Maintaining the 'Brow' Factor

When asked by a University student if I would consider writing an article on brow maintenance, I jumped at the chance.

I had been uploading photographs to Utopia's Instagram Page of the recent HD Brow Session I had held at Abingdon and Witney College, when Zoe contacted me.

A student of Liverpool University, she was putting together a magazine for her final year dissertation, wanting to feature an article on the best way of maintaining brows between appointments. 

The questions set to me were these:

  • First of all, what is the process you go through? Waxing, threading etc?
  • How often should we leave between appointments? And should we pluck any strays in-between or leave them be?
  • In the first week, I try to use as little product on the brows in order to keep the tint lasting as long as possible - is this right?
  • What products do you think are best for filling in brows? And what is the most effective way to fill them in neatly and evenly? (powder, pencil, gel etc)
  • What are your top three tips when it comes to brows?
  • Is there anything else we should know?

The answers came very easily to me - and I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my advice with my own clients!

So if it's advice on how to use brow make-up, whether or not to tackle them at home or generally what is involved in the HD Brow on:


HD Brows is more than just your average eyebrow tidy. It is a completely bespoke treatment that will help to create the perfect brows for your individual face shape - whether that be in one single treatment, or, more commonly a series of treatments.  A consultation at the start of your treatment will determine what you, as a client, would like to get out of the treatment, as well as what is practical and achievable in each.  While talking about your likes and dislikes, what you normally do at home and what products you currently use, your HD Brows stylist is looking at your face shape, hair colour, skin colouring and tone, working out what will compliment you the most.  And all of this within a few minutes!

Once determined, and you are happy with the treatment plan discussed, your therapist will start by tinting the brows - mixing the tints together to create a bespoke colour.  Once happy with the colouring, the tint is removed and the shaping begins.

The shaping is largely done with waxing.  The brows are waxed both underneath and on top, as well as in the middle, to create the optimal shape for your face.  Occasionally, some trimming may be required to neaten the brow and ensure only the correct hairs are removed.  Threading is then carried out to blend all those fluffy, fair hairs that surround the brows, leaving a beautifully clean, sharp finish.  But it doesn't end there - tweezing is then carried out to further tidy and shape the brows. First, the therapist will remove any stubborn hairs that weren't removed with the wax or thread, and then apply a powder around the brows that matches your skin tone(much like a powder foundation), to cover any redness that may have occurred during the treatment.  This powder also helps the redness to calm down much quicker.

Make-up is then applied to define the brows and finish to the look of your choice - natural, or glamorous. Your therapist will choose which of the make-up products will work best for you and guide you through the colours used, as well as where and how to apply each product, marking everything down on your aftercare sheet.  You now have your very own personalised guide to use at home!

Often, there will be areas that will need to be grown in, in order to achieve the optimal brow shape.  Your therapist can start you onto a regrowth programme to help you achieve this, guiding you on where to grow in, and how often to come back for treatments.

On average, the treatment will need to be done approximately every 4-6 weeks.  If on a regrowth programme, your therapist may suggest you come in sooner - or maybe, even longer, to enable those pesky hairs to grow in.  Of course this isn't always possible, but the Lash and Brow Booster can work wonders at stimulating hair growth - again, your therapist will advise you on whether this would be good for you to use, or whether it is unlikely to help.

Ideally, the brows should be left between treatments - it is easy to get a little carried away with our own brows!  It only takes a couple of wrongly-removed hairs to set you back on your brow journey.  However, we all have occasions when leaving them is simply not an option.  My advice would be to remove only those hairs that are out of the general shape.  Darker, single hairs that grow way beneath the brow can be removed - but avoid going too close to the shape or you risk affecting the shape your therapist is trying to achieve.  Similarly, hairs between the brow and the hair line (usually more visible around the temples) can be removed, but again, avoid going too close to the brow.

Trimming the hairs can also quickly neaten the brows - if you find the hairs are a little too long, simply brush them all up with a brow comb (think Grouch from Sesame Street!) and trim to the edge of the brow only.  You can do this the other way if needed, by brushing the hairs down.  Be careful to only go to the edge of the brow line, and always brush up or down, to avoid snipping little gaps into the brows.

