Saturday, 1 November 2014

Brow Game 101 | My Brow Routine - Products, Techniques, Tips&Tricks.

I've been meaning to do this post for a long time, but I was avoiding it for ages. Purely because brows are a personal thing, different for everyone and can be hard to explain in a written post. That, and there are so many different ways to fill in your brows depending on the look you're going for. This is going to be my own personal brow routine. I'm a big fan of a fuller, sculpted brow and that's exactly how I like to do my own. My brows are naturally dark and thick, but I thought I would show you guys a couple of different ways I like to do my brows. I definitely don't think my brows are perfect, and I'm constantly trying to make them better, but I get asked about my brows quite a bit so I thought I'd do this post for those who were curious! These methods and tips can be taken and tailored to suit your own personal brow style and I think there's a few things everyone can take away from this post, no matter what brow shape or style you like! I hope this is helpful for some of you; I've gone through some of the different methods separately so you have the option of reading all of them, or just focusing on the way you personally prefer to do your brows. I'm going in order of my natural evolution in brow products; I began with powders and soon discovered new and unique products to use - I hope you discover some new ones as well! This is gonna be a long one, so stick on the kettle!

Step one, regardless of what method you're using to fill in your brows - comb ya' damn eyebrows, gurl! I use a spoolie brush or an eyebrow brush to comb through the hairs and get rid of any foundation or powder that may have gotten stuck on them. Comb them into place in the direction and shape you want your brows to go. I find this helps me see where I really need to fill in and where the product needs to go. Brush the front of the brows upwards for a softer look.

If you're using something other than a pencil to fill in your brows, I think the tool you use is often more important than the product itself. You can use a mediocre brow powder but once you have a good brow brush, it can make all the difference. In general, angled brushes work best for brows and if you stick to that you can't really go too far wrong. Although I have naturally thick brows, I prefer, and always recommend, a smaller angle brush rather than a large one. It means you can be really precise with application. If you have minimal eyebrow hair, you can also use the smaller brush to draw on tiny brush strokes to mimic natural hair. A large brush will usually apply too much product and won't "feather" the product into the brows like a small brush will. The only brow brush I have and ever will use is a MAC one, the #208. Because I haven't tried any other ones, I unfortunately can't give a cheaper alternative but I honestly think a decent brow brush is worth spending the money on - you can also use this for gel liner! This works well with both powder and cream products and allows me to really sculpt my brow on the bottom, but also add feathery strokes towards the front.

MAC 208.
Tips For Brow 'Prep' and Fixing Mistakes:
Sometimes I'll run a bit of the original, clear, Urban Decay Primer Potion over my brows to help the product stick and last. I do this every time I use brow powders and a lot of the time with brow pencils. Definitely a nice extra step to do if you find your brows don't last very long, especially if you use powder. Finally, if you've made a mistake or want to fix your brows after filling them in, take a small, flat concealer brush and clean up the bottom or top edges with a creamy concealer. I'm not a fan of this overly sculpted "2-3 shades lighter than your skin" brow outline, so I just use a concealer that perfectly matches the rest of my face!

Cream Concealer, Urban Decay Primer Potion.
Choosing a shade for you:
Before I get into each individual method, there are some general tips and go to pieces of advice that I follow regarding what shades to pick, regardless of the product I'm using. I don't necessarily believe that you HAVE to go 2 shades lighter than your natural brow hair or that you have to colour match it to your hair, particularly if you're like me and your brows are far darker than your hair colour. It's all about personal preference and experimenting, but if you are nervous about colour matching, then stick to a shade or 2 lighter, but in the same tone as your hair. I think it's more important than you get the undertone correct. I recommend choosing a cool toned (something "ashy" if your brow hairs are blonde) for your eyebrows, think grey toned rather than red or warm. It seems strange, but overall it looks far more flattering on the face, especially if you're unsure about a colour. That being said, if you're a red head, it can be nice to keep the brows slightly warmer in the same tone as your hair. In general, though, I'd always recommend something cool and ashy!

1. Eyebrow Powder/Eyeshadow Method:
This is one of the more traditional ways of filling in your brows and I can see why - eyeshadows can work really well for filling in your brows, especially if you prefer a more natural look. That's the main thing to keep in mind, powder will give you a much more natural look to your brows, so if that's something you prefer then this is a great option. It's not the most long lasting method, but something like UD Primer Potion really helps the powder stick to the brows and make it last that little bit longer. I think powder is best for beginners, it's really hard to go too heavy handed with them and you can easily blend or wipe them away if you do end up going overboard. Eyeshadows work just fine, and some companies actually sell little eyebrow kits that normally include a wax and powder (Benefit, 17, Sleek all have them!). Don't get too bogged down if you can't find one, though.. like I said, eyeshadows work just as well so check your collection for something that's matte (always, always matte) and cool toned. Of course, the shade you use will depend on your eyebrow hair colour but some great ones from MAC are Omega, Wedge, Cork and something like Mystery if you're darker. If you're very fair and have the Urban Decay Naked Palette, Naked words really well, too! I really liked the powder in the Sleek kit, but I wasn't a massive fan of the wax... I never really use the waxes in eyebrow kits but it's a nice concept of having both products in the one compact. My top tip for filling in your brows with a powder is to try and mix and use 2 different shades, the darker one from the middle to the outer tail portion and the lighter one to add feathery strokes at the front of the brow.

