Follow This One Simple Guideline to Find Your Perfect Brow Shade

Updated 07/12/19
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Choosing the right brow pencil

The thing with brows is no matter how perfect the shape is, it's not always exactly clear what shade of brow product we should be using. What works for girls with black hair obviously won't work for someone with lighter hair, so it's important to make sure you're finding the right match. To find out exactly what shade you should be using for your hair color, we turned to Jessica Scantlin, blogger and former director of artistry at Blushington.

There was one thing that Scantlin was adamant about for all hair shades: lighter is always better. "No matter what, always go a shade lighter," she explained. "Even with brunettes, I will sometimes use a blond hue." If you try to match your brow color exactly, you run the risk of it looking unnatural or too dark, which is exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

Blond Hair

"For blondes, I usually need to mix in something with a warm undertone so you won't look ashy and gray," says Scantlin. For people with cooler-toned hair, we recommend this one from PYT in Taupe:

PYT Beauty Brow Pencil + Spoolie
p/y/t Beauty POV Brow Pencil + Spoolie $16

If you're not used to brow pencils, this is a great place to start. The taupe shade can fit hair from blonde, to grey, to red, but we particularly like it for cooler-toned blondes. If you're a platinum or an ash blonde, this is a fantastic (and non-toxic) choice.

However, if your hair is on the warmer or more honey-blonde side, you might want to figure out whether you want a "true blonde" pencil instead of sticking with a taupe. If you might be unsure, check out the Bobbi Brown pencil, which has both taupe and blonde shades:

Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil
Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil $42

This brow pencil promises to last for 16 hours, so you can rest assured that your perfect definition will remain from day to night. The light shade is perfect for blondes, while the precise tip allows for an extremely natural look. Finish with a quick comb-through from the attached spooly brush for best results.

Brunette and Black Hair

"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. If you are a deeper skin tone, you might have to use a black eyebrow pencil and go over the brunette shadow to make it look more prominent but not overdone," explains Scantlin. For a softer brunette hue, we recommend Anastasia's best-selling brow pencil in Soft Brown. For black hair, try It Cosmetics's universal pencil.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz $21

This pencil has been the favorite of many girls who swear by the transformative powers of a bold brow. An ultra-fine tip allows you to draw in hairs to combat sparseness and to build a fuller, more defined brow look. 

IT Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil
It Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil $24

This offering from It Cosmetics only comes in one color—and it's universally flattering for all brow shades and types. A unique oval-shaped tip allows for maximum control in creating natural, foolproof shape and style. It can even cover up gray hairs.

Red Hair

"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 on anyone, it looks like a sheen, so, in other words, more hair-like," says Scantlin. Try topping Honest Beauty's brow pencil in Warm Auburn with Lancôme's gold-hued mascara.

Precisely, My Brow Pencil
Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil $24

This auburn shade is perfect for redheads because it adds definition with just the right amount of pigment. A slim tip and spooly make the whole experience quick and easy. The pencil also comes in 12 shades, many of which are warm—so if you have dark auburn hair or strawberry blonde, there will be a shade for you.

Vinyl Couture Mascara in I'm The Fire
YSL Vinyl Couture Mascara in I'm The Fire $29

This gold-pigmented mascara gives a pop of color to both eyes and brows. The subtle glint of metallic blends seamlessly into the brow to help it look naturally full and less sparse.

Gray Hair

Gray hair is beautiful, but often underrepresented in the brow products category. This can be particularly annoying for anyone whose hair is thinning, making their brows look sparse. Luckily, most taupe brow pencils, like the ones referenced in the blonde section, will make eyebrows look natural next to gray hair. However, the aforementioned Precisely, My Brow ($24) pencil from Benefit comes in gray, so if you want a truly matching shade, you can certainly find one.

Next up, check out seven need-to-know lessons from the biggest names in beauty.

Quotes have been edited for content.

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