It only takes one glance at me to gather that I care a lot about my eyebrows. In all honesty, they're probably the closest thing to children I'll ever have — they're just that integral to my personal #brand. Until recently, I could've spent up to 10 minutes on my eyebrows alone because I felt like I needed several different products to get their shape and texture just right. More than anything, that was probably a small indicator of my unhealthy perfectionist tendencies — still, I wanted to cut my brow routine down without sacrificing the fluffy, bold look I'd developed. As it turns out, all I had to do was swap my tinted eyebrow gels for regular hair gel; now, it only takes two steps and two minutes to do my brows. And they look better than ever.
Here's how my old brow routine would go: I'd start with a fine-pointed brow pencil to fill in the areas I lack natural hair (my inner corners and outer arches). Then, I'd use an even darker brow pen or pomade to draw fine strokes along those same areas. Depending on where I was heading, I might've layered some brow powder on top to matte them down a little. Otherwise, I'd move on to the final step: several layers of tinted brow gel to get the hairs to stand upward. My eyebrows always looked good, but it was a lot of work — to put on and to take off almost every single day.
Here’s what my brows looked like with my old routine. Great, but tedious. Plus, a lot darker and sharper than they ultimately needed to be.
A couple of months ago, out of sheer curiosity, I grabbed a clean spooley brush and the strongest hair gel I own (R+Co's Wall Street) and took that to my untouched eyebrows instead. My brow hairs stuck straight upward like I'd always wanted but couldn't achieve with my brow gels, and they stayed there. Because of that, I could essentially mold my natural eyebrow hair into the exact shape I'd been creating with all those other products. I realized, with this new technique, that I only needed to draw on a few extra hair-like strokes with a brow pen because most of my natural gaps were already covered. I picked up an Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pen, went to town for a few seconds, and I haven't done my eyebrows any other way since.
I know you're probably thinking: "Nicola, why not just do actual soap brows? You know, with soap?" I'll tell you why: hair gel takes less effort because I don't have to wet anything to use it. On top of that, soap has a high pH that can irritate the skin if used too frequently — and, as makeup artist Linda Hallberg previously explained to Allure, it can break down foundation and other makeup.
Here’s what my brows look like with nothing but hair gel and a little brow pen — softer, more realistic, and far less time-consuming.
There's a reason regular hair gel hits so different than eyebrow gel and soap. "The amount of polymer in hair gel may be higher to hold hair," cosmetic chemist Ginger King explains. (A polymer is a type of molecule that, when used in cosmetics, can make products thick and sticky.) "[Brow gel] is really just to groom the unruly hair; it doesn't take that much polymer to do so." Due to this, hair gels are simply stronger — but King notes that that's the only big difference between the two. Like brow gel, hair gel shouldn't cause any skin issues or interfere with other makeup.
With this new product pairing, I can do my eyebrows in two minutes or less. I'm far from the only person who does this, according to New York City makeup artist Tommy. "I've seen this being done and being loved, but I'd warn against drying, flake-inducing alcohols and large amounts of fragrance," he explains.
I use R+Co's gel on most days, but if you're looking for something cheaper, give Got2B Ultra Glued Invincible gel a try. The only other tip I have to offer is to work the gel into the brows thoroughly and to brush them in the direction you want continually as it dries. Of course, there's nothing wrong with the more-is-more approach — but it is nice to have alternatives for both your wallet and your schedule's sake.
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