How To Pluck Your Eyebrows: A 7-Step Guide + Professional Brow-Shaping Tips
Everybody take a deep, long breath—it's time to talk about plucking your own brows. While any mention of the at-home tweeze sends many beauty fans running, especially if memories of the tweezer-happy '90s are forever burned into their brains, it's not so bad once you master the right technique.
See, shaping your brows (be it with a set of tweezers, scissors, or a razor) is no let's wing it and see what happens! sort of venture. No, it takes supreme precision, will, and a steady hand. Ahead, find our foolproof seven-step guide, plus expert tips to make the brows appear professionally groomed.
Start with a clean, dry brow.
First things first: Make sure the area is free from all makeup, serums or moisturizers, and sunscreen. "All of those things can make the brow hair a little slippery," says brow expert Joey Healy. "You could break the brow hair when you tweeze it instead of pulling it clean from the follicle."
You'll also want to tweeze on completely dry brows—while you may have heard that warm water or steam can soften the follicle and make it easier to tweeze, Healy recommends this only if you have very thick, stubborn brows. "If you experience a lot of pain when plucking or if you have thicker hair, sometimes [plucking] fresh out of the shower or applying a warm washcloth [beforehand] could be somewhat helpful," he notes. "Otherwise, I prefer a brow at room temperature in a natural sort of way."
Grab your tools.
Here's what you'll need:
- Tweezers: The star of the show! Snag yourself a pair of razor-sharp tweezers (like Healy's Elite Sculpting Tweezer), and make sure to replace them once they become dull—otherwise, they won't be able to grab onto finer hairs.
- Mirror: Unless you're so confident with your tweezing skills that you can just pluck and go, a mirror is a must. Although, stay away from the magnifying mirrors: When you're too close, you can lose sight of the bigger picture—"You cannot see the forest for the trees," Healy notes—which can lead to overplucking.
- Spoolie: You'll want to brush up the brows before approaching them with tweezers—that way, you can see any stray hairs you want to pluck.
- Brow scissors: An optional tool, but if you have thicker eyebrows, many find it helpful to trim longer or curling hairs before tweezing the strays. See here for a full brow-trimming guide.
- Brow razor: Again, optional, but Healy loves a quick brow shave to help the arches stand out. Hold the skin taut and shave the peach-fuzz downward with short, gentle strokes (find our full tutorial here). Just make sure not to shave too close to the brow shape, lest you nip a few precious hairs.
- Plenty of daylight: Note: Plucking your brows is not a nighttime endeavor. You want to be able to see each and every hair, so if your bathroom has darker lighting, you might want to move to another room with more natural light.
Figure out your shape.
Everyone has their own unique brow shape (find the most common ones here!), and it's helpful to have this realistic outline in mind before you pick up any tools. Read: Someone with naturally straight brows may not want to fashion a faux "arch," while someone with a pronounced peak might not want to tweeze too much off the top.
Map them out.
To avoid overplucking and keep the brows as natural as possible, take a moment to suss out your end result. You can either use an eyebrow brush or pencil to measure where your eyebrows should begin and end, or you can actually fill them in and pluck any stray hairs that don't fit.
If you're taking the measuring route, makeup artist Riku Campo says to place the tool on one side of your nose and point it upward—that's where the brows should start. "Anything between that point and your other eyebrow can be tweezed," he writes. As for where they should end: "Point your brush from the outside corner of your nose diagonally to the outside corner of your eye: This is where your brows should end," he says.
If you find filling them in more helpful, Healy suggests taking a dark pencil (even a black eyeliner can work; the goal here is to form a clear outline) and creating your desired shape. "You can tweeze any hairs that are well outside of that area," he says, and use your brow scissors or razor for further cleanup, if you choose.
Pluck in the direction of hair growth.
When you do tweeze the hairs, never pull against the grain. As Healy mentioned up top, you want to pull the hair clean from the follicle and prevent it from breaking. Not only will you achieve a sharper end result, but tweezing in the direction of hair growth creates less trauma on the tiny hair follicle. In case you need a reminder: When a follicle becomes too damaged, it dies—and the hair won't ever grow back.
Keep away from the brow bone.
No matter how you personally map your brows, a good rule of thumb is to focus on the bridge of your nose, your temples, and your upper eyelids. Stay off of your brow bone (where most of the brow hairs live); you may even want to feel it with your fingers to really know your "no-tweeze" zones.
A complete restyling of your brows will require you to touch up the brow bone (like, say, if you're trying to go from a straight brow to an upward shape), but we recommend waiting for a professional. As Healy says, "If you do choose to get close to the bone, there is a chance you could mess up your brows."
Take a step back.
As we mentioned, you don't want to lose perspective as you're tweezing. It's so easy to get caught up in tapering the tail, for example, that you pluck, and pluck, and pluck, until it looks gappy. That's why every so often, Healy says, take a step back and look at your brows from a distance. "At an arm's length or so is really where you want them to look good." After all, not many people are peering up close and studying your brow style.
Other brow grooming tips.
You've got the basics down pat, but these tips will help your brows appear expert-level:
Find your own groove.
When shaping your brows, you may have a specific image or person in mind that you're hoping to emulate. While Healy says you can look to someone else's brows for loose inspiration, trying to mimic their shape exactly is a fool's errand.
"Do not follow a celebrity's brows or print out a photo from Instagram to try to go hair-for-hair," he says. "You cannot match someone else's brows from a photo—it does not work that way, like it [might] with a haircut or color." While you can tweak your brows a bit to flatter your facial features, your brow shape is uniquely yours—own it!
Stick to basic maintenance.
It's worth repeating: When it comes to plucking your brows at home, it's more about a routine cleanup than a complete transformation. Leave the heavy lifting to the professionals, if you can. And if you have any doubts during your at-home tweeze, just know that less is more. "If you're not sure about a hair, then leave it," Healy says.
Take it slow.
Sure, the actual plucking bit may take only a few seconds, but the prep steps are arguably more important—you want to give yourself time. "It's not a great thing to do minutes before a date or a big Zoom meeting," says Healy. Because chances are if you rush through the process, you'll make some mistakes.
However, you also don't want to take too long in front of the mirror—that's when people tend to get a little tweezer-happy and end up with poor, tadpole-like eyebrows. If you're one to overpluck, you may need to give yourself a time limit: Healy recommends setting a hard stop for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off? Step away from the tweezers, please.
How often should you pluck your brows?
Like many other beauty treatments, everyone follows their own tweezing regimen. Find the routine that works for you—for burly browed friends, maybe it's once a week; for sparser arches, maybe it's once a month—and don't be afraid to edit that timeline.
For instance, if you know you have a brow appointment in two days' time, "better to back off and leave it to the professionals," Healy notes, even if one stray hair is giving you grief. And if you just don't feel like tweezing the brows that week? Don't touch 'em! The bottom line: Don't feel like you have to stick to a rigid schedule.
Plucking your own brows does not need to be a gamble. Equipped with the right tools and these expert tips, some basic maintenance is totally doable. Deep breaths—you got this.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.