Let me presume for a moment that, like me, you are broadly disinclined to spend 15 to 20 minutes meticulously shaping your eyebrows into perfectly symmetrical, Instagram-worthy arcs, that you don’t so much need your eyebrows to be “on fleek” (I am aware that I really can’t pull that phrase off), as you’d like them to rise again from overkeen plucking, necessary chemo or patchy alopecia. That you’d like, at most, to stroke through a product swiftly and neatly on a shaky train, without smearing, smudging or scattering sooty flecks on to cheeks, leaving your sparse brows fuzzy and full, not prominent or precise.
If so, then I have found the Holy Grail. Urban Decay Brow Endowed Volumizer (cruelty-free, £18 for 7.8g) is a double mascara-type wand with a thickening brow primer at one end, and a tinted brow wax at the other. All one does, after applying any other eye makeup (if desired: personally I love bushy brows, bold lips and not much else, Frida Kahlo style), is comb the primer brush upwards, to plump up and fluff out what brow is there, wait a few seconds for it to dry, then switch ends to comb through the water/exercise/hot flush-proof colour, filling in any gaps without really trying. It is no exaggeration to say that this – achievable by anyone, however rushed or inept – can make brows appear almost twice their usual thickness. And they stay there – tamed, not crunchy, for the entire day and night.
If the (very swift and easy) two-stage application is a step too far, then my single-phase alternatives are Glossier Boy Brow, £14, a small but perfectly formed tube of thick but unmessy brow pommade in suitably murky shades (always avoid warm browns and reds, even if they match the hair on your head. Natural eyebrow hairs are almost invariably flat and sludgy). Though cruelty-free, it’s not suitable for vegans, who can use Hourglass Arch Fibre Brow Gel, £25, which has a well-conceived shade range and a tiny brush that deftly deposits thickening fibres on even the puniest brows. I also love L’Oréal Paris Brow Artist Plumper, £6.99. Its meagre shade range (just two, but both good) is compensated for in both performance and price; it swishes through, making brows bushier, and holding everything in place with neither stiffness nor flake.
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