Is there a single person out there who isn't trying to grow their eyebrows out right now? If there is, I've never met ‘em. That's probably because growing that new hair requires a whole ton of patience and self-discipline (lest we go overplucking all over again). But according to one brow artist, there might be a hidden factor contributing to everyone's perpetual sparseness.
While having my brows shaped and tinted at New York City's Hawthorne Studio, Azi Sacks surprises me by asking what I use to fill in my eyebrows. I'm pretty new to having my eyebrows done by a professional artist such as her, but it's not a question I expect — what does my preferred type of eyebrow makeup have to do with growth? As it turns out, everything.
"When brow hair is overly dried out, it shatters," Sacks explains. That said, she advises her clients to stay away from most brow gels, which can dry, harden, and flake within hair. Cosmetic chemist and BeautyStat founder Ron Robinson says that's likely because many brow gels contain alcohol. "That in itself may cause drying," he explains. Eyebrow pencils are another thing Sacks urges clients to reconsider when growth is the goal. As she claims, they can pull out brow hairs due to their waxy texture — and Robinson concurs.
Instead of those, Sacks recommends using powder to fill in sparse areas of the eyebrows. "I find if you use a powder with a small fluffy angled brush — with bristles are not tightly packed — you can loosely dispense powder into the brow, and it will look more natural than any other makeup technique in respect to filling in," she says. "[And] it maintains a healthy environment for your brow on a daily basis." Her favorite powder to use on all hair colors, by the way, is MAC Eye Shadow in Charcoal Brown.
After doing that on her clients, Sacks tames brow hairs with an unexpected grooming product: Rosebud Perfume Co. Rosebud Salve — that's right, those little blue and white lip balm tins you always see at the Sephora checkout. It's kind of her Swiss Army Knife of brow styling.
"Unlike brow gel, wax, or brow soap, it's ultra-moisturizing to the skin under the hair and to the hair itself, and it is thick enough in texture to hold our brow hair in place," Sacks explains. Robinson agrees; he notes that the salve is high petrolatum, which he says "works as an emollient to help moisturize the brow and skin underneath."
Sticking to her regimen, she explains, presents a greater possibility that her clients will grow more brow hair and, in turn, provide her "a better canvas for shaping." On top of that, it just looks nice. "It adds a beautiful shine to the brow; it also doesn't flake," she says. "It allows you to have a fuller brow without being so dependent on harsh cosmetics to create artificial thickness or shape."
There is one caveat to this hack, though. According to Connecticut-based board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, the fragrances and oils in the salve might cause skin barrier inflammation, especially if used daily over an extended period of time. "Roses are red, but they can make your eyebrows red, too," she jokes. If you know your skin is sensitive to fragrance, this trick might not be best for you — or you might want to cut down your uses to every now and then.
While it's impossible for me to give up pomades, pencils, and gels entirely (it is my job to try new beauty products, after all), I can't argue with the results of Sacks' method on my own eyebrows. I'm a makeup maximalist by nature, but Sacks makes an appealing argument for putting down certain products, at least from day-to-day. "On a daily basis, I believe [you should be] be gentle with your brows," she says. "Kind of like when we wear flats or sneakers daily and high heels occasionally."
And let's be honest, now that a majority of our interpersonal interactions take place virtually, who's going to notice if you're wearing a pencil versus a powder versus nothing at all? So maybe it's time to try cutting a few products from your roster — your brows will thank you after a while.
Rosebud Perfume Co. Rosebud Salve, $7, is available from sephora.com.
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