Through the years, brow shapes have changed with the trends but one burning question remains the same: What eyebrow product shade to use? Seeing as brows are about as diverse as hair color and skin tone, we desperately wanted an expert opinion on what shades are suitable for creating natural-looking fullness and shape. We turned to Jessica Payne, makeup artist and former director of Blushington, for the key tips on how to make sure we're getting it right.
Meet the Expert
Jessica Payne (née Scantlin) is a celebrity makeup artist and former director of artistry at Blushington Makeup and Beauty Lounge. She has been featured on Good Morning America, E! News, Access Hollywood, and in several publications. She currently writes a lifestyle blog featuring makeup and beauty advice called Beauté Savage.
Pro Tip: Always Go Lighter
There is one thing that Payne is adamant about for all hair shades: lighter is always better. "No matter what, always go a shade lighter," she explains. "Even with brunettes, I will sometimes use a blonde hue." Why is this so important? "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," says Payne.
Shades for Blondes
"For blondes, I usually need to mix in something with a warm undertone so the color doesn't look gray," says Payne. If your blonde hair has a cool undertone, taupe is an ideal shade when choosing a pencil.
For cooler-toned blondes, we like the Jordana eyebrow pencil in taupe, which is a great universally-flattering option.
If your blonde hair has a warm undertone, however, then you may want a warmer shade like this one from Bobbi Brown. This brow pencil promises to last for 16 hours, and the precise tip allows you to create shape and fullness easily. When you've finished applying, brush through eyebrows with the spoolie on the end of the pencil to ensure brow hairs are all going in the same direction.
Shades for Brunettes
"For brunettes, stick with softer browns—nothing too harsh—and for dark-black hair, I'll even use a dark brunette pencil instead of black. For deeper skin tones, you can use a black eyebrow pencil lightly over a brunette shadow to make it look more prominent but not overdone," explains Payne. Experimenting with deep brown and black pencils is key to finding what shade looks best for you.
For a softer brunette hue, we recommend Anastasia's best-selling brow pencil in Soft Brown. This pencil has an ultra-fine tip that allows you to draw in hairs to combat sparseness and to build a fuller, more defined brow.
For black hair, try IT Cosmetics' universal pencil. It comes in one color—and it's universally flattering for all brow shades making it an ideal choice. A unique oval-shaped tip allows for maximum control in creating natural shape and style.
Shades for Redheads
"If you have any red in your hair, add some red warm tones as well. My secret tip is to use a gold mascara to set the brow products because it looks more natural and hair-like," says Payne. Try topping Benefit's brow pencil in warm auburn with YSL's gold-hued mascara.
This auburn shade is perfect for redheads because it adds definition with just the right amount of pigment along with a slim tip that makes it easy to apply. Added bonus? It comes in several red shades to fit any kind of red hair tone you might have.
A gold-pigmented mascara gives a pop of color to both eyes and brows. The subtle hint of metallic blends seamlessly into the brow to help it look naturally more full.
Shades for Gray Hair
Gray hair is beautiful but often underrepresented in the brow products category. For gray hair, most taupe brow pencils (like the ones referenced in the blonde section) will make eyebrows look natural. However, the aforementioned Precisely, My Brow pencil from Benefit comes in gray if you want that option instead.