Here's how to get the perfect arches you deserve.

By Claire Sullivan
February 28, 2020

Whether you prefer to quickly brush on gel or patiently tick away with a pencil, defining your arches can magically lift your features and polish your whole look. Ahead, your professional tutorial on choosing the best tools and grooming your eyebrows to their fullest potential.

Related: What You Need to Know About All the New Eyebrow Products—and Trends—That Are Popular Right Now

Find a Shade

When picking a grooming product, match it to the darkest part of your hair, says Knoxville, Tennessee, makeup artist Claire Balest. Steer clear of colors with warm undertones, which can appear orange. San Francisco makeup artist Eliza Desch suggests cooler hues, like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip‑Brow Pomades in Taupe, Medium Brown, Caramel, and Ash Brown ($21 each, sephora.com). Redheads are the exception; warm tones are most flattering on you.

Andreas Kuehn / Getty Images

Frame Your Eyes

"Everyone looks best with their natural shape," says Los Angeles brow specialist Kristie Streicher, so play yours up rather than pluck it away. Desch offers this method: First, orient the inner edge of your brow directly over your tear duct. Second, look into a mirror straight-on, and align the peak of the arch with the outside edge of your iris. And third, hold a pencil vertically against the side of your nostril, and tilt it out like a protractor to meet the corner of your eye. The end of your brow should meet the pencil.

Fill Them In

With any formula, a light touch and precise application are paramount, says Streicher. Since your first stroke tends to be the darkest, New York City and Los Angeles makeup artist Stevi Christine suggests starting at the highest point of your arch, not the inner edge. A mix of textures also looks most realistic; Balest layers pencil on top of gel.

Find Your Preferred Tool

Are you a pencil fan? Choose one that draws soft, powdery lines, like the Neutrogena Nourishing Brow Pencil ($7.22, walmart.com); it'll be more forgiving than a dense formula. Go with the growth as you flick to emulate strands. To add volume, stroke the other way, says Streicher. Micropencils, a newbie to the scene, takes time to build up. But Balest loves the extra-fine footprint of Hourglass Arch Brow Micro Sculpting Pencil ($28, spacenk.com) for expertly mimicking real hairs—an asset when you're filling sparse patches.

If pencil isn't for you, consider another route. Like mascara for brows, gels offer instant oomph. To get even color, Desch wipes the wand with a tissue to remove any clumps, then strokes upward and outward. The brush on Maybelline New York Brow Fast Sculpt ($8, ulta.com) is small enough to coax outer edges into place. Alternatively, consider pomade. Dip a finely angled brush into the pot—CoverGirl's Easy Breezy Brow Sculpt + Set Pomade ($9, target.com) has one in its cap—and dab it on your hand so you don't glob on too much, says Christine. Work in wispy strokes, not one painted-on swoop.

Fluff and Finish

A spoolie brush lifts and blurs pigment, which gives your handiwork subtle dimension. It's also the easiest way to dial back brows that appear overly done or dark, per Balest. Brush backward, from the outer edge in toward your nose, then tame them into their natural position. Repeat until you've reached your desired intensity, and voilà! Your arches are golden.

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