The word ‘hack’ really grates on me for some reason but if ever there were a bonafide beauty hack, ‘soap brows’ is one. From makeup artists to beauty bloggers to old Hollywood starlets, using soap to shape, brush up, add fullness and set eyebrows is a tried and tested method that achieves soft and subtle yet still groomed results. Given the brow boom of the past few years, with sales of brow makeup soaring by 38 per cent in the UK between 2016 and 2017 alone according to NPD stats, taking things back to basics in a market crowded with pencils, powders, pomades and gels feel rather refreshing, not to mention frugal. Not that brow makeup doesn’t have its place, but the fact that the pros fall back on good old soap and water from time to time proves that it’s a strategy with legs.
Soap brows have even been given a 2020 twist, with the growing popularity of brow lamination proving the look never goes out of style.
How to ‘soap’ your brows
We were on a shoot with Pixiwoo last week and spied Nic whip out a silver tin of soap, not to wash her hands with but to coax her brows into shape. She'd done them with it that morning (see the results for yourself in our picture above) and said it made her otherwise fine brows look thicker. Given that she has a plethora of brow products at her disposal, why soap?
Handily, Nic’s sister Sam made a soap brow tutorial back in 2016 to demo the basic premise. Using a clear soap combined with water helps to beef out brows in a natural-looking way, leaving them looking thick and fluffy without the need to fill them in afterwards, although if you’re so inclined Sam advises adding colour only to the bottom arch of eyebrows to avoid interfering with the volume created by the soap.
As for the soaping process, you’ll need a clean spoolie and a clear soap (white soap = dandruff brows). Sam and Nic recommend the amber coloured classic Pear’s , £1.19, or for on the go the Soap Brows Kit , £12, is always in the Pixiwoo stash.
If you’d like to invest in a pro brow blender for precise application, Benefit Brow Blender Tool , £16.50, is hard to beat.
Simply run your spoolie or blender over the surface of the wet soap until you’ve built up a foamy texture, then brush brows upwards until you’ve achieved the desired lifted, full effect. That’s it.
Anastasia Soare , the brow wizard behind beauty brand Anastasia Beverly Hills, is a soap lover too. She posted this tutorial on her Instagram page earlier this month, using plain old soap to add volume and shape before filling in with her cult Dipbrow Pomade, £19.
Why soap brows are so popular
First of all the whole process can cost you less than a pound and Sam and Nic love it as it’s a technique whereby you can see your real eyebrow hairs rather than ‘blocking’ them out with product. As such they’re a versatile partner to more dramatic makeup looks and add a cool element to a smoky eye or statement lip as they never look too ‘done’.
Secondly, once the soap has dried down, you’re set, as it creates a transparent film over brows that holds them in place without running or flaking (although be careful not to go overboard on initial application to avoid soapy eyes should it rain…). Despite being on lockdown soaped brows somehow retain a fluffy, dry look too, so if you dodge brow makeup for fear of the dreaded ‘sharpie’ brow, this could be a technique to try.
Finally, it’s quick and hard to fluff up in a literal sense, although Sam advises using a “less soap, more water” ratio to avoid any potential soap peeling. Otherwise, it’s a doddle, so lather up.
Mary Greenwell’s guide to creating full brows with makeup
Follow Nic on Twitter @Pixiwoo and Sam @Pixiwoos