Even though eyelashes continue to be all the rage these days, studies show that lashes are not necessarily the most important feature on a person’s face. When it comes to first impressions and social interactions, eyebrows actually have the largest influence in facial recognition and the way a person views another’s emotional expressions, according to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. “Women are often looking for ways to make their features pop, and brow shaping does just that,” says Dena Bruckman, marketing director at Grande Naturals. “It’s an eye-opener and serves as a frame for the entire face.” Unfortunately, like the hair on the head, brows often suffer from issues that affect how they appear. “Brow issues can be the result of many factors,” says Kathryn Reynolds, O.D., vice president of eyecare for MediNiche. “Over-tweezing, an underlying hormonal imbalance, a nutrient deficiency, allergies, an autoimmune disorder, or a response to medications can be culprits.”
According to Natalie Plain, founder and CEO of Billion Dollar Brows, the most pressing problem that clients face is sparse hair growth or bald spots within their brows. “Some people over-pluck in their youth, some lose brow volume with age, and some never have thick brows to begin with,” she says. “Either way, most women seek fuller, better-defined eyebrows.” In addition to over-plucked and thin brows, there are clients with a sensitivity to waxing, clients with hair that grows downward, light-colored brows that blend in with skintone, and medical conditions that affect hair growth. To ensure proper care is taken when treating brow issues, Reynolds recommends you refer clients to a health professional, such as an eye doctor, dermatologist, or an allergist to rule out any health-related issues before performing any treatment. For example, according to Laterica Reddix, owner and CEO of High Maintenance Brows, thinning brows with fading tails can be a red flag for a thyroid issue, or the client could be suffering from ailments such as alopecia areata, trichotillomania, eczema, or a vitamin deficiency.
The Right Approach
If no health issue is identified, you can move forward with treating the brows. However, a consultation should come first. It’s important to keep in mind that brows can be a sensitive topic. “Any beauty flaw can feel embarrassing,” says Plain. “Seasoned professionals know that making a client feel like they are not alone is key. Most women are unhappy with some aspect of their eyebrows, which is why brow cosmetics and services are in such demand.”
Once the consultation is complete, spa professionals should map out the brow plan of action with makeup to give clients an idea of what their brows will look like post-treatment. “This eases their minds, because if they don’t like it, they can wash it off,” says celebrity makeup artist Elle Leary. “It is also approachable and non-threatening. By really listening to the client’s concerns, it builds trust and confidence and also allows people to feel heard and comfortable. Making small suggestions each time, like ‘let’s take the arch up a little higher,’ allows the client to take baby steps and not get overwhelmed.” Here are solutions to some of the most common brow issues:
Over-tweezed brows: According to Kelley Baker, founder of Kelley Baker Brows, over-tweezed brows deserve just as much attention as full brows. She recommends first determining the shape that would bring out the client’s natural features, then trim, wax, and tweeze as needed. “We don’t want to take away much, unless there are hairs that aren’t in line with the proper shape,” she says. “Remember, it’s all about straight lines. I like to think of it as connecting the dots. Make sure your dots (aka hairs) connect all the way across from hair to hair.” She then fills in and camouflages any imperfections on the brow line with a highlighter pencil to create a perfect stencil to fill in the product. Then, she blends it in with a windshield-wiper motion to create a perfect line and give the brow bone a lifted look. Finally, she fills in the area with a brow-defining pencil or a brow powder. “The most important thing to remember when filling in brows is to go light in your application,” says Alejandro Falcon, artistic director and national educator at Osmosis Pür Medical Skincare. “Filling in brows lightly at first allows you to see how much intensity of product you need to apply to get a good natural look.”
Clients with thin over-tweezed brows should be advised not to tweeze in-between appointments and always use a good brow-growth serum or gel, which can soften and condition the brow area. The price of one of these products can either be added into the cost of the service, or they can be a great revenue source if displayed in the retail area for clients to purchase to help them extend the life of the brow service.
Thick and unruly brows: According to Sophy Merszei, founder and CEO of NovaLash, overgrown, misshapen, and unruly eyebrow hair is more commonly seen in younger clients, but it can happen to people of all ages. For these clients, it’s important to keep the hair groomed and shaped by trimming, waxing (with honey wax, because it is gentle on the skin), and tweezing. Some misshapen, unruly eyebrows might have areas that are too thick and overgrown as well as areas with no hair, and these brows can also benefit from the application of clear mascara or clear or colored brow gels. “Different brands have variable degrees of holding power, so for extra-taming ability, choose a brow gel with a firm hold,” says Merszei.
