BROW BLEACHING: YES, NO AND HOW-TO

Light hair can look great with dark brows. But I told my friend, who just went from dark brunette to golden blonde, that she could think about going a little lighter on her brows, too. Advice from three pros and a how-to, here.
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Light hair can look great with dark brows. But I told my friend, who just went from dark brunette to golden blonde, that she could think about going a little lighter on her brows, too. Advice from three pros and a how-to, here.
Brow bleaching: you don't have to if you want a graphic contrast effect like this.

Brow bleaching: you don't have to if you want a graphic contrast effect like this.

A friend of mine recently went from very dark brunette to golden blonde. My advice to her: think about lightening your brows.

Brow bleaching: groomed dark brows + platinum hair works if the brows aren't too thick

Brow bleaching: groomed dark brows + platinum hair works if the brows aren't too thick

Not that dark brows and pale hair don't mix, (although I've had issues in the past, JLo). On some people -- Michelle Williams, Kate Winslet, Agyness Deyn and other model types -- pale hair with dark-brown brows (even black) looks gorgeous. Striking. Fierce.

What makes it work is shiny hair, smooth skin, even complexion, great brow grooming and style.

Brow bleaching: don't necessarily match your hair -- you still need brows to have enough presence to add structure to your face. This is a good contrast on Marilyn Munroe.

Brow bleaching: don't necessarily match your hair -- you still need brows to have enough presence to add structure to your face. This is a good contrast on Marilyn Munroe.

Marilyn Monroe usually lightened her brows. Not quite to match her blonde, but definitely lighter than her natural dark hair.

brow bleaching how-to

Brow bleaching: here Marilyn's brows look a bit heavy, made up.

(I prefer Marilyn's brows lighter than this, softer.)

Brow bleaching: Michelle Williams brows are darker, but have a slight blonde tone, too. See it?

Brow bleaching: Michelle Williams brows are darker, but have a slight blonde tone, too. See it?

My friend -- no, it's not Michelle Williams -- can certainly carry off light hair with darker brows, like Michelle Williams does in the above photo.

Brow bleaching: Michelle Williams has a great balance between hair and brow colour. Lighter might make her brows seem invisible.

Brow bleaching: Michelle Williams has a great balance between hair and brow colour. Lighter might make her brows seem invisible.

My friend's brows are nearly black. To get a look similar to Michelle's, she would need to lighten her brows a couple of shades. With a little less contrast between brows, hair and skin, she might also get away with wearing almost no makeup at all. (Stark contrast between hair and skin can be a bit harsh on the complexion, wash it out.)

Brow bleaching: this matchy-matchy option should maybe stay on the runway.

Brow bleaching: this matchy-matchy option should maybe stay on the runway.

Then there's this option, wherein the model's brows have been lightened to match her blondified ’do. A shade or two darker would look less... robotic?

professional brow-bleaching tips

For advice on how best to go about a brow dye job, I asked some of my favourite makeup professionals. Rimmel London pro Vanessa Jarman didn't hesitate: "See Jed at The Alcorn, or any other good colour tech," she said via text. "I'd go to a salon."

"I would recommend Jolen hair bleach, then fill in with colour to match," said Maybelline NY artist Grace Lee. "Or she should go to the hair dresser to get the same dye in her brows." Lee also spent a minute trying to imagine me as a blonde -- I didn't tell her right off that the advice wasn't for me.

"Doin' it yourself is super easy and the least expensive option," said freelance pro artist Diana Carreiro. "When done in steps, there's no way to go wrong. Just remind her that wet hair looks darker than when it dries, so when she removes the cream to check the progress, she should move it fully when the hair is just a tad darker than where she wants it to be."

brow bleaching formulas

Brow bleaching options – be careful, because most brands won't advise use near your eyes

how to bleach your own brows

Apply cream bleach carefully with a cotton swab; cover all the hair. Wait about a minute or two, then wipe away with a wrung-out wet washcloth. Repeat if you want to go a bit lighter. Jolen Creme Bleach, $12.99 or Andrea Facial Crème Bleach, $6.99, both at well.ca.

Brow bleaching: the runway version.

Brow bleaching: the runway version.

how to bleach brows without going too light

Afraid you'll accidentally hit the runway no-brow look? Bleached in the past only to realize you've washed yourself out?

'The trick is to lighten them ever so slightly, leaving [the bleach] in just for a short time – not ’til they're so light that they disappear on fair complexions or stand out too much on dark complexions," cautions freelance artist Michele Brown, who is a staple backstage at every fashion week in Toronto. She says to stop when you've achieved a shade or two lighter. You can then add structure with an angled brush and brow powder or eye shadow as close to the new shade as possible. This approach is especially good "when going from an ashy blonde to redhead," she adds.

bleaching really dark brows to light blonde

Brow bleaching: another runway version.

Brow bleaching: another runway version.

If you're going from black-brown to blonde, taking care not to over-bleach is particularly important. Be aware that you'll hit a red – or orange! – stage before you hit blonde. It's a pigment/colour-theory thing. You could tone with a cool, ash blonde shade out of a box to counteract the red, but it's probably best to see an expert at a salon instead so you don't end up with brassy yellow.

If my pal does go the brow-bleaching route, she'll have to contend with regrowth. Friend, here's a great tip from MAC Senior Artist Melissa Gibson on how to hide your brow roots until you lighten again.

how to re-bleach your dark brow roots

One of the trickiest DIY issues when it comes to bleaching your brows yourself is dealing with darker brow roots. How do you re-bleach without going too light on the already light ends? It's tricky, but Michele Brown says you can do it if you're careful. "Use a tiny brush, like a thin eyeliner type, so you can get just the dark roots as close to the skin as possible without touching the already bleached hair," she says. "And keep that brush separate, only for bleaching – don't ever use it for liner afterward!" 

What's your stance on brow bleaching? Have you? Would you?

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