When it comes to eyebrows, there's one woman in the beauty industry who has become synonymous with perfect arches: Anastasia Soare. She's the lady who started our worldwide obsession with brows. Yes, before Soare launched her eponymous brand Anastasia Beverly Hills with a flagship L.A. salon back in 1997—and a range of brow products in 2000—nobody gave two hoots about using makeup to shape their brows. (Trust me—photos of my sparse, over-plucked eyebrows in the early '00s are proof enough.) Since then, Anastasia Beverly Hills has gone on to become the #1 brow brand worldwide, with a range of cult products to boot. Oh, and Soare is the only lady Victoria Beckham allows to touch her eyebrows. Praise indeed. So to say that I jumped at the chance to spend some one-on-one time with Soare would be an understatement…
After the PR for Anastasia Beverly Hills gave me the heads-up earlier this year that Soare would be coming to the UK, I took the bold decision to stop shaping my eyebrows entirely. (As someone with seriously unruly brow hairs, this was a big step.) Luckily, though, this meant I was able to get some genuine brow advice when I did catch up with Anastasia. Plus, I asked Who What Wear readers for any burning brow questions in our Facebook group (So... Should I Buy This?), which Soare was only too happy to answer. Keep scrolling for the five things I learned from VB's brow expert, Anastasia Soare.
#1: Great Brows Are All About Proportion
First off, despite having access to some of the best brow products in the business, I'd been using them incorrectly for years. Rather than following the shape of your brows as they are, you need to understand where your brows should start, arch and end to create a natural-looking brow that's in proportion with the rest of your face—aka the golden ratio, which is Anastasia's trademark brow-shaping method.
"I went to art school in Romania, and I had a brilliant teacher who used to teach us how to draw portraits, and he introduced us to the Da Vinci theory about how the face needs to be in proportion," explained Soare. "When I came to the United States, I realised that nobody paid attention to eyebrows, and it was my 'aha!' moment."
"If I looked back to my pictures in the '70s, I had pencil-thin, round eyebrows, and I look surprised in every picture because of the shape," laughed Soare. "I got back into studying to find an answer to eyebrows—because Leonardo [Da Vinci] did the measurement of every part of the face except the eyebrows."
"I patented the technique and spent many years working out how to do it simply, because it's complicated. This is why I created the stencil—that way every woman can understand where her eyebrows should actually start and end."
My Experience With the Brow Stencil
I was lucky enough to visit the new Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Bar at Harrods—the first in the UK—for the ABH Signature Brow treatment with head trainer Emma Zulkouski, where you get your brows shaped and filled based on your bone structure. As part of the treatment, Emma worked with me to select the right brow stencil for my face shape, which you can see drawn onto my eyebrow above. She then waxed away any brow hairs that lay outside the lines of the stencil and used product to fill in any sparse patches or missing brow hairs inside the lines of the stencil. Pretty simple, and I was left with the best brows I've ever had.
#2: This Is the Worst Brow Mistake to Make
Turns out that there's a major brow no-no almost all of us have made… "The #1 mistake is tweezing too much here," Soare explained (whilst gesturing to the front of the eyebrow and the bridge of the nose). "When you tweeze too much here, your nose bridge looks wider and your eyes look too far apart—it takes away the balance and proportion. The brow should always be shaped according to your bone structure; that's very important for people to have in mind."
As for the rule about not removing hairs from above your eyebrow? Soare is inclined to agree: "Most of the time, people should not take [brow hairs] from above—unless you have super-bushy eyebrows," she said. "I think the first time, it's better to go to a professional; then you can follow them."
#3: Waxing, Threading… It's All the Same
One of the most-requested questions to put to Anastasia was whether it was better to wax or thread your eyebrows, and as an avid pro-waxer, I couldn't wait to get a conclusive answer once and for all. Turns out, it's all the same: "I used to joke that you could use pliers to remove hair," laughed Soare. "As long as you know what hairs to remove, you can use anything."
