It's no secret that bold brows are having a moment. If you've got 'em, you flaunt 'em. If you don't, then you're likely trying and buying whatever it takes to fake a naturally lush pair. But are these recent trends taking it too far? We'll let you decide.
The trend: Bleached brows
The gist: A throwback to the '90s grunge days, bleached brows have recently been spotted everywhere from the runway to the Red Carpet to the street. Celebs such as Cara Delevigne, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Kim K have been photographed with whited-out arches. One thing these ladies all have in common (besides the need for attention): They sport the look for a short time to make a statement, then back to dark they go. Why? “The reason is simple—it’s not flattering,” says celebrity brow stylist Joey Healy, “Stripping your brows of color takes away definition around the eyes and weakens the appearance of bone structure. Not to mention, the regrowth period is awkward.”
Skip if: You’re 99.9% of the population. It’s a trend that flatters very few women. “Bottom line: this is a time for the bold and it has never been easier to embrace the dark side,” Healy says.
OTC alternative: If you’re looking to soften your hue, use a tinted brow gel a few shades lighter than your natural color instead. Try: Ramy When Hairy Met Sealy Brow Gel ($20; walgreens.com).
The trend: Brow extensions
The gist: That's right, faux arches are a thing. How do they work? Similar to lash extensions, single synthetic fibers are glued on to natural brow hairs to temporarily add bulk. “The fibers are so fine they provide a natural-looking effect,” says Vanita Parti, owner of Blink Brow Bar in New York City. “And they can be customized to meet your individual needs, from adding volume to simply filling in sparse spots.” Some maintenance is required: Softly blend a tinted powder through brows to camouflage glue and be careful when washing your face as the fibers can dislodge. Extensions last about two weeks and will cost anywhere from $60 to $170 a treatment.
Skip if: You’ve got barely-there brows; extensions require natural hairs to stay put. Also skip if you work out regularly or have oily skin. “The fibers will loosen up if constantly saturated with sweat and oil.”
OTC alternative: A brow gel with synthetic fibers can help you add bulk and will wash out at the end of the day. Try: Benefit Gimme Brows ($22, sephora.com).
The trend: Brow transplants
The gist: Eyebrow restoration is a permanent solution to severe hair loss or thinning in the brow area, resulting from over-plucking, genetics, and aging. The process, performed by a doctor, usually involves 300-500 hairs being individually relocated from the scalp (typically the nape of the neck or above the ear) to your arches. Extreme? Yes. Effective? Yes, reports Healy. “The outcome in most cases is a naturally fuller appearance.” Full results are visible six to nine months post-surgery.
Skip if: You don’t want to spend big bucks on your brows (transplants can run anywhere from $6000 to $8000) and can work with what you’ve got. “This is a last-ditch effort, but the results are realistic,” notes Healy.
OTC alternative: Opt for a peptide-driven serum to kick-start the anagen growth phase of brows. Try: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Enhancing Serum Advanced ($38, sephora.com).
The trend: Brow tattoos
The gist: Does the thought send shivers down your spine? Okay, us too. But hear it out: “Eyebrow tattooing is the basic concept of permanent makeup—inserting dyes or pigments into the first layer of skin,” explains Dominique Bossavy. And while a stencil-filled look is an option (not recommended—actually, just don’t), there are much more subtle techniques. Bossavy practices realistic hair simulation, very light and strategically placed strokes of pigment (not ink) that imitate real hairs. “When applied in harmony with the natural shape and direction of each individual brow, this option offers an instantly fuller appearance without the risk of harsh lines of demarcation if your brows change shape,” says Bossavy. Proceed with caution: Results are opaque and for the most part, permanent.
Skip if: If you have very little brows to start with (think fine, wispy and light), as the tattoos will sit there like stickers, says Healy. Also skip if you have a commitment problem or needle-phobia.
OTC alternative: Using light feathery strokes, fill in brows with a pencil or powder. Then brush through with a spoolie brush to blend pigment. Try: Joey Healy Luxe Brow Powder ($28, joeyhealy.com). Or consider a brow tint; color lasts a few weeks.