8 Brow Tricks Pros Swear By

Just because you’re armed with an arsenal of brow pencils and powders — and a Pinterest board devoted to the arches of Cara Delevingne and Gigi Hadid — doesn’t mean you’re not in danger of sporting your grandma’s drawn-on brows. Between so many different formulas (Gels! Mousses! Waxes! Oh, my!) and shade combinations, there’s a lot of technique and know-how required to get them to do exactly what you want them to. That is, create the bold, yet natural-looking arches of your dreams. We polled the experts about the most common mistakes they see and how to fix them. Check them out in the slides ahead.

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Mistake: Sweeping On Gel Straight From The Tube
Mousses and gels don’t require a surgeon-steady hand like pencils, but they’re not foolproof, warns celeb brow expert Kristie Streicher. “They can be messy, so I find it helpful to wipe the brush with a tissue first to remove excess product,” she says. “This way, you can easily brush it through the brow using upward strokes without getting too much on the skin around the brow.”

Sonia Kashuk Tinted Brow Gel, $5.99, available at Target.
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Mistake: Bypassing The Blend
Streicher singles out powdery pencils as “the most user-friendly” and “most natural way to fill in an eyebrow.” But, just like you wouldn’t sweep blush on your cheeks without blending it in, you can’t just draw on your brows and call it a day. Comb through them with a spoolie brush — bonus points if you find one attached to your pencil — to soften the strokes and make the look more natural.

Troy Surratt Expressioniste Brow Pencil Rechargeable Holder, $25, available at Barneys New York.
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Mistake: Going Cold
Brow pencils are typically less creamy than eyeliners. As such, they can be difficult to work with, but Sabah Feroz of Blink Brow Bar offers this smart solution: “Always warm up your brow pencil by applying it on your hand before you apply to the brow,” she says. This helps the pencil “glide across the brow hairs smoothly, building up gradual and natural color as you go.”

Bbrowbar Eyebrow Pencil, $19.50, available at Beauty Bay.
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Mistake: Only Using One Shade In Your Palette
Most brow powders are duos for a reason, says brow expert Bob Scott. “The two shades are important because when we look at any one brow, we first see the hairs themselves — whether fine or thick — and then we see the shadow those hairs cast on the skin.” He notes the lighter hue should be used to mimic said shadow, and then the darker shade should be directed at filling in sparse patches and adding length.

Laura Mercier Brow Powder Duo, $26, available at Macy's.
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Mistake: Applying Your Brow Gel In One Stroke
Much like how we brush our hair or slick on mascara, we normally apply our brow gel in one fell swoop from beginning to end. The result is a clean, natural look, but this method doesn’t really distribute product evenly or beef up our arches. Instead, try brushing in shorter strokes following the direction of hair growth. This helps distribute the gel more evenly and you can target specific parts of your brow that need an extra boost, like the tail end. This volumizing gel from Benefit not only has a short, tapered brush that makes nailing this technique a breeze, but its microfiber-infused formula also adds thickness for fuller, defined brows. Time to retrain your muscles.
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Mistake: Glowing Overboard
Like strobing on cheekbones, applying highlighter to browbones provides a lifting effect. Think of it as the icing on your artfully enhanced brows. But more isn’t better, warns Scott. He suggests using “a small, soft brush to lightly smooth highlighter right under the arch and then blend outward toward your ear.” To ensure the sheen looks natural, stick to warm, non-glittery shades.

Milani Brow & Eye Highlighters, $5.99, available at Target.
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Mistake: Going Out Of Order
You would think wax makes a good base for pencil or powder, but Scott warns: “It coats the hairs, and therefore can get muddy if you try to apply more product on top of it.” He suggests using pencil or powder to create the “base shape and depth of the brow” and then finishing with wax for hold.

Nudestix Brow Wax, $24, available at Sephora.
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Mistake: Going Overboard
To subtly boost your arch game, Streicher suggests — at most — layering a powder pencil with clear or lightly tinted brow gel. “Solid color in the brow can be too much; there should be a bit of translucency between the hairs and your skin,” she says.

If you want a super-bold brow, Feroz says you can also brush powder over any sparse patches before gel. But she recommends sticking to the same brand and shade for any products you layer, which she says “makes building and blending much easier and the color finish more realistic."

Revlon Brow Fantasy in Dark Brown, $8.99, available at Ulta.
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Mistake: Getting Too Cozy With The Magnifying Mirror
To avoid looking like one of those heavy-handed ladies with noticeably drawn-on brows, remember to take a step back. “Apply a little bit, then check it out in the mirror, and then decide if you need more,” says Scott. “Because of the nature of brow products, it's very easy for brows to load up with product and look cakey or heavy, and obviously made-up.” His motto: Restraint is key.

Conair Double-Sided Lighted Makeup Mirror, $24.99, available at Target.
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