Eyebrow Grooming Tutorial

Eyebrows don’t get the attention and respect they deserve. A well-groomed eyebrow can make all the difference in your appearance. ¬†They frame your face. Too thick and unruly, they overshadow lovely eyes, nice cheekbones, a strong chin. Too thin or light, they give you a tired, wan look. An unnatural or severe shape can completely change how your face is perceived. All hail the powerful eyebrow. I have very pale skin and very dark hair…and lots of it. As a teenager I struggled to get them in good shape without overplucking, and it really wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I figured out what to do. What follows is a tutorial for how I get MY eyebrows to behave.

The Before

Eesh. Taking off even a couple days from maintaining my eyebrows leaves them oddly shaped and uneven. So this is what we’re working with.


I use these four tools almost every time I work on my brows. From the left, a brow brush, a small pair of scissors, a pair of tweezers, and an eyebrow pencil. The brush and scissors aren’t anything special, and you can find them at any drugstore. But I’m very particular about my tweezers. I like a very sturdy pair without much give. The flimsier tweezers don’t grip the hair well enough for me. You may need to try a couple different brands/styles to figure out what you like. The eyebrow pencil is my favorite brand–Laura Mercier. I like this particular pencil because the “brunette” color is almost black, so it matches my eyebrows really well, and it’s very smooth and creamy to apply.


The first thing I do is to brush my eyebrows straight up. This step (and the next) may not be necessary for you if your eyebrow hair is pretty short. Mine is long, so it needs a bit of trimming in order to stay in place.


Once the hair is standing straight up, I trim the excess that appears to be above my eyebrow line. You can see in the picture above that the left side of my eyebrow has been trimmed while the right side still needs to be trimmed. Again, if your eyebrow hair is short, or even light, you might not need to do this. Trim with care and caution. It is much, much, much better to leave too much hair than to trim away too much. I say this as a victim of my own hair removal exuberance–in the 9th grade I Naired off half my eyebrow. True story.


Plucking–this is where it takes time, patience, and practice.

1) Start plucking in the middle, between your eyebrows. If you have very light or downy hair there, don’t bother, but I usually have a smattering of dark hairs. DO NOT PLUCK TOO WIDELY. That is, do not end up with your eyebrow starting above your pupil. The edge of your eyebrow should start at the edge of your eye. As you can see from the photo, I even like my eyebrow a bit longer, so that it starts at the fold next to the inside of my eye.

2) If you have stray hairs above your eyebrow, pluck those away next. You may not have extra hair there, but I typically have to pluck away a few dark hairs from the top of my eyebrow.

3) Next, check the area next to the outside of your eye, below where your eyebrow stops. I usually grow really long, lighter hairs there that bug me unless I get rid of them.

4) Depending on the natural shape of your brow, you may need to pluck underneath where your brow begins, if it’s uneven.

5) Now that you’ve tidied up the rest of your brows, you can do the hardest part–the arch. Typically, the brow should be thickest in the first half closest to the middle of your face, then arching above the pupil to its highest point, and then tapering to its thinnest at the end of the brow. This is simply “the standard” for brow shape, but it’s always going to vary depending on your individual features and your brow’s natural shape. What you want to remember is that you’re simply trying to tidy up what nature gave you, not create an entirely new look. Stay as close as possible to your natural shape. It takes practice!


Unless your brow hair grows in a uniformly dense hair pattern, I think everyone benefits from using an eyebrow pencil or shadow to fill in thinner areas. My eyebrow hair grows less dense where it begins than in the middle and end of the brow, so I use my pencil to lightly shade in that area. Makeup artists recommend using a pencil to create the perimeter of the eyebrow, and shadow to fill in, but I haven’t found that shadow works well for me–it ends up looking too dark and obvious that I’m coloring it in.

The After

The end result: groomed, tidy brows that frame your face.

Any ladies out there as obsessed as I am about perfect brows? 

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