Thursday, November 5, 2009

Groucho Brows, No Brows, and Other Crimes

By far, the biggest mistake I saw people making when I was working for Lancôme involved eyebrows. You might think they aren’t very important, but they frame your entire face. They create a mood as well as an expression. And very very few women get them right.

The following is a list of don’ts I encountered while working as a makeup artist:
“Fishhooks” – what should have been the arch was a fishhook shape starting at the front of the eyebrow and looping under. Extremely weird. I don’t know what this person was thinking. Whose eyebrows grow like that? Seriously, you had to see it.
Hard, drawn-on lines. You know what I’m talking about. Instead of feathering the pencil strokes, you simply draw in a shape and fill in the entire area with the pencil. This is great if you are in a play and need to be seen in the last row of the balcony. This is also good if your name is Groucho. Otherwise, not so good.

Shaving off the eyebrow. Unless you have alopecia, this should never happen. I don’t get why Whoopi Goldberg does this. It does nothing for you. Even worse, shaving it off and penciling in a skinny skinny teeny weeny line. Like the old 30’s and 40’s movie stars. It’s very harsh. It also ages you. Don’t do the Pam Anderson thing. Please.
Pay no attention to that brow behind the curtain. Covering the brow with foundation and drawing another brow way over the top of that. Need I say more?
Doing nothing. This results in blobs of hair that resemble caterpillars or simply a shapeless blob over each eye. It is not attractive. It does nothing for anyone. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are personally bringing back the “strong brow” look from the 80’s. Believe me, you aren’t.
The McDonald’s Arches. The really big round arch directly over the pupil. No. No. No. Do you want to look perennially surprised?
The Ava Gardner. The hard arch. Really sharp. Like a 50’s movie star. It looks hard. It makes you look mean and uptight. Is this what you want to say about yourself?
Now, onto how it should look. Start by taking a pencil and lining it up from the outside corner of your nostril upward to the inside corner of the eye. This is where your brow should start. Take the pencil and angle it to the outer corner. This is where the brow should stop. It’s that simple.
As for products, I prefer to use a powder/gel/brush combo on my clients as well as on myself. There are a number of products on the market, and they come with instructions that are simple to follow. Usually you brush on the powder, follow with the gel, and then simply brush with short strokes. For those of you who simply don’t want to invest the time or money there are other options. You can use a powder, either a brow or even an eye shadow powder with a liner brush. Dip the brush in the powder, blow off the excess, and feather the shape in. You can also do this with a pencil. You want to sketch in with short strokes, as though you were mimicking the way hair looks and grows. A light hand is better than a heavy hand, as it is easier to fill in than to correct a mistake. The arch should be just to the outside of the pupil, or black part of the eye. Take time to look at magazines, and silly as it sounds, copy what you see and like, with an eye toward what most resembles your own facial features. Keep the color as close to your hair color as possible. You can go a shade or two darker, if you wish, but no more than that. As for those of us with white, silver, or grey hair, if you are not into doing grey brows, then I suggest going with a shade darker than you had before you hair turned. If you were a blonde, go for an ashy medium tone. Brunettes have more wiggle room here, and can even go black. Redheads should go with an ash blonde if they cannot find a natural looking red.
As I said, the eyebrows create a mood as well as a look. And if you study the pictures in magazines, you will easily see the difference between a casual, natural look and a glam evening out kind of thing. Have fun, because that is what all this girly stuff is about now isn’t it?

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