Beauty in a Tik

Does Self Tanner Work As A Brow Tint? TikTok Made Me Try It

Jacqueline with self-tan in her brows
Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
If TikTok how-tos are anything to go by, there isn't much you can't do with self-tanner. It makes a brilliant semi-permanent lip liner, and it serves as a pretty convincing contouring product in place of bronzer. Next up on the list of unexpected ways to use self-tanner: filling in your eyebrows.
If you don't have a steady enough hand for gloopy brow tint but you're keen to cover up sparse patches, you might want to take a page out of TikToker Michelle Yalekhue's book. In a video with tens of thousands of views and counting, Yalekhue makes a strong case for fake tanning your brows, filling in any scant areas with a fine, angled brush and cleaning up the edges.
Yalekhue isn't the only one to hint that this might be the ultimate brow tutorial: TikTokers like Lily Fitzsimmons, Charly Anne, and Rachel Rigler have all put the hack on trial, with pretty impressive results. So does it work IRL or is it simply camera trickery (and perhaps a little brow pomade)?
@michellekyra do you think it will go orange or look natural ? Guys I did so well in my mocks today 💝 #GenshinImpact34 #faketanroutine #makeuptutorial #beauthack #beautytips #naturalbeauty ♬ Hey, Mickey! - Baby Tate
A caveat before I go any further: I have very thick, dark eyebrows. My hairs are long and coarse; but I'm a serial over-plucker and this month I've gone overboard. Not only that, but the arch of my right brow has always featured a tiny hairless patch that I like to hide. You could say that I take my brows very seriously, which is why I'm currently combining three brow makeup products: NYX Professional Makeup Lift And Snatch Brow Tint Pen, which mimics natural hair strokes; Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift to shade in the arch efficiently; and Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel to keep my long hairs in place.
Could fake tanner take the chore out of my lengthy morning brow routine by tinting and filling them in at the same time? I couldn't let this trick pass me by so I picked up my trusty Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam Ultra Dark. This is my go-to in the summer when I want to achieve a natural-looking glow to my skin. I decanted three pumps of foam into the lid and watched as it quickly melted down into a liquid, then reached for my angled brow brush [Editor's Note: an angled brush with a spoolie on the opposite end, like this brush from BeautyPie, is your best bet.]
@rachelrigler never seen someone do this on their eyebrows... new hack?! 😳🥵 #makeup #selftan #eyebrows #hack #fyp #viral ♬ Poker face edited by me - Bailey
Before beginning, I made sure that the skin around my brows was entirely free from makeup and skincare with a swipe of Garnier Micellar Water Facial Cleanser Sensitive Skin. I dipped the angled brush into the tanning liquid and tapped off the excess very carefully so as not to get tan on my hands or clothes (but I'm clumsy and I couldn't quite avoid it). Then I got to work filling in my brows just as I would if I were using this brush with a brow pomade.
Self-tan is a lot more watery than pomade. It was easy to apply compared to brow tint, which I find too viscous and almost glue-like, but it was difficult to stop the tan running and ending up in places I didn't need it to be, especially when applying it to the inner corner of my brow. But that's what Q-tips are for! I made sure I had a couple to hand alongside the micellar water for any emergency clean-ups. Filling in the arch was quick, the runny consistency of the tan actually sped things up here, as it dripped down into my sparse brow hairs. Using the same angled brush, and taking care not to get any in my eyes, I buffed the tan into my hairs and skin until it dried down completely, which was very fast. The stickiness of fake tan always makes my skin feel slightly prickly at first, but this sensation quickly subsided.
While sunless tanners containing DHA are FDA-approved for external use on the skin, they should not be applied to areas covered by mucous membranes. The Bondi Sands website says that all its products are safe for the face, but it recommends patch testing first. It is suggested to leave this tan on for up to six hours, but considering this was the first time I'd used it on my brows, I settled on four. For the rest of the afternoon I looked like I'd scribbled over my brows with a Sharpie. I totally forgot about it and opened the door for my grocery delivery looking like Helga from Hey Arnold!. I'm certain that the delivery driver was seriously judging my makeup skills. I chose not to explain.
