We consulted a brow expert on what to try at home — and what to absolutely avoid.
Beauty editors and writers are used to getting late-night (or early-morning, or literally 24-hours-a-day) texts with zero context and burning questions. No, we don’t mean of the “U up?” variety. These inquiries are about skin freak-outs, product recommendations and makeup mishaps… and we’ve seen ’em all. With that in mind, we welcome you to our series, “Fashionista Beauty Helpline,” where we address the beauty questions we get asked most frequently — and run them by experts who really know their stuff.
Our recurring series “Fashionista Beauty Helpline” first came about a few years ago as a means of directly addressing the beauty questions I encounter most often from friends, family, social media buddies and random, distant acquaintances. I saw it as a way to clear up common beauty- and grooming-related gripes, frustrations and confusions, offering trustworthy and straightforward assistance to anyone who might not have access to an expert on their own.
Fast forward to 2020, and in a time of coronavirus, social distancing and self-quarantining, it seems more practical than ever. Now I’m using this series to enable all of us to take a little piece of our self-care into our own hands. During this inherently stressful and uncertain time, piling on extra stress and self-imposed pressure about unruly, grown-out brows or rapidly greying roots simply doesn’t serve. What does serve, I believe, is arming ourselves with knowledge and skills that will enable us to have a little more autonomy over our beauty routines.
It’s ok to take a little time off from the news to pamper, self-soothe and indulge in a bit of escapism. It’s also ok to want to find some semblance of normalcy in an abnormal time or a sense of control amid chaos, and it’s ok if beauty is your way of finding it. So consider this the first of many how-to-DIY-all-things-beauty-in-the-time-of-coronavirus installments. If you have specific questions you’d like to see answered here, feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Fashionista Beauty Helpline” in the subject. We’d love to hear from you! I’ll also be using this opportunity to highlight beauty industry professionals whose ability to work has been impacted by the pandemic, and share what we can all be doing to help show them compassion and support.
First up, we’re focusing on eyebrows. If you’re someone who regularly visits a professional for grooming or tinting, you might be wondering what to do to keep things tidy until the next time you’re able to schedule an appointment. To start: Take a deep breath. Then, allow a seasoned expert to guide your path. You got this.
I consulted Joey Healy, eyebrow specialist and owner of Joey Healy Eyebrow Studio in New York City, about what to try at home when it comes to brow maintenance — and what to absolutely avoid (let’s just say he has some strong feelings on the latter). Healy also gave some important insight about what we can be doing to support beauty pros whose work and livelihoods have been impacted during this uncertain time.
Read on for our full Q&A.
For people that regularly get their eyebrows done professionally, how should they approach the routine at home now that they can’t see a pro?
You should be doing less than your professional. The job of a professional is to give you a very tight perimeter in a professional shaping. Your job at home is to give yourself a very general perimeter. Basically go in the dead center, make sure that there’s two of them, to clear obvious hair on the temple, the forehead and underneath the arch. The key is you don’t want to try to replicate what your professional does, you just want to maintain yourself so you feel presentable and tidy between shapings.
God willing, we all get out of this sooner rather than later, you don’t want to have overworked your shape in this time and set yourself backwards. The key is to maintain. Not to mimic!
What tools do you need to have on hand?
The Joey Healy Essential Tools Kit has everything you need. The Joey Healy Duo Brow Brush, basically a brush with a spoolie for combing them. The Joey Healy Precision Brow Scissor — ours is great because it’s ergonomic. It’s easy to use on yourself and to hold in both your left or right hands if you aren’t ambidextrous. Also, The Joey Healy Elite Sculpting Tweezer, which is medical grade stainless steel and slanted tipped tweezers.
That should be enough and your favorite eyebrow cosmetics if you choose to spruce yourself even more. It’s also nice to have a Dermablade if you feel like you have a lot of excess peach fuzz. That could be your own version of maintenance if you don’t trim anything or pull any hair out, you just dermaplane.
What tips or techniques should someone follow when it comes to DIY grooming, and how often should they trim?
Don’t use a magnifying mirror! You can’t see the forest from the trees. Get out of your dark bathroom and try to get in front of a window with daylight, that’s the best.
Tweeze and trim as necessary, but it’s not something I would do daily. Maybe doing it once a week, a little bit of a tidy up. A good tip is to set a time limit for yourself, maybe ten minutes of maintenance. This way you just don’t get lost and go overboard if you don’t have that level of self control.
Would you ever recommend DIY waxing or tinting?
Never wax your own brows! Never.
DIY brow tinting is possible: I like to use Refectocil. This is more of a professional product, but these days you can buy it on Amazon and use the directions. Or if you wanted to do it the really old school way, you could use Just For Men from the drugstore.
The key is to follow the instructions and possibly go a shade lighter than you think, because one of the biggest problems with at-home brow tinting is that you tint too much too soon (or make it too dark). Also, don’t be afraid to tint your brows in multiple rounds. You don’t want to leave it on for a long period of time, you want to control the result. Use a bit of Vaseline around the brow to create a barrier for the skin so you don’t have skin staining.
Is there anything people grooming their brows at home should avoid?
Like I mentioned before, I’d say magnifying mirrors, bad lighting and trying to mimic your professional. A good way to put it is: Never look at a picture of a celebrity and try to get their exact brows. You have a unique face and unique bone structure. Don’t take a picture out of a magazine or Instagram and try to mimic it exactly. Again, you’re just doing basic maintenance. If you’re not sure about a hair, leave it.
What are the best ways to avoid or cope with irritation and redness from DIY brow maintenance?
You should cleanse the skin with a gentle cleanser. Put on tea tree oil, which is anti inflammatory or aloe. I also like using The JH20 Botanical Mist because it does have skin soothing ingredients like reishi mushroom, aloe and a little bit of castor oil. I actually think it really calms down inflammation and redness. It’s a really good product.
Tea tree oil is an old standby. If that’s too intense for you because it’s antiseptic, aloe is always soothing.
What should someone do if they mess up the shape and overdo it? How can they rebound?
Immediately stop tweezing. Don’t try to fix the good brow to match the bad brow! Symmetry is important, but not the most important — don’t mess up the good brow to make it look like the bad brow! Just stop. Tools down! Step away and wait for it to grow out.
If you made a big mistake, you can always purchase a serum like the Joey Healy Brow Renovation Serum to help. Use color cosmetics like pencils, powders and pomades to help fill in the brow you messed up.
What can people do to support those working in the beauty industry right now who have had to close their shops or are not able to see clients?
To start, you can send them nice and supportive messages on Instagram! You’re doing your duty by not being around them to keep them safe. Don’t ask them to do house calls. Don’t hound them to reopen sooner than they can. You not being with your beauty professional is helping to keep them safe.
The number-one thing you can do with a business like ours is purchasing product on the website. We’re still filling all of our web orders now, so clients buying products is very, very helpful. If your beautician offers gift certificates, it’s nice to buy them now so they have more cash on hand to help them stay afloat during this time and they can redeem them for services later. Everyone wins!
Is there anything else you want people to know right now?
Hang in there and stay hopeful. When you take a little bit of time for yourself at home like a face mask or doing a light brow cleanup, those are very important things right now because they help you to feel normal and they help you to not fall into a kind of beauty slump. It really does lift up your spirits. Take that time to take care of yourself.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
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