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Napoleon Perdis

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An Eyebrow Raising Affair

Posted: 03/18/2010 1:08 pm

Graphic brows are bolder, fuller and more expressive than we've seen in decades


A salvo from the fall runways: Thin is not in -- at least when it comes to eyebrows. At the recent round of shows, makeup artists on both sides of the Atlantic colored, sculpted, defined and showcased the most resplendent brows we've seen for decades. In a season where the face was often left bare, those little fringes of hair floating above the eyes emerged as a distinct focal point, if not a seductive exclamation point. At Giorgio Armani natural brows were complemented with boomerang-shaped bolts of vivid color on the eyelids. At Balenciaga, last season's bleached brows were replaced with pastel-hued arches that lent models a distinctly futuristic air, while at Dries Van Noten they were enhanced with a sophisticated scribble of black pencil. Meanwhile, other designers, including Narciso Rodriguez and Prada, embraced full, Brooke Shields-like brows. The upshot? Put down those tweezers.

If you're not paying much heed to your brows, now is the time to show them some love. Brows literally frame the face and, as we all know, no portrait sits well in a cheap frame. When you think of classic beauties, they all share one common trait: brows that wow. Think of the pencil thin arches of Joan Crawford, the dramatic brows of Elizabeth Taylor and the luxuriant versions of 80s-era Shield. On the big screen, and in 3D no less, I was mesmerized by Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen in Alice In Wonderland, her exaggerated eyes inspired by Bette Davis's stenciled brows apparently. On the small screen I regularly admire Julianna Marguiles's elegant brows on The Good Wife, and Rose Byrne's on Damages -- perfect for all those eyebrow-raising plot twists.

London's Daily Mail reported recently that eyebrow transplants are becoming popular for chronic over-tweezers. The operation is much like a hair transplant, and can return brows to their bushy best. In the UK, the shapely brows of actresses like Keira Knightley and Emma Watson has helped drive the trend. Closer to home, at Anastasia Soare's legendary salon in Beverly Hills, clients reference Sandra Bullock's manicured fringes. While Soare and her ilk favor waxing and pencils to tweak brows, the ancient Indian art of threading has also become increasingly popular. Short of seeing an expert, here are some ways to primp and perfect your most expressive features:

Color match: Brows should be the same color as your hair or a shade darker. Blondes should use a fawn or sand color for subtle definition -- try my Napoleon Perdis pencil in Taupe or Blonde. Redheads should opt for brown-based shades with a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg. Shades of brown such as suede or coffee work best for brunettes and also for women with black hair--black can be too harsh. Depending on the amount of gray, a soft brown pencil will work well for women with salt and pepper-colored hair. For full gray, soft shades of charcoal work best.

Fill in: The secret to amplifying sparse brows is to create natural-looking texture. Select a pencil in a matching shade, scribble it onto the back of your hand and apply the color to your brow using a stiff angled brush. Sharpen the same pencil and use it to simulate individual hairs by drawing directly onto the brow. Blend with a brow comb.

Define: To create clean, sharp brows, highlight the brow bone with a white eye pencil. The contrast between the pencil and the brow creates a crisp look. Using the white pencil, draw a line beginning at the highest arch of the brow bone to where the brow ends. Using a small eye brush, blend softly over the line.

Draw: To ensure you don't overdraw your brows, color in the opposite direction of the hair growth. The result is more natural than following the growth. Brush brows back in the natural direction to finish.

Maintain: Thicker brows make you look younger. Resist the urge to over-tweeze as you get older, as hard lines can be less flattering. Overly thin brows can also appear, well, tacky. A high arch adds a youthful, fresh look to any face.

Balance: Modifying the brows can subtly change the perception of other features. For eyes that are set close together, start brows slightly inside the inner corner of the eye. And for eyes that are farther apart, start the brow slightly closer to the bridge of the nose, which makes peepers appear closer together. Enough brow-beating!


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