Here's Everything You Should Know Before Plucking or Tweezing Your Eyebrows at Home

If you regularly get your eyebrows shaped by a professional, you might be feeling a little bit stressed about the state of them right now. Salons, spas, and lots of other beauty services across the country have been closing in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Visiting a professional and having them get close to your face with a pair of tweezers is simply not in the cards right now, and no one's quite sure when it will be again.

All brows are in need of a little maintenance every now and then. Shaping your own eyebrows at home might seem simple enough, but there are a few tips and tools the professionals would rather you know before plucking and trimming yourself. As long as you've got the correct tools on hand and can tell when it's time to stop, it won't take much to keep stray and unruly hairs at bay.

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Make sure you have the best tools and lighting.

To shape your own eyebrows at home, you'll obviously need a pair of tweezers, which you likely already own. Brow artist Sania Vucetaj of Sania's Brow Bar in New York City prefers tweezers with a slanted tip. "These tweezers grab at the root of the hair so you avoid breakage," she explains. Her eyebrow studio produces its own slanted tweezers that you can buy online if you don't already have a pair like it. You can't go wrong with Tweezerman's Slanted Tweezer, an 18-time Best of Beauty winner, either.

If you don't have a pair of brow scissors on hand for trimming, avoid kitchen or craft scissors at all costs. "Most scissors can cause you to trim unevenly resulting in botchy brows," Vucetaj says. "This is because the blades on the scissors are too short and hinges are too tight." Sania's Brow Bar, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Joey Healy all offer scissors with sharp blades and handles that are easy to grip and control.

Put your magnified compact mirror aside, though. "Brows bring balance and proportion to your face and eyes, so it's important you use a mirror where you can see both of them," says Jared Bailey, Benefit Cosmetics's in-house brow expert. "Avoid tiny magnifying mirrors because you can only see a field of tiny hair versus the actual shape and what it’s doing for your entire face."

Vucetaj agrees. "You will lose perspective and definitely overtweeze," she says of magnified mirrors. That said, a regular handheld mirror or a mounted mirror in a well-lit room of your house should do.

And speaking of lighting: Bright, natural daylight is the best setting for brow tweezing, according to Bailey. "If possible, take a mirror you can prop up and tweeze near a window with even lighting on your face," he advises. Bright LED-lit mirrors might also seem helpful, but Vucetaj doesn't think they're all that necessary. "Avoid super bright lighting because no one else is looking that closely at your brows," she says.

Don't overdo it with the tweezers.

New York City–based brow artist Robin Evans has one eyebrow grooming tip that takes precedence above all others: Be conservative. According to her, you should only trim brows every two weeks. And as she points out, now is not the best time to attempt a completely new brow shape.

It's also extremely easy to overpluck in general — hence the entirety of the 1990s — but filling in brows before grooming them is an easy way to avoid that. Brow makeup applied in your preferred shape acts as a stencil, so "you can see which [hairs] need to go and which ones need to stay," says Bailey. Vucetaj has a very specific brow-filling method to get the most even and natural-looking brows possible.

"Use your finger and slightly lift at your arch, [then] outline the top of your brow with soft strokes," she instructs. "Then use soft strokes to outline below the brow." Finally, fill in the middle section of the brows. "Brows should begin at the [outer] bridge of the nose," she says. Then be sure to blend the brow makeup in with the hairs as much as possible so there's no chance you'll instinctually pluck the hairs you've just covered.

After that, it's just a matter of using your slanted tweezers to pluck the stray hairs that lie out of the makeup's bounds. "Make sure you only tweeze the dead center — the 'unibrow' — your forehead, the temples, and the upper eyelids," says brow artist Joey Healy.

Pay attention to the direction you're tweezing.

According to Bailey, one of the most common mistakes people make when tweezing at home is plucking hairs in the wrong direction. "Each brow hair is connected to a tiny blood vessel that keeps it healthy and allows it to grow back when the hair is removed," he explains. "Tweezing against the direction of natural growth can cause that vessel to rupture."

Dermatologist Mona Gohara further explains: "Inflammation that comes from the process of plucking is what can create scarring — the small vessels rupturing may be a part of that, but there is a bit more to it." She still advises plucking hair in the direction of growth because it causes less inflammation and, therefore, less potential for scarring.

To pluck properly, he, Healy, and Evans all advise pulling hair in the same direction it grows. "You must pull the skin tight with one finger and then tweeze the hair in the direction it is growing — typically that direction is upward or towards the temple versus straight away from the face," Bailey advises. Evans adds that you should pull firmly and slowly.

If you feel at any point that you've overplucked on one brow, in particular, Healy warns against trying to make the other symmetric. "If you feel like you might have crossed the line, just stop and put down the tweezers," he says. "Don't be so focused on symmetry, where you're working to make the bad one look like the good one or vice versa."

If you're going to trim, do it sparingly.

"Trimming your brows is like trimming your bangs," Bailey says. "It sounds easy but often ends in a disaster." In the same way that it's easy to cut bangs too short and unevenly, it's easy to overestimate just how much brow hair you should trim. If you love the bushy brow look, trimming conservatively is extra important.

A lot of people use a spooley brush to hold brow hairs upward and cut them straight across, but Evans and Healy urge you not to do so. "Brush the brow hairs up, trimming individual hairs that are the longest and most unruly," Evans recommends. "This will prevent them from looking choppy or cutting any little divots out along the top line of your brow."

Bailey adds that a strong brow gel is an excellent tool to use during this process. "Take a clear gel and brush the brow hairs upwards towards the hairline and out towards the temple," he says. "Let the gel dry completely, then only trim the ends that are sticking too far out past your desired shape."

Embrace the eyebrow growth.

Vucetaj and Evans both think social distancing provides a prime opportunity to let brows grow. "One silver lining during this quarantine is that you can use this time to let your brows grow back to health," Vucetaj says. Evans adds that growing brows out for the foreseeable future can provide a fresh slate for your own brow professional once you're able to return to their service space.

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Originally Appeared on Allure