Blush Response

We’ve endured quite a lull, haven’t we? I give you my penance – the long-awaited eyebrow-drawing tutorial. This is not about tweezing or otherwise shaping natural brows – that would have been a sham! These are my tips, after all, and my eyebrows are nearly nonexistent. So if it’s natural eyebrow advice you’re after, I recommend heading here. Meanwhile, the rest of us will go over ways to enhance or replace brows with the help of cosmetics. Please don’t mind the hair in the photos below – I’m in the process of growing a mega-mane and it does what it wants.

There are two ground rules to fake eyebrow mastery: 1. drawn-on arches must match your natural arches and 2. the inner edges must be blended instead of squared or rounded off. Obviously, neither of these apply if you’re going for Siouxsie brows, or any other type of hyper-stylized brows. We’re not discussing those today. Today is all about an everyday look, but these tips will help you achieve success in all future eyebrow ventures. First, a few shapes to avoid:

1. unnatural arch too close to the center of the eye 2. eyebrows too blunt and too close together 3. Clown

One thing all these fine folks have in common is a complete lack of natural eyebrows. Now, what if you have no eyebrows, or, like me, have very fine eyebrows – how do you find your natural arch and edge, thus avoiding the above mishaps? Just raise, then scrunch your brow while looking in the mirror. It might help to mark these points with liner when you find them. I have a slight advantage because I have very lightly tattooed brows, so I don’t need to look for my arches. See:


If, on the contrary, you have unruly brows, now is the time to tame them. I use a brush with a spritz of hairspray when needed, but there’s an array of specialty products for this very purpose out there, too. Once the hair is in check it’s time to get down to business.

Pencil seems to work fine for many peeps, but I find powder easier to blend and less likely to smear. I use Mac eye shadows and my current shade is “Contrast”. It’s shimmery, but with a solid base, goes on evenly and has hints of both blue and purple, which matches my hair. For a more natural look, your eyebrows should be a couple of shades lighter than your hair, but don’t be afraid to play with color. For instance, platinum-haired peeps are generally told to use light brown, but I would love to see more blonds going for a show queen look with white brows, instead. Occasionally, I trade my varying blues for raspberry or emerald shades. Etc, etc, etc – a whole world of color possibilities awaits.


Certain paint brushes cost a fraction of brand name make-up brushes and last just as long, if not longer. Frankly, I pity da fool who spends twenty bucks on an angled make-up brush.My brushes of choice are Blick Masterstroke Short Handles, but the in the photos below I’m using some other type of Blick angled brush.

L – Mac Contrast eye shadow, top R – Blick angled paint brush, Bottom R – brand name eyebrow brush


If your shadow is pressed, scrape a little into a tiny powdery mound for maximum brush-loading power. I use my fingernail or a sculpting tool. Like the brave brow ninja that you are, dip your brush in, tap off excess product, and lightly outline your desired shape. Fill in the shape, but do not, I repeat, DO NOT square or round off the inner edges of your brows. This is the technique that separates the men from the boys and the eyebrow connoisseurs from rodeo clowns, or whatever else the case may be.


For a softer, more natural look than shown here, use a lighter shade with a dry brush. For a stylized look like mine, wet your brush before dipping it into the shadow. I apply one brow at a time, but it probably makes more sense to oscillate between both. Surely you’ll find your preferred method after a few rounds.


Clean up and shape with a wet cotton swab, remembering to blend after if you’re after a softer look. You can also use a clean brush, but I prefer the swabs, because I can quickly adjust the shape and thickness by removing small strips of cotton.


Now, use a little sheer powder as an anti-smudging agent over your masterpiece and you’re done! If you have eyebrow questions I didn’t  answer, please ask in the comments section. I’ll include them in the post as they arrive.


Readers’ questions, answered!

I worry about the smudge-factor. How difficult is it to keep from ruining your final product?
I find that it’s not that difficult at all, but then I’ve had years of getting used to drawn-on brows. Avoiding touching them becomes reflexive and dabbing translucent powder over them helps seal them quite well. I will say that most, ehm, acts of passion will still smudge them even so. I haven’t tried Benefit’s She Laq yet, perhaps that’d do the trick.

How do you draw them on so evenly?
Knowing where my arches and edges are. Once you find those, it’s all just connect-the-dots.

Is there any special translucent powder you recommend?
Not especially – I use whatever I have on hand. Usually it’s Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil.

What other paint brushes do you recommend for eye makeup, specifically for blending?
Brushes are better when I do others’ makeup, but, even after being a pro make-up artist, I prefer the crappy drugstore sponge applicators. They hold and blend eye shadows evenly and I really just have a knack for using them.

Do you recommend tattooing the eyebrows on? If so, any ideas where?
Yes! I definitely recommend getting them done by a professional technician as opposed to a tattoo parlor. I found mine online!

I really could use a touch-up, actually. The thing about cosmetic tattooing is that it fades, which is nice if you change your mind and hair color often. I had my brows done when I was a redhead but now that my hair is blue I’ll probably have them freshened up a darker, more neutral hue.