From Tinting to Tattooing: How to Know Which Eyebrow Treatment Is Right for You
Thanks to the modern generation of eyebrow legends like Cara Delevingne and Lily Collins, the brow conversation has shifted from how to make them as skinny and tweezed as ever to how to get the most feathered, Instagram-worthy arches possible. And, from tinting and threading to microblading and lamination, the beauty industry has caught up with the demand for contemporary eyebrow treatments. We’ll be the first to admit that although each service can give you your desired brow shape, it can be confusing navigating all of the different ones available.
To get the scoop on what the differences between each service are, how they work, and who they’re best suited for, we tapped some of the most trusted brow experts in the business. Ahead, get a breakdown of the most popular eyebrow treatments to find out which is the right one for you.
Trimming and Tweezing
How It Works: Trimming and tweezing are a method of cleaning up and shortening brow hairs either pre-wax or in between waxing sessions, though it can be done as a primary method of shaping as well. Tweezing removes hair from the root and trimming is done after brushing through the brow thoroughly. If you don’t trust yourself with a tweezer and scissors, visit a professional for a brow-shaping session every four to six weeks, says Eugenia Weston, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Senna Cosmetics. If you’ve got the hang of it yourself, choose a pair of scissors with straight blades, like Anastasia Beverly Hills Scissors ($23), and a quality tweezer, like Tweezerman Stainless Steel Slant Tweezer ($23).
Why You Should Try It: Weston says that tweezing and trimming are the most universal brow treatment that helps keep your brows looking full and natural. And, with professional tweezing and trimming, you don’t run the risk of removing too much hair (cue images of your measly middle school brows). There’s also no risk of stretching, burning, or damaging the skin like other services.
Cost: $10 to $50
How It Works: Threading is a centuries-old method of hair removal that originated in India. The technique requires a threading expert to roll two cotton pieces of thread over the surface of the skin, driving unwanted hair out of the follicle. “With threading, you do not have to worry about any chemicals being applied to the skin,” says Morgan Vanderwall of Beautif-Eye brow studio.
Why You Should Try It: According to Vanderwall, threading is the most precise form of hair removal, and is also organic, dermatologist-recommended, and beneficial for people with sensitive skin, as it does not cause chemical reactions and requires little contact with the skin. The results of threading vary, but generally speaking, they last about two weeks.
Cost: $10 to $30 per session
How It Works: Waxing involves applying a thin layer of warm (not scalding hot) wax over the area from which you wish to remove hair. A strip of fabric is placed over the wax and is then pulled off quickly to remove the hair underneath. “When done properly, waxing is applied at a temperature that softens the pore and allows the hair to remove without breakage, like other forms of hair removal can do,” says international brow stylist Melanie Marris. Depending on the rate of your hair growth, an eyebrow wax should last you two to three weeks before your next appointment.
Why You Should Try It: Typically, this option works best for people going for a strong, sculpted arch. Marris maintains that waxing is a cost-effective treatment and can be done at home. If going the at-home route, she recommends filling in the brow prior to waxing with a brow pencil to ensure you have a guide to follow.
Cost: $12 to $150
How It Works: Let’s say your endgame isn’t to remove brow hair or alter the shape of your brows, but instead to make them appear fuller. If you’re sick of filling in your brows every day, tinting is an option many swear by. “Eyebrow tinting is the process of coloring the brow hair with a vegetable-based dye mixed with a 3 percent peroxide to activate,” explains Marris. Brow tinting is fairly quick and the actual tinting process lasts a few minutes.
Why You Should Try It: If you have fine or transparent hair, tinting is an excellent option, as it offers both dimension and fullness. Marris notes that it also picks up all of the finer baby hairs, which when made darker in color, help the brow to appear thicker. “It is a great treatment for the brows if you are looking to darken the hair, create a more defined shape and style, and keep a well-groomed brow,” she says. Tinting results last approximately one to three months.
