I feel like when I don’t have my brows tinted, I don’t really have any shape to my face at all. It’s literally my desert island beauty treatment and I really miss being able to have it done. It shapes my face and makes me look more awake somehow. Could I try and do it at home while the salons are shut? And maybe my lashes, too?
Lockdown has fast taught us what our real beauty priorities are. Normally, I am a self-confessed blow-dry addict and yet I don’t really miss them – maybe because I’m not going anywhere. I realised pretty quickly I could wax myself at home, so that’s fine. But my nails, oh God, I will be falling face-first into the nearest salon for a Shellac when this is all over. For you though, it’s clearly brows.
Brow tinting is a really fabulous treatment which can help your brows look fuller and fluffier but somehow also neater at the same time. The dye picks up any hairs that are fairer at the tips which you might otherwise not see, ever so slightly stains the skin to give a 'sketched in' effect and gives lovely sharp edges to the brows. Most top brow artists include it in their signature shaping service – first threading, then tinting. I asked Sophia, a London-based brow artist who’s sculpted the brows of Sabrina Elba and Maya Jama (and also mine, although less impressive) for her take on trying it out at home.
"You don’t need to be a professional to add some colour to the brows but you do need a steady hand," she said. "My favourite eyebrow tint is Igora Bonacrom by Schwarzkopf Professional in brown. This tint stains the skin as well as the hairs, so it’s amazing for filling in the brows. Another reason it’s my favourite is because it pretty much adapts to any brow colour from blonde to the darkest of browns. It works best for cool blondes, so if someone is really warm, I mix in some medium brown, too. For mixed race or darker skinned clients, I use the same mix, just leave it for a little longer or add a little bit more developer. I never use black as it’s too hard and never looks natural," advised Sophia. She added that if you have very sensitive skin, RefectoCil makes a line specially for you.
Sophia said she usually recommends the Schwarzkopf Igora Colour because it comes with everything you need, including a developer and a mixing pot. Remember, your brow artist in a salon always spends some time mixing things together before applying them, so you’ll need to do that as per the instructions, too. "Play it safe and leave the colour on for less time than instructed, as you can always reapply," cautioned Sophia. "You’ll also need a brush; I usually use a little angled brush. An old makeup brush is fine, and also have some damp cotton pads to remove the colour, and cotton buds to neaten any mistakes."
Technique-wise, Sophia said to follow your natural brow shape just like you would when applying makeup, and to remove the colour from the start of the brow sooner than the rest to ensure a soft, graduated finish. For a more comprehensive guide, Sophia recommended this YouTube tutorial from Shonagh Scott. Oh, and you’re not off the hook for patch testing – you still need to do that 48 hours beforehand.
That’s the good news! The bad news? "I would never advise tinting the eyelashes at home – it’s just too risky! I’ve been a professional for seven years and I would never attempt it," Sophia said. Think about it – you need your eyes closed to apply the product and for it to work. Even if you do one eye at a time and you have great monocular vision, it’s nigh on impossible to make sure the chemicals don’t run where they shouldn’t. Instead, Sophia suggested investing in a good lash primer, saying she never applies mascara to her lashes when they’re dry. "I love Dior Diorshow Maximiser 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer. It’s amazing for added length and conditions the lashes too, so I layer it on and then apply my mascara on top while it’s still tacky, usually one eye at a time."
Sophia also said that she would still advise you to see a professional when lockdown lifts, as it’s all too easy to get comfortable when tinting your own brows and start really piling on the colour. It's also hard to know the exact timings, which can be different every time. She added: "People also forget to care for their eyebrows and lashes unlike the hair on their head. Although it’s partly down to genetics and what we put inside of us, conditioning the brows and lashes is so important to help them stay fuller. Be gentle when removing your makeup, and use castor oil before bed."
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