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Bushy is best: Bold brows make a comeback

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This year’s hippest accessory isn’t something that you can pick up at your local mall. Strong, full eyebrows are topping off famous faces all over, from the catwalk to Hollywood.

Fashionistas knew that the look had really arrived in early March when models at Chanel’s Fall/Winter 2012 show in Paris strutted the runway with crystal-encrusted brows.

“Eyebrows frame the face, frame the eyes,” says Ramy Gafni, makeup artist and owner of New York City’s Ramy Spa. “Fashion is always trying to keep things new and interesting and now people are saying that the frame can be interesting too, hence the sparkles and bold colors seen in recent shows. These trends are meant to trickle down in a diluted form to the public. No one is expecting the woman-on-the-street to go to work with black sparkly eyebrows, but to translate that look to a full, well groomed eyebrow.”

Over the past several years, groomed eyebrows have attracted new attention both in the world of fashion and for the woman on the street. Bolds brows bars seem to be everywhere, and some makeup artists have seen such high demand for brows that they now do brow shaping, tinting and tattooing full time.

But it is only recently that trendsetters have stepped away from a shaped, manicured appearance, and started showing full brows, some with little hint of an arch. It’s a look that many makeup artists say gives a face a younger, fresher feel.

Does this mean that periodic maintenance is a thing of the past? Not quite — a full shape doesn’t translate to unkempt, and bold brows can require as much attention as their thinner siblings.

“This look is not just about a thick heavy eyebrow, but a brow that is in proportion to your face,” says Gafni, who has worked with celebrities including Cher, Claire Danes and Renee Zellweger. “You don’t want to be walking around looking like Groucho Marx, but rather have a brow that’s well groomed.”

So what’s spurred this return to the natural look? Like hemlines and lipstick sales, Gafni blames it on the state of the economy.

“Customers who once came in every three weeks are now coming in every other month and that leads to a bushier eyebrow,” he says.

Bigger, more natural brows may also be a part of a trend towards a more organic overall look that includes pale makeup. Eyebrow expert Shavata Singh, who runs more than 20 brow bars in London, predicts that as women grow out their brows, they will also wear them in paler hues.

“Less is more in general when it comes to modern beauty, which ranges from androgynous icons like Tilda Swinton and actress Rooney Mara, to the 'I don't care' generation of Kristin Stewart,” says TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas. “These days it's not cool to look like you've used a bottle of hairspray or spent an hour on your face.”

Despite the ubiquity of brow stylists, it’s possible to get this look at home, without taking a trip to your nearest salon.

Start by fully growing out your brows, which can take up to three or four months, says Gafni, who also recommends taking a multivitamin to help encourage growth.

Brush the brow hairs up and then down to trim any hair which is too long.

Next comes the shaping. The inside of your brow should be aligned with the inner corner of nose and the inner corner of your eye, according to Benefit Brow Bars, which “map” your eyebrows before styling them. If you want an arch, line up a pencil from the outside corner of your nose to the outer corner of your pupil — that’s where it should reach its highest point. To mark the end of your brow, line up the pencil from the outer corner of your nose with the outer corner of your eye.

That being said, what looks good on one person may not look great on someone else, so be sure to choose a style that goes well with the shape of your face.

“Eyebrows are like fingerprints, no two people are the same,” says Gafni. “As a rule, it’s better for the eyebrows be too close together than too far apart. My motto is when it doubt don’t pluck it out.”

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