After four hours, I removed the tan with the same micellar water on a cotton round and was pleasantly surprised. The final result was very subtle but the obvious sparse patch in my right arch was less noticeable and my brows appeared quite a bit darker, as though I'd opted for a professional tint or shading. Brushing them up with a spoolie helped them look a lot thicker.
That said, up very close, the color was ever so slightly off. The only thing I'd do differently next time is apply a little Vaseline or barrier cream to the top of each brow as I found that the tan bled upwards a little at the inner corners, leaving me with a tiny orange square on each side. Still, this was nothing a tiny dab of concealer didn't fix immediately.
The next day, I felt good enough to ditch the brow pen and pencil, and opt for a simple slick of clear brow gel. My brows aren't totally symmetrical but are any? You know the saying by now: Brows are sisters, not twins. You're also probably thinking, Why not opt for a professional brow tint? I do like them, but the dye only ever latches onto the brow hairs and not the skin underneath. I love that self-tan is more efficient (and more affordable).
What do the experts think? "In principle this will work," says Jules Von Hep, founder of tanning brand Isle of Paradise. "Will it look natural is a completely different question," he adds. "The finish will depend on the individual's eyebrow color, skin tone, and faux glow of choice." There's also the question of whether it's actually worth doing, says Von Hep, unlike some trends like facial contouring with self-tan (which he thinks has amazing time-saving benefits). Three days in and my brows are still going strong, though, so I see this as a mini triumph.
@refinery29 Is self-tan better than brow tint when it comes to filling in your brows? I tried it! #beautyinatik #makeuptips #brows ♬ Caramel Latte - Prod. By Rose
Von Hep might not think the effort involved warrants the short-lived results, but he doesn't see a problem with applying tanner to the eyebrows. "Many apply a light amount to eyelids, however I do not recommend ever applying as eyeliner or applying a concentrated amount to the lids," says Von Hep. You might also want to avoid this hack if you have light skin and hair. "For those with paler skin and fair eyebrows, I absolutely do not recommend this trend," he warns, "and the same goes for those with red hair." Von Hep says that self-tanner can stain brow hairs, especially if blonde.
"Those with fair to olive skin and dark eyebrows still need to tread with caution," he continues, "as this is self-tan being applied with a brush, not spread over the skin with a mitt, therefore it's a concentrated application." Von Hep says that for those with darker skin tones and dark eyebrows, there is a higher chance that this technique will work and lend a shaded brow.
So how would Von Hep do it? "Ensure your eyebrow area is clear from any eyebrow growth serum, excess moisturizer, or cosmetic brow products," he advises. "Using an angled brow brush, dip into Isle of Paradise Self Tan Express Mousse, and blot off the excess from the brush. Lightly sketch the self-tan mousse onto the brow area, using a clean spoolie to buff off any excess from the eyebrow hair follicles." Von Hep suggests leaving the tan on the skin for one to three hours. "The longer you leave the express mousse, the deeper the shading will be," he says. "I recommend two hours. Repeat as needed, which I predict will be every two to three days."
If you're impatient, says Von Hep, use the Express Tanning Mousse from Isle of Paradise, which works its magic in just 30 minutes. Thanks to hyaluronic acid and moisturizing glycerin, it boosts skin hydration and makes your tan last longer. Also try Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops, which are specifically formulated for the face.
As a rule, Von Hep adds that the darker the shade of self-tan, the longer the tan will last, which is why I opted for something very dark. "But factors like skin hydration, skincare regime (i.e. if exfoliating acids and retinoids are in play), exercise (sweating can mean a tan fades quicker), hormone cycle, and stress can all affect the final color and longevity of a tan," he adds.
Would I tan my brows again? Absolutely, particularly ahead of something like a long beach holiday where I want to swerve any kind of brow makeup. I hate to say it, but it works.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
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