When it comes to the goods in your cosmetics case, brow makeup is truly the unsung hero. Few things can make as major of an impact as filling in your brows. Think of brows as the picture frame, framing your entire face and overall makeup look. No matter if you were born genetically blessed with luscious arches and simply want to groom them, or you’re struggling with sparse brows and want to create the illusion of fuller ones, the right brow product can do just that.
Generally speaking, pencils—and their precise tips—are ideal for adding definition and a more structured shape. Powders are great for creating the illusion of volume and fullness, while gels and pomades tend to have slightly more grip to help tame unruly hairs. Our suggestion? Play around with any—or all—of these standout options below until you find your favorite formula.
Read on for the best brow products available today.
Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Eyebrow Gel
Easy to use
Deposits a natural amount of color
Difficult to brush through when dried
Teeny-tiny microfibers in this gel adhere to your brows, instantly making them appear fuller, while the subtle tint simultaneously adds definition. Easily buildable, you can swipe on a small amount for a more natural effect, or add more when you’re going for a truly bold brow look. Plus, the small and tapered brush makes precise application incredibly easy, and the formula is also long-wearing and water-resistant. Available in nine shades, reviewers with all different hair colors rave about how well the hues match their brows.
Price at time of publish: $24
Type: Gel | Shades: 10 | Size: 0.05 oz., 0.1 oz., or 0.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
"After using this brow gel my brows look fuller, thicker, and the best part was I did not have to touch them up throughout the day." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Wet n Wild Ultimate Brow Retractable
Doesn't need to be sharpened
Can clump if over applied
This twist-up pencil delivers the precision of a traditional pencil (and also has a triangular tip for extra detailing), but because the consistency is slightly softer, it makes for an even more natural effect. Not to mention that because it’s a twist-up, there’s never any need to worry about having a sharpener on hand. A built-in spoolie brush on the other end makes it easy to brush through brows and blend everything once you’re done. And ringing in at less than a latte, the price truly can’t be beaten.
Price at time of publish: $5
Type: Pencil | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.007 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Maybelline New York Tattoo Brow 3 Day Gel-Tint
Great color payoff
Product can dry out quickly
This drugstore staple brand may be best-known for its mascaras, but don’t sleep on its awesome brow offerings. As anyone who has had their brows tinted will tell you, it’s nice to simply darken them once and then not have to think about it. This offers a similar, if slightly shorter-lived, solution, packing on waterproof pigment that claims to last for up to two days. Use the sculpting tip to brush the product (which comes in eight shades) onto your brows, then finish by brushing it through with the included spoolie. It delivers a lot of color, so start with less and add more as needed—and be sure to let it set it dry to ensure ultimate staying power.
Price at time of publish: $11
Type: Tint | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.037 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No
Glossier Boy Brow
Easy to apply
Clear version dries white
When your brows need just a little something-something, reach for this brow filler and shaper. Beeswax and carnauba wax helps hold hairs in place, while lecithin (a natural fatty substance) and oleic acid (derived from olive oil) work to nourish and moisturize to leave your brows silky and soft. It's available in blonde, brown, and black, and there’s also a clear version when you want just a little hold without a color.
Price at time of publish: $24
Type: Pomage | Shades: 5 | Size: 0.11 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
MAC Matte Eyeshadow in Charcoal Brown
Great color payoff
Works on all skin tones
Brow expert Azi Sacks says powders are her preferred formula of choice for filling in gaps, adding density, and making brows look naturally fluffy. And while yes, this is technically an eyeshadow, Sacks says it’s her go-to for brows. “I’ve had it in my kit for 21 years. It works on all skin tones and every hair color, and never turns ashy or red,” she says.
Price at time of publish: $21
Type: Powder | Shades: 83 | Size: 0.05 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No
Uoma Beauty Brow-Fro Baby Hair Pencil
Easy to blend
The precise tip of a pencil makes it ideal for adding crisp definition or adding hair-like strokes to fill in certain sparse areas; this is one of our favorites. The ultra-fine point makes for a super-natural effect, as does the soft, blendable texture. The built-in spoolie and nice range of six shades are just bonuses.
Price at time of publish: $22
Type: Pencil | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.002 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Chantecaille Full Brow Perfecting Gel
Sacks lauds this option for the light, water-based formula: “It’s perfect for everyday wear,” she says. It does deliver a sheer wash of tint, though, because it’s a gel, it’s really more meant to impart a bit of hold and shape to your brows. Still, it’s never sticky or hard and contains conditioning panthenol to help keep hairs nice and soft in the process.
Price at time of publish: $40
Type: Gel | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.19 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Thrive Causmetics Instant Brow Fix Semi-Permanent Eyebrow Gel
Darkens hairs over time
Reviewers note brush is flimsy
When you want your brows looking totally flawless for hours on end, reach for this pick. The waterproof, smudge-proof color claims to last for up to 24 hours, with nary a smudge or smear in sight. Also noteworthy are its long-term effects; as the name suggests, it contains a proprietary ‘liquid microblading’ technology that works to gradually and subtly tint the hairs so that they look darker and more defined even when they’re totally bare. The brush is also specially shaped to coat the hairs evenly and shape them in one fell swipe.
