It's safe to say that I have a thing for bold, natural brows. Between one of my favorite models (Cara Delevingne), my boyfriend (who's got a pair of above-eye adornments to rival the dreamy Jon Kortajarena), and my pups (two miniature schnauzers with truly unruly brows), I've simply surrounded myself with eyebrows that are nothing short of spectacular.
The beauty world concurs: Brows have become a focal part of any makeup look, with the ability to make you look polished, awake, and rejuvenated. "A good brow is the difference between an OK makeup look and a fantastic makeup look," explains makeup artist Katrina Klein. "They completely shape and change the face and are probably the most important part of makeup for me, after skin."
But my personal affinity for full brows might have something to do with my own. They've definitely got that "fluffy" texture down (shout-out to my dad, who has brows like a wizard), but they're somewhat sparse — particularly along the tail at the outer edges. When natural brows with softer, unmanicured edges began popping up on the runways, and the blocky "boy brow" with a less dramatic arch became popular circa 2015, I took the opportunity to embrace the style and grow my brows out. For two entire years, I abstained from brow plucking, waxing, or hair removal, aside from the obvious wayward straggler here and there.
At this point, fresh off a year of a tweezer-less quarantine, I took my ungroomed pair of eyebrows — a blank palette, if you will — to Hollywood's foremost brow artist Kristie Streicher, who is the cofounder of Striiike and creator of a trademarked service and regimen called The Feathered Brow. As Hollywood's original full-brow advocate, her aesthetic is considered to be in a league of its own, gracing the faces of countless celebrities. "[My signature brow] is feathered, soft, lush, lived-in, and rehabilitates thin, over-tweezed brow trends from the '70s, '90s, and early 2000s," she explains. "The Feathered Brow embraces a natural, fuller shape that is groomed into sophistication."
The shift to fuller brows
Streicher has been a fierce proponent of what she dubs the "fuller brow movement" ever since 2001, influencing her celebrity clientele and educating their makeup artists on the importance of preserving the integrity of our delicate brow follicles. All this time, she has been discreetly preaching the gospel of the good brow, influencing the beauty world behind the scenes from the top-down, adamant in her belief that, like eyelashes, "The more hair, the better." Her efforts have absolutely paid off.
Klein confirms her influence. "My clients are always trying to achieve fuller brows, and this has definitely been a trend for some time now," she says.
The unfortunate fact is that our brows thin as we age, and especially after the overly-plucked trends of the 1990s, brow sparsity has become a plague. Trends have since moved on from the ultra-sculpted, overly-manicured styles we saw in the earlier 2000s, with experts confirming that fuller, fluffier, more natural textures are the most sought-after styles du jour. "At Studio Sashiko, our most-requested style of brow is fluffy," says Shaughnessy Otsuji, owner and artist at Canada's Studio Sashiko.
The desired aesthetic these days entails a piece-y edge that permits a fuller tail. For reference, take a look at Margot Robbie's softly manicured brows with a gently fuzzy, natural texture at the edges. To be clear, those stray strands along the edges — once removed to leave razor-thin lines in their wake — are now downright desirable. The in-demand look also calls for "sprouts" — a certain fullness at the inner-corners that always make me think of Penelope Cruz. For instance, East Coast brow artist Joey Healy's signature GeoLift Brow is "full and fluffy" in the front with "fringy" sprouts at the inner corner.
The Feathered Brow process
As we unlearn the eyebrow faux-pas of the years past, keep in mind that the aesthetic of The Feathered Brow has been perfected over the course of Streicher's two decades in the beauty industry. As you'll see, the aesthetic is, well, feathery. What The Feathered Brow service at Striiike provides is not only a long-term treatment plan for establishing regrowth and fullness (each client receives a personalized growth plan), but an entire menu customized to suit individual clients' face shapes, brow lines, and brow hair type. Streicher or one of her personally trained experts first assess your natural growth patterns to optimize results, with expertly curated and developed products for growth, maintenance, and recommended cosmetics.
This shape and basis of what will be filled in are first established during The Signature Feathered Brow Service, which starts with a consultation and the development of a growth plan based on your growth cycle. "I require eight weeks of outgrowth because I shape according to the natural shape of the brow, and at the eighth week, I can begin to see the natural eyebrow line," Streicher explains. "It's a process that requires time and patience. It can sometimes take up to twelve months for every hair on the brow area to finally fill in and for brows to reach their greatest potential."
