big bad brows

Good Advice From the Beverly Hills Eyebrow King

Damone Roberts, brow savant.
Damone Roberts, brow savant.

If Anastasia Soare is L.A.’s queen of eyebrows, then Damone Roberts is its king. Beyoncé, Emma Watson, and Nicki Minaj all file into his Beverly Hills salon for the perfect arch. Taraji P. Henson’s and Robert Downey Jr.’s guy? That’s Roberts as well.

Because of his storied brow pedigree, it came as no surprise when M.A.C. called on him to serve as the brand’s “Brows Are It” collection consultant. In creating the range of pencils, creams, markers, and brow gels, diversity was key: “I made sure that everyone was represented across the board. We have everyone from porcelain white to ebony black, and it doesn’t look green, or grey, or ashy on you.”

But even a veteran brow groomer might find the 54-piece collection a harrowing beast to tame. To navigate where to begin and how to shape the best brows of your life, Roberts shared with the Cut his five essential rules.

1. If you’re an eyebrow virgin, get acquainted with gel. Say you’ve never even attempted to shape, tweeze, or trim your brows but crave a little change: Reach for the goopy stuff. “Even just brushing them up really makes a difference,” Roberts says. Gel is a safe way to begin because you can get a better sense of your brows’ natural shape before you take the tweezing plunge. A swipe or two of a gel formula, like M.A.C’s Brow Set, is all it takes to kick scraggly brows out of your life.

2. Instagram continues to ruin decent brows. “The platform changed everything. Everyone now thinks they’re a brow expert or a makeup artist, and a lot of times they are literally filling in their eyebrows with a black liner with white highlighter underneath,” says Roberts. To avoid the trap of Instagram brows, take it easy. Fill in sparse areas with a pencil or cream. Don’t over-tweeze to render brows too thin or too far apart. Ultra-defined brows may seem tempting on a teenie-tiny screen, but they look ridiculous in real life.

3. If you over-tweezed, there’s still hope. Not everyone can fully recover from the tadpole brows of the ’90s. Products like Brow Gain, which Roberts developed over the course of three years with cosmetic chemists, help to promote regrowth. But for completely dead follicles, an effective (if costly) solution lies in the hands of a plastic surgeon. “There’s something called brow implants that is becoming more popular these days. Brow implants are where they take hair from your head and they insert them medically into your eyebrow follicle. It grows really long because it’s hair from your head, so you have to trim them often. Plastic surgeons must do the procedure. The process is this: The surgeon will send a patient to me before the surgery and I draw in brows to match the perfect shape for their face. Then the doctor will implant the hair into the shape that I’ve drawn.”

4. Brow tinting works for just about everyone. It’s no secret that blonde or grey brows can gain deeper color through tinting, which typically lasts for a duration of four-to-six weeks. But tints work for individuals on the other end of the hair spectrum as well. “Some people naturally have really, really dark eyebrows. If you tint them lighter, it takes the edge off and makes it look a lot more comfortable.” However, Roberts notes to be aware of new laws that prohibit brow tints, which aren’t usually FDA-approved. “California just passed a rule that says you can’t dye eyebrows anymore. I know major salons that have been fined thousands of dollars just because they changed the rule. In New York it’s still legal, but you need to follow what’s going on legally wherever you are located.”

5. Stop brushing your brows with gucky brushes. Dirty spoolies — or brow brushes — clog pores, which ultimately lead to breakouts, flakes, or even worse, brow-hair loss. Clean your spoolies once a week to avoid brow mishaps. The best cleanser? “Dishwashing liquid. It’s meant to get rid of oil and it’s gentle.”