Beauty panel: High Brow
The state of your brows can make or break your look, says our expert, but keeping them sharp is no hassle
It's only when you get your brows tamed, tinted or shaped that you realise just what a difference they make to your face. And to the general air of kemptness. You've probably read a million times how they frame the face, but that always seems a rather unappealing description. It's a little bit abstract and makes it sound like they should swoop down either side of your face like a reverse-handlebar moustache. What it really means is that well-shaped brows make your eyes look more awake - but not surprised. Then, with a near-effortless bit of cosmetic brow grooming, they can look neatly full and uniformly coloured, without being too Wednesday Addams.
Of course, you can always have your brows tinted or even tattooed, but approach both with care. Such dramatic brows can look fantastic with a full face of make-up, but when your face is naked, they can look over-the-top. Getting a good brow shape is the best start, and this doesn't have to mean regular salon appointments, just a few to establish the brows. Then, it's just a matter of maintenance. Like mascara, though, a slick of a shape-holding gel or a few flicks of a pencil to fill in gaps can make a massive but effortless alteration to your overall appearance.
Urban Decay Brow Tamer in Neutral Brown, €18.50, Debenhams; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
We love the mascara-type eyebrow products, which work wonders if your brows need volume and oomph, as the product sticks to each strand of hair and makes it thicker. And gives a colour boost, too. This particularly natural-looking but massively enhancing example of the type comes in five shades, including Clear, but we like the neutrality of this one, Neutral Brown, as it works well with the nondescript-mouse colour of a lot of our brows. "It stays put, doesn't go flaky after a few hours and it holds my brows all day in a good shape," said one panellist.
Best Fiery Filler
Lancome Sourcils Gel in Auburn, €23, Lancome counters nationwide
Redheads have brows too, or most of them do, anyway, and finding a product to match them can be tricky. This brow gel - which is auburn-coloured, but not too flaming - promises to do the job of both a mascara-like product and a brow pencil. Like the former, it creates shape and volume, and like the latter, draws thin lines that give the impression of an even fullness. It is available in four other shades, from blonde to black. "This is great if you were an overenthusiastic tweezer in your youth," said a panellist. "I was, so my brows are patchy and ginger; but this product is great as both a filler and a colour."
Best Fair Friend
Estee Lauder Brow Now in Blonde, €22, Estee Lauder counters nationwide
Blonde is a hard brow to get right, particularly if you're a pale blonde. Also, natural blondes often need a bit of brow filling as their hair can be very fine, but there's nothing worse than a too-dark pencil on a pale brow. And if you have highlighted hair, you don't want very dark brows. "I can look like I've tattooed on my eyebrows if I use the wrong colour pencil," a panellist said. "This is a very subtle shade; but it still gives an impression of stronger, thicker brows."
Best Nicely Neutral
Clarins Eyebrow Pencil in Light Brown, €20, Clarins counters nationwide
For most of us, neutrality is the desired effect of a brow product. Unless you're after the Wednesday Addams look, and if so, good for you. This is a perfectly neutral product, though, for anyone with light- to mid-brown hair. Clarins's pencils are particularly nice for their texture; they are just waxy enough to stay in place, but hard enough that they hold a good sharp point for drawing short, sharp 'hairs' into brow gaps. "This is the kind of colour that makes my brows look instantly tidier, but natural, too," a panellist said. "It's a great dashing-out-the-door product for instant polish."
Best Pretty Price
Catrice Eyebrow Filler in No20,
€3.99, Dunnes Stores; Penneys
This is a gel product with a mascara-like brush applicator, and it's a product that's particularly notable for its price. It comes in two shades, this one, No20 - a slightly mousy, neutral brown - and a warmer, darker colour, No10. It gets a little bit flaky after eight hours, but at this price, you could afford to have a second stand-by in your handbag. "This has a good colour and it holds my brows well," said a panellist. "It's good on no-make-up days when I need a little help."