If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the eyebrows must be the paint, curtains, and little potted plants on the sill. Particularly among animated characters, eyebrows tell a lot about one’s personality, and those who lack eyebrows altogether (L, Gaara, etc.) have especially striking faces due to their uniqueness.
For cosplayers, however, this often presents a problem, particularly for those (like me) who have incredibly thick eyebrows that can’t be hidden away with a mere powder puff or paint stroke. Take heart: I’ve created a simple, cost-efficient method for how to hide your eyebrows that doesn’t require shaving them off. If I can make mine disappear, then I assure you, you can as well. And that’s no small feat, seeing as I am graced with the mighty brows of Thranduil.
This method can also be used for “re-shaping” your eyebrows. If, for example, you have very thick eyebrows and are cosplaying a character with very thin eyebrows, then you can use this method to cover your real eyebrows and paint or etch fake ones over top.
1. Bar of soap
2. ELMER’S Washable School Glue (Disappearing Purple)
3. Liquid concealer that matches your skin tone
4. Plastic palette knife
5. Powder that matches your skin tone
6. Powder brush
7. (Optional) Hairband or tie to keep your bangs out of your face
Before you begin, you’ll want to do a little (optional) prep work. If you have bangs or long hair that dangles in your face, pin it back or use a headband to keep it out of your eyes and off of your eyebrows. Otherwise, when it comes time to wash, glue, and paint your brows, the hair may get caught and generally be a big nuisance. If you have short hair, then you can skip this step altogether. Also, if you wish, you can trim your eyebrows a bit and remove any stray hairs. This diminishes the overall area of the brow and aids the concealing process a bit.
Once you’ve done the prep work, you can launch right into the makeup itself. Keep in mind that this process can take anywhere from 15-30mins, so be sure to begin early in order finish in time for your next Con or costuming event.
1. Wash and dry your eyebrows.
To officially prep your brows for hiding, you’ll need to make sure they’re set to “default.” Take a bar of soap (or any other soap you have on hand) and get to scrubbing them clean! Use your nails to scratch the soap in thoroughly until both eyebrows are covered in thick froth. Then, wash the soap out completely with water and rub them dry with a towel. Make sure no soap remains. Your eyebrows will probably look and feel fluffy… for the time being.
2. Cover your eyebrows with the first layer of glue.
Using your plastic palette knife, dig out a chunk (about as big as your eyebrows are thick) of the purple glue. Pay attention because the order of this next step is important, especially if you have thick eyebrows. Using the palette knife, begin applying the glue to your eyebrow, starting nearest to your ear and moving towards your nose. Smear the glue while pushing the eyebrow hair against its natural grain. After applying glue to the entire eyebrow, and gluing the hairs toward your nose, begin smoothing the hair upwards towards your forehead. Do this until all of the hair is angled straight up. After this, use the palette knife to smooth the eyebrow hair back into its natural position, making it as flat as possible. The reason that the eyebrow hair must be smoothed out in so many directions is to cover every side of the hair follicle with glue and get it to ultimately remain flat when smoothed back to its default position. Do this for both eyebrows and let dry until all of the purple glue dries clear. The eyebrows should look flat (almost painted) onto your face.
Special Note: As you work, be sure to keep your face neutral. Don’t raise, scrunch, or make any other unnatural expressions with your eyebrows while applying the glue (this will make them dry with bunched wrinkles at the edges, diminishing the smooth effect). If you happen to get glue on your upper eyelid, quickly and carefully remove it with the palette knife using gentle, scraping motions.
3. Apply additional coats of glue to your eyebrows.
To ensure that your eyebrows stay put, you’ll want to apply an additional coat or two of the glue. After letting the first coat dry (about 15 minutes or until the purple color disappears), dig out a second, slightly smaller chunk of the glue and apply it to your eyebrow, this time following its natural grain. Starting nearest your nose, spread the glue over the eyebrow towards your ear. Do this for both eyebrows. Two coats is often enough, and no more than three should be necessary.
