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What Is the Difference Between an Eyebrow Wax and an Eyebrow Design?

Christy is a licensed esthetician and owns Go See Christy Beauty Boutique, open for over 10 years with thousands of clients.

Learn the differences between an eyebrow wax and an eyebrow design

Learn the differences between an eyebrow wax and an eyebrow design

The Classic Eyebrow: Thick and Full

Groucho Marx, Brooke Shields, and Ernie and Bert from Sesame Street all have eyebrows that grab your attention because they are thick and full. Depending on the esthetician, it is either the worst nightmare or an absolute dream to be able to work with thick eyebrows.

Typically, the fuller the eyebrows, the more potential there is to be able to shape and design them to nicely frame the face and eyes. Obviously, if your eyebrows are pencil thin, there is very little, if anything, that can be done to change the shape.

Eyebrow Waxing vs. Eyebrow Design

It may just be semantics, but there are some differences between eyebrow waxing and eyebrow shaping, also known as "eyebrow design."

  • An eyebrow waxing simply means getting your stray brow hairs removed with a single strip of wax.
  • An eyebrow design, on the other hand, involves communicating with the esthetician about the best ways to shape your brows to frame your eyes and face.

Eyebrow Waxing

This is just a simple waxing with no consultation. There is little to no communication about what the client wants or what the esthetician may suggest. This happens quite frequently when the client has already had her eyebrows shaped and only wants the regrowth underneath to be removed.

The average price for a waxing is $10–15 (typically in nail salons). At fancier day spas, you may pay more for the same service, depending on who is providing it.

Eyebrow Design/Shaping

This hair removal service includes some or all of the following:

A Consultation:

There must be communication between the client and the esthetician about what the client desires and what the esthetician suggests. After a client explains what they are looking for in terms of shape, the esthetician will usually have them look into a mirror and provide a recommendation. She or he will explain exactly where hair will be removed, what the shape of the eyebrow will be, and why this shape suits the client's face.

Ultimately, the results will be what the client asks for. So, if the client insists on pencil thin eyebrows even though it makes her look like a cartoon character, the esthetician will deliver on that request.

The client should be allowed to see her eyebrows before and after the service is performed. This gives the client the opportunity to express whether she is pleased with the new change. If she is not, this also gives the esthetician the opportunity to rectify the situation by altering the shape or offering a complimentary service.


The area around your eyebrows should be cleaned with some type of astringent, but sometimes this is skipped.


Each esthetician has his or her own style of waxing, but if eyebrows are being shaped, the waxing is usually done in sections. If a client is using or has used Retin-A, Tetracycline, or Accutane, waxing cannot be performed, and the shaping needs to be done with tweezers.


After removing the unwanted hair, the brows that remain should be trimmed to avoid a bushy look. This is usually done by brushing the brow hairs with a spoolie (or a clean mascara wand) and cutting any long hairs with a pair of eyebrow scissors. Asians, especially, should have this done because their eyebrow hairs typically grow downward.

Extra Touches:

Because eyebrow shaping is typically a little more expensive than a simple waxing, the service may come with some extra touches. This may include using essential oils to condition the brows after waxing, a short pressure point massage, a cool ointment massage, or a steamed towel treatment.

Maintenance Tips:

  • The esthetician should show you how to maintain the shape of your brows in between visits.
  • If the eyebrow is too light or too thin, she may show you how to fill them in using a shadow or a pencil.
  • Eyebrow shadows give a subtle, natural look and are usually used to fill in any sparse areas.
  • Eyebrow pencils give a more dramatic look.
  • You should typically use a color that is a shade lighter than your hair color. Brunettes and people with black hair should use a dark brown because black can be too overpowering. Only use black if you want to look like Frida Kahlo.
  • If you have red or pink undertones, you should test the pencil or shadow colors before you purchase them. Sometimes pencils and shadows that are made for blondes and red heads start to turn orange after a few hours. If you test a product on your skin and it doesn't turn orange at the end of the day, it's probably a safe buy.
  • If your eyebrow needs a little help staying in place, a shaping gel is recommended.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: How dark should an older white haired lady’s eyebrows be?

Answer: This depends on what your skin tone is and what our natural hair color was. If you do NOT dye your hair then your eyebrows should NOT be darker than your hair color. If you are thinking of dying your eyebrow hair, then it should be as close to what your hair color is. If you prefer to keep your natural silver hair color, then just keep your natural brow color. Hope this helps. Just a tip: your eyebrow color should not be 2 shades darker or lighter than your hair color if you decide to dye it.