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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. “It’s the perfect way to tame and control the hair, and set your brow shape,” says brow expert Azi Sacks. Plus, a clear brow gel is also super versatile; you can use it alone, or layer it over a brow powder or pencil if you also want to add a little color and definition, she says. 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 the best 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.
What Our Editors Say
"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." - Hallie Gould, Associate Editorial Director
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.
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 Drugstore: CoverGirl Easy Breezy Clear Brow Setting Gel
Simple and straightforward, this guy offers everything you could want from a clear brow gel for a very wallet-friendly price. A precise brush makes it easy to apply the non-sticky, featherweight, vegan, and cruelty-free formula, which works great both on its own and layered over any pigmented brow products.
If you apply it starting at the tail of the brow, brushing inwards against the direction of hair growth, it can help make your arches appear 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 even though the tube and brush are teeny-tiny, it’s still easy to hold and apply.
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 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. Sacks give it big points for being conditioning, though notes that it is a heavy formula, hence why it’s best for those with thicker brows.
Best for Sparse Brows: Kosas Air Brow Clear
Sacks calls this newbie, “amazing,” lauding it for the addition of castor oil, one of her favorite ingredients for helping to maintain good brows. In related news, it’s an ideal pick for those with thinner arches. Along with castor oil, it also touts a tripeptide that supports stronger brow hair in the long run, as well as plant-based microfibers that instantly make brows look fuller and more voluminous, lifting them for an almost laminated effect. We also appreciate that the formula isn’t goopy or sticky, but rather airy and mousse-like.
Best Splurge: Chantecaille Full Brow Perfecting Gel
Another one of Sack’s picks, she likes that this option contains panthenol, one of the best conditioning ingredients to seek out in a brow gel. While it is a bit pricier, it imparts both texture and fullness to brows, boasts a brow-enhancing peptide, and dries and sets extremely quickly.
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 every hair from root to tip. A flake-free formula lasts for up to 24 hours, and also dries in seconds, too.
Best Natural: PYT Beauty Holy Grail Brow Gel Clear
Free of over 2,700 questionable ingredients, this pick is also vegan and cruelty-free. (In fact, it even pulls double duty as a great lash primer under mascara.) We also appreciate that this brand goes above and beyond the “clean” game, focusing largely on sustainability as well. Case in point: This packaging is made with 37% recycled plastic.
Best with Benefits: BBB London Clear Brow Gel
“This is another fantastic option that contains moisturizing jojoba oil and vitamin E,” says Sacks. There’s also rosemary leaf oil in the mix to help promote hair growth, and the formula stays put for up to 14 hours. And we really appreciate the itty-bitty brush, which makes it easy to reach and coat every last hair with the glossy gel.
Clear brow gels are an invaluable addition to your brow-perfecting routine. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel and Urban Decay Brow Finish Waterproof Brow Gel are two of our all-time favorites, offering plenty of hold and shine, without feeling sticky or heavy. There are plenty of wallet-friendly clear brow gels out there; the NYX Professional Makeup Control Freak Eyebrow Gel and CoverGirl Easy Breezy Clear Brow Setting Gel being two of the best. It’s also a good idea to choose formulas that contain conditioning and/or moisturizing ingredients, like the Kosas Air Brow Clear, a volumizing option that helps boost sparse arches, or the Glossier Boy Brow, a slightly thicker option that’s more wax than gel-like but still gets the job done.
What to Look For in a Clear Brow Gel
To ensure your gel doesn’t damage your brows, Sacks advises looking for formulas that contain things such as panthenol, castor oil, or shea butter.
Any gel that feels stiff or immediately flakes after the first swipe is a no-go, as it’s a tell-tale sign that it’s too heavy and can end up damaging your brows and causing breakage, cautions Sacks.
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, and a clear brow gel was one of the first makeup products she ever used.
Meet the Expert
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any clear brow gels from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.