I was at the tender age of thirteen when I first discovered the ambiguous world of makeup. My mom had a couple of conditions for me before I could start doing my makeup the way I wanted to do it-the way everyone else my age was doing it. At the time, I thought she was just trying to embarrass me. But now that I’m older, I realize she was saving me from the embarrassment of walking around looking like a racoon…and I am thankful!
I have very fair skin and light blonde hair (including my eyebrows and lashes!), so my mom insisted I use blonde eyeliner and clear mascara (and yes, it was as bad as it sounds) to practice putting makeup on before she would let me use anything darker. My eyebrows stumped me for at least two years before I even attempted to try anything on them. I didn’t want to look ridiculous- partially because my mom engrained it in my head that it was easy to look crazy while trying to figure out how best to use makeup on me.
So…there was a very dark period of my adolescent life where I did not do my eyebrows, yet I had dark mascara on my lashes. I’m not sure what I was thinking. But hey, if you’ve been there and are struggling with those brows and have a super fair complexion and hair, you’ve come to the right place!
Of course, I believe that since each one of us is very different, we each find our own method that accommodates our specific features as we learn what works best for us-and so we should. Having said that, I believe that we should share our knowledge and experience and build each other up! So, here are some helpful hints that I have come to learn through my years of personal experience.
1) Less is More!
This is true especially for those of us that are fair skinned! If you are trying to use an eyebrow pencil that is darker than your original brow color, it can be really easy to lay it on too thick. This is actually applicable to most any kind of makeup if you have fair skin, and honestly even if you have a darker complexion, too.
Unless you are doing stage makeup, always try to apply makeup lightly and evenly. Remember, you can always add makeup on- taking makeup off and then having to reapply is both time consuming and annoying!
This is a good example of what I mean. You can barely tell she is wearing makeup, yet she still looks put together. Not too much, but just enough for a nice look. Using too much makeup can easily make anyone look unprofessional or immature. It is, however, good to remember that Pencil Thin Eyebrows Are A Thing Of The Past! Find your happy medium!
2) Invest in A Good Eyebrow/ Lash Comb Combo
To get a more even and natural looking brow, using the eyebrow comb is a really simple way to go about it. It’s a crucial part of my makeup routine; I use it before and after I apply my eyebrows because it makes it so much easier to apply the pencil initially, and then evens it all out after I’ve applied the pencil. If you have blonde lashes like me, using the lash comb helps even the mascara out on the whole lash. Also, if you have long (or false) lashes, the comb can help mascara look less clumpy. It doesn’t have to be a Sephora brand or anything crazy like that- my EcoTools works just fine. Easy, cheap, looks great, and makes a huge difference. Can’t beat that!
3) If You Are Going to Use A Tinted Gel, Use Pencil as A Base
Especially for blondes! In my experience, using a tinted brow gel without anything else as a base has never really given me the look I wanted. It just looks weird and feels like it is missing something. Personally, it looks darker in some places where there is more eyebrow hair, and lighter where there is less hair- which looks and feels so weird to me! I also feel that it wears off easier without anything as a base, and is easier to smudge while applying the rest of your makeup and throughout the day.
That’s not to say that Brow Gels can’t be a great product that helps keep those brows shaped all day! I like to use a lighter colored pencil before applying any kind of gel; I find it helps to give my brows that full look, and makes it look less clumpy. I like to use pencil best, because it is easy to apply and take off at the end of the night and it gives me a nice look without looking to dark or unnatural.
-Pro Tip: You can use a lighter colored pencil to fill them in, and give your brows a good base shape. If you are looking for a darker look without looking too dark and unnatural, you can shade on top of that with a darker colored pencil!
These are the colors I use when using that technique. As you can see, one is lighter blonde and the other is closer to brown. The trick is to not go too dark with the brown on top, unless you have hair dark enough for it to look natural. Both of these products can be found at your local drug store or Walmart, and are relatively inexpensive.
This is an example of what it looks like with the first color on me. It’s dark enough to look natural and give my brows some color, but light enough to match my hair color. Perfect for a natural look. I used Q- Tips to eliminate some of the human error and give them a better shape. I also used my brow comb to blend and even it out. It took about 5 minutes to do both brows this way.
This is an example of how it looks with both colors. You’ll notice it is not a staggering difference, but you can do it a little darker if desired! It’s a nice way to get that darker shade without going too dark. I also used Q- Tips and my brow comb to blend the two colors together. You can see my natural hair and lash colors so you can gauge what shades may work best for you!
4) Q-Tips Are Your Friend
Especially for those who are just beginning to explore makeup, and honestly even for eyebrow veterans. Having a good application is great, but you can make even a not- so- great, rushed application look just as nice with a little clean up. Using a Q- Tip after applying pencil around the edges of the brows can really change your whole look. If you accidentally wipe a little too much off, you can always re-apply more to even it back out.
I use Q-Tips for any uneven eyeliner and right under the eyes after doing my mascara to catch any that might have smudged while applying- this is especially helpful for people with long lashes or if you are using false lashes. Q- Tips are super cheap and there are so many uses for them, so for me it’s a no brainer to keep some on hand!
