From pencils and powders to gels and pomades, here’s the lowdown on every type of arch-defining product out there
Eyebrow trends may come and go, but the bushy brow look is here to stay. If you’ve recently experienced an at-home grooming mishap or aren’t naturally blessed with thick and well-defined brows, don’t worry—beauty aisles are filled with an array of innovative makeup products that can help you get your arches in shape.
From pencils and powders to gels and pomades, here’s everything you need to know about the different types of eyebrow makeup products on the market.
To achieve a long-lasting makeup look you won’t need to touch up, opt for a brow wax. Like makeup primers, brow waxes provide a canvas for eyebrow pencils and powders to stick to. Start by applying the wax along the outline of your eyebrow with a small angled brush, focusing on your arch. Using a spoolie brush—an eyebrow-shaping tool that looks like a mascara wand—lightly blend in the wax through the rest of your brow. Follow up with an eyebrow pencil or powder.
Try: Benefit Brow Zings Pro Palette ($52). This brow palette contains everything you need to create perfect arches, including three waxes, four powders and two brushes.
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Powder compacts are great for building up colour gradually. Many palettes come with at least two shades, so you can customize your colour. Start by lightly applying the lighter shade using an angled brush, then blend in the darker colour through the arch and tail.
For maximum staying power, layer the powder on top of brow wax. If you don’t have wax on hand, simply extend your eye shadow primer all the way up to your eyebrows.
Try: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo ($30) comes in 11 duo-shades. It’s easy to blend and provides long-lasting colour.
Eyebrow pencils are the perfect choice for filling in thinning or over-plucked eyebrows. However, keep in mind that pencils can be tricky to work with. “If the colour is wrong or the application is too ‘drawn’ on, the brow can look very harsh and distracting,” says Toronto-based makeup artist Lucky Bromhead. “Pencil that are specifically designed for the brows usually have a more powdery consistency that is easier to work with. They key is to use small, hair-like strokes.”
When using a pencil, start at the base of your brow (close to your nose) and slowly move outward. Bromhead suggests using a colour that’s half a shade lighter than your natural brows, as the oils on our skin can oxidize pigment, making it appear darker. Use a spoolie brush to help smooth out the strokes.
Try: NYX Cosmetics Micro Brow Pencil ($12) is affordable and also one of the best options for subtle, hair-like strokes.
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Clear and tinted gels
Brow gels work best on naturally thick brows. A clear gel is the brow equivalent of hairspray: it helps keep unruly hairs in check. Tinted gels are an easy way to darken blond hairs, cover up greys or even lighten an overly dark brow. Simply brush the gel along and through your eyebrow, in short, upward, even strokes—focusing on the tail end. To avoid a messy application, make sure to wipe off excess product from your wand.
Try: Maybelline Brow Fast Sculpt Gel ($12) is a more affordable version of Glossier’s cult Boy Brow gel that comes in six versatile shades. With one swipe, it tames and styles unruly arches.
Like clear and tinted gels, pomades offer all-day tinted coverage, but these cream-based formulas also allow for a more flexible hold. Pomades can be more challenging to use than other brow products as they’re more pigmented. Start with a light hand, focusing on the arch of your eyebrow, and diffuse the colour throughout with a spoolie brush.
Try: Milani Stay Put Brow Color ($11) offers a lot of bang for your buck and comes with a spoolie for expert application.
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Brow markers may look like Sharpies, but that’s where the comparisons end. Felt-tipped markers are embedded with a sheer pigment that allows colour to built up gradually. Like eyebrow pencils, brow markers offer hair-like precision and make it a breeze to draw on individual hairs to fill in sparse spots. They’re a great way to achieve a bold, long-lasting brows. Simply use subtle hair-like strokes along the length of your eyebrow, in the direction of hair growth.
Try: Glossier Brow Flick Microfine Detailing Pen (US$22) is smudge-resistant, which makes it perfect for summer. Plus, the ultra-soft liner tip creates subtle and precise hair-like strokes.
Tattoo pens and mascaras
Tattoo pens tint brows for days. They’re an excellent choice for darkening light-coloured eyebrows, and they offer a more temporary alternative to brow tinting, microblading and microshading. A peel-off tint is particularly fun to use: simply apply it, let it dry and remove to unveil tinted brows that last anywhere from three to seven days. Be sure to keep cotton buds on hand to quickly correct any application mishaps.
Try: Maybelline Tattoo Brow Peel Off Tint ($15) lasts through sweat, water and face washing, giving you perfectly tinted brows that last up to three days.