While trends constantly ebb and flow in our fast-paced culture, the transition into the New Year always seems to brighten the spotlight on what we can expect to be popular in the coming months. And while bold eyebrows have been untouchable in this respect over the past several years, it looks as though the long-standing Cara Delevingne effect is in for a slight shift.
More and more makeup pros are publicly maligning what we'll call the "Instagram brow"—an extreme take on defined arches that involves using an entire arsenal of products for a dramatically thick effect. One of the trademarks of this look is a gradient fade at the front of the brow to (theoretically) mimic the look of smaller "sprout" hairs. The result is bold, to be sure, but far from natural—and experts agree that it's high time that we said goodbye to the overfilled look.
The look first gained popularity among makeup bloggers a couple of years ago but has enjoyed longevity thanks to high-profile proponents like Kylie Jenner.
But just like other techniques in the contrived "no-makeup makeup" category are starting to fade to the background (we're looking at you, contouring), this approach to brows is falling away in favor of truly natural-looking arches. "I warn people that there is a difference between heavy and full," brow expert Sania Vucetaj tells Bustle, a sentiment echoed by both runway trends and many makeup pros we've spoken to over the past several months.
The distinction is this: While it's more acceptable than ever to let your brows grow to their most natural state—stray hairs and all à la '80s-era Brooke Shields—the idea is to play up whatever shape you were born with, rather than use a pencil (or pomade or powder) to create new arches entirely. And while fixing any obvious patchiness is okay, overfilling is a no-go. Tl;dr: The goal is your brows but better.
A huge part of this is finding your ideal product (or products), which is a personal endeavor based on your natural texture and volume—something we illustrated when we had three Byrdie editors with very different arches try on pomade, powder, and pencil for the camera. Using that story as your initial guide, check out some of our favorite products for natural-looking brows below.
If we can't stop talking about Glossier's cult-fave brow perfecter, it's only because there's no other product quite like it: Equal parts pomade and tinted gel, this formula is our go-to for effortlessly lush, woke-up-like-this arches.
Finding a great clear gel is a deceptively tricky business—you want hold that doesn't look lacquered, and many brushes inadvertently glob on too much product. We love this formula not only for its superior design and natural-looking finish, but also because it contains growth-boosting ingredients like hydrolyzed collagen. (It's also great for subtly defining your lashes.)
A favorite among the discerning Birchbox crowd, this pencil comes in just one, universally flattering shade. (Pro tip: Make light, hairlike strokes with the pencil, and use the brush to blend for the most natural-looking finish.)