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As a man today, you have a pretty good grip on how to handle facial hair. If you prefer to go clean-shaven, you probably have an entire shaving routine down, from your go-to shaving cream to your best razor. And if you sport a beard, it stands to reason you own a beard oil in your arsenal and know how to trim it just right. But what about your eyebrows? Men’s eyebrows are often forgotten territory when grooming, but they shouldn’t be a total afterthought.
To help out all the bushy eyebrow brethren among us, we reached out to two eyebrow grooming experts and put together this men’s eyebrow grooming guide. SPY talked to Jared Bailey, the global brow expert at Benefit Cosmetics, and celebrity eyebrow specialist Elke Von Freudenberg, who’s worked with James Franco, Ron Livingston, Anne Hathaway, Kate Moss and more.
Keeping in mind their advice and our own experiences cleaning up our eyebrows, here’s what we’re going to tackle in this men’s eyebrow grooming guide:
- Why men should consider grooming their eyebrows
- How to get started with grooming, including identifying the right shape
- Guides on the various ways you can groom your eyebrows, including tweezing, trimming and waxing as well as relevant eyebrow grooming products
- Common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid
- Frequently asked questions and how to handle them
Why You Should Groom Your Eyebrows
“Why groom your eyebrows?” was an easy question for the eyebrow experts to answer. In short, eyebrow grooming can complete whatever look you’re going for and generally approve your overall appearance.
“Brows bring balance and proportion to the face and eyes,” said Bailey. “Brow shaping is the easiest thing anyone can do to ensure that their face looks polished, groomed and symmetrical.”
“How the eyebrows look can really tell a lot about a person because they give an impression, either subliminal or literally,” added Von Freudenberg. “So a brow that is groomed right can make you look more confident, put together and more approachable.”
What To Know About Eyebrow Grooming
If you know you want to start grooming your eyebrows at home, it doesn’t take much to get started. You need to know how to strategize to remove only the hairs you want and avoid an over or under plucked result that doesn’t match.
The first thing to know: Eyebrows are very personal to your face. “The brow grows on the occipital bone around the eye, and the shape is specific to ethnicity and the bone structure,” Von Freudenberg says. Though there are general rules of thumb about this face shape and that kind of eyebrow, the bottom line is your eyebrow should suit your face and appeal to your sensibilities.
“Whether you’re attempting to shape on your own or going to a pro, brows should always be custom-built for your individual face,” Bailey says.
If you’re a more down-to-earth guy, you’ll want to go with a more natural look. With a pair of tweezers and a little patience, you can give your bushy eyebrows a little definition and make yourself look more polished without anyone knowing you’ve been trimming or shaping.
You could go full glam on the other end of the spectrum …
Whatever you decide, eyebrow grooming is just a matter of choosing the right tool to achieve the desired look. But there’s no secret sauce as to which will be best for you. Only you will know that. When Von Freudenberg has a male client come in, she simply asks whether he is looking for a more natural look or a more groomed look.
How To Groom Your Eyebrows
This section will tell you how to prepare your eyebrow for grooming and detail how you can get your eyebrows under control, including tracing your eyebrow, tweezing, trimming, waxing, and threading.
1. Trace Your Eyebrow
You want a roadmap before you ever trim or pluck a single hair. The easiest way to do that is to use a brow pencil.
Bailey offered the following tips on how to use one to mark out your eyebrows:
- First, use a brow pencil and find where your brow should. To do this, begin by following a straight line up from the dimple of your nose to the front of the brow and mark that spot. This is your starting point and will help slim your nose and balance your eyes.
- Next, find where your brow naturally hits at its highest point. Measure from the outer edge of the nose across the center of the eye and make a mark. Say hello to your arch. This doesn’t mean it will be angled or sharp; it means that this particular point will help open up the eye area.
- Finally, mark where your brow should end by following a diagonal line from the outside of your nose to the outer corner of your eye. This shows where your brow should end. Length is important because it gives your face proportion, and you don’t want your brows connecting to your hairline.
“If you’re going to attempt your brows at home, use a micro-lining brow pencil to mark up the shape first using the steps above,” Bailey says. “After you make the points, connect them by lightly sketching from point to point. You can remove any hair that falls outside of the shape. The hair that falls inside the shape is what stays.”
To help you map your brows, the Maybelline Total Temptation Eyebrow Definer Pencil will do the trick. The teardrop tip makes it easy to use, and the spoolie brush on the other end is useful for brushing your brows into place, so you know exactly where you need to groom.
Tweezing, or plucking, is easily the most popular way to groom eyebrows. In fact, it’s Von Freudenberg’s exclusive personal method of choice. “I personally do tweezing only, as I find it creates a more natural look to the brow while lasting two to three weeks. Because you are only tweezing one hair at a time, you also can create a more natural, and not an overdone or sharp, look to the brow,” she said. “I find most guys prefer this to waxing due to the final result. Also, when done correctly, tweezing lasts as long as waxing.”
