Eyebrows: Brow beat
When doing your make-up, you'd never skip mascara and leave your lashes looking naked, but we don't have quite the same regard for our eyebrows. When one does attend to them -- maybe with a few flicks of an eyebrow pencil, or with a lick of fixative -- the benefits are obvious.
Particularly if you've bothered to apply full eye make-up and foundation, but also when you just opt for base, blusher and mascara. Tidier, enhanced eyebrows frame the face; they lift it and give it structure, so getting them right pays off.
Of course, eyebrows done badly are worse than eyebrows not done at all, which might explain why many of us ignore them. When applying colour, keep the strokes light and attempt to match them to the thickness and length of your brow hairs.
Also, take care not to overextend the ends of your brows, or draw in missing hairs too heavily. A nicely tweezed, threaded or waxed brow shape is the best start. No brow make-up can work miracles, but these were the best of the eyebrow enhancers we tested.
Clarins Eyebrow Kit Pro Palette, €39, Clarins counters nationwide
An extremely useful compact, with a good-size mirror. This product allows you to customise your brow colour using three different powder shades and it also includes a wax fixative, a nude-pink eyeshadow to highlight the brow arc, brushes and a mini tweezers. A sort of one-stop shop for eyebrows. "The three shades are very handy, as I find it hard to find my exact eyebrow colour," said a panellist, "I was very impressed by the little tweezers included, and the selection of brow brushes. It's a great little kit."
Best Foolproof Filler
Clinique Instant Lift for Brows, €17, Clinique counters nationwide
Available in Soft Blonde, Soft Brown and Deep Brown, this double-ended tool converted even the most reluctant brow groomers. A wax-based, crayon-like pencil fills in one's eyebrows easily, while the pearlised highlighter at the other end accentuates the effect. "The pencil seems quite thick, but once on it looks very natural," said a panellist, "and I love the highlighter. It really makes a feature of the brow and frames the eyes."
Best Clear Control
Mac Brow Finisher, €16.50, Brown Thomas and BT2
A colourless stick, this product appealed to those who want tidier brows but no extra colour. The waxiness fixes brows' shape, but they won't look overdone if you're not one for full eye-make-up. "I steer clear of brow make-up because it's so hard to find a good colour," said one panellist. "This was nicely neutral, but my whole look seemed more polished when my eyebrows were smoothed out and set in place."
Best Bargain Brows
Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil, €4.53, available nationwide
If you want a gentle, inexpensive introduction to making up your eyebrows, you could do worse than this pencil, which incorporates a brush in its lid. We tested it in Hazel, a good all-round colour that looked natural on almost everyone. "A quite hard pencil that kept its sharp point well and let you draw thinly through your own brows without looking heavy or smudgy," one panellist said. "And the brush is nicely firm too."
Best for Blondes
Sisley Eyebrow Pencil, €33.50, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork
It may seem unfair to single out blondes, but they do have extra difficulty in finding brow products that don't make them look like Groucho Marx. This is a new shade from Sisley; it's darker than their existing Blond, which is best suited to Scandinavian types with invisible eyebrows. This lends a subtle shading and won over our fairer friends. "Love it," a panellist said. "It's natural-looking, and the brush is great for smoothing things out if you go too heavy."