Best Brow Pencils of 2022 for That Natural Look

Our favorite is Charlotte Tilbury's Brow Cheat Refillable Hair-Like Brow Pencil

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

best brow pencils hero

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

It's almost unfathomable that until about 10 years ago, most of us went about our lives without filling in our arches. Thankfully, eyebrow products have become mainstays in modern makeup application. Whether you reach for it daily or just when you're going for a thicker look, a good brow pencil has a place in every glam kit.

Byrdie Tested & Approved

Our best overall pick is Charlotte Tilbury's Brow Cheat Refillable Hair-Like Eyebrow Pencil, a highly pigmented formula that our tester said glides on silky smooth in one stroke. For a more affordable pick, consider e.l.f. cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil. Our tester noted its creamy, pigmented texture makes application a cinch.

Gels, powders, and pomades have their uses, but if we could only choose one brow product, we'd go for this simple unsung hero. "For the most realistic effect … tilt it at a 45-degree angle to your skin and draw quick, thin strokes to simulate hair," suggests celebrity makeup artist Bryan Cantor. Then brush, blend, and fluff with a spoolie.

The brow filler market is pretty saturated at this point. To help you sift through your options, we tried nearly 40 pencils in The Lab, then narrowed it down to those with the best tips, pigments, and staying power.

These are the best brow pencils tested by Byrdie.

Best Overall : Charlotte Tilbury Brow Cheat Refillable Hair-Like Eyebrow Pencil

4.9
charlotte tilbury brow cheat

Byrdie/Tamara Staples

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Pigment
    5/5
  • Shade Range
    4.5/5
  • Wear
    4/5
What We Like
  • Highly pigmented

  • Precision tip

  • Easy to maneuver

What We Don't Like
  • Nothing

After trying dozens of products firsthand, Charlotte Tilbury's Brow Cheat was our favorite. Our tester used the natural black shade and loved how the highly pigmented color showed up clearly without being too stark or overwhelming. Not only that, but she was able to draw on realistic-looking hairs in a single stroke—no layering needed.

The formula has a matte finish, so it looks natural and blends in with your real hairs. Boasting a thin, angled tip, this pencil is perfect for precision application. You can use it to fill in sparse brows or create a structured shape. Our tester said the creamy texture goes on smoothly without dragging, and the sturdy point resists breaking and smooshing.

The dual-ended design has an attached spoolie to help with blending, fluffing, and shaping. It's also refillable—kind of like a mechanical pencil—so you can cut down on your waste. Available in eight true-to-tone shades that promise 16 hours of waterproof wear, we really have no complaints about this product.

Shades: 8 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"The pigment is richly colored and goes on fully without being overwhelming, and you only have to apply each stroke once without needing to layer it."—Madison Yauger, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer

5
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer

Courtesy of Ulta

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Pigment
    5/5
  • Shade Range
    4/5
  • Wear
    3.5/5
What We Like
  • Fills in excellent strokes

  • Highly pigmented

  • Doesn't smudge

What We Don't Like
  • Black shade could be softer

We tried two pencils from Anastasia Beverly Hills, and while we like the Brow Wiz, we love the Brow Definer. Calling it the "gold standard of brow pens," our tester said the consistency is creamy enough to create soft lines without overpowering your existing hairs.

The slanted triangular tip is versatile and user-friendly. You can make thin strokes, outline your arches, or shade them, then flip it over and blend everything out with the built-in spoolie. While the Brow Definer isn't waterproof, our tester said the long-lasting pigment resists smudging. Beyond that, we just wish it came in a soft black shade.

Shades: 12 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Key Features

"The gold standard of brow pens, you can see why Anastasia is still the leader: perfectly angled, not too thin, not too fat or heavy."—Mayra Mangal, Product Tester

Best Budget: e.l.f. Instant Lift Brow Pencil

4.5
E.l.f. Cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil

 Courtesy of Ulta

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    3/5
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
  • Pigment
    2/5
  • Shade Range
    3/5
  • Wear
    1/5
What We Like
  • Sturdy tip

  • Easy to apply

  • Perfectly pigmented

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shades

  • Not transfer-resistant

Looking for something less expensive? This brow pencil from e.l.f only costs a few bucks and holds its own against pricier options. After filling in her thick brows with the deep brown shade, our tester said it's smooth and creamy with a sturdy tip, making it easy to apply.

Though we wish it came in a few more shades, this product offers the perfect amount of pigment: plenty saturated but not too heavy. Since it's not waterproof, our tester said it rubs off pretty easily. But overall, we were impressed and would definitely buy it again.

