Sunny has replaced wintery. Ballet flats are standing in for snow shoes. And the change in season is calling for a ground-shifting beauty reinvention that’s bigger than lipstick. Leave your hair alone—and first consider the brow, which, with an incremental permutation in tone, can transform your look from ethereal to classic, pretty to punk.
“People are looking at brows as an extension of their hair,” says the makeup artist Kate Lee, who has transformed the arches of clients like Rooney Mara and Keira Knightley. For those en route to finding their ideal hair and brow color combination, discovering the right match can be tricky. Lee suggests experimenting first with temporary brow colors, like Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel, and filling in lightly with a Chanel Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil for added depth. “It’s instant gratification,” she explains. “Take a selfie, look in the mirror, and make sure it suits you.”
Once you’ve settled on a shade, New York City colorist Aura Friedman, whose clients include everyone from Carolyn Murphy to Caroline Polachek and Sky Ferreira, says the only rule for dyeing your eyebrows is to match warm tones with warm tones, cool with cool. That, and be prepared to return to the salon at least once every four weeks—even more often if you’ve gone lighter (though Lee notes that a tinted brow gel will see you through any awkward salt-and-pepper transitional moments).
Here, Lee and Friedman offer their guidelines for brow alterations that enhance eye color, strengthen or soften bone structure, and look as inconspicuous or dramatic as desired.
“People tend to feel better about themselves when you can see their eyebrows,” explains Friedman. Natural blondes who have fair hairs can feel free to deepen the shade of their arches, she says, adding that darker brows will act as a frame for the face and enhance your eye color. “Generally, it will give you the appearance of a lot more brow. It can really revolutionize your look,” agrees Lee. If your eyebrows appear too dark against your hair, Friedman suggests “taking the edge out by softening the color one level”—an act she deems necessary across the board for brunettes going golden blonde, because lightening your brows, even subtly, will warm everything up.
Bleached brows, on the other hand, “are not for everyday life—it’s more for models and for people with perfect bone structure.” So, just because you’ve gone platinum does not mean you have to take your brows there, too. “You’re not going to fool anyone into believing it’s your natural hair color.”
“If you’re a blonde going brunette, I recommend darkening your brows,” advises Friedman, but, conversely, she says, brunettes with brows deeper than their hair color have no need to book a brow-dyeing appointment. It’s a look she prefers, because “by nature, your brows are supposed to be darker than your hair,” and the cooler your shade, the darker your brows can be. A lift in arch tone is only suggested for those looking to soften the fine lines that come with aging or angular bone structure, and to take the focus away from thin eyebrows. If your brow shade blends with your skin tone, an over-plucked pair won’t look so pronounced.
“More often than not, natural redheads don’t have red eyebrows, so matching your brows to your hair color is unnecessary,” says Friedman. Those with a hue that’s more pumpkin than burgundy will be best suited by arches with the smallest hint of copper. Cool redheads, on the other hand, can be coupled with brunette arches that are dark and rich.
Raven-haired women can follow the simple equation of matching black with black. “Warm eyebrows with black hair reads orange and looks weird,” says Friedman. But, she concedes, “Every client is case by case.”
No matter what you choose, Lee cautions, “do not try to dye your own brows, especially if you don’t have experience. There are plenty of eyebrow specialists. I would encourage you to not take chances.”