I have light blond eyebrows. I also have little interest in filling them in my every day. And yet I do. It's less than ideal. But with a little dye, all of that changes. Yes, I'm talking at-home eyebrow tinting. With a few materials and a little know-how, all the little baby hairs that are otherwise invisible fill out and suddenly my eyebrows have shape. In just a few minutes, my whole situation changes, and I don't have to carefully pencil in my brows using delicate "hair-like" strokes.
In the salon, eyebrow tinting costs around $15 for about two minutes of work. This certainly isn't a huge time or money commitment (especially considering the long list of other salon services I indulge in), but it feels unnecessary regardless. On the contrary, you can learn how to tint your eyebrows the DIY way. It's shockingly easy, I swear: Slap on some color, wait a minute, wipe it off. It always seemed like something I could do. And so I did. And I haven't paid for an in-salon eyebrow tinting since. Intrigued? Scroll down to see how I do it.
First, make sure your brows are clean and makeup-free. Then brush through them with a spoolie as you normally would. You can apply a thin layer of Vaseline around your eyebrows to prevent accidental staining of the skin, but I've never had any problems, so I skip that step.
Now it's time to mix the color. I imagine there are kits that do this differently, but with the one I use, Godefroy's Instant Eyebrow Tint Permanent Color Kit in Light Brown ($17), you empty one capsule of color (it's in powder form) into the delightfully tiny mixing bowl and add an equal amount of developer cream. (When eye-balling the amount of developer you need to add, it helps to push all the powder color to one side of the bowl.) Using the little wooden stick provided, mix it into a creamy paste.
Some instructions may call for you to apply the color with a spoolie, but I like to use the little wooden stick because it gives me more control. Start at the front of your brow (the hair is denser there) and simply dab on the dye all the way through to the end of your brow. I concentrate on the center of my eyebrow first and then get all of the little (white blonde, in my case) baby hairs along the edges.
Once you've done one eyebrow—saturating every hair—stop. This is extremely important if you want your brows to match. Processing times will vary, but for the Light Brown color on my blond brows, it takes about one minute. Have your timer (or iPhone stopwatch) ready. This was the scary part for me during my first adventure in at-home brow tinting, but I can assure you it's really not that bad. I've actually added about 15 or 20 seconds to my processing time because (spoiler alert) the at-home tint does fade faster than an in-salon version. And if you end up looking too dark, there are a few quick fixes (more on that later!).
Using a wet cotton pad or paper towel, wipe off the color. You'll need to use a bit of pressure.
In my experience, it doesn't just wipe off. You will need to give it a little scrub back and forth. The important part is just making sure you remove it all. If you don't, whatever color remains will continue to process. I usually tint my brows right before I wash my face, just to be safe.
You may remove the color and think it looks too dark, but remember at this point your brows are still wet, so let them fully dry before making any judgments.
Do it all over again on the second brow.
If you get color on your skin (like I did), use a damp cotton swab to wipe it away.
One minute later, and it's time for removal round two.
And that's it! If they come out too light, go ahead and do the process over—just make sure your eyebrows are completely dry before you try again. Too dark? Give it another scrub with cleanser and follow up with toner. Still too dark? As I mentioned before, the tint will fade. Most claim to last up to six weeks, but I find myself ready for a refresh by week three or four. But at $13 for four applications, it's a better deal than going the salon route.
Have you ever tinted your eyebrows at home? Let me know if you'll give it a try below!
Opening Image: Imaxtree
This story was originally published on May 13, 2015, and has been updated.