Shades: 5 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"It's the right amount of pigment, not overly heavy, but saturated enough to actually fill in my brows."—Kiara Timo, Product Tester

Best Splurge: Gucci Crayon Définition Sourcils Powder Eyebrow Pencil

4
Gucci Crayon Définition Sourcils Powder Eyebrow Pencil

Sephora

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    4/5
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
  • Pigment
    5/5
  • Shade Range
    2/5
  • Wear
    5/5
What We Like
  • Excellent wear

  • Comes with built-in sharpener

  • Ultra-pigmented

  • Able to create hairlike strokes

What We Don't Like
  • Could come in more shades

If the steep price doesn't turn you away, you might consider splurging on Gucci's Crayon Définition Sourcils. Upon trying the shade 03 Châtain (light brown), our tester said the creamy texture glides on smoothly, and the lightweight design makes it easy to draw hair-like strokes. What's more, the pigment didn't smudge at all when she repeatedly rubbed her brows.

Though Crayon Définition Sourcils translates to "eyebrow defining pencil," the thick tip is indeed reminiscent of a crayon. It comes with a sharpener, so you can make it a little pointier if needed.

Shades: 6 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Gucci Crayon

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

What Our Testers Say

"Despite rubbing my brows repeatedly, there was absolutely no smudging."—Dawlat Chebly, Product Tester

Best Waterproof: HUDA BEAUTY #BombBrows Microshade Brow Pencil

4.5
brow pencil huda beauty

Byrdie/Huda Beauty

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Pigment
    4/5
  • Shade Range
    4/5
  • Wear
    3/5
What We Like
  • Precision tip

  • Doesn't drag or skip

  • Smudge- and transfer-proof

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade range

Huda's #BombBrows was a hit in The Lab. Boasting the "thinnest tip on the market," our tester loved how the precision point deposits just the right amount of pigment and doesn't drag or skip, making it easy to create natural-looking hairs. Not only that, but the waterproof formula resists smudging and transferring for hours on end.

The pencil itself is easy to hold, and there's a spoolie on the other end for blending and fluffing. While there are eight shades to choose from, they're mostly concentrated within a medium brown range. Other than that, the price point is just right for a high-quality product: accessible but not so cheap it makes you suspicious.

Shades: 8 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Huda Beauty Brow Pencil

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

What Our Testers Say

"The pencil doesn't drag or skip; it's a very thin point, but it gives you the pigment you need."—Nikki Berryman, Product Tester

Best for Sparse Brows: Too Faced Super Fine Brow Detailer Eyebrow Pencil

4.8
too faced brow detailer

Byrdie/Too Faced

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Pigment
    5/5
  • Shade Range
    4/5
  • Wear
    5/5
What We Like
  • Precision tip

  • Buttery texture

  • Natural-looking pigment

What We Don't Like
  • Minor smudging

If you're working with sparse eyebrows, Too Faced is your best bet. Our tester said the brand's Super Fine Brow Detailer has a buttery consistency: not too wet or dry and silky-smooth on the skin. The precision tip makes it easy to draw hair-like strokes, and it didn't break or smoosh at all while she filled in her brows.

Available in eight shades ranging from soft black to taupe, the pigment offers noticeable, natural-looking color. One thing to note is that while the formula is waterproof, our tester said it smudged slightly when she ran her finger over her brow.

Shades: 8 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: NYX Professional Makeup Fill & Fluff Eyebrow Pencil Pomade

4.4
nyx Fill & Fluff Eyebrow Pencil Pomade

Byrdie/NYX

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    4/5
  • Ease of Use
    4.5/5
  • Pigment
    5/5
  • Shade Range
    4/5
  • Wear
    3.5/5
What We Like
  • Smooth and creamy

  • Triangular tip

  • Unique fluffing brush

What We Don't Like
  • Potentially too pigmented

NYX is a drugstore staple you can count on for affordable, widely accessible makeup. Case in point: this wallet-friendly eyebrow pencil. (We actually tried two of the brand's pencils, but this one fared a little better in The Lab.) Our tester said the smooth and creamy pomade formula worked well for filling in her brows.

The slanted triangular tip has a precision point and a thicker edge, so you have the option to draw fine lines or define your arches. Instead of a spoolie, there's a toothbrush-shaped brush on the other end for blending and fluffing. Our tester said the pigment is pretty intense, so you'll want to use a very light hand when creating hair-like strokes.

Shades: 9 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

NYX Professional Makeup Fill Fluff Eyebrow Pencil

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

Best Vegan: Kosas Brow Pop Clean Dual-Action Defining Eyebrow Pencil

4.9
Kosas Brow Pop Clean Dual-Action Defining Eyebrow Pencil
Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Pigment
    4/5
  • Shade Range
    3/5
  • Wear
    3.5/5
What We Like
  • Triangular tip

  • Three-step system

  • User-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Not transfer-resistant

Our tester said Kosas Brow Pop has a creamy texture and a lightweight feel. Thanks to its triangular tip, this brow pencil has both a precision point and a thicker edge. The multi-step system also features a built-in spoolie for blending and brushing your hairs in the desired direction.

