Wooly Browed


Every couple of years, Vogue does a feature on the return of the bold brow. You could set a watch by it. I have never been inspired by these features, partly because everything in Vogue sounds like Plum Sykes wrote it and partly because bold brows are never, ever out of fashion.

As with a strong jawline, thick brows are one of those hallmarks of masculine beauty that happens to look equally good on a woman. If masculine/feminine traits exist along a spectrum, then my beauty idols are all clustered along the same specific region: Charlotte Rampling, Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Brooke Shields, Jacqueline Onassis, Carine Roitfeld….they all have blunt jaws and thick brows. It's a classic look.

You can't will yourself a strong jaw, but anyone with access to a brown-ish pencil can have big brows. The thicker the better! My ideal woman looks exactly like Tom Selleck, but without the mustache. In her beauty book, the late great Arlene Dahl recommends using a "colorless mustache wax" to tame unruly brows—if you've tried this, please report back. I've had good luck with clear mascara (Maybelline Great Lash). Sometimes, I make mine darker with Diorshow Mascara in Chestnut. I like using brown mascara instead of a brow pencil because my brows are already thick and do not benefit from the illusion of further thickening. For occasional stray hairs, I rely on the Revlon True Precision Tweezer. This is not something you can keep around the house if you have children—it is pointy. Also, it is made in Germany, where they take precision seriously.

If you're looking to transform yourself for the New Year, giving yourself a vigorous brow could be just the trick. A new you? This MIT study found that eyebrows were more crucial than eyes in face recognition. The transformative possibilities are endless!

The same study also featured an illustration, which I would like to present, in conclusion, without comment:


—Molly Young

Molly Young is a New York-based writer and the owner of two bold eyebrows. Read her Top Shelf interview here

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Jane James

    The Anastasia clear wax brow pencil is amazing and makes your brows look thick and perfect with one swipe, but it is insanely expensive. I'm looking for alternatives at the art supply store this weekend.

  • http://twitter.com/SaraT1011 Sarita

    I nearly choked from laughter after reading this: "My ideal woman looks exactly like Tom Selleck, but without the mustache." I just can't!

    I do love thick eyebrows, though. I buy mascara for the sole purpose of filling in mine (and not for its intended use--thickening lashes).

  • Georgia Palmer

    Never tried clear moustache wax, sadly. But I do use the ELF clear brow gel, which works pretty well. Failing that, there's always hairspray on a brow comb!

  • http://twitter.com/theminxblog The Minx

    frida is the brow model of my dreams. I was her for halloween, but I would also like to be her in general. loving this post ;)

  • Guest

    E.L.F. clear brow gel is actually pretty solid - I picked it up after running out of a sample of the Anastasia.

  • http://y-li.me/ yxlime

    +1 for ELF clear brow gel - works just as well as the Anastasia.

    • chicnoir

      Ok, the next time I'm in Target, I will check out the ELF brand gel along with the mustache wax. I love Anastacia but I would rather spend the money on high end eyeshadow and Armani Mastero skin makeup .

  • Charlotte

    love Cara's brows!

  • Rose_luve

    nyk brow pencil wax. amazing stuff and easy to transport along!

  • muji

    I have never been inspired by these features, partly because everything in Vogue sounds like Plum Sykes wrote it and partly because bold brows are never, ever out of fashion.


  • disqus_TgQhPNTgSh

    the owner of two bold eyebrows! Ha!! I use Benefit Brow Zings, I have black hair but I use the brown kit because black brows can look too heavy. Best tip I've ever been given by a make up artist!

  • kag

    More Molly Young please!

  • http://www.ourwonderlust.com/ TinaOurWonderLust

    I love this look. If you live in NYC, there's no one who can do a bold brow better than Manana at Fekkai. She has a cult following for those who know about her: http://www.ourwonderlust.com/ourwonderlust/little-wonder-the-perfect-eyebrows.html

  • Katherine

    Just a tip: If you don't have brow gel or clear mascara, a little vaseline or unscented hairspray will work perfectly!

  • Dru

    Thank goodness the skinny-overarched-brow trend of the early 00s is well and truly dead - I don't know how people don't figure out that that shit not only looks artificial, it's ridiculously aging.
    Not that my local threaders seem to have got that memo, they used to take half my eyebrows off every time I went to them and it took a year of complete threading avoidance to get my brows back, ugh.

  • Al

    I actually do use my boyfriend's "colorless moustache wax" for my brows.

    It's called Clubman, it's under $4, you can get it at any drugstore. It's a creamy wax, so it doesn't flake but it also doesn't budge once it's on. It's ideal for naturally thick (but, you know, unruly) Jewish girl brows like my own.

    • http://twitter.com/magicmolly Molly Young

      SOLD!! you had me at "creamy wax"

    • chicnoir

      I'm going try this because the Anastasia eyebrow gel is twenty bucks per tube. I'll save the difference for Tom Ford palletes.

  • OB

    i love nyx eye brow pencils!


  • Caroline

    This is hilarious! I totally agree with a lot of the other comments, love a strong brow!

  • http://twitter.com/An_Gi_C 안지 ☀

    What's so wrong with Plum Sykes?

  • A

    Can you do a review/piece on how to grow back your brows after enthusiastic plucking? Has anyone tried RapidLash or whatever the brow equivalent is (or other home remedies) and what works? Thanks!

  • fairytalesandcoffee

    I love big, bold eyebrows on women. I wish mine were super thick and defined. They wake a weak face.

  • http://reddysteadygo.tumblr.com/ Sindhu R.

    I ADORE thick brows and pooh-pooh on Vogue for ever thinking they aren't "in". Also adore Molly Young writing for ITG! Hopefully see more of that.
    I love thick brows so much that I will just go ages without getting mine done but unfortunately they just look unkept and careless. Maybe I should acquire some plucking and pruning skills coupled with good brow wax.

  • chicnoir

    What???? You don't like Plum Sikes??? I loved her first book Bergdoff Blondes. She is a " friend inside of my head " although two people couldn't be from such different backgrounds.

  • LastGirlinTown

    I like big brows and I can not lie...

  • Lori Santos

    'because everything in Vogue sounds like Plum Sykes wrote it'. Hehe! Oh yes! more Molly Young, please!

  • Always anonymous

    I have had such thick, bushy brows my whole life I am somewhat of an expert when it comes to keeping them decent. Who needs a precious, specially made brow wax pencil, when you can get a cheap tube of chapstick and swipe that on! It works just as well - even better I think. I have been using something of that nature for years - the one on my make-up table now is Burt's Bees, probably because it was on sale at my local grocery store, and I spied it next to the tabloid section at the checkout counter. Affordable, portable and it does double duty. As long as your brows are clean, go ahead and use it next on your lips!

  • Harlowrose

    My brows are decent, and in the best shape in years... but they don't grow. I'll never have a full brow like Tom Selleck.

  • elena

    Arlene Dahl is still alive...

  • Naj Clave

    I just adore Audrey and Keira's looks. Looking at them makes me want to kick myself for over plucking during my younger years. http://mybeautyblurbs.blogspot.com


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