Makeup artists agree that eyebrows anchor your bridal beauty look, but they can be last on your list of wedding prep in the run-up. Here’s how to achieve eyebrows that flatter but don’t overpower, from microblading to last-minute makeup
Backstage at the Jenny Packham 2019 Bridal Collection Show, I asked Bobbi Brown pro makeup artist Hannah Martin for her ultimate bridal makeup must, and without skipping a beat her response was “brows”. Or more to the point, the difference that they can make to an overall makeup look, particularly if you’re having your photo taken a lot, as is the general protocol as a bride.
Whether they’re fading into the background and forgotten (me on a daily basis), or overly blocky and severe, going in blind where brows are concerned can throw makeup off kitler, even when the rest of your wedding day face is flawless and well-rehearsed. Hannah told me that the ideal eyebrow is of course different for everyone, but should deliver just enough definition to frame your face and bring out your eyes and other features, but not stand out as a feature itself. Basically, if your eyebrows enter the room before you, it’s a bit much, but equally if they’re invisible, it can dilute your overall look. Hannah also emphasised that finding your own personal eyebrow nirvana needn’t be a difficult or laborious exercise- from lessons and redeemable services at Bobbi Brown brow bars (try Brow How , £17) to simple makeup tricks and low-maintenance treatments, there’s a wealth of brow wisdom on the high street, and it needn’t always cost the earth. Here’s your gamine brow game plan.
A case for not overlooking your eyebrows
“Brows are so, so important to a finished look, particularly on your wedding day. You don’t want to have spent months planning your makeup, only to have bushy or overplucked brows in every wedding photo. Your brows frame your face and open up your eyes. Having them waxed and tinted before the wedding, and then styled by your makeup artist, or yourself, on the day will only add to your look, but in a subtle, can’t quite put your finger on it way.”
With that here are the prep steps.
A year to go
If you’re considering a full eyebrow MOT, now if probably the time to start brow-hab. If your bugbear is patchiness or overplucking that hasn’t filled out through regrowth, microblading may be for you, or consider an even more refined semi-permanent brow treatment. Makeup artist and eyebrow specialist Suzanne Martin , who devised the ‘Couture Brow’ treatment which is now exclusive to The Lanesborough Club and Spa, explains how a little planning and investment, plus a bespoke approach, can take eyebrow enhancement to the next level:
“The results of semi-permanent eyebrow treatments can last up to three years, so you can plan well ahead for a wedding, plus they’re zero maintenance in the run-up. Even if you don’t have that long, starting the process two to three months ahead of your wedding with deliver great results.
“My couture treatment is so-called as it begins with a detailed consultation during which I study your face shape, everyday makeup and personal style to design the perfect brow shape and colour for you- don’t settle for cookie cutter brows!
“I draw on the shape using a pencil before the treatment starts to ensure that you are completely happy with the look. A micro-needling technique is then used to carefully place hand-blended hypoallergenic mineral pigments just under the top layer of the skin. This tends to be more refined and precise than microblading, as a variety of needle sizes are used to mimic individual hair strokes, give incredibly natural results. The second treatment takes place a month later to refine the shape and colour and create a perfect finish.”
Just don’t cut the final treatment too fine, as colour needs to ‘settle’ and any tweaks to shape or thickness is best sorted at least four weeks before your wedding day to be on the safe side. Suzanne likens the process to a dress fitting of sorts:
“You want to look like the best version of yourself on your wedding day and the perfect brow shape and colour is key to framing the face, opening up the eye area and enhancing natural beauty. Your wedding dress is adjusted to fit to your body, so you should tailor your brows to your face.”
Knowing that both are in the bag well ahead of time is a relief, but if you’re not in the market for an eyebrow overhaul, a little forward-planning in terms of grooming can help you to achieve the shape and exact colour to suit, without the risk of mishaps.
Two months to go
Lisa advocates getting thee to a brow bar at around this time (or before if you’re organised)...
“It depends where you’re starting from and what your idea of a ‘dream’ brow is, whether neat and groomed or thicker and fuller, but I recommend getting your brows waxed and tinted every four weeks, full stop. So even if your wedding is a year away, start now! If it’s only a month or two away, visit your local brow bar ( Benefit's are the best in the business- they’ve been waxing and shaping brows for over 40 years). Ensure you get a thorough consultation first. Your therapist will advise you on what will suit you and help you to make the most of your brows.”