Price at time of publish: $24
Type: Gel | Shades: 3 | Size: 0.12 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Kjaer Weiss Brow Gel
Great color payoff
Includes a refillable case
Many brow products can contain harsh and drying ingredients, such as alcohol, which can ultimately end up making your brows look worse in the long run, warns Sacks. That’s part of the reason she recommends this squeaky-clean formula, packed with hydrating coconut oil. It adds just the right amount of color, and also comes with a refillable case, making it a great sustainable pick as well.
Price at time of publish: $30
Type: Gel | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.16 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Universal Color
IT Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil in Universal Taupe
Plastic surgeon- and dermatologist-developed
Can customize the shade color
Pencil/lead can fall out of tube
Don’t want to deal with choosing a color? This foolproof hue truly does work on everyone. How do you ask? The shade gradually adjusts based on how much pressure you apply, so you can easily get it to match your brows perfectly. It doesn’t hurt that the formula is packed with antioxidants and brow-enhancing ingredients like biotin and saw palmetto, either.
Price at time of publish: $25
Type: Pencil | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.005 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dark Hair
Mented Cosmetics High Brow Pencil
Great for darker brows
Color payoff could be better
Many brow products come in only one or two deep tones, but, as anyone with darker hair will tell you, not all brown and black hair is created equal. That’s why we appreciate that all four shades of this precision-tipped pencil are geared towards these darker shades. It doesn’t hurt that it claims to last for more than 10 hours, either.
Price at time of publish: $15
Type: Pencil | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.006 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Growth Serum
Vegamour VegaBrow Eyebrow Volumizing Serum
Can use daily
Sacks says this all-natural brow-enhancer delivers, “tremendous results.” It’s meant to be used twice daily for the first two months; Sacks suggests applying it with a disposable spoolie in the morning for a slightly lighter coating, which also has the added benefit of helping to hold hairs in place, too. At night, use the included sponge applicator to apply a thicker layer, she says.
Price at time of publish: $72
Type: Serum | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes
The right brow product can totally change your look, no matter how much or how little other makeup you’re wearing. We love the Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel, a microfiber-based formula that’s perfect for adding color, volume, and definition. Pencils are great for precise application; try the ultra-affordable Wet N Wild Ultimate Retractable Brow Pencil, It Cosmetics' Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil in Universal Taupe, or Mented Cosmetics' High Brow Pencil, which is ideal for dark hair. And don’t underestimate the importance of adding a brow growth serum into the mix. The Vegamour VegaBROW Volumizing Serum is one option that delivers impressive results.
What to Look For in a Brow Product
The biggest differentiating factor is the formula—pencils are great for precision, powders help build volume, and pomades and gels hold hairs in place and create a more structured shape.
If you have dark hair, Sacks recommends finding a brow product in a shade that matches your hair exactly. Have lightened or highlighted hair? Choose a hue that matches your natural roots, she says. And if you’re naturally a very light blonde, go for a color two shades deeper than your natural color.
If, like us, you're constantly trying to re-grow sparse areas, then you'll want to start incorporating products rich in nourishing ingredients that help to condition your brows. Formulas that contain moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, ceramides, vitamin E, or castor oil will be your brows' new best friends.
Should I use a brow pencil, powder, or gel?
Depending on the look you want to achieve, you can choose to wear each of the formulas solo or combined. But first, you'll want to determine your desired effect. In general, pencils can be used to create hair-like strokes, while makeup artist Michael Anthony recommends using powders to fill larger areas and create a shadow, imparting the appearance of fuller brows. Brow gel, whether clear or tinted, can be used to groom your natural brows and accentuate the individual hairs, or to seal your powder or pencil into place.
How can I find the right shade for my eyebrows?
Finding the right hue to blend in with your natural brow color is key—veer too dark, and the brows will appear severe, but if you go too light, the extra definition may not show up. Makeup artist Jessica Payne recommends going for a color slightly lighter than your natural shade. "No matter what, always go a shade lighter," she says. "If you try to match your brow color exactly to your hair color, you run the risk of it looking unnatural, which is exactly the opposite of the desired effect."
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. “Blessed” with thin, blonde brows, she rotates through brow products regularly, as they’re a staple in her daily makeup routine.
Meet the Expert
Azi Sacks is a brow expert at Hawthorne Studio in New York City. She has over 20 years of experience as a brow expert and makeup artist and is known for shape and coloring brows in a way that naturally enhances all of her clients’ faces.
Park B-M, Bak S-S, Shin K-O, et al. Promotion of hair growth by newly synthesized ceramide mimetic compound. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2017;491(1):173-177.