Everything You Need To Know Before Tinting Your Brows

Our motivation for bolder brows isn’t solely fueled by our ongoing Cara D-arch envy. (Although, damn, hers are just sick.) Improving our brow game is simply a smart grooming strategy, especially when we’re going for a natural, off-duty look. After all, full, defined brows mean you can get away with less makeup and still look put-together. That’s why brow-tinting, a professional option that will beautify this facial feature sans makeup, is especially intriguing.
Unlike shaping waxing, threading, or tweezing, brow-tinting is a color service that doesn't take away any hair (although you can do so in conjunction with hair removal) but uses semi-permanent vegetable dye to enhance color, shape, and thickness — or all of the above. The benefits are immediate. “Tinting instantly makes you look groomed and adds more structure. You don’t have to fill them in every day or use powder, so it’s also convenient,” says Umbreen Sheikh, owner of Wink Brow Bar in NYC.
Want to know more? We grilled four top tinting pros for the full scoop on what to expect, so you can make the call on whether the treatment is right for you. Keep reading to learn exactly what brow-tinting can do for you.
Photo: MCV Photo.
Darkens Your Look (Duh)
Clearly, the color boost is the most obvious payoff of brow-tinting — especially if you have fair arches. “Tinting is ideal if you were born with pale, fine Renaissance brows because you get a stronger look definition and edge to your look,” says Maribeth Madron, makeup artist and Maybelline New York global brow expert. A darker brow tint can also provide extra definition for light eyes, but those with darker eyes, skin, and brows can benefit from a little color boost, too.
While you have a range of shade options for your brows (much like hair color), dark brown is generally the most popular. “Most people benefit from going a bit darker or richer than their natural color,” says Kristie Streicher, a brow expert based in L.A. Keep in mind that the difference between a natural and strong brow isn’t that much. “For a little more drama, we suggest blending the color one to two shades deeper than the base tone of your hair,” says Jared Bailey, brow expert for Benefit cosmetics. If you go too dark, your brows may look fake and inky.
Makes Your Arches Look Thicker
Beyond adding color, tinting boosts volume — an awe-inspiring moment for anyone with naturally fine brows or simply over-plucked ones — the color makes each hair more substantial. “The dye tends to coat the hair, so afterward the diameter of each hair is bigger. It’s almost like putting a gloss on your head; it’s going to make your hair look thicker and healthier,” says Madron.
Even if your brows are already dark, tinting may find hair that you didn’t realize you had. This is because some people’s growth tends to come in blonde, and tinting grabs those peach-fuzz hairs and fills in the shape.
Those extra hairs not only widen your arches, but they can also lengthen your stubby tails. “If your ends are too short, adding a tint can elongate them and make them more substantial,” says Streicher. “You can walk in with what looks like a half brow because of a fine blonde tail, and after a brow tint leave with a full brow,” says Sheikh.
Complements A New Hair Color
A big hair-color change may throw off your brow color, making your arches appear too harsh or just “off.” If you go blonde or light brown, tinting your hair a little lighter (or warmer) can add balance so you look more natural. For example, you can take the edge off black brows by making them dark brown, says Streicher. Or, if your hair has warm undertones, adding a bit of warmth will help it match better, especially if you have fair skin. And of course, if you go dark you make want your brows to pack a darker punch as well.
Photo: MCV Photo.
Plan On Monthly Upkeep
Like coloring your hair, brow-tinting can feel a little high-maintenance. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about roots unless you lighten the color. “Brow tints are similar to a glaze on your hair. The tint slowly begins to fade after two weeks, and will be totally gone after week four,” says Bailey. If that sounds like a big commitment or investment for the long haul, you might want to just try it out for special occasions or to help transition through an awkward grow-out phase.
Once you determine that brow-tinting is for you, there is one surefire way to make your tint last as long as possible. Don't wash your face or touch your brows for the rest of the day — or at least a few hours after you get them tinted. Washing them any sooner will prevent the color from fully soaking into the brow hairs.
You Might Still Need Brow Makeup
Ready to toss your pencil and powder? Slow your roll. Tinting can make a huge difference for your arches, but it doesn’t solve every goal and it might even highlight flaws you want to hide. “Tinting darkens your hair, but it can make any gaps or scar tissue more obvious, so you have to fill those holes with pencil or wax,” says Madron. Also, styling your brows (yes, it’s a thing) necessitates a brow gel to hold the hair in place.
It Should Only Be Done By A Licensed Pro
And you should be picky about the pro, this isn’t just another DIY tutorial to master via YouTube. Go to someone with extensive training and experience. “Both hair colorists and brow technicians are qualified," says Sheikh. "The main difference is that a colorist might use a hair dye.” The brow experts we interviewed all use vegetable formula, which contain lower levels of peroxide than traditional hair dye. Still there are risks, which is why the brow tinting is not approved by the FDA. To be safe, ask for a patch test before tinting to make sure you have no allergic reaction to the dye.
Finally, do your homework. Personal recommendations are always the best way to go, says Madron. Get a referral or read reviews before booking an appointment and if the salon or technician seems shady when you arrive, hightail your brows out of there.

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