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In the world of brow products, it’s often the pigmented ones—the pencils and pomades of the world—that get all the play. But here’s the thing: These guys usually lack one very important quality. We’re talking about hold. After all, shaping and filling your arches to perfection, only to have everything get messed up a few hours into your day, is no fun.
Enter the beauty of a clear brow gel. A quick swipe helps both set your brows and lock in any color you’ve added. Not to mention that they’re also an excellent pick for no-makeup makeup days. Brush one on to tame unruly hairs and add a gorgeous sheen, just enough of a little something to polish off your look. And let’s not forget that they can pull double duty, too, a great swap for black mascara if you want to give lashes a little natural-looking boost. Basically, the bottom line is that you need a clear brow gel in your makeup stash.
Keep reading to check out our favorite clear brow gels.
Best Overall: Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel
Of course, the queen of anything and everything brow would have an A+ gel in her line. This one earns especially high marks for the all-day hold it offers, without ever turning clumpy or sticky.
Byrdie senior editor Hallie Gould is a huge fan, sharing this praise: "This one has long been my go-to. I love the hold (the brow hairs do not move), and it’s important to me that each brow stays in its proper place. I feather each brow, brushing the hairs up and out to define the arch and keep the strays under control, as I never tweeze or wax. The formula ensures there’s no flaking or stickiness in sight, and it’s enriched with chamomile to condition your brows as you wear it each day. The best part? It’s small enough to stick in your bag, so you can have it on hand everywhere you go."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Urban Decay Brow Finish Waterproof Brow Gel
This checks all of our clear brow gel boxes. A lightweight formula that’s never sticky or crunchy and won’t flake? Yep. An easy-to-use brush? You bet. Water-resistance and long-lasting hold? Check and check.
Apply brow gel in a slightly upward motion to make your brows look thicker.
Best Conditioning: Glossier Boy Brow
Technically this is a brushable wax, rather than a gel, but it still delivers awesome shaping and hold. It also earns bonus points for boasting oleic acid, lecithin, and atelocollagen to condition and moisturize delicate brow hairs. And despite the fact that the tube and brush are teeny-tiny, it’s still easy to hold and apply.
Best Budget: NYX Professional Makeup Control Freak Eyebrow Gel
If a brow gel isn’t where you want to blow your makeup budget, we get it. Happily, you don’t have to. Save your cash with this guy, which offers the same hold, setting power, and shaping abilities.
Best for Thick Brows: Milk Makeup Kush Clear Brow Gel
To keep bushy brows in place, reach for this pick. A tree-shaped brush with firm, dense bristles is ideal for combing through and depositing the gel evenly through even thicker hair. Plus, the vegan formula contains softening hemp seed oil.
Best for Sparse Brows: Lime Crime Bushy Brow Strong Hold Gel
“This brow brush is tiny, but in a way that I like, because it’s both skinny and short,” says brow expert Joey Healy. It lets you really work into the areas in between hairs, helping to build and bulk them up, making for a more voluminous look.
Best Long-Wear: Benefit Cosmetics 24-Hour Brow Setter & Shaping Gel
Rocking wild-child brows? Meet your new BFF. The dual-sided brush features short bristles on one side to sculpt and shape hairs, and longer bristles on the other to evenly coat each and every hair from root to tip. A flake-free formula lasts for up to 24 hours, and also dries in seconds, too.
Runner-Up, Best Long-Wear: Arches & Halos Hold Tight Water Resistant Gel Clear
For super long days or super hot days, reach for this stay-put option. With a firm hold and plenty of water resistance, you don’t need to worry about it going anywhere (making it a great choice for swiping on lashes, too). Reviewers rave about how long it lasts, the wallet-friendly price, and how a little bit goes a long way.
Best Brush: Hourglass Arch Brow Shaping Gel
“This innovative dual-sided brush has both long and short bristles for unique application and control,” points out Healy. It also lets you swipe on the flake-free formula in varying levels of intensity, depending on how much product and/or hold your brows need.
Best for Shine: Pixi Eybrow Enhancer
Those in search of a brow gel to wear solo should try this one. Ultra-shiny, even just one swipe creates a polished, almost lacquer-like effect. Though it still layers nicely over any other brow product or color you may use.
Best Luxury: Givenchy Mister Brow Groom
Healy calls out the brush on this splurge-worthy pick; with both narrow and wide parts, it’s extremely versatile he says. More specifically, it’s curved to help follow your eyebrow shape, making application foolproof. The clear formula dries fast and is infused with vitamin B5 to help make brows appear denser, too.
Best Lightweight: Sephora Collection Clear Brow Gel
If you’re playing the word association game, ‘gel’ and ‘crunchy,’ ‘hard’ and ‘sticky’ all inevitably go together. But this formula is so featherweight that it’s truly undetectable. The only way you’ll know it’s there after you brush it on is because your brows will look amazing.
Best Vegan Formula: Blinc Eyebrow Mousse
Vegan and cruelty-free, this also has the unique benefit of conditioning both your brow hairs and the skin underneath. To get specific, it touts a peptide that helps to moisturize and ward-off wrinkles. And we’ll never say no to scoring a little anti-aging boost from our makeup.
Best Versatile: RevitaLash Hi-Def Brow Gel
Options are the name of the game with this newbie, which not only touts a standard spoolie applicator but also has a dual-sided comb-brush on the other. Start by using the comb side to brush through brows, then swipe on the translucent gel (which contains flexible polymers for shape and control) with the spoolie. Finish by using the brush side to brush through everything and help sculpt your precise shape.