If you’re a makeup junkie who frequents the Explore page on Instagram, you may have noticed the revival of an old trend that raises an eyebrow – well, in fact, two. Yup, we’re talking about soap brows. After the trend dwindled for a while, it started becoming more popular on the ‘gram again, with a ton of photos flooding the #soapbrows hashtag.
To find out what exactly are soap brows, how to achieve them, and why they’re making a comeback, we spoke to three makeup artists for the 411.
What are soap brows?
Soap brows are a trick from movie stars and makeup artists of Old Hollywood to get fuller, perfectly shaped arches that last. The trick is exactly what it sounds like — replacing brow gel with a bar of soap. As strange as it sounds, plenty of makeup artists have tried to groom their brows as well as their clients’ brows with soap for its simplicity and affordability.
Makeup artist Grego Oh says he learned about the technique in his younger days as a drag queen. “It helped to tame bushy brows before applying makeup. I was very impressed by how an everyday necessity could be used in other ways! Soap is affordable, multi-purpose, and works all the time,” he shares.
Why is it becoming more popular now?
Like most of us, Instagram was where makeup artist Christian Maranion first heard of the trend. He says, “While we’re social distancing and self-isolating, this would be a good time to try out trends that you would not be confident sporting in public just yet. If anything, this is a great time for self-experimentation.”
As we ride out the Circuit Breaker period together, splurging on brow gels and pomades may not be something we’re all on board with. This could also be why more people are opting for the simplest solution. When it comes to soap brows, all you need are a brow spoolie and a bar of soap.
For those with brows that are a little harder to tame, using soap is an easy way to groom them without using a lot of makeup at home. This is also a sneaky way to help you look good in video calls.
How to choose a suitable bar soap
All three makeup artists (Grego, Christian, and Clarence Lee) recommended a clear bar of soap instead of an opaque one to reduce tell-tale traces of residue clinging to your brow hairs.
“Avoid bar soaps with colouring as they may stain the skin. If you have sensitive skin, a glycerin-based soap would be more gentle and less drying on the skin,” Grego says.
“If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, then definitely avoid your standard triggers such as artificial fragrances and parabens. Don’t put something on your brows that you wouldn’t put on your face,” Christian adds.
Your safest bet is a glycerin-based bar of soap with no added fragrances or essential oils, such as the Clearly Natural Essentials Unscented Glycerin Bar Soap. It doesn’t contain harsh surfactants, so the soap won’t dry out the skin around your brows as much as a regular bar of soap would.
Tips and tricks on how to make soap brows last
Before you begin, get yourself a spoolie to brush those brows up. Makeup artist Clarence Lee says that you can also use an old toothbrush if you don’t wish to purchase an extra tool. If you spot a tube of dried-up mascara while you’re cleaning and organising your vanity, you can wash the mascara wand and use that to create soap brows too.
To prep the area, Christian makes sure that the surface is dry. This means wiping off any excess moisturiser and sebum. “Make sure the surface area is dry. Any moisture that comes into contact with the soap will change its consistency and disrupt the adhesion,” he warns.
“Lather up and apply the foam to the brows. The lather should be a little on the dense side for better results,” Clarence suggests. If you have sparse brows that need to be filled in, use a pencil to flick on hair-like strokes after the soap has dried and settled on your brows.
The biggest concern among our makeup artists is if the technique would last long in Singapore’s perpetual summer. “Like most beauty trends, the first thing I thought about was if it could withstand our humidity. Add a little perspiration to the mix, and we are looking at a potential hot mess,” Christian says. So, if you’re trying soap brows out for the first time, you may not want to go for a run in the park.
Trying out the soap brows trend
I had my brows embroidered last April, so while they do look dark and bold, I still wanted to lift my brows up and give them some life with the soap technique. On my brows, I used the only gentle bar soap I have, which contains bits of oatmeal to soothe sensitive skin.
Before (left) and after (right)
To make sure it doesn’t leave clumps on my brows, I picked up a small amount of soap and created a lather on my Make Up For Ever 274 Anglend Eyebrow & Lash Brush. Then, I worked the foam into my brows and let it dry.
Once it settled, the fronts of my brows had a feathered effect, much like the exaggerated look in fashion editorials. My brow hairs still felt flexible to the touch, and the soap didn’t make my brows too stiff and uncomfortable.
Clarence says, “I think soap works better with Caucasian brows or people with brow hairs that are longer. The majority of Asians have shorter brow strands, hence the hair is a little stiffer. Many have the outer halves of the brows growing downwards too, making it hard to brush the brows upwards.”
Indeed, the tails of my brows were much more difficult to sculpt upwards using the soap and spoolie. However, I still managed to brush them in place, following the natural direction of hair growth. Now that working from home has become the new normal, I may bust out this trick again to groom my brows in a pinch.
The soap brows trend isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested, you should definitely give it a shot. After all, there’s no better time to do it.