Q+A with Brow Specialist Joey Healy
Joey Healy on being a "brow purist", how to achieve the perfect arch, and more.
Joey Healy is a widely renowned brow specialist based out of New York City. A self-proclaimed "brow purist" with a special knack for creating the perfect arch, Joey sets himself apart from others in the industry with techniques and philosophies he and his team pride themselves on, alongside a highly personal in-studio experience. Also a founder of his signature product line, Joey Healy Eyebrow Collection, Joey has a unique expertise we were so excited to learn more about in this conversation. Read on for more!
Q: How did you get into eyebrows?
From a young age, I was really fascinated with art, and in high school taking studio art classes I really found my creative path artistically. From art, I then became interested in fashion. Even though I was a business major, I was interested in fashion in college and I was working on the side doing costume design in Philadelphia. Then when I moved to the city, I started to work in the costume design arena and then kind of found my way into beauty and makeup, worked in retail, became obsessed with products, and then became an esthetician as I refined even further into skincare in the more pure tendance of beauty.
I really discovered my love of eyebrows once I had this background as an esthetician and people would point out to me that brows were really my thing. So I was kind of listening to other people who would comment that they thought that my perspective on eyebrows was unique. But really, I think that finding your passion is going from general to specific. So for me, that was art that whittled down to fashion, then beauty and makeup and skincare, and then ultimately eyebrows.
I’ve always been obsessed with the details. I always say my mom is a geometry professor, and that that really shaped my perspective in looking at brows. When I was a makeup artist working in New York, people would point out to me that I really had a knack for brows, so I started my business by doing house calls during the day as I was working full time as a makeup artist at the New York City ballet in the evenings. It was kind of a side hustle and then it grew and grew and grew, and that really started back in 2010.
Q: How would you describe your style as a brow specialist?
I think that by today’s standards, I am considered a brow purist. I believe in tweezing and trimming because ultimately, it’s the best way to sculpt the brow and to give it the time, the care, the attention, the detail, and the artistry that it requires. We don’t wax, we don’t thread — it’s one hair at a time. Also, while I love tinting as a service because I really believe that it helps to bring everything out the best in your natural brow, I’ve never gone down the path of microblading and brow lamination because I really don’t believe in them for achieving the natural aesthetic that I hold dear. So I think in a lot of ways, I’m kind of a “brow purist”— that’s how I describe myself. But I would say my style is sculptural and it’s really based in architecture, geometry, and anatomy.
Q: What do you love most about your work?
First and foremost, I love working with real people. Every day when I go into the studio, I have 11 clients and I get to interact with the most interesting people in New York. Men and women, young and old, everywhere in between. I find that I am social and I have the gift of gab, and I do like being around people. I also like creating solutions for people’s eyebrows in the real world. When I create products, it’s not with models and actresses in mind, it's with these real people that I am working with every day who inspire the work.
I love the process of problem-solving. Brows aren't growing? Let’s make a serum. My scissors never work at trimming my brows? Let me create a scissor. So I think that the problem-solving part that comes with the product development is really fun for me. Also, the other fun stuff about products, naming shades, designing products — that’s of course as much fun as it sounds.
I also like having a shop in the city. I am a good store owner. When I was working as a makeup artist when I was younger I thought I would like it, but I never liked flying to LA and NY back and forth, being up very early, and being on set. I actually like having a studio in the city where there’s some kind of real structure. Running the shop, the in’s and out’s of it, I think it’s really fun and I think that that is a knack for me as well. I also do love that my work overlaps with the fashion world. I always feel like entertainment, film, fashion, beauty, they all kind of intersect in New York. You really see that. So I feel like I have my finger in a few different areas.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
New York City. I love living in New York, I’ve lived here for 14 years. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I feel like inspiration is all around us, and there are so many people in New York. COVID’s been difficult because we feel like we have fewer people, but I’m feeling like that energy is ramping back up in the spring, and I love to see how busy the streets are. It’s the same way that we get inspired by fashion and all of these other things, we are just surrounded by 8.4 million New Yorkers.
I also will pull inspiration from film, from fashion and runway, and probably those two primarily. Hollywood and the world of fashion, which are very different worlds, often intersect with beauty. Additionally, as much as it pains me to say, Instagram too. With social media, it’s kind of like we have insight into so many different worlds, and so I feel like there’s inspiration all over social media. To the point where it’s sometimes overwhelming, but it helps my creative brain process and to think of new things.
Q: What are some of the essential products that you always keep in your kit?
The word essential is important to my brand because we created Joey Healy Essential Tools for exactly that — the things that you need for your brows. I think that that would be the most essential thing. I can shape anybody's eyebrows with that kit. It has scissors, tweezers, two brushes, and a dermaplaning blade. I would say when we really talk about essentials, we have to talk about tools, and the essential tools kit has every tool for everybody.