5) Apply Your Brows Before Anything Else
Applying your brows before foundation and everything else helps you avoid messing up the rest of the makeup if you accidentally bump your hand while doing your brows. If you do your foundation first and then say you apply your brows just a little unevenly and use a Q-Tip to even it out, then your foundation has this line around your brows where you have wiped the foundation off.
I used to do my foundation first and had a lot of issues with having to reapply foundation to that one spot around my brows-sometimes I would even get foundation in the middle of my eyebrow and I would just have to start all over. Talk about time consuming and annoying!
Of course, if you do your brows first and still accidentally get some foundation on them while applying foundation, I just dab it with a makeup wipe and re-apply a little more pencil. I will say that in my experience, if I accidentally get foundation on my brows it is normally when I’m applying foundation to my forehead right between my brows. So, watch out for that. Try to remember that just like with anything else in life, this takes practice, too! Don’t get discouraged, because we have all been there!
6) Groom Your Brows Regularly
This may seem really obvious, but regularly taming the beasts is a really simple way to keep doing your brows a simple and quick process. If you get your brows waxed, find a good hair salon you trust, make friends with the stylist with the best brows, and make appointments with her/him only. Having a backup is not a bad idea either. Just make sure they know what you want them to look like and that they are consistent. If you do not like to get your brows waxed, you can go the tweezers route. This can also save you a couple bucks, too!
To help ease the plucking pain, I recommend using an ice cube to numb the area and have a nice moisturizer with aloe in it for after. Using a single blade Eyebrow Razor is a good alternative, but it will not always get every hair- especially those that grow at weird angles! Whatever you decide, keeping your brows groomed will ease your struggle in applying your brows evenly, and save you money on the makeup you will save by keeping them at a manageable size!
One last thing to keep in mind when grooming brows for those with extra sensitive skin is to keep a good moisturizer handy for after, regardless of which grooming route you choose. The skin around my brows is always bright red after waxing. The stylist will usually apply a moisturizer when they’ve finished, but in case that is not enough or if you can’t go hide from the world for the next hour while the skin calms down, you definitely want to keep a good Face Moisturizer in your purse! Especially since the skin around your eyes tends to be the most sensitive, using a lotion made for sensitive skin may be the best option.
7) Keep Calm When Putting Makeup On!
I can tell you from personal experience that it is very, actually too easy to stab yourself in the eye with a mascara wand, eyeliner pencil, etc…. and it is super painful! Then to make it worse, your eyes will tear up and then whatever makeup you’ve applied is ruined. I know we have all been there; running late for school/ work and stressing about the fact that the brows are not cooperating. Maybe you’re about to go out with friends and you’ve already sent that “on the way” text, when in reality you are in your bathroom agonizing over those little uncooperative rascals. Beyond frustrating. We have all been there, sister.
I know it is easier said than done, especially if you get stressed out easily (like me), but when you’re doing your makeup- especially your brows- just stay calm! Don’t rush, because that will make you more nervous and make your hand shake, and will probably make you mess up. Take a deep breath and remember your life and happiness is not reliant on how your brows turn out. It is so much easier to do makeup well and in a timely manner if you are calm. Take it from me, or anyone else who has experienced anxiety- freaking out over little things that you actually can control only makes you feel bad and get wrinkles early.
If you are a little late to that party, just think of it as being fashionably late! If you have to go to work/ school with eyebrows that are a little uneven, just bring your makeup with you and touch it up when you have a minute. Or hey, just go on without the brows for a day. It may feel weird at first, but if anyone has something to say about how your natural eyebrows look, they are rude and probably just saying something to distract themselves from the fact that they have something they are insecure about, too.
Last semester at school, my eyebrows did not make it with me to a single one of my 8 AM classes. It was definitely weird at first- I literally felt naked. But I noticed that people did not really notice or care, especially since they had never seen me with my eyebrows on (which probably helped). No one treated me differently than if I had done my makeup every day. It was a huge step out of my comfort zone, but it honestly helped to make me more comfortable in my own, natural skin.
8) Brows Don’t Make the Gal!
Going off of the last tip, I believe it is really important to emphasize the fact that makeup is only meant to enhance what you have naturally. It is not meant to change the whole look of your face (excluding stage makeup and drag makeup). I understand that for many, having makeup on makes you feel more put together, more awake, readier for the day. That’s okay! Having said that, I believe that everyone deserves to feel comfortable and love themselves in their own skin, with no makeup!
If you don’t feel like putting your face through a full face of makeup, or are getting some acne, give your face a break! If your brows just will not cooperate and be even no matter how many Q-Tips you have used and how many times you’ve reapplied, just get it to as close to even as you can and let it be. I promise, even if you feel self-conscious about it, people will probably not notice. Likewise, people do not really notice if your brows are the best they have ever looked! So, don’t sweat it if you can’t make it perfect. I promise, people won’t throw tomatoes!
Those are all my best tips for a natural looking brow, and an easier way to go about it for anyone with fair skin and light hair or other fair features. With so many products out there for darker skin and hair, it can be really hard to figure out how to make your makeup look natural when you do not have the dark complexion, like most. It can definitely make sharing makeup with a friend difficult, especially if they are not also fair skinned or light haired. It may feel weird and make you feel like you are different, but I hope you understand that it is not a bad thing at all! We are all very different, and that is exactly what makes each of us special in our own way!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.