Though the vegan formula isn't waterproof or transfer-resistant, the kit comes with a clear laminating treatment that helps everything stay in place. Our tester said it felt sticky at first, but once dry, her brows were fluffy and soft. It also contains castor oil to support brow growth, though there's not a ton of research on whether this actually works.

Shades: 10 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Kosas Brow Pop Eyebrow Defining Pencil

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

What Our Testers Say

"I could also see myself using each product individually depending on the day and what look I want to achieve."—Jillian Raplee, Product Tester

Final Verdict

Our best overall pick is Charlotte Tilbury's Brow Cheat Refillable Hair-Like Eyebrow Pencil, a highly pigmented formula that our tester said glides on silky smooth in one stroke. For a more affordable pick, consider e.l.f. cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil. Our tester noted its creamy, pigmented texture makes application a cinch.

How We Tested

Our beauty editors took their time researching the best brow pencils on the market and selected nearly 40 to try in The Lab, our Manhattan product-testing facility. Our testers inspected various design aspects, including the shape, tip, size, sharpening requirements, and notable features.

Next, they tried out the brow pencils to see how well they actually performed. Each product was given a score from one to five based on texture, feel, pigment, shade range, wear, and staying power. Those with the highest scores were ultimately selected for this roundup.

Other Options We Tested

L'Oréal Brow Stylist Definer

We also tried L'Oréal's Brow Stylist Definer, which has a nice consistency, a retractable precision tip, and a built-in spoolie. Though we appreciate the affordable price, the intense pigment made it a little hard to create natural-looking strokes, and we wish it came in a few more dark shades.

Juvia's Place I Sculpt, I Shade Brow Pencil

This product has a slightly dry consistency, and the tip broke a couple of times during our testing. The pigment showed up well on our tester's skin, but the shade range is somewhat limiting. Also, some color transferred onto her fingers when she ran them over her brows.

Kylie Cosmetics Kybrow Pencil

We liked the Kybrow Pencil's smooth texture and appreciated that the sturdy tip didn't break during our tests. While we'd love to see a few more shades, the pigment was very natural-looking. The price is spot-on, too, so if it comes in your shade, we say buy it.

Meet the Expert

Bryan Cantor is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert based in New York City. He brings his impressive knowledge of makeup products, skincare, application techniques, and professional tips and secrets to clients and companies in New York City and across the globe.

What to Look for in a Brow Pencil

The formula

Not all pencils are created equal, notes Cantor. Classic pencils are great for filling in brows, while softer, twist-up, or retractable formulas typically create more hair-like strokes and are a good option for those with thinner brows, he says.

Built-in spoolie

Since blending the pigment thoroughly is paramount for creating a natural-looking end result, pencils with built-in spoolies are always a win and make the process easier, no extra tools are required.

FAQ
  • How do you use an eyebrow pencil?

    First, try flattening the tip slightly, pushing it perpendicularly against a flat surface, Cantor says. Then, hold it at a 45-degree angle to your skin, and draw on quick, thin strokes that mimic hair. 

  • Can you use an eyebrow pencil as an eyeliner?

    In a word, yes, though not all eyebrow pencils will work as well for this purpose. A soft, sharpened pencil will work, but twist-ups usually won’t, Cantor says. And regardless, keep in mind that any brow pencil is going to be less pigmented than a traditional eyeliner and that it shouldn’t be used in the waterline, he says.

What Is Byrdie Verified?

Did you notice the Byrdie Verified seal of approval at the top of this story? This seal means that our team has researched and tested every product on this list using a unique methodology that’s designed to focus on what our readers really want to know—and to deliver insights that you can’t find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands and PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are fully our own. If you visit links within our content, we may receive commissions from your purchases, but we never receive any compensation or consideration for the content of our recommendations. In short, the Byrdie Verified seal stands for product recommendations you can trust.

Why Trust Byrdie

Theresa Holland is a commerce beauty writer, copyeditor, and product reviewer. Over the past decade, she's tried dozens of eyebrow products and knows how to find the best ones. Of the above brands, she has personally used pencils from Charlotte Tilbury, Anastasia Beverly Hills, e.l.f., L'Oréal, and NYX. Theresa has been covering makeup, skincare, and haircare at Byrdie since 2020. You can read more of her work on Travel + Leisure and The Spruce.

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 enough eyebrow pencils from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Maduri VR, Vedachalam A, Kiruthika S. "Castor Oil" - The Culprit of Acute Hair FeltingInt J Trichology. 2017;9(3):116-118. doi:10.4103/ijt.ijt_22_17

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