How to Pluck Your Eyebrows Perfectly Every Time

A brow expert shares important tips, from where to pluck your eyebrows to how to reduce pain during and after the whole event.

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Plucking your eyebrows in hopes of achieving that flawless, face-framing arch can be a tedious (and painful!) process. But if you have the patience, it can save you time and money compared to regular trips to the salon.

Before you dive in, you should take stock of all the tools you'll need to make the job easier. When it comes to tweezers, "Opt for a sharp, slanted style," suggests Kristie Streicher, creator of The Feathered Brow and one of the most sought-after celebrity brow experts. "Unlike pointy versions, they grab tiny strays quickly and won't pinch your skin along with the hairs." The Revlon Slant Tip Ultimate Tweezer (Buy It, $11, target.com) fits the bill. (And if you're wondering how to pluck your eyebrows, you'll probably want to check out this guide on doing your brows at home, too.)

It may seem counterintuitive, but you should avoid using a magnifying mirror while plucking. The tool can make it look like there's more hair to remove than there really is which can lead to over-plucking, says Streicher. Instead, use a regular mirror in a well-lit room — if you can't see stray hairs under these conditions, neither can anyone else. "After every few tweezes, take a couple of steps back to see the bigger picture," says Streicher.

Once you've gathered everything you'll need, pencil in some time to pluck when you won't feel rushed. Ideally, it'll be right after you take a shower; warm water opens your hair follicles and softens hairs, helping them slip out more easily. When you're ready, here's the easiest way to tweeze your eyebrows and achieve quality results.

What You Need to Pluck Your Eyebrows

  • Sharp, slanted tweezers
  • Numbing gel (optional)
  • A creamy brow pencil
  • An over-the-counter cortisone cream

The Best Way to Pluck Your Eyebrows

  1. If plucking is too painful or it's right before your period (when skin is most sensitive), dab on a numbing gel, such as Baby Orajel Teething Gel (Buy It, $6, target.com), before you tweeze.
  2. Map out what you want your brows to look like, using a makeup pencil for guidance, advises Streicher. "Your brows should begin directly above your tear duct, peak in line with the outer side of your iris, and end at a point that falls 45 degrees from the outer corner of your eye." Arching your brows too high can create an unnatural look. Once you've determined how your brows should curve, outline your ideal arch using a soft, creamy brow pencil, such as Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil (Buy It, $14, nordstrom.com).
  3. Using sharp, slanted tweezers, remove only the hairs that fall above or below your self-made stencil.
  4. Immediately after tweezing, gently pat on an over-the-counter cortisone cream, such as Cortizone-10 Intensive Healing Formula (Buy It, $7, target.com), to minimize any resulting inflammation.

How to Maintain Your Eyebrows

Now that you know how to pluck your eyebrows like a pro, it's time to learn how to keep them looking up to snuff. Shaping your own eyebrows comes with a risk of over-plucking. If you end up removing more hair than you meant to, refrain from tweezing for at least three weeks so you can see the natural growth pattern and shape. If your brows need a little extra encouragement, brush on a growth serum such as RevitaLash RevitaBrow Advanced Eyebrow Conditioner (Buy It, $110, dermstore.com) every night.

If your freshly-plucked brows don't look as full as you'd like, you can fill in the blanks with makeup. Style your arches with a brow brush or a clear brow gel, such as NYX Control Freak (Buy It, $6, target.com), coaxing hairs upward at the start of your arch and brushing the rest toward the end of your eye. Then, color in sparse spots with a pencil, such as L'Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Professional (Buy It, $11, ulta.com), or a powder. Brunettes should opt for a shade or two lighter than their hair color. Lighter blondes can go for golden shades, while darker blondes call for a taupe-y tone. Redhead? Reach for a warm, brown hue.

While pencils and powders are great for enhancing your arches day to day, consider brow tinting for a more permanent solution. "It saves time in the morning since you don't have to worry about adding definition with the right pencil or powder daily," says Streicher. "You can just wake up and go." But don't try this at home! The safe way to color your arches, says Streicher, is with the help of a pro brow guru or colorist, who will likely use a semipermanent vegetable dye. Results last about three weeks; expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $50.

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