MAC Mystery Eyeshadow, Sleek Brow Kit.
2. Eyebrow Pencil Method:
I know "penciling in" your brows has a lot of negative connotations, but up until my most recent brow discovery (more on that later) using an eyebrow pencil was my favourite method for filling them in. It definitely gives more definition than the powder, but it can be softened when using a light hand, and the pencil you use has a role to play in that too! My top tip when looking for the right pencil is to strike a balance between something that's too hard/dry or too soft. A pencil that is too stiff won't adhere to the skin and brow hairs and will almost hurt to apply because it drags such a delicate area. Too soft and it will be too waxy, gathering in the brow hairs and making it look thick and just - it's not a good look! There are only 2 brow pencils I've found that I really enjoyed, texture and colour wise. MAC do some amazing ones (Spiked was my go-to shade if you're similar to me, Lingering is great all rounder if you're unsure!) but I just cannot justify the price and so have decided not to purchase them anymore unless it's for my kit. They are great pencils, don't get me wrong, but they're pricey and they really don't last if you're using them everyday. I have heard only wonderful things about Anastasia Brow Wiz (which you can purchase from CultBeauty). I haven't tried it personally, but the shade range is excellent and I know Sharon Farrell mentioned in a recent YouTube video that hers lasted far longer than the MAC pencils so that might be something to look into. Unfortunately not the easiest to get, MAC is far more accessible and if you don't mind spending the money, they are definitely great pencils!

If you're looking for a slightly cheaper option, I really do enjoy the Catrice Eyebrow Pencil. I have the shade Date With Ash-ton, a universal mid tone taupe colour that would work well for an array of different colourings... it's a good thing, too - I'm pretty sure there was only 1 or 2 shades available at the stand. It comes with a spoolie on the end which is nice, the only problem with it, and a lot of other cheaper brands, is the shade range. I do like that it's cool toned, though, which is better than some of the overly red toned ones I've tried from Rimmel and Essence. I know Sleek Makeup have come out with brow pencils in the last few months. I haven't tried anything from Sleek in ages because it's not readily available to me but I'm rarely disappointed in their products. If Catrice isn't something you can easily get your hands on, Sleek might be your best bet! If you guys have any good affordable brow pencils please let me know below, I feel like that's something Boots and Superdrug are seriously lacking!

Overall, I think pencils are a really nice, quick and on the go friendly method of filling in your brows with no brush or extra tools needed. I find pencils better than powder for those already lacking in brow hair because the wax in the pencil adheres to the skin and applies smoother and looks a lot more realistic. That being said, a pencil really suits everyone and it's one I'd highly recommend if you find a nice formula - just make sure to keep it sharpened for a more precise application. In terms of using the pencil itself, I start at the arch or the underneath part of the brow, using the most pressure towards the end. If I want a more dramatic look I'll add feathery strokes towards the front, and sometimes I'll just apply powder through the front of the brow. Experiment with both methods by mixing and matching to suit you!

Catrice Date With Ash-ton.
3. Eyebrow Gel/Mousse | Waterproof Methods!
Finally are the newer methods; gel/liquid/mousse products. I first tried the Makeup Forever Aqua Brow in France about 2 summers ago and instantly thought it was brilliant. I use the MAC 209 brush and feather it into the gaps in my brow hairs - super quick and easy! It is fairly waterproof and definitely smudgeproof, it holds up in the heat really well. The shade range is really good and it's a super unique way of filling in your eyebrows. This provides natural but true definition to the brow in a really lovely way; they don't look overly sculpted and it's actually hard to go overboard with it when you use the right amount. My top tip with the Aqua Brow is that a tiny amount goes a long, long way (like an OCC Lip Tar, pea sized amount etc). I would say you could get very defined brows from this, but they won't ever really be sculpted. If natural yet defined and pretty long lasting is what you're looking for then this is a great product. However, it's not my favourite. Don't get me wrong, I liked it from when I first got it, and for a long time after it was my go-to method. Since discovering my latest and most definitely Holy Grail product, the Aqua Brow has been put into my kit for debs/prom and wedding style makeup. It's funny, I actually thought for a long time that it gave lots of definition, but since finding the Anastasia Dipbrow I've since realised that the Aqua Brow provides a much more natural effect. Great for people again with minimal brow hair, great for makeup artists and great for longevity so perfect if you are getting married or have a prom.

