I had to laugh when I read the headline “Women Want Bushy Brows and Are Wearing Face-Merkins to Get Them” on Jezebel last month. Because since I started growing out my brows and penciling them in each day more than a year ago…yeah, I’ve occasionally thought that faux brows would be a nice option. But until eyebrow toupees really take off, I’ve just been using a bunch of products to fake fuller eyebrows instead.
First, some history: After years and years of waxing (plus the occasional tweezing and threading), I went to a new aesthetician when I moved to Houston who told me my brows were too thin. She still waxed them, but she took a pretty light hand. After a couple years of this, I still wasn’t seeing a major difference and deciding in April 2013 that it was time to let them grow in completely. I really wanted to learn what they actually looked like, preferably before my wedding. (Saving money on waxing appointments and throwing vanity to the wind was a nice bonus!)
A month later, I bought the Ybf Universal Taupe Eyebrow Pencil, after hearing great things about it from Birchbox. The brow pencil was kind of a revelation; penciling in my brows so they looked fuller actually made them look less overgrown. I started using the pencil each day, albeit with a pretty light hand. It wasn’t anything too dramatic, but I liked the overall effect.
Then in mid-June, before I was in my friend Jacki’s wedding, I went to see Craig at Michael Kemper Salon (which is now closed?!) after reading a blog post about his magical talents. I went in with pretty scraggly brows…and walked out with insanely glamorous Liz Taylor arches.
Maybe too glamorous. The look was…a lot for every day. And I sat in the car for like 15 minutes staring at them, trying to figure out what race I was. But I was also completely amazed by the idea that you could fake your brows so effectively. This experience gave me the courage to go a little more bold with the Ybf pencil. Then in August, I went back to see Craig in the hopes that he would could tell me exactly what products to buy and teach me just how to replicate the look myself. That’s exactly what he did, and now I fake my eyebrows every day.
Here’s what I use to do it…
Now, if this looks super high-maintenance, it’s because it is. When I first got my products from Craig (which all came in a handy little kit), I used all of them every single day. I’d pretend to be Bob Ross and draw happy little trees on my face each morning, and it took a while because I wasn’t very good at it. (Note: a makeup remover wipe wrapped around your finger is great for cleaning up mistakes!) Good brow days became the new good hair days. But over time, I got better at it, and I learned which products were most important for everyday wear. So with that in mind, here’s what’s pictured…
1. Christi Harris Precision Brow Planer. This is basically a tiny razor for cleaning up your brows; I rarely use it because I’m still committed to growing them back in fully. However, if I’m getting dressed up or have a good reason to look more polished (which is…rare), I’ll use it to remove really obvious hairs.
2. Christi Harris Dark Brown Professional Shadow Pigment. This is for drawing in the outline of your new brows, using the slanted end of the brush in the photo.
3. Christi Harris Adda Brow. This is my favorite product from the kit and I think it’s the real secret of making faux brows look good. (I also haven’t been able to find anything comparable from other brands.) You dip the stippling brush in the Adda Brow, which has little hair-like fibers, and then dip it into the shadow pigment. Then you stipple it on your face and it builds up your brows with color and texture. It’s some stage-makeup-level shit and I love it. I also like that it’s probably named after a drag queen.
4. Christi Harris Brow Diffuser. You sweep this powder over your brow with the fan-shaped brush when you are all done stippling in your brows to soften the look a bit. The powder is translucent, but I found I had to use a really small amount or it would make my eyebrows look gray. And slightly shimmery. It’s nice for setting the Adda Brow, but I don’t bother with this anymore unless it’s a special occasion.
5. Christi Harris Eye Lift Highlighter. To me, “highlighter on your brow bone” has always been one of those things that does not exist in the real world. Like, it’s strictly something celebrity makeup artists tell you to do and there’s no real point to doing it because it makes no difference? However, I’ll admit that putting this under my brow line with the stiff, straight brush actually does a really nice job of making the whole look more polished. (It also covers up some of the scraggly hairs.) However, it just feels a bit too glam for everyday use, so I don’t bring it out very often.
6. Christi Harris Eyebrow Sealer. This brush-on serum seals the whole look when you’re done! (FYI, you can see an in-depth tutorial of the entire process on the Christi Harris website.)
7. The Ybf Universal Taupe Eyebrow Pencil. This ran out a while back and I haven’t replaced it because I like everything else much better. But it’s good for beginners and the texture really lends itself to hair-like little lines.
After a few months with the kit, I began to only use the Adda Brow and the Shadow Pigment. Then I ran out of the Shadow Pigment and started using dark brown Mac eye shadow and it works just as well. And because I’m lazy and work from home, I don’t bother with the Adda Brow now unless I have a good reason to. Then I got really lazy and just started using Maybelline Define-a-Line eyeliner in brownish-black (which is also my favorite eyeliner) instead of the shadow and brush. The creamy texture is really nice. I’ve been running low so last weekend, I decided to branch out and bought the double-sided Revlon Brow Fantasy pencil and gel in dark brown but I’m not crazy about it. The drier pencil of the texture is just meh, and brow gel is only useful if you have actual brow hairs for it to adhere to, which I don’t.
Because yeah, after 16 months of basically no hair removal on my brow area, I still don’t have full brows yet. I don’t know if I ever will at this point. Which is a bummer because I much prefer the way I look with full brows, and it would be nice not to have to do this whole bit every morning. (I’ve heard Latisse can help, and I believe it because it’s great for growing thicker lashes…but it’s so pricey, I’m avoiding that for the foreseeable future.)
While I love my fuller look now, it actually took me a while to get comfortable with it. The first month or so of filling in my brows with the Christi Harris products, I felt like I looked like Groucho Marx. Logically, I knew that my brows looked completely normal on my face…but because I wasn’t used to the look, they were all I could see when I looked in the mirror. But now I feel kind of naked without my brows on. It’s not a huge deal—I’m pretty comfortable being in public without makeup on—but if I only have five minutes to get ready, I’m going to do my brows.
(Also, my fake eyebrow is actually obscured by my real hair in the above photo. I had my weave removed at the end of June! I never thought my real hair could grow that long and thick, so maybe there’s still hope for my brows too?)