Even if you’ve flawlessly applied eye makeup, you won’t look your best until you have sleek, groomed eyebrows. These natural arches open up the eyes, give a youthful lift to the upper half of your face and create a frame for the rest of your features. If they are too thin or overgrown, however, these little hairs can make a big difference, so it’s worth taking the time to groom and shape your perfect brows.

Step 1: Trim It Up

Some brow hairs tend to grow longer than the rest, which makes it difficult to assess the desired shape or where brows might need a little filler. Take a small spoolie brush and sweep the hairs straight up.

Trim any long hairs that stick up beyond the natural outline of your eyebrow with a pair of small scissors. Any lengthy hairs should now be similar in length to the rest of your brow hairs and lay flat more easily. Once you’re done trimming, smooth the hairs in an arched shape with the spoolie brush. Sweep slightly up on the inner third of the brow and then outward the rest of the way.

Step 2: Measuring 101

Measure and mark your perfect, personalized brows with a brow pencil. Hold the pencil vertically along the side of your nose. Your brow should start directly above the center of your nostril in line with the vertical pencil. Use the pencil to make a small mark and repeat on the opposite side. These marks will serve as placeholders for your desired brow shape.

Next, place the tip of the pencil across your cheek at an angle so that the bottom end hits just outside your nostril and slants along the outer corner of your eye. Your brow should end where the pencil hits on your brow bone. Mark this point with a small dot as well.

Finally, look straight ahead and hold the pencil vertically just outside the outer edge of your iris. This point is where you want your brow to arch slightly. Mark this point with your pencil.

Step 3: Color It In

Get a feel for your new brow shape by filling it in with a brow pencil close to your natural hair color. If you are light-haired, opt for a pencil one or two shades darker than your hair color. If you are dark-haired, then choose a pencil one shade lighter than your hair color.

Apply the brow pencil in small dash strokes using your markers as guides. Gently fill in sparse areas and focus on a gentle arched shape that reaches its peak just outside your iris. Keep the width of the brow around 1/4 inch and gently taper it on the outer half of the brow. If you have naturally sparse brows, you can use the pencil to plump up the outline of your brow around the edges or on the ends.

Tips

Try shaping your brows after a shower when hair follicles are more open and hairs come out more easily.

Step 4: Pluck

Invest in a pair of slant-tipped tweezers that allow you to pick up specific hairs with ease. Remove hairs that fall outside of the shape you just mapped, plucking from the base of the hair. Grabbing from the base ensures you remove the specific hairs that fall outside of your desired eyebrow shape.

Don’t use a magnifying mirror during this process, which can lead to overplucking and losing the perspective and proportion of the brow on your face. Also be careful not to pluck too many hairs from the arched section of the brow, which can lead to an unnaturally high arch.

Tips

If your brows are feeling a little sparse after months of tweezing, put the tweezers down for a couple of months to allow hairs to regrow and fill in.

If the process of removing hair with a pair of slanted tweezers makes you cringe, there are professional alternatives. Threading involves a small piece of thread, which a trained aesthetician twirls over the desired area to quickly whisk away unwanted hairs. Trained aestheticians can shape your brows in minutes using this technique, and they can also give you advice on what shape suits your features.

Waxing remains another popular alternative to at-home eyebrow plucking. Leave this ritual to the pros, because one wrong swipe of wax can leave you with a bald patch. Both of these options remove hairs quickly and efficiently — rather than one tiny hair at a time — for those looking to catch a break in the pain department.