For the last few years, we have been consumed by brow fever. It became apparent very quickly that it wasn't a passing trend. Now, salons dedicated to brows and brows only are cropping up with increasing frequency and high levels of success.
We've enlisted the help of Kim O'Sullivan, recently voted Brow Artist of the Year by Image magazine, to advise us on good brow health and how, on a day-to-day basis, we can cheat our way to full, healthy brows, a la model-of-the-moment Cara Delevingne or actress Lily Collins (pictured right).
But first, why are good brows so important? "Not only do brows frame the face and accentuate features, but over 70pc of our facial expression depends on them," says Kim. "Shaped well, they have the power to change the overall appearance of our face, lending balance and symmetry.
"Brows are like the coat hangers of the face. Get them right, and all the other features hang together in a more effortless way, meaning you need less make-up. An excellent brow shape can transform a face to such an extent that the effect has been likened to a mini face-lift."
But as is the case with many of us, years of overzealous plucking has done untold damage to our brows, leaving them sparse and shapeless. Thankfully, even the most damaged can be rescued. What you need is regular brow shapes from a top professional, advises Kim.
"When a client first comes to me I carefully analysis face shape, bone structure and colouring to create a bespoke brow, tailored exclusively to the individual client".
Brows are like the coat hangers of the face. Get them right, and all the other features hang together in a more effortless way
The Dos and Don'ts
● In the time between visits with your brow artist (usually 4 to 5 weeks), you need to banish the tweezers. Invest in a good brow growth serum. Having tried them all, Kim, a Pro Advanced HD brow stylist responsible for the brows of a heap of Irish celebs, recommends Latisse, it's only available online and is very pricey at $140, but will work wonders. Boots also do a fantastic product called zinc and castor oil. It won't promote regrowth to the extent Latisse does but it will thicken and strengthen the brow, says Kim.
● While Kim is confident that she can transform most brows, if brows are non-responsive to 'brow rehab', as it's been dubbed, there's the option of 'embrowdery', a semi-permanent procedure which lasts between 12-18 months, in which 3D hair strokes are strategically placed in the epidermal layer of the skin. This technique is therefore more superficial than tattooing, and has great results.
● On a day-to-day basis while you're waiting on your brows to grow, invest in good tools to draw in your ideal shape. Pencils, are best for precision and ideal for when you need to draw in a whole new brow. Brow Mascaras and Brow Powders are great when you only need to fill in a few small gaps or have brows that require a small bit of beefing up. Brow Kits, which invariably contain a powder colour for filling-in and a wax for keeping the brows in place are great for holidays or weddings as they tend to be the most long-lasting. But be aware, the accompanying brushes can take time to master.
Expert Kim O'Sullivan's step-by-step guide
1. The perfect brow should be at its thickest at the inner corner and then taper into the perfect arch, finishing with a fine tail. Using a good brow pencil, like my holy grail brow product Charlotte Tilbury's Brow Lift Pencil (pictured, €30, Brown Thomas, Dublin, and brownthomas.com) sketch out a soft, clean yet sharp line on the bottom part of the brow. Be careful not to be too heavy handed.
2. Once you've drawn this line you then want to define the arch and tail of the brow. You can do this by again softly sketching that clean line top and bottom of the existing brow shape. We don't want to overfill the start of the brow (closest to the nose) so we just draw a few little 'hair strokes'. This will ensure they look super natural and not squared off or overpowering.
3. Next, lightly fill in the body or main part of the brow using 'hair strokes' to mimic the look of a natural brow. We've already given the brow definition by drawing the outline so at this stage we just want to fill it out and banish any gaps or sparse areas.
4. Using a brow brush (most good brow pencils have one attached) groom the brows to eliminate excess colour and soften the lines.
5. The hidden highlighter end of Charlotte Tilbury's brow pencil is a magic little brow enhancing highlighter. It works with any skin tone. Applied under the arch, it lifts the brow for an instant brow lift.
6. Lastly, tame and fix the brows in place with a clear brow gel, such as Sleek Cosmetics' Brow Perfector, €5.99