Makeup Forever Aqua Brow.
Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade + Eyebrow Routine (Application)
The Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade. This. Product. It makes me go all heart eyes emoji and it's the type of product I used after the first time and thought "how did I ever do my eyebrows without this?"... I still say the same thing to myself every time I use it. It's amazing, there's no other way around it. I have already done a full and detailed review of the Dipbrow which if you are interested in this product, I would urge you all to read here. It wouldn't be worth rewriting up my thoughts for this post because it would consist mainly of me just singing this little pot's praises! This is going to be more-so about how I apply the Dipbrow (and the Aqua Brow, because the same method applies for me, one just gives a more sculpted look). I can safely say that it is without a doubt my favourite method of filling in my brows, but my review will explain a little more about why that's the case!
Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade.
Onto the application itself. My brows absolutely do not look perfect here, it was incredibly hard to photograph a brow routine and try to explain it in a semi-articulate way. I hope the photos will at least help the written explanation!
  •  I dip my brow brush into the product (straight into the jar in the case of the Dipbrow, I squeeze a tiny little bit of the product onto the back of my hand or a palette for the Aqua Brow)
  •  Start with the underneath part of the brow (seen in pictures 2-5) with products like these to give the most definition. Because I like a sculpted brow, I begin right before the bottom part of the arch (picture 2) and then drag my brush gently along the bottom line of the tail (picture 3-5).
  • Keep in mind that I'm not going anywhere near the front, middle or top part of the brow yet. I want the most definition and most application of product to be underneath.
  • Top tip: Because the hairs underneath and along the tail/arch are generally horizontal, I keep my brush in line with that and keep it parallel to the eyebrow hairs. Similarly, when you get closer to the front of the brow, the hairs tend to stick up and so I turn my brush vertically in line with the front hairs, allowing me to create more realistic feathery upward strokes.
  • With the bottom part defined, I usually go in and define the highest point of my arch (i.e. above) and drag it gently along the top part of the tail (pictures 6-9). I do this in a similar way to how I define the bottom arch and tail, except I apply slightly less pressure.
  • With the top and bottom of the brows now defined, I fill in any gaps in the middle, varying pressure and product depending on where it is or isn't needed. I touched on this in my review of the Dipbrow Pomade, but keep in mind throughout that you only need to lightly dip your brush into the jar to practically fill in your whole brow - a little goes a long long way.
  • Now comes the front of the brow (pictures 10&11); my routine depends on my mood, how my brows look that day and what I want to do with them. Sometimes I leave them, this is often the case with my left brow because the front is fuller and looks fine free of product. My right one, however, is a nuisance.. does anyone else have a brow they like better?! Anyway, if I don't leave them, I turn my brush vertically, take whatever is left on the brush and brush it upwards through my brows - I don't like to dip into any more product because I like to keep the most definition towards the back of the eyebrow. If you're unsure how much of the front of the brow to leave free of product, put your index finger over the hair and leave that amount bare!

And there you have it! I'd like to add that I definitely pull some weird and angry looking faces when filling in my brows to get them at a good angle for sculpting so be prepared for plenty of that if you're going for a "bitch brow" ;) Finish with some clear or tinted brow gel. Completely optional, but a great product to have in your bag even for lazy brow days when you just want to keep them looking groomed! My bushy brows need them anyway to keep the hairs in place. They generally help set the products underneath and cling to brow hair in a way that makes the application look a bit more natural... I'd recommend getting one for the craic, Catrice are striking gold with brows I tell ya!

Catrice Tinted Brow Gel.
I know this post is long, but what can I say, brows are important! Take bits and pieces that suit you. If you want anything explained a little better, don't hesitate to tweet me or comment below, but I really don't do anything groundbreaking with my actual filling in method - almost identical to everyone on Youtube! This is just the method that works for me, I'd love to know your eyebrow routine and your favourite products. Experiment with different shapes and thicknesses. Don't get too bogged down on getting them perfect. A wise woman (maybe Anastasia herself) once said "eyebrows should be sisters, not twins!" i.e. no one's brows are perfectly symmetrical and St. Peter isn't going to refuse you entry through the pearly white gates just cause your brows weren't, ahem, as they say, on point. Unfortunately my camera doesn't quite pick up the difference between pencil and dipbrow - probably because my brows are quite naturally thick and dark anyway, so they both look dramatic. While the pencil can definitely be dramatic, the Dipbrow gives a much more graphic brow which I personally love.
Follow my eyebrows on Instagram @LongHairAndLashes... Not me, just my eyebrows - they're actually larger than some independent states at this stage! ;)

Top-Bottom: Mystery Eyeshadow, Catrice Pencil, Aqua Brow, Dipbrow Pomade
I washed my wrist with soap and water and ran over it with a towel, I thought it would be helpful to see the results in terms of longevity. Powder didn't stand a chance, the pencil and Aqua Brow weren't bad but Dipbrow is the clear winner... JUST BUY IT ALREADY GUYS IT'S SO GOOOOOOD.

Using pencil and powder

The beginning of what I like to call The Dipbrow Era (like the Enlightenment but for my brows)

My left brow which arches waaaay more than my right - sisters, not twins!

Let me know in the comments if you're a bit of a brow connoisseur or not fussed at all by them. I think everyone can agree that brows make such a difference to the framing of your face!