Special Note: When applying second and third layers of glue, it is helpful to turn your head to the side and examine the eyebrow from that angle. The eyebrow should look flat against your skin and not stick out at all. Use additional layers of glue to smooth out any hair that doesn’t lay flat.
4. Let the glue completely dry.
Fortunately, this particular ELMER’S glue dries quickly (typically within 15 minutes). Wait until the glue doesn’t feel sticky on your eyebrows, and the purple color disappears, before continuing.
Using a concealer that best matches your natural skin tone, begin “painting” the concealer over your eyebrows. Start nearest to your nose and follow the natural grain of your eyebrow toward your ear. Be careful not to color too much outside of the eyebrow itself. Less total concealer area means less to ultimately blend into your skin. Your eyebrow should be flat against your face, meaning that this sensation of covering your eyebrows should feel similar to covering any other skin blemishes with concealer. Don’t worry if the concealer doesn’t look very blended to your face just yet. That’s what powder is for.
Special Note: Usually only one layer of concealer is necessary; however, an additional coat of concealer can be applied after the first one dries.
6. Let the concealer dry.
After applying the concealer to your eyebrows, let it dry completely. This usually takes about 5-10 minutes or until the concealer is not wet to the touch. It’s important that your eyebrows are fully dried before proceeded to the next step.
7. Use powder to blend the concealer to your face.
Using a thick powder brush, press powder directly onto your concealer-covered eyebrows. Do this all over both eyebrows until the eyebrows begin to blend into the rest of your skin. While I only use one shade of powder to accomplish this, you may want to use two or more shades of powder in order to achieve a fully blended look.
8. Powder the rest of your face to match.
Once you’ve powdered and blended your eyebrows satisfactorily, go ahead and brush some powder over the rest of your face. This helps give a uniform look and conceal your hidden eyebrows even further. From here, you can apply whatever cosmetic makeup is necessary in order to portray your character.
Removing the Makeup
Once the fun is done and it’s time to return to normality, you can easily undo your eyebrow makeup with a little soap and running water. I recommend hopping in the shower to scrub it off your face quickly and easily, but splashing water from the sink is also effective. Scrub at your eyebrows with soap in order to wash out all the glue and cosmetics. The nice thing about ELMER’S glue is that it washes out easily and won’t tear out your eyebrows in the process. At worst, you may lose a few untethered hair follicles—no more than would normally fall off by scratching or lightly pulling at them.
Why It’s Worth Your Time
As an L cosplayer, I’ve used this eyebrow hiding method several times. The glue holds all day, and using a 24-hour concealer is a great way to guarantee your look won’t fade over the long (possibly sweaty) hours at a Con or outdoors costume fest.
If you’re serious about portraying a cosplay thoroughly, or you just want to do justice to your favorite eyebrow-less character, then this is an easy cosmetic technique you can’t afford to overlook. I see a lot of cosplayers who don’t even attempt to hide their eyebrows, simply because they don’t know how to do it; but learning how can make an enormous difference in how you present the character.
When I cosplayed L at my first Con, I was one of about six other L’s at the cosplay convention that day. Despite that enormous representation, though, I was stopped countless times (sometimes every couple feet) for photographs. Among the various compliments, the most common ones praised my makeup, commenting that the large majority of L cosplayers didn’t do such a thorough job. That’s not to ring my own bell (there’s a Death Note reference in there somewhere…), but simply to show that such a small thing as hiding your eyebrows can make an enormous impact on your cosplay and character accuracy… and make you stand out from the crowd.
While there are other techniques for hiding eyebrows, I find that this is one of the most accessible and satisfactory methods available. Whether you cosplay L (Death Note), Gaara (Naruto), Pitch (Rise of the Guardians), or any other character lacking in that ever-so-personable facial hair, this is one technique you’ll want to keep safe and sound in your trove of cosmetic tricks.