Whenever I've asked a makeup artist or esthetician about the right way to tweeze eyebrows at home, they've responded with one incredibly frustrating response: "Don't! Go see a professional." Honestly, I understand. This answer totally eliminates the chance of you accidentally plucking them all out like you did in 1999, but for those of us unable to regularly drop $25+ for an eyebrow threading, waxing, or shaping appointment, it's also really unhelpful.
Still, I'm convinced there is a way for you to tweeze and groom your own brows without making a disastrous mistake, so I reached out to two different beauty professionals for their at-home tips.
Cleanse Your Eyebrows
Start with your bare, natural eyebrows. This eliminates the chances of you over-plucking or tweezing your eyebrows in the wrong areas. It'll also give you a clear view of those pesky stray hairs. "When removing hair, it is essential that the skin is makeup free and cleansed," Glamsquad Artistic Director Kelli J. Bartlett says. "Use a makeup remover first to ensure the skin has no residual dirt or makeup." In a time crunch, you can always just use a makeup wipe.
Invest in Quality Tweezers
You want precision for this task, and a slant-tipped tweezer allows you to easily grab hold of individual hairs. Oquendo prefers Tweezerman tweezers ($23; sephora.com), while Bartlett swears by BrowGal Eyebrow Tweezers ($28; anthropologie.com).
Trace Your Brow's Natural Shape
When the goal is cleaning up your brows from rando hairs, celebrity makeup artist Vincent Oquendo has a genius trick. "My first recommendation when using tweezers to clean up your brows is to start with a white pencil to outline your shape," he says. This allows you to see the way your eyebrows naturally grow and calls attention to the stray hairs growing out of place. Then, he recommends coloring in these stray hairs with the white pencil. "By doing this you see your shape before you pluck to stack the deck in your favor and give yourself a better chance of nailing it and scoring an identical set of brows," he notes.
"The biggest mistake I see people make is trying to eyeball their shape. By not sketching the shape out ahead of time, they tend to quickly lose control and end up with brows that look like distant sisters and not identical twins."
Follow the Two-Hair Rule
After your brows are cleansed and shaped, you can begin tweezing. If you want a natural look, be sure to only grab hold of those tiny stray hairs. However, to avoid a huge mistake, follow Bartlett's rule of thumb. "Pluck no more than two hairs at a time before stepping back and evaluating the shape," she says. "It is easy to get pluck-happy and take too much."
Isolate the hair by slowly lifting it up from the skin and gently pull it in the direction of the growth to avoid breaking it in half or irritating the skin.
While Bartlett agrees you can master this at home, if you need to pluck 10 or more hairs, she recommends going to see a professional. Consider it a compromise.
Do Not Rush
This isn't something you should try to tackle 10 minutes before you need to leave for work. "Take it slow....make it something you do on a lazy Sunday night—the more time you allot to getting comfortable shaping your brows, the better," Oquendo says. "I’ve for sure rushed through grooming myself in the past, and have definitely come out looking lopsided. So, my professional recommendation is to save it for a Sunday night—order some pizza and settle in, honey."
Cleanse and Soothe
Immediately after tweezing, Bartlett recommends cleaning your tweezers with soap or a facial cleanser to reduce the chances of bacteria from transferring to your skin the next time you use them. Finally, to calm any redness, Oquendo recommends patting on a soothing moisturizer, like the Shiseido Waso Jelly ($30; sephora.com), to the sensitized skin.
If the '90s have scared you into never picking up a pair of tweezers again, believe me, I get it. If you think you're unable to block out the flashbacks of eyebrows gone bad, or simply want the security of a trained professional's skill, research salons or spas in your area that offer brow hair removal and ask to see before-and-after photos of their work.