Call it the tale of the disappearing eyebrows: As if wrinkles and gray hairs weren’t enough, our eyebrows change in color, length and thickness as we age, becoming thinner and sparser. To add insult to injury, aging eyebrows often cease to regrow, so a single overzealous tweezer session can leave you with almost nonexistent brows—for good.
“It’s not only all the years of over-plucking that finally catch up, but also mid-life brows often become sparse, thin and light to the point of becoming invisible, making you look older than you are,” says skin, makeup and eyebrow expert Jenny Simon.
Lest you think full, lush brows a thing of the past, however, there are a number of ways to make the most of your aging eyebrows. Here’s the lowdown on the most common methods.
Tweezing. In Simon’s opinion, tweezing is the best method for grooming aging eyebrows. She offers three basic guidelines for shaping the brows to achieve the perfect head, arch and tail:
- “Take an eyeliner pencil and place it vertically against the side of your nose, This is where the brow should begin (head).”
- “Move the pencil so it hits the outer edge of the pupil, 2/3 of the way toward the temple; this is where it should arch. Without middle arches, you get the dreaded rainbow look.”
- “Place the pencil against the nostril and move it up so the tip hits the outer corner of the eye. This is where the brow should end (tail).”
When tweezing, try pulling the skin taut and plucking in the direction the hair grows. “This will avoid that annoying black stubble,” says Simon. Her favorite tweezing tool is Tweezerman tweezers, which have a hand-filed slanted tip to ensure you grab every hair.
Trimming. As you age, brows may not lay down like they used to. Trimming stray, long hairs can help improve the look of unruly brows. Using a brow brush, you can brush them up and trim any extra long hairs. “Trimming too much above the brow line can often destroy the shape,” warns Simon. “If you have a habit of overdoing it, try using a brow gel to hold the hairs in place, such as Maybelline Clear Brow Gel.”
Waxing. Waxing is another alternative to remove unwanted hairs. “Waxing is nice because it removes those hard-to-tweeze downy hairs for a much cleaner look,” says Simon.
Threading. Threading is a new cosmetic trend in which professional threading experts gently pull a thread that’s like a mini-lasso along unwanted hairs and ease them out. Threading can give your brows a very concise look, but in most cases the brow hair must be at least 1/6 of an inch for it to be successful.
Dyeing. Want darker, bolder eyebrows? According to Simon, vegetable dye is the safest way to color faded or gray eyebrows and can last up to six weeks. “This will transform light, blonde or gray hairs into a more robust looking eyebrow,” says Simon.
When choosing a color, Simon advises women with dark hair to go one to two shades lighter than their natural hair color, while women with light hair should go one to two shades darker. Blondes should select a dark brown, taupe or light brown tint, she says. Red heads and brunettes should choose a light to medium brown, and women with black hair should go for a dark brown. For gray hairs, Simon recommends “a hint of your natural color.”