Hi everyone, welcome to round 2 of my blogging adventure! (And a special mention to anyone who liked the first post enough to come back).
Today, I decided I wanted to try my hand at a basic and pretty essential technique from the world of drag and cosplay: brow blocking, or concealing. This is the art of covering up your brows in order to draw on, well, pretty much anything you want, from a pencil thin line to a glamorous high arch. If, like me, you avidly watch RuPaul’s Drag Race every year, you’ll have seen all of the Queens use this technique, and thought: “Oh, this looks easy!”
Now, I had attempted to cover up my brows several times before. This had consisted of whacking a single coat of glue on my brows and moving straight on to foundation. They would then peek out from under the ones I had drawn on, and on one occasion, at the last con I went to, they started lifting from my forehead during the day. Good thing my Sailor Moon wig had a fringe to hide the mess.
Different brows will need different levels of concealing. Last week, I watched Dope2111’s transformation into a Bratz doll, and she used a single coat of glue on her brows, nothing else. If, like me, you have been blessed (except on eyebrow threading day, ouch!) with caterpillar brows , you’ll definitely be needing a lot more work.
I was pretty keen to get my technique down. So, over the last few weeks, I have watched tutorials by men and women; cosplayers, models and drag acts. What I found was essentially two main techniques: one of them just involves using the glue stick directly on your brows, which is the one most people use (let’s call it the standard method). The second one I came across in a video by KnRai 雷 sent to me by a friend, where this time the glue is applied with a spatula. For rather obvious reasons, I’ll be calling this one the spatula method.
So, I gathered my supplies:
Elmer’s School Glue
Kryolan TV Paint Stick in W2
MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC15
Makeup Forever Ultra HD Foundation Stick in 115
RCMA No-Color Powder
And my tools:
Sephora concealer brush
Sephora foundation brush
Superdrug makeup wedges
Spray bottle with water
Oh, and a hell of a lot patience, because we’re going to be here for a while.
Before cosplaying, I always like to start off with a perfectly primed base to ensure my makeup stays on all day. My favourite combo is the MUA Pro Base Primer followed up with the Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm, which keeps my makeup on all day long.
Step 1 – First layer
The first step with both of these techniques is to take your glue stick, and generously coat your brow with it, first in the direction of the brow, then against it to ensure you coat all the hairs. You should end up with a lovely mess like the one below.
I used Elmer’s glue, which I found on Amazon, as a lot of tutorials used this. It is purple but dries clear, so you’ll know when to apply the next layer, and it’s non-toxic.
Straight after putting the glue on, use a disposable spoolie to brush through your hairs. Both techniques suggested brushing them in a different way: for the spatula method, follow the natural direction of the hair, whereas the standard method usually recommends brushing the hair upwards.
Before moving on, it is essential that the brows are perfectly dry so you don’t disturb the glue underneath (same as with nail varnish or paint). So, arm yourself with your hairdryer, turn it down to the cold setting, and start drying those eyebrows.
Some tutorials recommend adding powder in between layers. I tried this before and found it too messy, but you may find that it works for you.
Step 2 – More glue!
Now for the fun part (well, on one of the brows anyway). Grab your spatula and your glue stick, and carve out a small piece of glue. Take it on the back of your hand, and press the spatula into the glue until you get a smooth paste.
Then, starting from the front, work this into your brow, smoothing it out all the way to the tail. Once the product is smoothed out, take a sheet of kitchen roll and spray a little water on it, and run it through your brow to smooth the glue out. Take a little water directly on your finger, and run it on your brow too. Once the glue is dry, repeat the process once, or twice depending on the thickness of your brows.
With the standard method, the steps are simpler: apply directly from the glue stick and build up layer by layer until you achieve a smooth result. Once each layer is dry, run your finger on your brow to check for any gaps, and add more glue.
One YouTuber I watched mentioned that she prefers the standard method because it means waiting for multiple thin layers to dry rather than a few thicker ones. So, I expected to be done with the standard method long before the spatula method. Wrong.
The spatula method took a total of 4 layers to smooth out my brow, and it felt pretty secure. With the standard method on the other hand, I lost count of the number of coats. It took so many layers that I ended up using the damp tissue and the water to help me get things smoother faster. Otherwise, I would probably still be sat with my glue stick instead of writing this.
So, now that all the gluing is out of the way, we can get started with the real fun: the concealing! The instructions for these steps don’t vary much from video to video, but I chose to follow the one’s seen in KnRai 雷’s tutorial. So, time for some more layers.
Step 3 – Bake
Start by baking your eyebrows. I used a makeup wedge and the RCMA No Colour Powder, which is my holy grail for setting cosplay makeup. Apply a generous amount, and leave it to sit for a couple of minutes. When you’re ready to move on to the next step, use a brush to remove the excess.
Step 4 – Colour correcting
Next, use an orange tone to neutralise the blue tones in your brows. Without this, your brows will probably end up peeking through your foundation. I used Kryolan TV Paintstick in W2 and a Sephora concealer brush for this. If you find the Paintstick too dry, blast it under your hairdryer for a couple of minutes. Pack the colour on your brows, without dragging it to avoid disturbing the glue, then blend the edges out with a sponge. Once you’ve finished, bake again with your powder for about 5 minutes to really set the cream product, and brush the excess off.
Step 5 – Concealing
Repeat the previous step with your concealer. I like to use my MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC15, as it is thick and creamy, and has great coverage. Pack it on with your brush without disturbing the previous layer, and use your makeup sponge to blend out the edges. Then, you guessed it, bake! (At this point, I started wondering if I was in my room or on the set of GBBO).
Step 6 – Foundation
Now, it’s finally time to go in with your foundation. I always use my Makeup Forever Ultra HD Stick Foundation for cosplay. I used my Sephora foundation brush to apply it to the brows first, before finishing up the rest of my face. The next step would be to draw your new brows on, but I went without for the sake of this selfie
So, final thoughts? I think preference will boil down to the thickness and length of your brow hairs, and the coverage required. With my caterpillars, the spatula method worked better. It took about half the time to get through the gluing phase, and my brow felt very secure. The hairs at front of the brow on the right, which I used the standard method on, had already started to lift by the time I had finished the rest of my face, so I doubt this would last all day long on me.
Looking at the finish itself, the spatula method side looks more cakey (didn’t I say I was on the set of GBBO?), because the outline of the glue is more visible. I think this is down to my glue-blending skills, which should improve with time. I’ll definitely practice this one ahead of the next con I go to.
Note to self, be prepared to wake up at 4 am just to get brows done.