Once you’ve got your eyebrow traced, take a great set of tweezers and pluck one hair at a time. Von Freudenberg recommends tweezing after a hot shower to soften and relax the skin. Hold the skin taut with one hand before you start to pluck any hair. Then you want to pull the hair slowly in the direction it’s growing while keeping the tweezer on the skin as you pull, which will make it more comfortable, Von Freudenberg said. Always remove the hairs one at a time, so you don’t accidentally grab a hair that is better left behind.
Tweezerman Slant Tweezers
As for tweezers, a tight closure is essential because eyebrow hairs can be a little oily and slippery, Bailey says. As it turns out, one of our favorite tweezers is one of Bailey’s, too: “The Tweezerman Slant Tweezers have a nice tapered end that allows you to grab the tiniest of outgrowth,” he says. Plus, the blue hue makes for a fun pop of color.
LaVaque Professional Classic Slanted Tweezers
Von Freudenberg recommends the LaVaque Professional Classic Slanted Tweezers for a pro-level pair of tweezers. They’re lightweight, feature ultra-thin tips and are backed by a lifetime guarantee.
Revlon Slant Tip Micro Fine Tweezer
If you’re looking to spend a little less, the Revlon Slant Tip Micro Fine Tweezer is also high quality and won’t let you down.
The most challenging part of DIY brow grooming is the trim, but a good trim job can change your entire look for the better. “Trimming is great for taking the length down in hairs that are very long and removing the weight of a brow that is very heavy or overgrown,” Von Freudenberg says.
You’ll need a tiny pair of brow scissors and an eyebrow brush for a successful trim. Start by brushing the hair up toward the hairline and out towards the temple and let it dry completely. Next, use the tiny brow scissors to clip just the ends of the hair that extend past the shape. Err on the side of longer hair versus shorter hair. If you cut coarse, thick brows too short, the hair won’t lay correctly, resulting in a brow spike, Bailey says.
The Tweezerman Brow Shaping Scissors and Brush will be perfect for the job. The brush’s bristles will help you organize your brows and identify and lift overly long hairs, and the angled precision tipped scissors allow for superior accuracy!
Tweezerman Brow Shaping Scissors and Brush
Waxing is another popular at-home option for hair removal, eyebrows or otherwise. But it comes with some caveats: “The downside is that waxing is done in straight sections, so the brow can look very severe or sharp, which can create an almost feminine look to the brow for men,” Von Freudenberg says. “If you have sensitive or thin skin, it can cause redness and irritation to the skin.”
In general, waxing is best to remove hairs below the eyebrow, but you’d be better off tweezing the rest “to fine-tune the look,” she added.
For at-home eyebrow waxing, we’d recommend starting with wax strips like the Nopunzel Wax Strips before trying hot wax. Unless you’re waxing other parts of your body, you might not have much use for the thicker strips in this pack, but the thinner strips are the perfect size for eyebrow grooming.
The directions are easy: warm it up in your hands, tear the strip in half (you only need one half at a time), apply it to the hair you wish to remove, smooth it down in the direction of the hair growth, then rip it in the reverse direction.
If you didn’t believe Von Freudenberg before that this process can cause skin irritation, that description should clear up all doubts.
Threading is another excellent way to groom eyebrows. Essentially, you use a thread to pinch and pluck the hairs. “Threading is very similar to waxing as it’s done in straight rows to remove the hairs, but there’s no worry about pulling skin or burning,” Von Freudenberg says.
But of all the techniques here, threading requires the most skill. We think the video below will prove invaluable.
Now that you see how a simple piece of thread can groom your eyebrows, you’ll need a spool to get to work. Von Freudenberg advised choosing a cotton or silk thread, which is more comfortable than wool threads that can cause a “rug burn” effect.
Gutermann Natural Cotton Thread
The Gutermann Natural Cotton Thread isn’t explicitly designed for threading, but it’s cotton, strong, and soft, all perfect qualities for threading.
More Products To Help Eyebrow Grooming
1. Wahl Micro Groomsman Personal Pen Trimmer & Detailer
BEST EYEBROW HAIR TRIMMER
The Wahl Micro Groomsman Personal Pen Trimmer & Detailer should be in every guy’s dopp kit. It’s easily portable, easy to clean, and features interchangeable heads to detail any part of your face. For eyebrows specifically, reviewers said it was perfect for quick touch-ups, especially for longer eyebrow hairs.
2. Finishing Touch Flawless Facial Hair Remover
BEST HAIR REMOVER OR SHAVER
The Finishing Touch Flawless Facial Hair Remover can be great for quick, targeted clean-ups. “The [Flawless hair remover] is great for using above and between the brows (it’s too large to use below) with no worries of burning or pain,” Von Freudenberg says. “It shaves the hairs, so it’s a quick and easy way to remove hair.”
Though shaving isn’t the best way to groom eyebrows — it’s too quick and easy, which can lead to mistakes, in our view — as long as you’re careful, it can work well for minor touch-ups.
3. Hollywood Browzer Dermaplaning Hair Removal Tool
BEST DERMAPLANING TOOL
Dermaplaning is a hair removal tool that is great for shaping eyebrows. Safe and gentle, the Hollywood Browzer Dermaplaning Hair Removal Tool has a single stainless steel-coated blade and safety guards on both sides, so you don’t have to worry about serious nicks. Plus, it won’t cause razor burn or irritation, and it’s also designed to prevent ingrown hairs and redness. It works on both coarse and fine hair.