Cost: $15 to $25
How It Works: Microblading (aka the modern form of eyebrow tattooing) is a form of semi-permanent makeup that is used to fill in the brow. “The process is performed by creating defined, hair-like strokes in the brow using a needle and brow pigment ink,” says Marris. This process of inserting pigment into the skin’s upper layers allows you to alter the shape of your brows or make them appear thicker. All in all, the process takes about two hours.
If you have alopecia or have gone through chemotherapy, microblading is a great, semi-permanent natural-looking option to fill in any sparse areas of the brow.
Why You Should Try It: Microblading is especially great for those with thin, sparse, or patchy brows. Though the procedure sounds a bit uncomfortable, a numbing solution is applied beforehand to minimize any pain. Then, like a normal tattoo, it requires time to heal (about four to six weeks), after which a touch-up might be needed. “The effects last up to 12 to 18 months, and after that time the pigment often fades,” says brow guru Marlena Orlowska of Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa.
Cost: $300 to $1000
How It Works: Think of brow extensions the same way you would eyelash or hair extensions—it’s an extension of the brow hair that offers an ultra-natural, full look. After a consultation, the technician draws an outline of your new brow so you can get a feel for the results. Then they use a surgical-grade adhesive to affix the extensions to your natural brow hairs (or directly to the skin), one by one. The in-salon process takes about an hour and refills are needed every two to four weeks.
Orlowska notes that to be a candidate for this treatment, you’ll need to have some eyebrow hair already in place so that the technician can attach the extensions.
Why You Should Try It: “The treatment is great to fill in bare spots,” says Orlowska. “You can get a higher arch, a longer tail, more or less curve—you name it.” Plus, they’re gentler than microblading, require no healing time, and you can see results instantly. You also don’t have to deal with any redness or pain.
Cost: $250 plus $100 for a refill
How It Works: “Brow lamination is a treatment that relaxes and straightens the brow hair, allowing the brow to be styled in a variety of different ways such as sleek, straight, arched or fluffy,” explains Marris. “Brow lamination is a three-step process that involves applying a perming solution to break down the bonds within the brows, then using a fixing solution to set and form the hairs into the new shape, and finally, a brow serum application to restore moisture back into the brows and skin.”
Why You Should Try It: Brow lamination works for everyone—skinny brows included. Marris notes that those with sparser brows can suddenly achieve fuller-looking brows and those with naturally thicker brows will benefit from the added definition. “Brow lamination is a non-invasive service that does not include any chemical or dyes being injected into the skin, and it has remarkable staying power with the results lasting up to eight weeks,” says Marris. “You can also use brow lamination in combination with other brow services such as tinting or henna.”
Cost: $100 to $300
How It Works: Brow henna is similar to brow tinting in that it stains the skin underneath the brow hairs to create the look of fullness. First, the brows are shaped by tweezing and waxing, then your desired henna shade is mixed with water to form a paste-like consistency. The solution is then applied to the desired area of the brow, with more intensity and concentration on the outer part of the brow.
Why You Should Try It: “Unlike brow tints that are made of a vegetable-based dye and mixed with a peroxide in order to activate, henna is derived from plants, making it a natural hair dye alternative that is activated with rose water,” says Marris. “While the application process is longer, results typically lasts up to 10 days on the skin and six weeks on the hair.”
Cost: $50 to $100
Shop Our Favorite Brow Products
Looking for a multi-purpose pomade that triples as a brow pomade, eyeliner, and eyeshadow? Try this pick by KVD Vegan Beauty, which comes in 17 waterproof shades for ultimate personalization.
Create hair-like strokes in a flash with Stila’s super-skinny brow pencil. It’s the perfect shape to create defined yet natural-looking brows, and features a smudge-proof formula that can stand against any weather condition.
This pencil-gel duo is equipped with everything you need to achieve pro-like results. An opaque, easy-to-use pencil offers natural fullness while the weightless gel tames unruly brows for a polished finish.
Marris recommends using a brow serum post-tinting and henna to help stimulate hair growth, nourish the hair and skin, and lock in and prolong the color. This one by NeuBrow promises thicker-looking brows in three to four weeks and features keratin and biotin for maximum hydration and protection.