How to Reverse the Fate of Tapered Brows

Woman penciling in her brows.

Caroline Tompkins / Refinery29 for Getty Images / Getty Images

It's no secret that we're suckers for good brows. Nowadays, it seems to be the overwhelming consensus that the fuller and fluffier, the better. Of course, this means that people who don't have naturally lush brows might feel left out—especially when their brow shape has earned a less-than-flattering name.

According to Benefit Cosmetics global brow expert, Jared Bailey, "tadpole brows" is a term used to describe brows with too much weight at the start of the brow followed by a pencil-thin tail—hence the inspired name. "These are caused by over-tweezing to the point of no return (we blame the aughts) and are hard to grow-out, as over-tweezing leads to damaging the hair follicle and preventing the hair from growing back," he explains. However, he notes that where there's a will, there's a way. In terms of what those ways actually are, ahead you'll discover eight tricks to help reverse the appearance of tapered brows. Follow them religiously and before you know it, you'll have full, luscious arches like you never dreamed possible.

1. Use a Brow Growth Serum

Just as those who want longer lashes apply flutter-enhancing serums, so can people who want to bulk up their tapered brows. According to Bailey, the best way to promote brow growth is to add a topical product to your routine that includes ingredients known to promote healthy hair growth, like keratin and soy proteins. (Brow and skincare expert Robin Evans notes that if you prefer a natural alternative that's vegan and prostaglandin free, Vegamour's Gro Brow Serum, $80, is a wonderful option.) "Make it a part of your nightly skin routine, applying it before bed so it works its magic while you sleep," he says.

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Benefit Cosmetics BROWVO! Conditioning Primer Nutrient Rich Eyebrow Primer $28.00

2. Be Mindful of the Way You Tweeze

"The most common mistake people make when tweezing is removing the hair in the wrong direction," Bailey says. "Each hair is connected to a tiny blood vessel (or derma vessel) that keeps it healthy and allows it to grow back when the hair is removed. Once that vessel is ruptured, the hair never returns. Bummer, right? So to tweeze properly, you must pull the skin tight with one finger and then tweeze the hair in the direction it's growing. Typically, that direction is upward or toward the temple, rather than straight out."

Tweezerman Tweezer
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3. Opt for Micro-Point Pencils

If your goal is to veer away from tapered brows and towards full, natural-looking arches, pencils ought to be your very best beauty BFF. "Using micro-liners like Benefit Cosmetics Precisely, My Brow Pencil, allows you to create believable fullness by simply flicking the pencil in the same direction of your hair growth," Bailey explains. "Remember to always leave space between each stroke so it looks like real hair. Pencils offer a rich yet blendable color that doesn’t spread and adheres to skin instead of the hair."

Benefit Cosmetics Precisely, My Brow Pencil Ultra Fine Shape & Define
Benefit Cosmetics Precisely, My Brow Pencil Ultra Fine Shape & Define $24.00

When creating your brush strokes, Evans says to only use it where you really need it and to do so with a very light hand. "Step back from the mirror and take a look at your brows," she says. "Decide where you need it most, where there are sparse areas, and where you want to create fullness." From there, step closer to the mirror and lightly draw your hair strokes. Remember: It can be super difficult to create precise hair-like strokes, so be patient and don't be afraid to practice.

4. Brush Up Brows for a Fuller, Fluffier Look

You know the look—just about every model and actress has been shown flaunting it on red carpets and in everyday life. To get the look, Evans says to brush brows up with a dry spoolie brush, then use a clear gel (she loves Hourglass' Arch Shaping Gel and KyBrow Extreme Hold Gel by Kylie Cosmetics) and brush them into place. "You can leave most of the brow brushed up and feathery, and brush the hairs at the tail end-down to taper them into a sharp point," she says.

5. Gradually Pencil in Your Brows

When trying to create natural-looking, non-tapered brows, the trick is to opt for an ombré approach. Use a lighter hand at the head of the brow and graduate into a stronger tail using fine strokes, Evans says you'll be able to create a more natural-looking brow.

6. Make Your Brows 3-Dimensional

Sure, we all know the magic of shaping and sketching in brows, but not as many people swear by the wonder that is brow gel. Of course, Bailey says you ought to. "After you’ve filled and sketched in the shape that you desire, your last step is to add texture to make it 3-dimensional," he says. "Try a fiber-based brow gel like Gimme Brow+ and begin by back-combing the product through your brow from the end to the start." He explains that this is just like teasing your hair and will help give you a fuller brow base to work with. "Then, moving in the opposite direction, define your arch by brushing your brow hairs upward from start to arch, and in the direction of your hair growth from arch to end," he instructs.

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Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Eyebrow Gel $24.00

7. Find Your Perfect Shape

Bailey reminds us that, as with most aspects of beauty, finding the perfect brow shape for your face depends specifically on you. "Your brows are totally unique to you and finding that perfect arch totally depends on your individual features, including your eyes and nose," he says. "So before you pick up that pencil, you’ll want to understand exactly where your brows should start, arch, and end using Benefit’s custom Brow Mapping technique." You can pop into any Benefit BrowBar to be mapped by an expert, or try it at home by following Bailey's steps below:

  • Start by finding where your brow should begin by following a straight line up from the edge of your nose. This helps slim your nose and balance your eyes.
  • Next, find where your brow is naturally at its highest by following a diagonal line from the outside of your nose across the middle of your eye. Say "Hello" to your arch—a little definition here can lift your whole look.
  • Finally, mark where your brow should end by following a diagonal line from the outside of your nose to the outer corner of your eye. Length is important because it creates proportion on your face.
  • After you’ve mapped, you can create the illusion of stronger, bolder brows by simply over-extending the ends of your brows and bringing the start of the brows closer together.

8. If All Else Fails, Microblade

If you simply can't get the hang of drawing hair-like strokes with a brow pencil, or the serums you're using aren't bringing about noticeable results, you might want to consider microblading. It's a beauty tattooing technique that permanently etches brow hairs in place so that every day you can wake up without giving your arches a second thought. Just remember, they're semi-permanent, so make sure to do your research before haphazardly choosing a salon.

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