Backcombing Is The Ingenious Way To Add Volume To Lackluster Eyebrows

How to give brows a natural full look, without getting globbed down in clumpy gel. (Image Credit: Annie Walton Doyle)

My struggles with eyebrows have been well documented over the years. Unable to come up with a satisfactory term for my desires, I’d often focus on the word “hairy.” What I meant by this, of course, was that I desired my eyebrows to look diffuse, bushy and textured — bold but not blocky or obviously false. (Of course, that it some people’s favorite look, which is also fine and good.)

For me, it was not so much a mission of “filling in” or “reshaping,” but of adding basic bulk.

The problem is, most products designed for adding a bit of something while retaining a natural shape and hairy-factor are designed for ladies with already fairly magnificent eyebrows. Mine are OK, sure, but a slight slick of gel was never going to suffice for my Count-Olaf-inspired needs. I needed more from my brow gels while simultaneously making them retain their just-a-slick-of-brow-gel, effortless, cool girl aesthetic.

Anyway, I recently had the idea that if I wanted my eyebrows to remain decidedly “hairy,” then the best way would be to treat them like hair, right? And what do you do when you want your hair to have more volume?? Say it with me: back comb. Or, I don’t know if in America you call it "tease" or something. The point is, brush everything in the wrong direction, to get it all angry and agitated, then back over to the right direction, where it will be bushy yet neat.

Here I am doing it, using the Maybelline Brow Precise Fiber Volumizer. Of all the cheap (and even expensive) brow gels I’ve tried, this is the most dramatic, without ever clumping up or getting all over your forehead. It has a sort of scoopy paddle brush which distributes a lot of product, but quite evenly across the eyebrow. And while it does have hold, it doesn’t set in a crispy, flaky sort of way. It is more waxy, which helps with the natural vibe.

First, however unnatural this feels, brush your eyebrows' hair towards the center of your forehead. This will make them look like little fuzzy caterpillars – in fact, this might well be the next trend for eyebrows. Stranger things have happened.

Give the gel a couple of seconds to settle in, then comb your eyebrows back the other way. Something about their having been held in one direction first makes them stand out a bit more, plus each hair is more efficiently coated with product. Eyebrows are dramatic but preserve their volumized hairiness. The best of both worlds, with one simple added step to your minimal brow “routine.”  

And then pose, in all your newfound Frida Kahlo glory.

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