Q: You’re known for your skill for creating the ideal arch. What are some of your tips and tricks for finding the brow shape for those who might be struggling to find theirs?
Listening to your natural brow shape is the first thing. What you want to focus on is: Are they symmetrical? Are they level? Are they equidistant? Do they terminate in the same place?
Really make sure that your brow is right on your brow bone. Use your fingers, feel your brow bone. Your brow should be right in the middle of it, not on the forehead, not on the temple, not on the bridge of the nose. So use your brow bone as a guide to finding your natural brow, and then check for those points of symmetry.
I always give the quick tips too, if you want to find the head, the arch, and the tail. Use a little brush or tweezer, press vertically against the bridge of the nose, that’s where they should start. Corner of the nose to corner of the eye is the bare minimum that you want them to reach for the tail, and then eyeball that the arch is about 2/3 of the way out.
But embrace your natural brow too. If it’s curly and thick, embrace some of the texture in it. That’s why I feel like brow lamination isn’t my favorite, because it just sort of flattens the brow. Embrace the natural things about your brows. Maybe you’re a blonde with dark brows — lean into it. We want to shift and adjust, but you can get a lot of cues from your natural shape on its own.
Q: How do you differentiate yourself from the other brow specialists and studios that are out there?
I feel like just by being myself. I’m a purist, I have a philosophy on eyebrows I don’t waver from. When I see new trends pop up, I’m curious about them and learn about these new trends, but that doesn’t mean that I change my business model every 6 months to accommodate them.
I would also say we take a lot of time with our clients. Every session is 40 minutes, which is very unique. I don’t know another brow studio that does shaping that takes 40-minute appointments. We also have a very chic, gender-neutral, clean, modern New York City studio on the ground level that’s accessible to all. Sometimes with these brow places, you have to know somebody or they are tucked away. We are open 7 days a week so we have lots of availability. We have lots of volume.
I also think our customer service is exceptional — what we offer you in terms of warmth and personality and educating our clients. We teach you how to maintain, we show you step-by-step how to take care of your brows, how to fill them in, how to remove strays in-between shapes. So I would say customer service, educating the client on what we’re doing, taking the time (40 minutes) to do what we do, and also not wavering from our philosophies.
Q: What is one mistake that you see people make with their eyebrows? What’s a solution you can provide for it?
I’d say there are a lot. Over-trimming the brows, trimming the brows in a straight line, trimming more than one hair at a time, chopping them straight across. Quick solution, get sharp small scissors like precision brow scissors, comb your brows up, and trim one hair at a time on a downward angle. That way, you can maintain a fringey, feathery line.
Another thing is that sometimes, people arch their brows in the center. If your arch is in the center and the brow is too round, it can look like a rainbow. If it’s too angular, it can look like a triangle. Either way, you want the arch to be 2/3 of the way out. It gives you the ultimate lift, and it really speaks to that GeoLift brow that we are seeing in 2021. But arch 2/3 of the way out, not in the center.
Rapid Fire Round
Q: Product you can’t leave home without:
For me, it’s Joey Healy Brow Structure Clear Set, our clear brow gel. I can’t leave home without it, whether it’s the grocery store or going to work.
Q: Favorite budget or drugstore find:
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sunscreen. It’s inexpensive, it’s lightweight, and it feels great on the skin. It’s a wonder brand. I like everything La Roche-Posay.
Q: Worth the splurge:
Biologique Recherche P50, I use that as my liquid exfoliant. It’s worth it. I buy it and I love it. I use it on my face, my neck, and my shoulders. I think it’s great.
Q: Recent discovery:
Laneige Sleeping Mask, it’s a lip mask that’s sold at Sephora for $22. It’s a lip mask that you put on your lips, it’s super softening, and you wake up with softer lips. It’s an amazing specific discovery that I love.
Q: Brand you wish more people knew about:
iNNBEAUTY Project. They are an affordable, sustainable, clean, and effective brand. I just think the packaging is cute, it’s energizing, and the products are high quality. I love that they are sustainable, and I love that it’s for everyone. I’m a big fan, and I feel like people don’t know about them quite yet.
Q: Go-to brow product:
Brow Renovation Serum. It’s my brow serum, and I use it every single day, I’ve used it every day for 11 years. Full of peptides, full of amino acids, vitamins, conditioners, it’s just the most fabulous serum ever. It helps your brows grow and stay thick, healthy, and fluffy, so it’s an absolute go-to. It's our hero product in the line.
Q: Your last beauty empty:
Nutrafol Men’s Growth Hair Supplement. Nutrafol has their men’s formula that I love. I take 4 pills a day. I’ve been using it since November 2019 and it’s helped my hair become thick and strong. Being a business owner and dealing with lots of stress and things related to COVID, the stress has really taken a toll on my hair, and Nutrafol has kind of saved me. So that was the last empty that was in the recycle bin.
For more of Joey's favorite products, check out his shop: