Pencils, pomades, and powders explained in one place.
With individual beauty brands offering a myriad of brow grooming options lately, picking just one can be seriously stress-inducing. How are you supposed to choose between a powder, a pomade, or a pencil when all you know is that you want to fill your brows in? To make this decision a little easier, we asked four brow experts to break down the basics for shopping seven different types of eyebrow products, including gel, wax, and the trendy new rainbow ones, as well as putting them into action. Keep in mind that more than one kind of brow product might apply to you. Your ideal brow filler can “depend on what your personal needs are, whether it’s for that day, that week, or that month,” Stevi Christine, a makeup artist who splits her time between New York City and Los Angeles, tells Allure. “Our needs can change, and that’s OK.” These needs can be based on what look you’re going for or even what your skin type is.
No matter which one suits your brows best, Christine says you should always take a step back after filling in the arch area of your brows. “This is always my rule to see where you are at,” she explains. “When we are staring at ourselves up close, we can become obsessed with having perfect brows, which can lead to overfilling and making you have too much product and overdone brows.”
Let’s start with the most popular brow grooming product: pencils. They’re the key to adding soft, natural-looking definition to arches, Kristie Streicher, the expert behind the “Feathered Brow” and co-owner of Los Angeles beauty studio Striiike, tells Allure. Pencils also make for an excellent base for brow powder.
Who it’s for: If you have gaps in your brows, asymmetry, or sparse tails, Maribeth Madron, a New York City-based makeup artist, recommends reaching for a pencil.
How to use it: Hold yourself back from starting at the very beginning of your brows, or what some makeup artist call the “anchors” (so the hairs right above the inner corners of your eyes). Why? “When we first start applying an eyebrow pencil, we tend to be heavy-handed,” Christine explains. “Therefore, starting at the most sparse areas will prevent brows from looking overdrawn.” From there, you’ll want to draw on short, feather-like strokes in the direction of your hair growth towards the tail of your brows. Then, you can finish by filling in the inner corners of your brows with “upward and outward strokes,” Streicher adds.
Naturally By Detailed Eyebrow Definer (Shop Now)
Nyx Micro Brow Pencil (Shop Now)
Kelley Baker Brows Brow Defining Pencil (Shop Now)
“Brow powders help fill in any holes or sparse areas in the brows,” explains Kelley Baker, a brow artist who works with the Kardashians. On their own, they tend to have a softer effect than other brow products. Powder formulas also help set brow pencils to make them last longer and make brows look even fuller. If you’re having trouble picking a shade, Madron recommends choosing a color close to your base hair color.
Who it’s for: Most brow experts agree that anyone can use a powder if they’re aiming for a softer brow look. Streicher notes you may want to avoid them if you have dry skin, though.
How to use it: You’ll need an angled brush like the Kat Von D #75 Powder Brow Brush ($18) to effectively fill in your brows with powder. Coat it with the formula before dabbing it on the back of your hand, Baker says. Then, sweep it in the direction of your hair growth with a light hand. Again, start with your arches before filling in the rest of your brows. Once you’re done, be sure to comb through with a spoolie brush to soften edges, Madron adds.
Kat Von D Brow Struck Dimension Powder (Shop Now)
Bobbi Brown Brow Kit (Shop Now)
CoverGirl Easy Breezy Brow Fill + Shape + Define Powder (Shop Now)
Pomade is the secret to the bold brows you see all over Instagram. In addition to giving brows a dramatic, defined look, Streicher notes that this formula can also give brows a subtle hold.
Who it’s for: Those with very sparse brows and looking for a quick way to fill them in will love a pomade. For those with brows on the thicker side, a pomade will make them more powerful, Christine says.
How to use it: Dip an angled brush with short, stiff bristles like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Duo Brush #12 ($18) into the pomade before tapping it against the back of your hand like a palette, Streicher says. Next, brush it on with light, short strokes, beginning at the center of your brow. Then, use a spoolie to soften the edges.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade (Shop Now)
Makeup Revolution Brow Pomade (Shop Now)
L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Frame and Set (Shop Now)
The brow fillers that can be mistaken for your favorite felt-tipped liquid liner are prime choices for covering scar tissue or bald spots, Madron says. Christine, on the other hand, loves to use them on any of her clients because you can etch on strokes that look like individual brow hairs. All these benefits make this option many makeup artists’ go-to. “When used on top of powder, you can actually create a very natural-looking brow with no hair at all,” Streicher says.
Who it’s for: “Oilier skin types and those living in humid conditions will love the staying power of liquid marker-style brow fillers,” Madron says. “People loving a dramatic Instagram brow will also love this formula for the ability to get a crisp, defined line.” Because of this, you’ll need a steady hand and a keen eye, Streicher adds.
How to use it: Draw on the marker on with “short strokes with light pressure throughout the brow in the direction of growth to mimic hairs,” Madron says. “Use brow powder on top after the product dries to create dimension.”
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color (Shop Now)
Burberry Full Brows (Shop Now)
Flower Beauty Brow Vixen Tattoo Effect Stain (Shop Now)
Of all the brow grooming product options, many of our brow experts prefer brow gels. “They are the quickest and easiest way to add color, subtle hold, and fullness to the brow,” Streicher explains. In fact, they keep brows in place so well that Christine actually compares them to lightweight hairspray.
Who it’s for: Anyone. Those with coarse, unruly brows will particularly benefit.
How to use it: “I like to take any extra product off the spoolie first. Then using small, light-handed strokes, softly backcomb your brows by gently brushing backward against the hair-growth direction,” Streicher explains. “This picks up the hairs and wraps product around the follicles, fluffing them up and making the brow appear fuller.” Then, brush in the direction of your brow hair growth to smooth them out.
Maybelline New York Brow Precise Fiber Volumizer (Shop Now)
Eyeko Brow Gel (Shop Now)
Glossier Boy Brow (Shop Now)
Out-of-control brows are no match for wax. It helps hold down scraggly hairs and keep your arches in a uniform formation all day long. Like pencils, wax can also be used as a base for powder.
Who it’s for: “Anyone with wiry brow hair or hair growing in different directions that they would like to tame can benefit from wax,” Madron says.
How to use it: Start off by applying the wax only along the bottom of the brow, Baker recommends. “You can also apply on the top of the brow to give your brows a cleaner look and make them look more defined,” she adds.
Nudestix Brow Wax (Shop Now)
Urban Decay Brow Box (Shop Now)
E.L.F. Shape & Stay Wax Pencil (Shop Now)
In addition to the various brow filler options in natural shades, more and more colorful options are becoming available. You can paint your brows basically any color of the rainbow — or all of them at once.
Who it’s for: Those with rainbow hair can match their brows to their vibrant dye job. However, anyone who enjoys adding whatever color they possibly can to their makeup routine will have fun with colored brow grooming products, too.
How to use it: Despite coming in bold shades, application is about the same. Just follow the instructions for the formula based on the previous slides.