Sensitivity to waxing: Clients with a sensitivity to waxing should be treated gently with a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide hard wax and an application of tea tree ointment to protect skin before waxing. “If you get a client who is anxious to have their eyebrows waxed because they have sensitive skin, let them know that you are using high-quality synthetic wax made with ingredients designed for sensitive skin,” says Lilliane Caron, founder of Waxxxpress. “It is important that you always use hard wax for eyebrows and all facial waxing, as strip wax can be harsh on the delicate skin, especially if the client is already sensitive.” After waxing, she recommends using an antibacterial cleansing foam over the area.
According to Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, M.D., dermatologist and consultant for HydroPeptide, if one is prone to getting painful red bumps and pustules after waxing, this could be a sign of folliculitis, which is when hair follicles become inflamed after hair removal. To prevent folliculitis, a mild over-the-counter hydrocortisone can be applied after waxing to keep inflammation to a minimum.
Light-colored brows: Light-colored brows can be tinted, which can last anywhere from three to six weeks. “Tinting can dramatically enhance brows that are too light,” says Reddix. “Brow tint grasps those tiny unseen hairs to create volume and add structure to your client’s brows.” In addition to tinting, clients with very light brows can also benefit from using a product daily that deposits color, like a colored brow gel, brow powder, or pencil.
Thinning Brows: According to Imahiyerobo-Ip, the most common eyebrow complaint in patients is thinning, which can be caused by over-tweezing or waxing, but it can also be caused by a medical condition, like hypothyroidism or alopecia areata, which can affect the eyebrows and cause hair loss. However, when no medical condition exists, products can be used to help stimulate hair growth. “Latisse is a prescription medication that contains bimatoprost, a prostaglandin analog that can help eyebrows and eyelashes grow,” says Imahiyerobo-Ip. “This requires a prescription from a healthcare provider.” Non-prescription lash and brow conditioners are also available and highly effective. They help strengthen, nourish, and condition the hairs to create an environment for natural brows to flourish, according to Sabrina Little, senior director of marketing and product development for Athena Cosmetics, manufacturer of RevitaLash. “Eyebrow conditioners with sophisticated peptides, antioxidants, and moisturizing ingredients can help soften wiry brows, making them behave so they lay down in place for proper shaping and trimming,” she says.
Another option for filling in sparse eyebrows is semi-permanent tattooing, which is done by tapping pigment very superficially into the upper layer of the dermis, often with a non-motorized hand-held, single use pen with small needles at the tip. “This method can be used to create tiny hair strokes,” says Merszei. “Semi-permanent brow tattooing can be used to fill in sparse brows with solid color. These techniques last around two or more years, depending on color choice, UV exposure, and use of exfoliating products and peels.”
According to Nicole Pigott, brand manager at RapidLash, a lash and brow serum can be used to improve the overall appearance of diminishing brow lines by strengthening brows and preventing breakage. A brow pencil can also instantly improve the look of thin brows. “Many of our clients complain about thin, sparse brows, but they feel like pencil looks too harsh and ages them,” says Hannah Duncan, co-owner of Aesthetic Ambassadors. So, she recommends a neutral-colored mineral powder that adheres to the brows instead.
Excessive hair loss or chemotherapy: For hair loss or side-effects of chemotherapy, brow extensions are an option. “For the serious brow-seeking client, there are now brow transplants and extensions that help physically thicken the existing brow zone by attaching hair to the individual’s own hair—much like lash extensions,” says Little.
Brow care does not need to be complicated. “Condition, shape, color, and hold,” says Plain. There are many brow products available today, such as pencils, powders, waxes, and gels, but it’s important to choose a brand with high-quality ingredients. “Low-grade cosmetics use pigments that look unnatural, plus they are more likely to damage brow hairs and follicles,” says Plain. “Whether you prefer powder or pencil, your cosmetics should go on smoothly without tugging delicate brow hairs. Fill in sparse spots or extend a missing brow tail, and always blend for a natural look. Finally, lock in freshly shaped and colored brows with a touch of clear gel.”
According to Umbreen Sheikh, founder of Wink Brow Bar (New York City), brow professionals should tell clients to avoid tweezing close to the brow line and apply a good brow moisturizer every day while brushing up the brows with a spoolie, a brow-shaping tool that helps to evenly distribute product. “This very simple technique will keep any brow nourished and looking groomed,” she says.
