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Some might call Jimena Garcia a brow whisperer. The title is well-deserved; in late 2019, Garcia was named Chanel’s first-ever U.S. Brow Artist and took up a residency at the French fashion house’s very chic beauty concept space in SoHo dubbed the Atelier Beauté Chanel. The partnership is a first for her, and for the French house, though Garcia got her start in the beauty industry nearly 20 years ago and has racked up an A-list client roster of power players across the country.
Her background and approach to doing brows is also slightly unconventional. She began by studying makeup application at the New School, and later moved on to fine art and art history at Parsons, both in New York City. Sitting down in Garcia’s chair during the first few months of her residency, her approach was unlike any other brow experience I’d ever encountered. First, she studies her client’s faces and the way they move, before redefining the shape, texture, color, and even the smallest details, like the way each single hair is positioned and what special products or tools she recommends based on each person’s texture or hair color for each post-brow-treatment. Garcia’s brow technique is more like a couture, designer experience than the typical run-of-the-mill brow touch-up and it’s not unusual for her to also play off of the Chanel atmosphere and playfully pull out a book of Coco Chanel quotes to read to clients during their session.
“It's always about how they smile, how they’re moving their eyes,” she explains. “That is what is going to affect the shape.” Here, Garcia shares her top tips for getting the best brows of your life, how studying fine art affected her process, and how to approach texture versus shape when getting an eyebrow overhaul.
What's the first thing you consider when you're doing someone's brows for the very first time?
"Their face movements. Because when we take photos, we're so used to thinking of ourselves as flat. When we look in the mirror, we look at ourselves straight forward, we're not like that. So that's what I'm always looking at when I first meet a client."
Can people have more than one ideal brow shape?
"Totally, absolutely. That happened yesterday. I had this really beautiful woman who had this really strong personality and she had these really big brows. It made her look so stoic and strong. But the thing is, that I could tell her voice had a high pitch and her movement was really light. So when I started to talk to her, I was like, ‘No, you need a thick brow in the beginning and then a high arch, because it goes with that movement.’ You can hold many different shapes that create many different characters."
Having studied fine art, what is the biggest thing you learned from fine art that you've been applying to eyebrows?
"Just reading about artists and then that touching who I am as an artist, made me understand that everybody is different, everybody has a different expression. Learning about fine art really made me get to the instinct of my craft and knowing and just looking at shape and form really. It's really looking at shape and form and how that influences the overall aesthetic of somebody."
How do you approach texture versus shape?
"If you look at the face, one of the only things that really has texture is the brow because it's the only thing that has that fuzz on the face. Everything else is flat. So I think that texture on the brow is really important to then create the shape so that it has a balance. So, how to do that is to grow out your hair as much as possible. And tinting makes a difference. For a lot of people, I think it's always good to have the brow color a little darker than the product that you're using so that that texture pops out."
What are your top three tips for maintaining brows?
"I think one of the things that a lot of people don't realize is that you have to care for your brows. I use the Chanel Huile de Jasmin on the brows. It's about conditioning your brow. It really does change the texture of the hair. Sometimes when you have curly hair or coarse hair, it softens it. It makes it fall in a better direction. One of the biggest problems with brows is that your brow hair is growing in the wrong direction. Imagine if you're putting a conditioning treatment in your hair. It softens the hair and it falls in a certain way.
You should also brush your brow hair to circulate it to make your hair grow. If you use a spoolie and you brush your brows, it really makes a difference and it also totally aches the brow too. The brush that you use is key. There's the mascara, the spoolie, but sometimes they're too soft. You want to get a harder bristle. Sometimes it's really cool to get a natural toothbrush.
Then, having a regular schedule when you do your brows, because of the hair cycle, is so important. A lot of people are always tweezing a little bit here and there and that completely disturbed the cycles of the hair growth. So you're constantly going to be growing out your brows."
What are your favorite Chanel products to use on brows?
"I always use the lash primer, Chanel La Base Mascara before brow gel because it really does stick in the brow and it's next level. I love the Chanel Le Gel Sourcils in Transparent, Blond and Brun, it holds and it’s not too fake and clumpy and it's not light. It's like the perfect medium. And the Chanel Boy de Chanel Eyebrow Pencil in Light Brown, Grey, Deep Brown, and Black. The really cool thing about those pencils is that it has a flat tone to it. So, they’re basically on the ashier side, and our tendency is to use our natural hair color but our brows are usually not that color."
What is the key to making brows look natural?
"I think it's about care, conditioning the brow and then the brush that you're using. It's about having them brushed so you look put together and then caring for them. It's like getting a fresh haircut or a facial. The other really beautiful thing to do, is if you really don't want to do anything, because of this whole natural wave of beauty, is that you can basically use your brow brush and a natural oil and you just brush your brows so it coats it and it gives it a little bit of a shine."
What’s the secret to growing brows out?
"I recommend, like a hairdresser would recommend, brushing your hair. I recommend brushing your brows for circulation. There are brow serums, but the tricky thing about those serums is that, when you stop using them, that kind of chemical, because it isn't natural, it'll stop what it's doing. So you have to be very religious about those things. If you're going to go on a natural route, sweet almond oil, vitamin E, and castor oil, if you do the same percentage of each blended, it's a great little mix. It’s old school. If you really want to grow out your brows, don't touch them for like three months to six months."
What trends are you seeing right now for eyebrows?
"People love to put color in their brows. I think it's really fun. I think it's funky. I think it's cool. I've seen people who want their brows lighter or they want to put in some blue. It’s a fun thing because you can take the Chanel Le Gel Sourcils in Transparent, and you can put it in an eyeshadow and you mix it and then you have the product."
Who is your dream client?
"Tom Ford because he is so obsessive. I have many that are weird. Like Picasso. I would want somebody that I could have that exchange with, you know, artistically speaking. Billie Eilish also. Oh my gosh. She’s so cool."