4. Benefit Gimme Brow + Volumizing Eyebrow Gel
BEST FOR THICKENING EYEBROWS
The Benefit Gimme Brow + Volumizing Eyebrow Gel is easy to apply for thicker-looking eyebrows. Just brush on this buildable eyebrow gel to add volume, tint the hair and groom brows all in one swipe. It delivers natural-looking results, plus it’ll stay put for the long haul since it’s water-resistant and long-wearing.
5. Kiehl’s Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief
BEST FOR BUMPS AND AFTERCARE
The more hair removal you engage in, the more likely you encounter bumps and ingrown hairs. Though they’ll typically go away on their own, if you’re looking for extra support and additional relief, pick up the Kiehl’s Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief. A couple of small dabs on irritated and bumpy skin will provide instant relief with aloe vera and willow herb extract while gently breaking down the bump with acid.
Common Eyebrow Grooming Mistakes
To help the process go as smoothly as possible, Bailey shares blunders to avoid:
- Never use a beard trimmer to trim your brows. The hair in your brow is different lengths for a reason, and sometimes it helps to cover scars or less dense portions of the brow. Strategic trimming is the way to go when cutting length from the brows.
- Go with the grain. When tweezing, people’s most common mistake is removing the hair in the wrong direction. Each hair connects to a tiny blood vessel (derma vessel) that keeps it healthy and allows it to grow back when the hair is removed. Once that vessel is ruptured, the hair never returns. Bummer, right? So, to tweeze correctly, you must hold the skin taut with one finger and then tweeze the hair in the direction it is growing. Typically, that direction is upward or toward the temple, rather than straight out. It’s crucial to work with Mother Nature on this one!
- Use a big enough mirror. Eyebrows bring balance and proportion to your face and eyes, so you must use a mirror where you can see both of them at once. Using tiny magnifying mirrors should be illegal because you can only see a field of tiny hair versus the actual shape and what it’s doing for your entire face.
- Always use natural lighting. Not everyone’s bathroom is built like a terrarium, so if possible, take a mirror you can prop up and tweeze near a window with even lighting on your face.
- Just say no to power-plucking! As tempting as it may be to grab multiple hairs, go for one brow hair at a time. This will help ensure you don’t grab the wrong one and end up with a hole or patch.
Men’s eyebrow grooming guide FAQ
Jared Bailey, the global brow expert at Benefit Cosmetics, and celebrity eyebrow specialist Elke Von Freudenberg, who’s worked with James Franco, Anne Hathaway, Kate Moss and more, help answer frequently asked questions below.
There is no single “best eyebrow look” for your face. Your eyebrows are unique to you and should reflect your face and desired look, whether it’s a slightly groomed natural look or a fully tailored glam look.
Tweezing is among the most popular for its precision and lack of difficulty, but trimming with scissors helps control length, and waxing and threading are great for quickly removing many eyebrow hairs.
“For guys, you want your brows to look groomed, not 'done.' So it's best to err on the side of caution. Don't go too far or do too much,” Von Freudenberg says.
“A lot of guys tend to have coarse facial hair, brows included,” Bailey says. “When hair is dense and coarse, it tends to be a bit thicker at the base and shaving the brows will only cut that hair at the surface. While a 5 o’clock shadow is a look you can easily lean into along the jawline, it’s harder to pull off around the brow. Additionally, a slip of the razor can leave you with a gap or no brow at all — for a few weeks, anyway.”
“A unibrow might be your style, but if the hair is dark and coarse, it can result in a bit of a surly expression,” Bailey says. “The easiest way to keep people from thinking you’re scowling is to remove the uni. For this, use a brush or a micro-lining brow pencil and measure from the dimple of the nose (right where you would have it pierced) straight up to the beginning of the brow. Make two little marks on both of your brows, and this is your ideal start. This is the ideal amount of space to balance out the eyes and not leave the bridge of your nose looking too broad. FYI, it’s often much smaller than the width of a razor — don’t try it. Remove these hairs individually with a slanted tweezer.”
“Hair on your brows is like the hair on your head: it grows on a cycle, and it’s slightly different on everybody depending on several factors,” Bailey says. “However, to stay as polished as possible, I’d recommend an appointment with a pro every four to five weeks. If you have thicker hair along your brows, you’ll probably have to go more often in the first few months until all the hairs begin to get on the same cycle of growth.”
“The easiest way to get a thicker brow is by using a fiber gel,” Bailey says. “If you want it to look natural like you grew them yourself, go for a gel with a layer of opacity built into the formula to see the true tone of your brows coming through. You simply brush the gel through the brow, and the tiny micro-fibers adhere to the hair and instantly make your brow look thicker in a very believable way that won’t smear or smudge.”
“What most people see as ‘brow dandruff’ is simply dry, dead skin,” Bailey says. “To keep this from happening, make sure you’re working your cleanser into your brow hairs just like you would your beard. After you cleanse, bring your eye cream up and around the entire orbital bone. Be gentle as you do it because it’s still the eye area, which can be a little sensitive.”