I was at a makeup event recently where celebrity makeup artist and groomer Joanna Simkin imparted her wisdom on the lucky few that were able to sit in her chair, including yours truly. She concealed, highlighted, and lipsticked my once-bare face (this new Almay Lip Vibes in Smile, $9, is super-moisturizing and boldly colored), and when it came to my brows, she did something completely unexpected. Simkin simply took out a clean, damp spoolie and bar of soap, ran the bristles along it, and brushed the hairs in an upward motion. And just like that, I was introduced to “soap brows.”
I’d never heard the phrase either, and assumed it was a one-off invention—until I had my brows tinted by the lovely Robin Evans (aka The Brow Master and our model for this story—hi, Robin!) in New York. She plucked my strands as well, then brought out a tin of soap and brushed them up to perfection. My brows looked fuller, fluffier, and stayed in place all day long; the soap worked better than any brow gel I’d used before. Yes, soap is the $1 brow tool that just might change your (makeup) world—here’s everything you need to know about the technique.
What type of soap should you use?
Ideally, the soap should be glycerin, uncolored, and unscented. “I have used good old Dial and a nice olive oil bar I picked up in France, but my favorite is Pears Glycerin Soap,” says Simkin. You can get a similar bar as cheap as $1 at the drugstore. “There is also a brand called Soapbrows, which sells a small bar of glycerin soap and a nice little case to keep it sanitary,” Simkin adds. Evans uses the Soapbrows, mainly for the convenience (and cleanliness) of it having its own metal tin.
Where do you get a stand-alone spoolie?
“I am honestly not picky about my spoolies; I use disposable ones I grab at a Sephora sample station, shh…,” says Simkin. Just wash and clean it every few days, and it’ll last much longer than you’d expect. Evans naturally has hundreds of these in her studio at any given time, but the Soapbrows tin comes with its own spoolies, too.
What’s the proper process?
If you fill in your brows every day, do so to your liking with a pencil or powder (Evans likes Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eyebrow Pencil). Now onto the magic. First, Evans prefers to slightly bend the spoolie (gently so it doesn’t break!) so it’s at an easier angle to gather soap. Next, spritz your spoolie with water or just run it under the faucet. (The Soapbrows brand also comes with a watermelon-infused mist for this purpose.) From there, gently run the damp spoolie back and forth along the soap, about five or six times. (Don’t do this excessively or the bar is likely to foam up.)
“Then, starting from the inner corners, brush brows straight up, all the way through,” says Simkin. “If you’d like, you can go over the top edges to tame some of the wilder hairs for a smoother shape (usually closer to the tail of the brows).” Need a bit more filling in? Feel free to add extra definition with your brow pencil.
There you have it, a whole new type of brow innovation, centered around a simple, very old-school bar of soap.
Keep on brow’ing:
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This story was originally published in October 2018. It has since been updated.