I’m not a brow girl — mainly because I can’t do them very well, but also because I’ve always had decent eyebrows that didn’t really need much attention (once I learned how to pluck the strays in the ninth grade anyway). My mother had good brows when she was young, and my brother, who takes after my mother, has excellent brows. And while I did go through a slight overplucking binge in the ’90s (I blame Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore, the queens of sliver-thin brows back then), I’m happy to report that my brows survived the hacking and came through more or less intact.
My brow problem began when I decided that I, too, wanted to try the the straight eyebrow look (called “il-ja” brows for their resemblance to horizontal number 1’s) sported by not only K-pop and K-drama stars but seemingly every Korean woman (and man) on the street. The problem is — I don’t have straight eyebrows. I have a natural arch to my brow. Try as I may (I sat through many a YouTube video in Korean to try to learn the secret), my brows always came out looking very drawn in and frankly, not very attractive.
Needless to say, I gave up on that pipe dream, but I still envied the lush brows of the Cara Delevingnes and Camilla Belles of the world. Until one day, I saw an ad with Korean actress Jeon Ji Hyun, whose comeback in the global K-drama sensation My Love From Another Star turned her into an international style and beauty icon. (I had watched the entire series, but I never noticed her brows in particular, so mesmerized was I by her Céline and Chanel wardrobe changes in every scene, as well as those amazingly hued lips.) In the ad, Jeon Ji Hyun’s brows were not “il-ja” in the way I had seen on K-pop stars. They had an ever so slight curve to them, but without the pronounced arch insisted upon by every American makeup artist. They were simply lovely, and better yet, they looked like mine.
Now, I’m not one who loves getting my makeup done. I’m not blessed with the symmetrical visage necessary for makeup versatility, à la Michelle Phan or any model at New York Fashion Week. My skin and eyes are so persnickety in their eccentricity, only I seem to be able to do them right. But when Blushington, the makeup and beauty lounge (think Drybar for makeup), invited me to check out their latest location at The Village at Westfield Topanga, I knew what I wanted to get done — my brows.
The makeup artist, Angela (who happens to have the lushest, mini versions of Delevingne’s brows, by the way), immediately got to work and gave me a step-by-step as she did. Here’s the takeaway:
- Start with a light brow powder as a base to create the appearance of thickness without darkness. Angela used a blond shade (yes, blond) and used short strokes throughout the brow with a short, stiff angled brow brush, starting in the middle of the brow to deposit the most pigment there, and working her way out, working on the inner brow last.
- After each pass, brush through with a spooly brush to blend.
- Using a thin-tipped brunette brow pencil, lightly draw in small hair-like strokes where needed, focusing mainly on the middle and tip of brow, less on the inner brow. Angela used Kevin Aucoin The Precision Brow Pencil in Brunette, which she likes for its super thin tip and light touch. (Side note: Don’t go too dark on the brow pencil — just because you have dark Asian hair doesn’t mean you should try to match your hair color. Proponents of the “il-ja” brow believe that a lighter brown, as opposed to a dark brown, is more youthful.)
- To create more of a straight brow, lightly line the bottom of the brow, using small horizontal strokes. Don’t trace the top of the brow as this tends to look fake.
- Again, brush through after a half dozen strokes to blend and create a natural look.
- The last step is to use a concealer the same shade as your face to lightly outline your brows. (Blend well!) This will clean up your brow line as well as any stray hairs and really make your brows pop.
I’m quite happy with the result. As you can see, I have too much of a natural arch to really pull off the “il-ja” brow. But I think my brows looks clean, natural and (relatively) thick. What do you think?
By the way, if you want your own makeup tutor on not just brows but the entire face, Blushington is having a 2-for-1 special on makeup lessons. So bring your BFF, mom or sister along and get gorgeous together. But hurry — the twofer ends soon!