There’s nothing like leaving a brow appointment with freshly groomed, perfectly arched, and expertly trimmed brows. A few weeks later, the shape is still there but as stray hairs start to pop up and hair begins to get longer, brows don’t look as fantastic as they did when you first got out of the brow artist’s chair. DIY upkeep is a simple solution, but if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing you can end up with a patchy, unsalvageable shape. In order to avoid any future brow catastrophes, InStyle spoke with Benefit Cosmetics’ Global Brow Authority Jared Bailey to learn how you can still put your best brows forward between grooming appointments.
Plan Your Appointments Strategically
Your reaction to the first few stray hairs that pop up is probably to schedule your next appointment, but try and hold off. “Your brow hair—just like any other hair on your body—grows in a cycle. Typically there will be between four to eight weeks before hair begins to grow back full-on,” explains Bailey. “I typically recommend everyone go for an appointment once per cycle, so typically every five weeks in order to effectively clean up the brows and their shape.”
If you’re eager to give your shape a complete makeover, Bailey says you'll need to have some patience. “No matter when the hair has been removed, if you wait eight weeks (towards the end of the growth cycle), you’ll see that the hair follicles have come back up and you’ll see a fully grown-in brow.”
Reduce Redness & Acne
The best way to prevent redness and irritation is to make sure you’re going to a brow place that uses oils or another product before and after the service that helps soothe the skin. Once you’re home, applying aloe to your brow area will also help calm skin.
Even if you do make an effort to keep your brow area cool, calm, and collected, experiencing a breakout a day or two following an appointment isn’t out of the ordinary. “Waxing is actually a form of exfoliating in itself,” says Bailey. “If you experience a breakout, you don’t want to use a product with any kind of acid on that brow skin directly after waxing.” Instead, he recommends waiting 48 hours and then dotting a gentle spot remover on blemishes to dry them out and reduce redness and swelling. Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Targeted Spot Treatment ($10; burtsbees.com) quickly zaps breakouts without any harsh ingredients that can cause further irritation.
Tweeze with Caution
“The more you tweeze between appointments, the more you’re taking that cycle of hair growth and disrupting it, and you won’t get a clean wax at your next appointment,” says Bailey. If you’re attending an event and need your brows at their best, he suggests applying the brow mapping technique to create your ideal shape, and after filling in the ideal shape, tweezing any hairs that fall significantly above or below the shape.
Managing your shape without tweezing is the ideal way to keep your brows looking their best without ruining your brow artist’s work, and involves two steps: hide and enhance. The first step is hiding any overgrowth, but it’s not as simple as just dabbing on a concealer over it and calling it a day. Bailey recommends applying a primer first like Benefit Cosmetics Air Patrol BB Cream Eyelid Primer ($29; benefitcosmetics.com) by patting it on with your ring finger to keep makeup from sliding off the area, and then going over it with your favorite concealer. Next, enhance your shape by taking a brow filler like Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow Eyebrow Gel ($24; benefitcosmetics.com) a microfiber gel that clings to existing brow hair to instantly fill in sparse spots and make brows appear fuller, with a natural finish that looks like real hair.
Choose the Right Product for Your Brows
Picking the right products to use between appointments is essential in brow upkeep so that the final look is natural. If you’re doing precision work, Bailey recommends using a pencil. For salvaging brows after a severely botched waxing job, he suggests using a brow kit that contains a wax and powder to help you create a shape that isn’t really there. If you have unruly brows, a gel will tame them and you can use it to redirect hair growth to fake a more uniformed shape. A fiber gel, Bailey says, is a product for any brow because it contains microfibers that cling to your brow hairs to fill them in and tint them to create volume and maintain shape.
Put Down the Scissors
A quick trim might sound easy enough, but to sum it up, Bailey says it’s best to leave any cutting to the pros. “If you trim your brows too short you can get holes and you can’t really trim them again or comb them over, and it takes awhile for the hair to get length on a brow,” he explains.