When it comes to attracting clients, it’s important to let them know you have solutions to their brow issues. Signage throughout the spa is one of the best ways to get the word out. “Including articles or brow-centric looks on small stand-up easels or in acrylic frame displays will keep this undeniable trend top of mind and provide inspiration to customers to go for this modern look,” says Little. When a spa adds an actual brow design service to the menu in addition to a traditional brow shaping, it allows the esthetician to spend more time educating the guest on the proper way to fill in their brows, according to Melissa Jansma, vice president of sales and marketing at Blinc. Also, offer brow products and accessories in the retail area. “Brow pencils and powders are a quick way to make eyebrows appear fuller and darker,” says Caron. “Once clients see how great their eyebrows look with the addition of a brow makeup product, they more often than not will buy it.”
Rachel Couvrey, brand manager at American International Industries (AII), recommends providing add-on services to clients while they are receiving a brow treatment, like a paraffin treatment or soothing eye mask. And Plain recommends that brow professionals boast about their qualifications. “If you have a specialized certificate in tinting, brag about it,” she says. “If you have extra training or certification from a particular brand, don’t be afraid to share that information. In a business built on client loyalty, show that you offer more than the competition.”
When using social media, Baker recommends Instagram, because it’s a great way to attract new clients by posting before-and-after images. “People love to see the end result of your work,” says Baker. “Make sure your profile is professional and has all your contact info.” Also, because word-of-mouth referrals are great for business, brow professionals should tend to the brows of friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to show off their work.
Today’s spas offer a wide range of solutions to help clients achieve beautiful-looking brows. “Now that consumers have become accustomed to thicker, more dramatic false lashes, there is a need to balance the eyebrows with more volume as well,” says Merszei. “Very full brows coupled with sparse lashes can overpower an entire face, and dramatic lashes paired with thinning brows can make the lashes look excessively artificial. When both are balanced, the eyes sparkle and take center stage.”
Here, High Maintenance Brows’s Laterica Reddix shares brow-marketing tips.
1. Create a monthly brow membership service with a VIP or loyalty card.
2. Show before-and-after photos on social media.
3. Run a social media contest to attract the attention of current and potential clients.
4. Offer a selfie station at your spa.
5. Start a referral program.
6. Set up a separate brow bar area.
7. Package a pre-paid brow service with other complimentary services.
8. Conduct an open house or demonstration day.
9. Promote mini brow services at local vendor spots.
10. Partner with other professionals in the area to attract new clients.
Shape, define, and enhance clients’ brows with these effective products and tools.—Darby Radcliff
1. Ardell Professional Brow Building Fiber Gel: Create full, natural-looking brows with this easy-to-use, smudge-resistant formula, which contains long-lasting, volumizing fibers. www.ardelllashes.com
2. Billion Dollar Brows Brow Boost: Replenish brows with this vitamin-infused, paraben-free primer and conditioner that helps makeup go on smoothly and easily. www.billiondollarbrows.com
3. Blinc Long Lash: Ideal for sensitive eyes, this gentle brow formula is designed to give eyebrows a boost by dramatically enhancing length, fullness, and thickness. www.blincinc.com
4. BrowFood Phyto-Medic Complex Eyebrow Enhancer: Help shape, define, and grow brows with this enhancing serum made with adenosine, peony root complex, and rice protein. www.lashfood.com
5. Grande Naturals GrandeBrow-Fill: Define and thicken brows with this tinted brush-on brow gel with fibers and peptides to volumize and cover greys. www.grandelashmd.com
6. Jane Iredale GreatShape Eyebrow Kit: Add color, depth, and highlight with this on-the-go brow kit that includes a dual-ended applicator, botanical brow wax, and pigmented brow powder. www.janeiredale.com
7. Kelley Baker Brows Brow Defining Pencil: Refine and shape brows with this tool, which creates natural, precise, and more voluminous brows. www.kelleybakerbrows.com
8. MediNiche Lash Advance Lash & Brow Gel: Stimulate growth with this gentle gel formula, which protects from damage and helps reduce brow loss. www.mediniche.com
9. RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum: Featuring keratin and apple and sweet almond extracts, this nourishing formula is designed to improve brow density, shine, and softness. www.rapidlash.com
10. RevitaLash Hi-Def Tinted Brow Gel: Condition and enhance clients’ brows with this multitasking eyebrow setting gel, which sculpts, defines, and fills in eyebrows to create a fuller look. www.revitalash.com
11. NeuBrow Brow Enhancing Serum: Featuring a proprietary blend of biotin, keratin, peptides, and vitamins, this formula nourishes and protects eyebrows, resulting in fuller, healthier looking brows. www.skinresearchlabs.com
12. Tweezerman Moroccan Oasis Collection Mini Slant Tweezer: Featuring a bold pattern, this on-the-go shaping tool combines function with fashion and is perfect for any precision task. www.tweezerman.com