I had naively thought that after months of witnessing me roll needles, electrocurrents, and a small army of skincare products into my face without comment, perhaps my boyfriend really couldn’t be fazed by the intricacies of my beauty routine. But a few weeks ago, it was Just for Men beard dye that finally did it. "Uh… what?" he said, holding up the box I had left on the bathroom counter. "Why?"
I proceeded to very calmly woman-splain to him that good brows don’t just happen, and anyway, hadn’t he been paying attention? The fact that I use beard dye to tint my brows isn’t exactly a secret—I shout that shit from the virtual rooftops of Instagram.
For the record, here are my brows pre-tint.
Once upon a time I thought that the key to great brows was to leave them untouched. And while that was advice that served me well when I was rehabilitating my arches from my tweeze-happy teen years, a visit to brow guru Stevi Christine a couple of years ago changed everything. I winced with every hair she plucked away, convinced that when she handed me the mirror at the end, my 14-year-old self would be staring back at me. Instead, I was shocked to see that my brows somehow looked thicker—thicker, but more groomed and better-shaped than ever.
Tinting, after all, picks up all the little blonde hairs around our brows that we aren’t even aware exist: You’re left with a bigger canvas to work with, so tweezing the strays suddenly doesn’t seem so scary. Bonus: The right tint also makes your brows look impossibly thick and glossy. (If you didn’t exactly aspire to “glossy brows” I apologize in advance for adding a new beauty standard to your list. But hear me out!)
Which brings me back to my love affair with Just for Men: These days, I tint my own brows at home, typically once or twice per month. It’s a gloriously cost-effective way to zhuzh up and add balance to my whole face, and I like to think that in two-plus years of doing it, I’ve gotten pretty damn good. Recently, I branched out to lashes on a possibly-dangerous whim, and while I cannot recommend using Just for Men for that (more on that later) I’ve located a worthy alternative. So without further ado, these are the tips I’ve picked up on the journey to DIY brow nirvana (and an after shot to get you excited).
For brows, Just for Men is it.
While I’d love to eventually find a vegetable dye alternative, it’s been difficult for me to locate a formula that isn’t exclusively offered at a salon. So in the meantime, I’ll stick with my tried-and-true: Just for Men Beard & Mustache Dye ($10) in Medium Brown.
The whole process is foolproof: You mix the color and the developer, apply to your brows, leave it on for five minutes, and rinse it off with a gentle soap or shampoo. Et voila: glossy brows for days (or weeks, really).
A spooly brush is your friend.
I’m still working through a pack I bought on Amazon (which if I can help it, will last me through the end of time). This is the key to precise application.
Fill in your brows with makeup before tinting—and take a picture before wiping it off.
Think about your "problem areas" where you tend to fill in the most: I, for example, tend to focus on the top front of my brows, so I always make sure the dye covers that area. Just remember to wipe down your brows so that they’re free of any makeup before tinting.
Invest in a small bottle of baby shampoo.
Soap will get in your eyes when you’re washing the tint out. Tearless shampoo makes all the difference.
Keep the post-dye tweezing to a minimum if you can help it.
The first time you tint your brows, they might look alarmingly thick—I’ve made the mistake of going into major cleanup mode because it suddenly felt like I had all this hair to work with. The problem? When the tint starts to fade, your brows will start to look thin and patchy. Instead, focus on keeping the dye to a certain shape and only pluck the very obvious strays.
For lashes, please skip the beard dye and stick with something gentle and natural.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t had nice aesthetic results with beard dye on my lashes—but it occurred to me all too recently that putting chemicals on the surface area of my eye was probably the worst idea I’ve had in awhile. Instead, I now use this black henna dye.
Curl your lashes before applying the tint.
It’s much easier this way.
Trial and error is an inevitability.
Think about it: How much have your arches evolved over the years? With this new tool in your arsenal, that evolution will go into overdrive. My advice is to keep tabs on what’s working for your face shape, how your brows are looking in photos, and how your makeup application has changed. (A good rule of thumb: You’ve hit the sweet spot when you can forego pencil altogether and just stick with brow gel.)
FYI: Here's even more on how to tint your eyebrows at home.