Friday, March 24, 2023
Style and Beauty

Stroke of Genius

By Catherine Tse, 30 Mar, 2016
  • Stroke of Genius
  • Stroke of Genius
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Brows continue to be a strong beauty trend this year, thanks to models like Cara Delevingne and every other selfie on Instagram. But what works well in editorials and social media rarely translates into the real world. What looks bold and fierce on your screen can often look mean and angry, face to face.

To capitalise on this trend without looking like an Angry Bird is definitely a learned skill. Unless you already have lovely, lush, full brows that simply need a bit of taming, you can’t be slap dash about this. The great news is that there are a lot of fantastic formulas and textures on the market now. Here are my best technical tips to achieve well-groomed, realistically polished brows.

  • The most common mistake made with brows is choosing a colour that’s too dark.  Never pick black; always go for a colour one or two shades lighter than you think.
  • The second most common mistake is choosing a colour that’s too warm. Unless you have true coppery undertones, pick an ashy colour (a true, cool grey).
  • Don’t forget to brush your brows before, during and after. Not brushing your brows would be like popping on blush without blending. Use the brush before to help manoeuvre the hair to expose areas that need coverage; use it during to help distribute colour; and always finish off by brushing to blend and soften the entire look.
  • Don’t get tortured trying to make your brows identical. Think of them as sisters,  not twins.
  • Start at the arch, then work towards the tail and then come back to the centre. By then, you should have lightened your brushstrokes, which is what you want for the inner points. Going too heavy here is what gives brows a mean look.
  • It’s OK to see a little skin.  For natural brows, you actually want some colour variation and have the skin look translucent in places. If you want to be pro about it, use two different colours to help mimic natural shading.


These are great for duplicating individual hairs. The fine tip allows you to literally draw in each individual hair so this is a great option if you have gaps or are looking to create more structure. Many (including these two recommendations) are also waterproof and sweatproof, making them ideal for humid conditions, whether it’s a club, tropical beach, or gym.

Tip: Brush the hairs downwards to expose any gaps, fill them in with light feathery strokes, then brush the hair back into place to blend.

Amaterasu, Liquid Brow Liner, $29. Available online ( and at select salons.

Stila, Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color, $27. Available at Sephora and select drug stores.


These aren’t the same as eyeliner pencils; they’re harder in texture and softer in colour payoff – which is exactly what you want in a brow pencil. They offer precise application that can be easily softened. Again, brushing and blending are key here.

Tip: For faster application, warm up the pencil by putting in a pocket while you’re doing the rest of your makeup.

Burberry, Effortless Eyebrow Definer, $36. Available at Nordstrom.

Shu Uemura, Hard Formula Eyebrow Pencil, $29. Available at Sephora.

Maybelline, Define A Brow, $8.99. Available at drug stores.


For anyone who’s cursed with those one or two brow hairs that simply defy combing, brow gel is an absolute must. Similar to mascara, brow gel deposits the perfect amount of product to keep hairs in place. While there are clear brow gels available, pick one with colour to achieve double duty. These deposit colour at the same time while taming brows. Tip: Use short quick strokes, which will deposit colour build volumising micro fibres simultaneously.

MAC, Brow Set, $21. Available at MAC counters.

Benefit, Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel, $30. Available at Sephora and select drug stores.


Use a stiff angled brush to apply brow powder. This is an excellent option especially for those with full brows, looking to add a little more definition and emphasis.

Tip: To fill in sparse areas, wet a fine eyeliner brush, which will mimic a pen allowing you to draw in feathery strokes.

Anastasia Beverly Hills, Brow Powder Duo, $30. Available at Sephora.

Elizabeth Arden, Beautiful Color Brow Shaper, $27. Available at London Drugs.


This is a finishing product which, like gels, helps keep brow hairs in place. It has less holding power than a gel, but offers a glossy finish and is less prone to flaking.

Tip: Use this after filling in your brows; using it before will result in a muddy mess. NYX, Tame & Frame Brow Pomade, $9.99. Available at drug stores.

Nudestix, Brow Wax, $28. Available at Sephora.

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