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A Man’s Guide to Eyebrow Grooming

By Terence Poh

Bianca HusodoWith greater acceptance of men’s makeup in recent years, cleaning up one’s eyebrows is no longer an insurmountable undertaking.

When I had the first inklings of a desire to elevate my looks as a young teenager in the early 2010s, I looked to famous celebrities of that time. Harry Styles, who was the frontman of British boy band One Direction then, had distinct and feathery eyebrows that complemented a pair of dreamy green eyes. On the other hand, the late Godfrey Gao, who was the first Asian male to front a luxury fashion campaign at Louis Vuitton, sported full, straight brows that balanced out his wide almond-shaped eyes and angular jawline. Without much guidance other than the few grooming videos I came across on YouTube, I started clumsily shading my existing, rather thick eyebrows with a brow pencil bought from a neighbourhood drugstore to emulate the looks of those leading men. It did the job, but I sometimes resembled the Japanese manga character Crayon Shin Chan, to the amusement of my peers who did not hesitate to let me know.

Fast forward to recent years, men’s makeup is gradually emerging as a vital aspect of the modern man’s everyday grooming routine, and online video tutorials from expert makeup artists abound. French luxury brand Chanel’s 2019 launch of a men’s makeup line offered a limited number of items — an eyebrow pencil, four shades of lightweight foundation, and a lip balm, all encased within reassuring matte black casings — and further led the way in carving out a new category of men’s grooming products in the beauty industry. Numerous YouTube video tutorials and magazine editorials have since then, begun showcasing their take on using the brand’s products.

Yet, brow grooming can still be rather daunting, especially for the novice. Hence, I enlisted the help of Jonathan Ang, a barber and male grooming enthusiast at The Panic Room, to create a simple guide for anyone seeking to start grooming their brows, or who hasn’t had much success in prior attempts, as well as for those who are seasoned brow-scapers, but nonetheless want to achieve the my-brows-but-better look.

Step 1: Prepare Your Visual Reference and Tools

Before getting started, prime yourself by referencing photographs of well-groomed celebrities or YouTube videos on men’s grooming. You will perhaps realise that there are numerous grooming tools available for the task, but Ang suggests just three essential items — a small eyebrow razor and a spoolie brush, both readily available at drugstores, and an eyebrow pencil that matches the shade of your facial hair.

Step 2: Comb and Trim

Set aside time to assess your set of eyebrows in the mirror as objectively as possible, while combing through them with the spoolie brush — are they bushy, sparse, or just the way you like them? Then, using an eyebrow razor, shave away stray hairs surrounding the eyebrows with a light touch, checking the main “trouble areas” like the temples, under the brows, and between the brows. Take your time with this step to avoid nicks, cuts, or taking off too much from the eyebrows unnecessarily. It is usually safe to follow the organic shape and arch of one’s eyebrows, and to step back from the mirror every once in a while to assess the state of your brows.

Step 3: Group Your Brows and Draw Them in

The next step requires one to make somewhat artful manoeuvres, but Ang has a rather straightforward approach to deal with the process. To start off, divide each brow roughly into three sections: the front closest to the bridge of the nose, the mid-section where brow hairs usually see the densest growth, and the tail of the brow leading to the temples. Using a brow pencil, fill in bald and sparse areas with light strokes, mimicking brow hairs as much as possible. While doing so, one should avoid filling in any part of the brow that’s darker than the thickest section. The best products for the task include the Boy de Chanel Eyebrow Pencil and Fenty Beauty Brow MVP Ultra Fine Brow Pencil and Styler; both are makeup artists’s go-to products, which are easy to control and contain lasting formula.

Step 4: Evaluate Your Masterpiece

Then, take a step back to assess the appearance of the eyebrows. They should look neater and fuller, but not obviously pencilled in. Ang says that it also helps to walk away for a minute or so and come back to take a look at your brows with “refreshed” eyes for a better evaluation. For the finishing touches, comb through each eyebrow lightly with a spoolie brush, neatening the brow hairs and spreading out any obvious pencil marks. A colourless brow gel may be used (this is optional), much like hair pomade, to neaten and hold them in place. The newly groomed brows should last approximately a week (with some form of daily care as needed), which can be easily incorporated, with a bit of practice, into your shaving routine.