Shhh, don't tell the salon.
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Closeup of a Young Confident Woman Filling in her Eyebrows
Credit: Caroline Tompkins/Refinery29 for Getty Images

We were walking down an Ulta aisle entirely covered in MAC lipstick tubes when I blurted out to my sister, “This year I want to have the best brows. Ever.” Specific. Attainable. Measurable. That’s how you make a goal, folks. Take that, Tony Robbins.

I’m not alone. If anything, 2019 was the year of the power brow. Fluffy, thick, and feathered, these brows were a far cry from the painted-on plasticky ones of 2010 and further still from the ultra-thin penciled ones of the 1990s. And I wanted them. I wanted them bad.

I pride myself on few things, but one is the ability to sniff out affordable beauty dupes. Not all heroes wear capes, and this one certainly wears a lot of mascara.

So when I discovered that tinting my mousy brown eyebrows was the biggest game-changer since learning how to properly apply eyeliner, I was determined to cheat the system. You say I need to shell out 30 bucks a month to get these babies dyed a slightly darker brown? I say hello, Target, my old friend.

A deep dive down the beauty aisle later, and I’d found it: the secret to cool-girl eyebrows that no one has been telling us.

Beard dye. Seriously. Only later did I find out that my aunt has been doing this for literal years now, and she never told me. The nerve.

Here's the deal: It costs only a fraction of what it costs to go to the salon for eyebrow tinting (just $9 a pop!), and I can do it at home in my pajamas in just five minutes while watching Golden Girls re-runs. It’s also made specifically to be applied to the sensitive skin on your face, and it catches all of those little “invisible” blonde hairs that are keeping you from full-fledged featherdom.

I’ll try not to be dramatic, but beard dye helps my eyebrows finally live up to their full potential. *wipes tear*

So far I’ve been using Just For Men Mustache & Beard Dye (a favorite among fellow at-home tinters and beauty editors), but I’ve also tested Godefroy’s Professional Tint Kit, which comes with 20 capsules of color for only $20.

Typically the tint is supposed to last six weeks, but since I use an oil-based cleansing balm, mine starts to fade quicker. Every four weeks is my go-to timeline, and better believe I get excited to do it. The power of a properly dyed brow is vast, and especially so when it’s fresh. From work meetings to wedding weekends, it’s my secret confidence boost.

How To: For tinting your brows, follow the instructions on the packaging exactly. This is not a time to experiment. Lest you end up with creepy, crawly black caterpillars on your forehead. Or chemically burned skin.

After applying the dye, set a timer. Just For Men calls for five minutes; Godefroy only two minutes. Then wipe off as much as you can with a warm washcloth. Do not scrub! Then rinse your face until it’s all been removed. Presto! Instagram-worthy brows.

Hot Tip: I’ve also used beard dye on my eyelashes. I cannot officially recommend it (chemicals and eyeballs are not a doctor-approved combination!), but if you happen to try it, do so with extreme caution. If the tint hits your eyeball, you’re toast. It stings like a mama. Just make sure to apply carefully without getting too close to the base of your eyelashes. That’s when it can seep into your eye. Instead focus the product midway on the lashes to the tips, which are usually the lighter bits you want to darken. Then set a timer for five to ten minutes. Remove any runaway dye from your skin with a Q-tip immediately, and wait to remove dye with a warm cloth when the timer goes off.

Eyelashes are just icing on the cake, really, but waking up with a set of eyebrows that look already styled with Benefit’s Gimme Brow Gel? Priceless. Luckily, I’m only paying $9.

WATCH: 9 Eye Makeup Mistakes That Are Secretly Making You Look Older

Once you have your best-ever brow base, the rest of your beauty routine can take a backseat.