By Erin Lukas
Updated Sep 09, 2016 @ 12:00 pm
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A pair of statement earrings or killer shoes isn’t your best accessory—it’s your brows. Whether you have a penchant for a perfectly arched set, or you prefer bold brows à la Cara Delevingne, if you make a hair color change a whole new factor enters the equation: Should your brows be lighter or darker than your new shade? We asked Jared Bailey, Benefit Cosmetics Global Brow Expert for his pro-tips on how to determine your best brow shade.

When to Lighten Up

If you’ve gone lighter all over or added highlights to your strands, Bailey recommends lightening up your brows too for a natural look, but not by reaching for the bleach. “Bleaches can be really harsh on the brow hairs and not only may leave them brassy but will also change the texture (similar to damaged hair on your head),” says Bailey.

Instead, he suggests using a highly pigmented brow product like a cream-gel such as Benefit Cosmetics Ka-BROW! Eyebrow Cream-Gel Color ($24; which will stick to the skin and create a base shape that mimics the new shade on your head. Bailey’s other pro-tip: Follow up with a brow highlighter like Benefit Cosmetics 3D BROWtones Eyebrow Enhancer in Shade 2 ($24; to add subtle highlighters to darker brow hairs. “The pearlized formula will create a glaze over the hair and give the entire brow subtle dimension. Also, if you’re lightening your brows stick to a fuller, more natural shape. You don’t want to loose focus on the eyes as you soften the color,” he says.

When to Go Darker

Whether or not you’ve taken your hair shade deeper, darker brows are an easy way to bring on the drama. “Going one to two shades darker with your brows is the quickest way to add instant drama to the eye area,” explains Bailey. “If you plan to play up the drama in this way make sure you keep that brow bone highlighted. Deep brows tend to make the eye area look a bit more closed.” Brush on a highlighter with a pink undertone such as Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiant Touch in Luminous Radiance ($42; to instantly lift and open up the entire eye area.

When to Work a Monochromatic Look

For the ultimate natural look, Bailey recommends sticking with a brow color that’s a perfect match to the hair on your head. If you need to fill in any sparse areas or clean up the shape, he suggests using a pencil such as Benefit Cosmetics Goof Proof Brow Pencil ($24; that has a wide base and precise tip. His expert technique for creating the most natural shape: “Take your pencil and make these three marks: First, measure from the dimple of the nose straight up to the beginning portion of the brow and make a mark. This creates a slimming effect on the nose. Next, measure from the outer portion of the nose, across the center of the iris and it will point to where your brow is naturally the highest and make a tiny mark. That’s your arch! Finally, measure from the out portion of the nose, across the outer corner of the eye and make a mark. That’s where your brow should end and will help block out the proportions of the entire face.”

When to Rock a Cool Contrast

Contrasting brows like Delevingne’s are the ultimate statement maker. “If you want to pull off a look like this, it’s important to remember to keep the brows nice and tidy. When the brow is much deeper than the hair on the head, regrowth will be real problem,” says Bailey. If you’re going to work a contrast, the brow expert recommends doing these two things between brow appointments: Hide regrowth using a tinted eye primer or a strong concealer that matches your skin tone such as Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage ($35; to go over the hairs you want to mask, and turn to a wax and powder combo kit such as Dior All-In-Brow Longwear Contour Kit ($52; to enhance your shape.

If You Have Technicolor Strands

“Most often, pastel hair colors tend to be cooler in tone,” says Bailey. When you’re filling in your brows, he suggests sticking to a shade with a cool undertone because warmer tones will fight the color of the hair and tend to be distracting.