Next up comes the tint, which is Streicher's favorite part. Using a semipermanent dye to darken all the peach fuzz or gray hairs fills in the brows and makes them look instantly fuller. Next, she shapes the brow — exclusively by tweezing (never waxing, threading, or the like) — and with utmost restraint. In my case, hair removal was minimal; while Streicher removed a select hair or two, the bulk of my treatment was the tinting. My brows were cleaned, colored, wiped clean, and styled — and I was ready to go.
During my brow consultation, I learned that my long, coarse, somewhat curly eyebrow hair was the ideal candidate for a Striiike service called the Brow Lift. While brow lamination, in which setting lotion is used to keep brows brushed up into a more vertical (and thus fuller-looking) shape for several weeks, has been a popular trend for achieving the trendy pushed-up and dispersed look, Streicher offers something similar — and yet completely different.
Noting that far too many clients had come in with burnt hair and irritated skin from receiving harsh treatments elsewhere, Streicher and her staff experimented on themselves until finding the perfect sequence, timing, and levels of a keratin solution and neutralizer for each and every brow hair type. This allows her to offer a comparable service to brow lamination that still adheres to her brow philosophy, which, as mentioned, is protective of the brow down to every last strand. (It should be noted: Dermatologists typically do not recommend treatments that introduce FDA-unregulated chemical solutions so close to the eye area, so please proceed with caution.)
"Your eyebrow specialist determines which Lift is recommended for you and your brow type, as we work with three different brands of lifting solution," Streicher explains of the customized treatment. My solution was left on for a mere four minutes, whereas a typical keratin treatment may be left on for 10 to 15 minutes. Streicher applied the solution and shaped my brow hairs into a dispersed, vertical shape that created height and volume — a set of caterpillars that were, no joke, double their previous size. The shape was held into place with plastic wrap for the duration of the treatment, and afterward, I was instructed not to get my brows wet for 24 hours.
Unlike a typical lamination treatment, my brows were not shiny or brittle. Rather, they were "permed" into a more malleable and manageable texture that can be combed up and will hold their positioning for at least four weeks. "Since the lift of the hair is created at the base of the brow, we focus on this portion of the hair and sometimes leave the ends untouched for a more natural effect," Streicher says. "This can also help maintain the integrity and health of the hair, which is most important to us."
Taking her long-term treatment plan for the brow into consideration, Streicher points out that her take on lamination is ideal for manipulating the growth patterns of the brow over time. The application of the product solely at the base of the hair lifts and shapes growth into an upward position (as opposed to a downward slope that results in a thin, dense clump). The end result is a more malleable, shapeable strand that can still be styled and looks completely natural, but that is fuller, fluffier, and healthier than the alternatives — not to mention, doubled in size when you groom them into place.
Basically, they won't be standing straight on their ends 24/7 the way that they look directly following lamination or a lift. But what The Brow Lift does is make them more malleable so that when you comb them into place, they stay put. What you see in the photos are eyebrows that were shaped, styled with Streicher's signature, feathery touch.
These services are exclusive to Striiike, which means that unless you're in the Los Angeles area, you'll have to look elsewhere. However, to style your own brows in Streicher's signature feathery look without going through the more widely lamination process, she recommends Refy Brow Sculpt. "I really like the holding and lifting effect that it gives, and the applicator is genius," Streicher says of the product, which first allows you to disperse pomade into the hair, then giving you a choice between a comb or brush from the double-sided wand under the cap to set the hair into place. "The two-part application gives you the perfect set of long-lasting, lifted brows without being too sticky or stiff."
She is also a fan of the soft, less-intense results of Troy Surratt Expressioniste Brow Pomade, which comes in clear and tinted versions and features a truly unique brush. "This is a non-shiny brow pomade — it's not a wax and it's not a gel, but the hold is great without being sticky," she says. "Two exacting rows of bristles sweep through each hair, distributing just enough pomade for natural-looking definition all day long."
If you are a beauty-lover after fuller, statement-making brows, The Feathered Brow is undeniably worth it. With cosmetics applied and Streicher's expert styling, my brows reminded me of Dua Lipa — a modern-day eyebrow icon, to be sure. With patience, commitment, and Streicher's expert advice, this could very well become my new brow reality.
The Feathered Brow service is available for $140 to $275 and the Brow Lift is available from $100 to $150 at Striiike.
More brow know-how:
Now watch someone get their brows microbladed for the first time:
Originally Appeared on Allure