles deposit the color onto your skin better than natural hair bristles. Some companies have a blend of real and synthetic – those work well also.

You should also have a spooley brush (looks like your mascara wand) to comb through the brows after you have filled them in. This will help soften what you’ve just done.

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If your brows are unruly or you just want to lock in what you’ve just applied, you can then use a clear brow gel to finish them off and hold them in place all day (many an older man can benefit from this as well!). There are also coloured brow gels to quickly lighten or darken brows, as they come in blond, brunette colours, etc. For example, if you have very dark brows and want to make them appear a bit softer on your face, a blond brow gel with soften the look for you. And vice versa if you have very light brows and want to darken them slightly for more definition.
And finally, there are now “brow pens.” They act like small tipped markers, very good for filling in areas with no or very sparse hair by, again, using light feathery strokes to draw in hairs, and they stay put all day!

Some final tips: be careful not to make your eyebrows too dark. Brows that are too dark can look harsh and overpowering and make you look mean! If you’ve gone too dark, use the spooley to soften them, then use a bit of your pressed powder or even a soft beige eye shadow and with a fluffy brush go over them. The look should soften up. Also, don’t overpluck your brows a la 1970s. The ’60s and ’70s were not good decades for brows! And don’t underpluck them – keep on top of those sparse wayward hairs with a good pair of tweezers (I love Tweezerman, and also Revlon does some really good, very affordable ones!) and a magnifying mirror. I often get compliments on my brows, and I owe it all to 20X magnification! And, of course, to my aunt and La Dolce Vita.