It’s not too late to whip yours into shape if you’ve not managed to fit in an appointment, but keep your agenda more minimalist…
A week to go
If you’re in need of a wax, Lisa gives you the go ahead, but seven days before the big day is your cut off:
“A week before could be perfect, but whatever you do, do not get your brows waxed the day before. It’s just not worth it! You need time to calm any inflammation, and due to wedding induced stress and excitement, your skin might suddenly decide to go redder after your wax.
“Instead, I prescribe a 'week before' wax if you need one, and in the week of your wedding, book a massage. It’s what I did, and I can’t recommend it enough. I know it’s got zilch to do with brows, but it was probably the best bit of beauty prep I invested in pre-wedding. You can thank me later.”
Less stress is likely to lead to better sleep and a generally rested complexion, so we’re sold on that particular tip.
On your wedding day
Incorporate this advice during your makeup trial, but the day itself isn’t too late to adjust your look. As a rough guide, Suzanne advises that “wedding day brows should be a slightly darker colour than you’d perhaps normally wear, so that they look look polished in photos.” Just don’t get too carried away with intense colour or overdrawing. Follow Lisa’s lead:
“Avoid a square shaped brow at the front. It never comes off well in photographs, or real life to be honest. To get a natural looking result, define your shape from the arch to the end with an ultra-thin brow pencil (Lisa works with Benefit Precisely My Brow , £20.50) so that you can create hair like strokes. Then go back and forth through the whole brow with a fibre gel (try Benefit Gimme Brow+ , £20.50), which mimics the appearance of real hair and will give you that natural, soft finish at the front of the eyebrows. Finally, set your brows in place with an eyebrow gel. This will guarantee that your brows will stay perfect all day.”
Suzanne recommends matte finish eyebrow makeup over shiny finishes ( Glossier Boy Brow is an-in-one brow fluffer, £14), and in terms of big day maintenance, the above steps should ensure that you don’t need to touch-up brows mid-reception, but one low-faff beauty addition can keep your entire face in place:
“My top tip for brides is to carry blotting papers in their wedding clutch to blot away excess makeup and oil throughout the day. Avoid adding more make up as the day goes on as you will end up looking cakey. Blotting papers are ideal to keep your look fresh and light.”
Need more visual inspo? Lisa cites Chrissy Teigen as a role model for beautiful wedding day brows, or look to Miranda Kerr, who incidentally also did her own makeup for her wedding. Suzanne has a more traditional take- the royal brows never fall out of fashion, and she rates the Duchess of Cambridge ’s “bold, strong and classic bridal brows. They weren’t a statement, just timelessly elegant”. Just remember you’re not trying to emulate anyone, just enhancing what’s already there. With that, here’s your w-day kit to consider.
Here come the brows
The skinny shaper
MAC Eye Brows Styler, £15.50, may be small, but it’s powerful, as MAC Director of Makeup Artistry Terry Barber emphasises:
“It’s great for adding the appearance of extra hairs for just the right degree of ‘bushiness’. It creates a nuanced, individual finish which is much more of a thing right now.”
The Markle makeup artist favourite
Meghan Markle ’s makeup artist Lydia Sellers works with vegan and cruelty free brand ICONIC London, so we can see the compact Sculpt & Boost Eyebrow Cushion, £26.99, coming in hand for bespoke brows on Meghan’s wedding day. The two-shade cushion guarantees custom colour, while the long-lasting formula is sweat, smudge and transfer resistant, which is kind of vital no matter what you’re up to, but you’d particularly want your eyebrows to stay in their lane during your nuptials.
The creamy gel controller
Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper & Hair Touch Up, £19, has a light, barely there feel, but fills in brows convincingly and keeps them exactly where they should be. Available in shades from blonde to mahogany, it’s one of the easiest options if you favour low maintenance makeup but want a bit of depth and definition- it doesn’t require an architecture degree to plot your brow line and there’s no meticulous etching involved.
The blotting sheets
Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Paper, £13, is packaged as a lipstick, comes equipped with a built-in mirror and can be rolled out whenever shine sets to prevent brow makeup migration.
The full stash
If you’ve still got surplus on your wedding budget (a bit like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, so I’ve heard), you could splash out on Nails & Brows Mayfair Style Collection, £90, equipped with a brow styler, brow setter, highlighter brush and sharpener, along with a zipped blush pouch to keep your loot in. Nails & Brows founder Sherrille Riley is responsible for Meghan Markle’s eyebrows, so you’d be in good company on your wedding morning if you whip this out. Perhaps use it as a clutch later to get your money’s worth…