All The Ways To Instantly Enhance Your Brows

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Marc Jacobs may have opted out of bold brows for his spring 2016 show, but we don't think that's enough to put an end to the arches à la Cara trend. Bushy brows are to millennials what the "Rachel" was to '90s teens and twentysomethings — and we don't foresee them going away anytime soon.

Luckily, if you aren't blessed with a pair of chic caterpillars or happened to over-pluck in the aforementioned Friends decade, there is a mammoth selection of products and procedures out there that can instantly up your brow game. But which reigns supreme?

We tapped four industry experts to take a deep dive into brow-enhancing and give us the pros and cons of each method.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Brow-tinting involves using dye to create a fuller effect. We suggest finding a brow specialist who uses vegetable dye (many of them do) if you're looking for a natural option.

Pros: Brow-tinting is a good option for women who already like the shape and thickness of their brows, but just want to amp up the intensity without having to use a product every day. Some people who already have dark brows might not want them darker, but it's less about the color and more about getting a fuller effect.

“Brow-tinting makes brows appear thicker, because most women have blonde tips that we don't know about until they are tinted, which makes us think they are fuller,” says Jessica Scantlin, the director of artistry for Blushington Makeup & Beauty Lounge.

Tinting is also ideal for fixing mistakes, like over-plucking. Zoey Van Jones, founder of her namesake brow studio, says that tinting can remedy a tremendous number of shaping errors. Tinting is also fairly inexpensive, ranging anywhere from $8 to $25, depending on where you go.

Cons: Of the four artists we spoke to, not one of them had anything particularly terrible to say about tinting. What we learned? It really depends on your lifestyle and how often you want to hit the salon — as this method does only last two to three weeks, thus requiring regular touch-ups. Also, Cheryl Renella of Channing’s Studio & Spa told us it’s important to keep in mind that tinting will not necessarily solve all your brow woes. “[Some people] will still need to style and fill them in, depending on your brow’s shape [and thickness],” she warns.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
You've probably heard of eyelash extensions, but did you know you can get them on your brows, too? With this new technique, technicians take synthetic hairs and individually attach them with a skin-safe adhesive — some to the hair, some to the skin right next to the hair follicle — to create the look of fuller brows in your shape of choice.

The main advantage of eyebrow extensions is that when done correctly, they appear completely natural, Renella told us, which makes them a wonderful option for cancer patients who have lost their hair or people with alopecia.

“They’re attached directly...strand by strand, to create a full, lush line,” she explains. According to brow specialist Joey Healy, the results are truly three-dimensional and perfect for special occasions. “[Extensions] can be fantastic for events such as a wedding, party, or a photo shoot,” he says.

Cons: The fact that they are great for special occasions is another way of saying they won't last much longer than said occasion. Sadly, while some claim to last up to three weeks, most don’t make it more than a few face washes, since the glue can easily get dislodged. Additionally, just like with lash extensions, you need to be extremely careful when washing your face and applying makeup or skin-care products. And they cost a pretty penny ($75 to $400), and take an hour or two to apply — so it should be a very special occasion, indeed.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Ahh, the old standby — our mothers used it, their mothers used it...

Pros: Using a brow pencil is simple, low-maintenance, and allows users (especially newbies) to experiment with shaping and filling in their brows without anything permanent.

“This method not only enhances the shape of the eyebrow, but also the color and thickness — pencils are great for filling in patches and holes!” says Renella. There are also a rainbow of shades and formulations on the market at different price points. Plus, since using a pencil is second-nature to all of us by now, it takes the guesswork out of the application process.

Cons: The chief con of penciling is that some can look waxy (read: fake) — Van Jones suggests investing in one with a powdery finish. It also depends on the skill of the person applying it. Meaning: If you aren't careful, you run the risk of your brows looking harsh and drawn-on. Pro tip: Always use the spoolie that comes on the end of most pencils to blend your strokes.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Like pomade for your hair, we've got pomade for the brows, too, though it comes in a much smaller tub, adds color, and you apply it with a little brush.

