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Beauty Tips

Botched to Beautiful : Ultimate Brow Shaping Breakdown

by Julia Willenbring 21 Jul 2020

Eyebrows are not one size fits all.


The goal when shaping eyebrows is not to fight against what you have naturally, but to instead work with it. Every brow will have the same golden ratio applied as a guideline for aesthetic balance, but since each person is blessed with a unique face shape and features, each end result will then inherently turn out uniquely as well.

Trying to apply a trendy style to an eyebrow that was not cut out for it or to attempt a one-size-fits-all method is one of the many ways mistakes are made. Tails will get lost, cowlicks ripped off, and brows will more often than not end up thin and straight, or worse, downward-sloping.  

In case you thought brows were no big deal, these are some of the items that I take into account when shaping my client’s eyebrows:

  1. Client’s Personality
  2. Client’s Lifestyle
  3. Age of Client
  4. Growth Direction of Brow
  5. Density of Hair Growth
  6. Texture/Thickness of Brow Hairs (coarse or fine)
  7. Color of Brows
  8. Contrast of Brow Color Against Skin Tone
  9. Contrast of Brow Color Against Hair Color
  10. Existing Shape/Growth

Each of these items can be identified under three main categories: The person, the brow, and their history.


Personality and lifestyle are important to note because there are probably several variations of shape that would look aesthetically pleasing to an onlooker, but likely only one that makes an individual feel like his or herself.

It is imperative to me that whenever shaping a brow, it is not my own vision I am forcing on my client, but rather the beautiful symphony of my client’s ideal vision combined with my skills and knowledge that can help us achieve this goal. Don’t get me wrong, on the off chance your idea is a bad one, rest assured that I will absolutely fight you on it for the greater good that is the safety of your eyebrows.


Next up, sorry to say it, but yes, age matters!

Typically, someone who is quite young and new to the world of brow shaping and beauty should not start out without an extremely trendy and/or exceptionally arched shape. More likely, these young brows should be carefully cleaned up and never overworked.

Age will play a role with everyone in the middle of the spectrum relative to its relationship with other factors such as, perhaps, personality or lifestyle.

Aging skin and mature women will fall in two general categories, being that while an arch is important to lift the face up and draw attention in an “up and out” manner; fullness to the brow is also more youthful and, thus, critical to consider as well. Depending on what a maturing woman has to work with in terms of hair growth; a balance of these two needs will be met.



When direction of growth is not paid any mind, brows end up botched very quickly—especially if the brow hairs grow downward. If your eyebrows grow down instead of up and/or over, you have likely struggled greatly trying to achieve any type of arch at all.

These brows often end up with holes in the underside. They will also end up appearing virtually straight or even sloping down. It is not merely where the hair lays that is important but where it lays in conjunction to its root that matters when removing hairs and shaping a brow properly.

These brows with a downward growth pattern get their shape more from a proper trim than from hair removal itself.


Cowlicks are the next growth pattern that end up botched. Professionals and individuals alike often never properly address the issue. They will instead do one of three things: ignore it, wax it all off, or inadequately and unevenly attempt to trim it. Another occasional outcome is when someone tweezes the wrong hairs, leaving you with a partially addressed cowlick and a now holey front portion of your brow… real attractive. It breaks my heart the things I have seen happen to cowlicks.

Trimming and taming a cowlick effectively takes time and precision. The hairs in a cowlick often appear layered, is the best way I can describe it; it is namely for this reason that simply trimming straight across usually doesn’t yield the expected and desired results. If you've ever tried this before, you'll know what I mean.

The best analogy I can come up with to make this clear is to imagine what goes wrong if a hairstylist tried to give you a blunt (straight) cut without making you tilt your head down. The way the hair would appear unattractively and unevenly stacked is exactly the same concept and error that occurs when trimming a cowlick. 


Every other form of growth pattern/direction will additionally help me determine where the fullness of the brow falls and how it affects the arch and sparse areas, if any, at any given point in the brow.

Also recognizing the difference in growth pattern from one brow to the next on the same individual is paramount to creating balanced and matching brows. For example, it is not uncommon that a cowlick will only exist on one brow and not the other. Sometimes the front of one brow will grow nicely straight up, and the other wants to lay down sideways, thus rounding off faster. Each nuance is critical to consider when shaping an eyebrow properly. To create balance where balance is not readily welcome, you must approach each brow differently to achieve a harmonious end.


As far as the importance of the color of the brows themselves, as well as the contrast of brow color to skin tone/hair color is concerned; these are critical items to consider to ensure that the brow is an appropriate size. We want the brow to be visible, making a proper impact without overwhelming or underwhelming the rest of your face in the process.

Brows do not exist in a vacuum, and should not be treated in such a way.


The importance of hair density and hair texture comes into play when determining the appropriate amount to trim and how full is too full or not full enough as far as overall size is concerned. Some of this will also affect whether or not tinting or penciling in the brows is recommended or necessary to complete the shape.

An example of the importance of this would be the phenomena that occurs after someone with very fine and perhaps spread out brow hairs gets them properly shaped. If the brow is too overgrown and unshaped, they will appear even thinner than they really are, but amazingly--and I mean amazingly--with a crisp shape, even without any pencil the brow will actually appear fuller than when you began.

Think I'm exaggerating? Try me. 



Last but not least, assessing the existing growth and shape.

To get the best results, I need to understand what has been done your brows over the years, what exists (or existed) naturally, and how they look the moment you are in front of me. 

Each brow holds its own natural shape and while I believe an arch is always achievable; that finished arch will never look identical from one individual to the next. Some will also be able to achieve results immediately while others must exercise patience.

If the brow has a lot of re-growing to do from a previous botch, I will not shape them “perfectly” the first time around. Hairs will be intentionally left in the places that need to grow, regardless of them appearing to belong at that given time or not. Patience is a virtue.

When correcting an arch that needs to be lifted or lowered in order to match the other brow; this can only be done little by little, since regrowing and reshaping brows is an incredibly precarious and slow process and should not be handled lightly. I will move the brow as much as the existing growth allows without causing you to look odd or disproportionate in brow thickness during the process.

With that said, no, I am not a magician and, yes, sometimes your brows will not yet be perfect the first time you sit in my chair. As attributed to the wise Theodore Roosevelt, "Nothing worth having comes easy." If you want perfect brows, you have to put in the time and the work--and by work I mean scheduling an appointment and letting me worry about the rest. <3

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