"From the beginning, I said what is important is to make the point about where the eyebrow should begin and end. Follow my golden rule to create the brow and it doesn’t matter what you use to remove the hair. What matters is the shape that you create," explained Soare. "For us, we use waxing [at brow bars], but we offer threading as well. We have a lot of customers who cannot wax for religious reasons, so we need to offer every service to the client."
#4: Ignore Brow Trends—Except This One
Despite her patented brow-shaping theory, Anastasia is surprisingly relaxed about what people choose to do with their own brows. "Everyone should do what makes them happy. I just like more natural-looking strokes of hair," she explained when I asked her what she thought of the heavier, blocky, Instagram-esque eyebrows that have been popular in recent years.
However, Soare was keen to point out we're all best sticking the shape that suits our own brow structure rather than following trending silhouettes. "The eyebrow shape should be always the same based on my theory—the thickness, the shape, etc. Unfortunately, if you want for a moment to make your brows '90s-style thin, they won't grow back."
Where we can have fun with brow makeup trends lies with colour. "You can go lighter, darker, pink, purple," said Soare. "With colour, you can play with that. Trends should be in colours rather than shape."
#5: Natural Brows Don't Always Work for Photos
Although Anastasia isn't the biggest fan of Instagram brows, she did point out that sometimes you need to apply a little more product than you would usually in order for your brows to look good in photos—particularly if it's a big occasion like your wedding day.
"When my daughter started posting on Instagram with a thick, heavy brow, I'd say, 'This is too heavy—I don't like those eyebrows,'" Soare explained. "But indeed, if you take a picture of a really beautiful, natural eyebrow in real life, the flash means it might not look that good in photos, so you might need to do the brow a little bit darker to look good—even if it looks too heavy in real life." Brides-to-be, take note: "Six months before you get married, choose your dress and choose your eyebrows," laughed Soare.
So how do you create the perfect photo-ready brow? "In my expertise, you have to mimic a natural eyebrow," said Soare. "Use a base of one shade lighter than the eyebrow you have in a pencil or powder, and then add strokes of hair in a darker colour. By using two colours, you create dimension and you mimic a real eyebrow because a real brow has darker hairs and the light creates a shadow of the eyebrow hair on the skin."
Shop the Best Anastasia Beverly Hills Products as Chosen by the Lady Herself
This product was two years in the making, thanks to its innovative triangular nib, which means you can use it create individual hair-like strokes or fill in gaps. "The Brow Definer is dummy-proof," said Soare. "You can just draw one line on top and another underneath, and then you fill them in."
This ultra-fine brow crayon is one of Anastasia's cult products, and along with the Brow Definer, one of the products she would recommend if you're a complete beginner. Just twist it up and use the tip to draw in precise, natural-looking brow hairs exactly where you need them.
You can enjoy Anastasia's patented Golden Ratio Eyebrow Shaping Method at home with these stencils. The kit comes with descriptions about facial features to make it easy to identify which will suit you best. Just place it over your eyebrow, remove any hairs that lie outside of the stencil and fill in any gaps that lie within it. FYI, I'm medium arch, which is for brows with a naturally softer arch.
This is Anastasia's product of choice for women with blonde or super-light eyebrows. "Take the spoolie out, clean it off, and then start using it on the highest point of the brow. You'll colour not only the hair but also the skin. It's my favourite product for blondes because you actually tint the hair."
This is my personal favourite product from Anastasia Beverly Hills, but Soare also swears by it for adding hair-like strokes to sparse, over-plucked brows. "You have to clean the brush first," she advised. "Don’t use too much product and use light strokes for the most natural finish."
To create the multidimensional brows that Anastasia is so passionate about, it's best to start filling in your brows with powder. In fact, in the photos of my brows earlier, all I had on my brows was powder, so I'm definitely convinced about how natural it can look.