Pros: “Using a pomade-like product over other methods gives the user the ability to create sculpted eyebrows within minutes,” Renella explains. “You can alter the brow shape and the size.” Pomades are also often sweat- and/or water-resistant, which makes them more long-lasting and ideal for the humid months. “Pomades are also on the lower end of the price spectrum, and they’re great at covering bald spots and creating a full, natural shape,” Renella raves. Nyx’s Tame & Frame Brow Pomade is a stellar option.

Cons: The only caveat? “If not applied correctly, pomades can look harsh,” says Renella. To avoid any noticeable lines or the look of heavily packed-on product, keep a light hand when applying and use a spoolie brush to blend everything to a natural finish.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Powder uses finely milled pigments to deepen (or lighten) the color of your brows and add dimension. Most powders come with two shades — use the lighter tone toward the front and the darker hue through the arch and the tail.

Powder is arguably one of the most foolproof ways to amp up your brow game.

“Designed for a natural application, powder is the best way to get full brows,” says Van Jones. It creates volume and soft definition without looking harsh, adds Healy. Powder is great for beginners who don't feel confident enough to try a pomade, because it's less intense and can be easily wiped off and fixed if you make a mistake. Using two shades allows you to seamlessly customize where you want your brows to be darker or lighter.

Cons: Unfortunately, powder is not the most resistant of methods. It wears off pretty quickly and needs more reapplication than some of the others. It's also not quite as good at filling in patches. “Because the product is soft in nature, it can be difficult to create and fill in areas or corrections,” says Renella. “It's often hard to get really clean, tight lines in certain areas, like the top of the arch or the end of the tail,” adds Healy.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Color wands also go by the name of tinted brow gel — you know, like mascara for your brows.

Pros: A color wand is a brow-boosting neophyte's best friend — it makes touch-ups effortless and is one of the quickest and easiest tools to master. They come in a variety of shades, from average hair colors to bright-blues and golds if you want to have a little fun with your look on a night out. "They can be used alone for a subtle look or combined with a pomade,” says Renella. “They create dimension and structure to brows.” We fancy Zoey Van Jones' Tinted Brow Gel, which doesn't leave your brows with that dreaded stiff or sticky feeling.

Cons: If your brows have a plethora of sparse spots or bald areas, using a color wand on its own most likely won’t cut it. Also, according to Van Jones, some gels don’t have great applicators and can end up getting product on your skin — not a great look.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Permanent makeup has always been popular for eyeliner and lips; with the recent rise of the bold brow, it's growing in popularity for arches, too.

Pros: The main upside to tattooing is that, well, it’s as permanent as brow enhancement gets. However, it’s the same as any other tattoo, so it’s crucial that you’re completely sure it’s a route you want to take. The perks? It's water- and sweat-resistant, and you can customize it to get exactly the effect you want, says Scantlin.

Cons: The permanent thing can also be a con if it doesn't end up the way you want it — so be sure to do your research and find a licensed professional you trust. The experts we tapped suggested visiting every other option first.

“I only recommend this for clients who have alopecia or suffer from hair loss,” says Renella. “This method is certainly one of the more painful options, and it can be costly, as well — the original procedure can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000.” Additionally, like any tat, it fades over time and needs to be retouched.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with eyebrow embroidery, the procedure uses a semi-permanent pigment and pushes it into the surface of the skin with a fine blade to imitate the growth of the hair you already have. Refinery29's own Alyssa Coscarelli detailed her experience with embroidery here.

Unlike tattooing, the process does not require a tattoo gun, ink, or much healing time. In fact, Healy prefers it to tattooing for this very reason. “The line work is also finer in nature,” he says. This creates a more natural effect. “It's a better option to cover small gaps, versus having them tattooed,” Healy adds. The procedure requires one touch-up about a month after the initial procedure, and then your brows are good for one to two years.

Cons: According to Healy, it’s nearly impossible to mimic the 3-D quality of hair with 2-D pigments, meaning the lines can still look harsh. It’s also an expensive option, ranging anywhere from $300 to $600.
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