If you don't have any special occasions coming up - leave them be.  Your therapist will re-shape and tidy the brows in your next treatment.  And anyway, you'll notice more of a difference this way!

Obviously the tint will be darkest straight after your treatment.  This will fade over time, and depending on the colour used, you may find it fading a little quicker than your next appointment.  To avoid fading the colour even sooner, it is best to avoid exfoliating products and anti-ageing products around the brow area, as these will strip the colour more quickly (anti-ageing products generally contain exfoliating ingredients).  Similarly, I would advise you avoid tanning products in this area as it may affect the colour and change it slightly.  It is best to avoid these sorts of products for at least 3-4 days either side of your treatment, but be careful in between appointments in general.  The HD Brows Colourfix is a great way of bringing back that freshly tinted look to the brows, and is as easy as applying mascara (only, to the brows instead of lashes!) - your therapist can guide you on which colour is best.

There are a few different make-up products available to help define the shape and fill in any sparse areas.  HD Brows have a range including pencils (of different thicknesses), powders, waxes and mascara-like liquids, of which you therapist can guide you on.  I find that pencils can be great for defining the shape - generally around the brow itself, almost like an outline - used lightly and only in areas needed.  Avoid outlining completely as this can look a little unnatural.  Powders are great for filling in - generally a lot softer looking, they can fill in sparse areas of the brow but keep it looking natural.  Avoid 'colouring in' the brow with pencil as this creates a block-colour, again looking a little unnatural.  If you only have a pencil to hand, light, feathery strokes in sparser areas to mimic hairs can do the same job.  Serums and waxes are great for keeping the brows where you want them to be - neatly sitting in line.  A little wax mixed with powder and teamed with a tapered, thin brush can also be used to mimic individual hairs, particularly in the middle, where brows can often fall short.  As previously mentioned, mascara-like liquids are great for defining colour.

Powder and stencil sets are pretty big business at the moment too - but be careful of using the wrong shaped stencil, or over-powdering - this will look unnatural and too heavy.  If the stencil shape matches your own brows, then this can be a really quick, simple way of defining the brows.  Christian Eyebrow have a range of 8 different coloured powders, including several stencils in different shapes.

In any case, be careful not to overload the start of the brow (where the bridge of the nose is), as naturally the brows are a little sparser here.  If using powder, apply to the rest of the brow first and use the remaining left on the brush to fill in this area.

All in all, my top three tips for great brows are:

1 - Listen to your therapist.  They are trained to know what suits different face shapes etc and although it may not be what you were initially thinking, those amazing brows on the picture you tore out of the magazine are on a different person, with different features and different colouring.

2 - Put the tweezers away.  It is easy to get tweezer happy with your own brows (I, too, have done this many times) and you can find them getting thinner and thinner before you even realise it...

3 - Less is more.  It is no longer fashionable, nor is it natural, to have pencil thin eyebrows.  If you're not sure whether to remove a hair or not - don't.  Leave it where it is.  You can find all too easily that eyebrows can give up growing at the click of a finger.  And then you're really stuck.  While brow make-up is great, no one wants to rely on it.

 A positive reaction to a patch test carried out at Utopia

A positive reaction to a patch test carried out at Utopia

Finally, I would like to talk about patch testing.  It bothers me the amount of clients who come to my salon, having had tinting previously elsewhere just by walking into a salon/brow bar and having had no patch test.  Patch testing is really important, as it can be pretty nasty if a reaction occurs - not only unsightly, but painful, uncomfortable, and can even affect the hair growth in the future.  In really nasty cases, it can even affect your eyesight. If your therapist has not offered you a patch test, do not go ahead with the treatment.  Patch tests should be carried out frequently, even from the same salon/brow bar, as reactions can occur at ay time.  If you are pregnant or lactating, I would advise a patch test every time you have a treatment.  Hormonal changes can mean that our bodies are far more sensitive than normal, and reactions can easily occur.  If you have not had a patch test since having a baby, or going through a hormonal change (think menopause, or illnesses) make sure you have another test.  Not only is it vital for your health and safety, but if anything nasty did occur, your therapist's insurance will not be valid - leaving you nowhere to turn and no compensation.  Trust me - it is not worth the risk.


Nikki x