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Any makeup artist will tell you, a filled-in brow is an essential step in any makeup look, from the most natural to the most dramatic. You certainly have no shortage of products to choose from to do said brow filling—the market is saturated with gels, powders, and pomades galore. But truly, of all the choices out there, it’s the humble brow pencil that we reach for time and time again. More foolproof than the other formulas, you really can’t mess it up, a boon for brow beginners. Not to mention that it’s ideal for filling in sparse areas (and let’s be real, we’ve all suffered from an unfortunate over-tweezing incident), though a pencil can also be used to create shape, definition, and fill in your arches.
When it comes time to penciling, think about drawing on short, tiny, for lack of a better word hair-like, strokes. Then blend, blend, blend with a spoolie brush. Color choice also matters. Blondes should opt for a shade that matches their darkest roots, while brunettes and redheads should opt for a hue no more than one shade darker than their hair for the most natural end-result.
Take your pick from any of the best eyebrow pencils below to score brows that really wow.
Best Overall: Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil
There’s arguably no beauty brand better known for owning the brow category than Benefit. They have a dizzying array of brow products to choose from, but we come back to this classic time and time again. (And per our point about pencils being foolproof, please take a moment to appreciate the name.)
The custom tip on this guy has a soft, creamy texture, and glides on seamlessly, no matter whether you’re looking to shape, define, or fill in brows. A built-in spoolie helps you blend everything in, and it also comes in 12 shades and has a 12-hour waterproof claim.
Best for Blondes: Anastasia Beverly Hills Anastasia Brow Wiz Pencil
Finding the right shade of blonde for your hair can be tough, but finding the right shade of blonde brow product can be equally challenging. Many brands offer only one option, which oftentimes just isn’t quite right. Enter the beauty of this cult classic, which comes in 10 shades total, three of which are great for blondes. No matter whether you’re super pale platinum or warm strawberry blonde, there’s a hue for you. The teeny-tiny tip also makes for completely natural-looking hair-like strokes.
Best for Brown Hair: Roen Beauty Vow Brow Eyebrow Pencil
This only comes in three shades, though all three are great options for brunettes. There’s a dark brown, medium brown, and light shade that’s great for lighter brown hair. It also packs plenty of pigment, which you need when you’re working with dark hair to begin with and boasts a squeaky clean formula that clean beauty queens will appreciate.
Best for Redheads: Maybelline New York Brow Precise Shaping Eyebrow Pencil
Redheads always seem to get the short end of the stick in the beauty world, but at least with this option, they’re definitely not getting the short end of the brow pencil. The auburn hue works surprisingly well with a wide range of different red hair colors. It boasts a built-in spoolie (always a plus), and we can’t forget to mention the affordable price, too.
Best for Black Hair: NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Micro Brow Pencil
Yes, this comes in a black shade (obviously), and one that isn’t too harsh or intense at that. But it also comes in a rich espresso, which is deep enough that it can also be a good option for those with black hair. No matter which shade you too, the waxy formula grip—and stays put—on even the finest of hairs for a long-lasting result.
Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty Brow MVP Ultra Fine Brow Pencil and Styler
While some brands are (finally) starting to wise up, generally speaking, brow products often come in a very limited array of colors. Not this one from Ri-Ri’s line, which boasts a whopping 14 shades. If you have yet to find a brow pencil that works with your hair color, try this one, we promise. Also worth noting: Rather than having a traditional spoolie on the other end, this has a small brush, great for both blending color and brushing/grooming brows in general.
Best Universal: It Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil
If your arches could use a little TLC, why not use a brow product that’s going to give them exactly that, all while making them look good? This guy does exactly that, thanks to the addition of hair-strengthening biotin and saw palmetto extract, coupled with protective green tea and antioxidants, too.
Also nice? It takes the guesswork out of finding your right shade since it comes in just one universal color. Don’t freak out, it actually really does work, transforming to match your hair color based on how much pressure you apply. Really.
Best Fine Tip: Uoma Beauty Brow-Fro Baby Hair Pencil
This high precision pencil fills in brows with thin hair like strokes that rival some of the most well known brands in the brow game. Users rave that it goes on naturally without a shiny or waxlike finish, and lasts all day long.
Best Drugstore: L'Oreal Paris Brow Stylist Definer Waterproof Eyebrow Pencil
Mechanical and retractable, there’s no need to worry about sharpening this guy, which always has a ready-to-go tip. More specifically, and ultra-fine, .5 millimeter tip for drawing on even the tiniest of brow hairs. It’s waterproof, blends nicely, and comes in seven shades, an impressive number for a drugstore product.
Best Classic: Arches & Halos Precision Brow Shaping Pencil
Created by a professional brow expert, this is a traditional wooden pencil—so it will require sharpening. But if you think of pencils as being hard and draggy, don’t worry, this one is neither, going on totally smoothly without tugging. It’s also cruelty-free and both dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested, a big plus for anyone with skin sensitivities.
Best Budget: Joah Beauty Brow Down To Me: Precision Brow Pencil
Brow products can often skew a bit on the pricier side, which is why we appreciate that this one—a Team Byrdie favorite—rings in at a great price. (Not to mention that it also comes with a spoolie brush, further upping the bang for your buck.) The ultrafine tip delivers budge-proof, smudge-proof, natural-looking color; happy reviewers often comment on how long it lasts.
Best Splurge: Chanel Crayon Sourcils Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil
It may seem a little crazy to spend this much on a brow pencil, we get it, but this one really is worth the price. And no, not just because it’s Chanel. The color it packs is super pigmented, meaning you only need to use a little bit at a time, meaning one pencil lasts forever (which should help take the sting out of the price). It sharpens beautifully every time and has the nicest, smoothest texture. We just wish it came in more than four colors.
Best Waterproof: Joey Healy Brow Architect Stylo
There are several standout attributes about this pick. One is the unique triangular-shaped tip; use the narrow edge, broader side, or pointed tip for defining, filling, and detailing brows, respectively. The color also builds-up quite nicely, so you can play with exactly how intense of a brow you want. It’s also our choice for days when you really need your makeup to stay put; the pigment is waterproof and super long-lasting.
Best for Beginners: Mented High Brow Pencil
If you're new to using a brow pencil, this user-friendly tool from Mented Cosmetics is a great place to start. It has a precision fine tip on one end for easy, natural application, and a super soft brush on the other end great for shaping and fluffing. It's also waterproof, and lasts for over 10 hours so you can count on it to stay put until you take it off.