Could you imagine the Mona Lisa hanging by a thumbtack on the wall without a frame? Or a Monet painted on a sheet of paper held in place with a refrigerator magnet? These works of art need to be framed properly.
If your eyes are truly the windows to the soul,
don’t they too, deserve a gorgeous frame? Your brows can be a great asset to your eyes, or a lazy after thought. If you’d like to know how to shape the perfect eyebrows, you’ve landed in the right place!
Our eyebrows are not symmetrical
This is the first thing we all need to acknowledge and accept. Everyone has varying degrees of asymmetry, but most would agree we all have a “good” or “OK” brow, and a wonky one. To the extent that it is possible, we want to make the brows look the same. They won’t be twins, but the goal is to make them at least look like siblings!
Start with the center of the brows
The rule of thumb is the width of the center should be the same as the width of you eye. I don’t like this rule because it often creates too much space between the brows. A better way to determine the space is to go from the inside corner of your eye straight up to your brow. This will be where your brows start. The image below shows there is not enough space between the brows, but it is very close.
Start out conservatively. You can always take more off, but if you get carried away, you may end up with too much space. It is also important to not ignore how your brows look when you view them. While the brows above are technically too close together, they still look attractive. The enemy of good is better. Don’t go overboard in any of these steps! This post contains affiliate links. Click here for more info.
Like everything else, there is more than one way to determine where the arch should peak on your brows. The first way is to take a straight line from the outer edge of your nostril, pass the outer edge of your iris, and the spot where the line hits your brow is your arch. I don’t like this rule because it doesn’t take into account how much noses can vary. You may have a wide or narrow nose which can cause your arch placement to be less than perfect.
A more effective, and easier way to determine where the arch should peak is to take a straight line from the outer edge of your iris, and go straight up. That should be the highest point on your brows. If you have smaller eyes, or naturally heavy brows, you’ll need to adjust the peak slightly outward from the iris’s outer edge. The arch should be at about the two thirds point of your eyebrows. You can purchase eyebrow shaping stencil kits here, which can be an additional useful tool.
Eyebrow Tail Length
Let’s talk about how long the outer edges of your brows should be. The rule is a straight line from the outer edge of the nostril past the outer corner of your eye determines where your brow should stop. I have to interject here as a professional Electrologist. I remove hair permanently. For the DIY clients who have tried to shape their brows, the biggest mistake I see is making the tail too short. Similar to the center of the brows, you can always take more off, but you can’t put it back on.
If you are going to err on this, make them too long, not too short! As we age (gosh, I hate sentences that start like that…) our brow “tails” start to shorten naturally. Anything that is a visual cue to the aging process is not something we should do on purpose. Tail drop off can also be an indicator of a thyroid issue, so please pay attention if they suddenly start getting shorter.
Don’t let your tail droop!
While we want to elongate the brows, we don’t want the tails to be dropping below the lowest point of the brow between the eyes. As illustrated above, there should be a line that goes from the beginning of the brows to the end of the brows. Make sure it visually looks balanced. We are shaping brows, not building a skyscraper. It is more important that it looks good to the naked eye, than that everything is measured perfectly.
Make sure both brows are the same height
As I mentioned in the beginning, we are asymmetrical beings. As you are trying to shape your brows by measuring off different features, keep in mind your baseline is not the same. A final, but often overlooked rule is to be sure your brows are the same height. They can be perfectly shaped, but if one is sitting higher than the other, it will look like you haven’t finished the job yet. My left brow is my good brow. I am forever taking a few hairs off the top of it, because my right brow refuses to grow that high. It is the only thing I can do to make them look like they are on the same level.
clean up those strays!
This is actually the part where most people start. If your brows grow down to your lash line, or there is no space between the two of them, it is tempting to go all in and have a tweeze-fest. It is so much more effective to get the parameters defined before removing the strays. Just as it’s easier to do a jigsaw puzzle if you do the border first, you’ll have better luck in shaping the perfect eyebrows if you do the above mentioned steps first.
When cleaning up the strays, the tail should be thinner than the first two thirds of the brow. With the borders already defined, it should be clear which hairs should go, and equally important which ones need to stay. If you are not sure, start small. The perfect brows are defined by what you leave behind, so please don’t overdo it. Remove more if needed, but do it a little at a time.
do you need a haircut?
In my Electrolysis practice, I shape eyebrows permanently, so eventually my clients don’t have to deal with them anymore. The hair that should be there is there, and what doesn’t belong doesn’t grow back anymore. Sounds kind of perfect, doesn’t it? It is, except sometimes eyebrow hair can grow longer than it should be. Even perfect brows need a haircut every once in a while.
The easiest way to do this is to brush the brows upwards, and snip one or two hairs at a time. Don’t clip them below the natural height of the brow. I don’t recommend cutting them in one fell swoop, because there is not as much aesthetic control that way. Usually the offending hairs are obvious, and the only ones in need of a good pruning. At times a hair shouldn’t be removed because it would leave a hole in the brow. But, if it is wiry, you can cut it. That way, you’re not leaving an empty space, nor are you dealing with a wild hair.
what about thin brows?
I get it. In high school it was very popular to have thin brows. I tweezed mine to where the main part was 3 hairs thick, and the tail end was one hair thick.
Mercifully I stopped doing that and most of them came back. That is the funny thing about eyebrows. Sometimes you can tweeze them to death, and other times they never stop growing.
If they are thinner than you’d like, you can pick up some eyebrow pencil or brow powder here, which will help. You can also have them tinted if they are light colored. Permanent make up, or microblading can fill in the empty spots, and give you maintenance free brows.
It is no longer the 1970’s, so men are (or should be) paying attention to their eyebrows as well. They have less work to do in most cases, because they don’t need to remove as much in order to get a great result. If you are a guy and you only want to do one thing, clean up the center of your brows. They don’t even need to be fully cleared. It is OK to leave some of the lighter hair there. Just get the thicker and darker hairs out, especially if the two brows have grown into one giant brow. The second thing would be to clear up any strays that are growing towards the eyelids, on the eyelids, or on the center of your forehead. Finally, if they are long, give them a nice trim. Just these simple steps will make a significant difference.
Some parting thoughts
People who shape eyebrows believe their way is the best way. My hope is to give you some guidelines if you’re not loving your eyebrows. This is a starting point, and you need to allow for some flexibility on the rules depending on your facial features. You can also seek help from a professional Electrologist or Esthetician. You can find information about electrolysis here.
If you’d like to shape your own brows, but need a little extra help, remember you can purchase eyebrow shaping stencil kits here. They are particularly helpful in making your brows match each other.
I have been shaping client’s eyebrows using Electrolysis since 1987. Before that, I began shaping my friends and family’s eyebrows in 6th grade. I am happy to report I haven’t had a complaint yet. If you’d like additional help, please visit me on my Facebook page at Elaine’s Lane page.