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.
“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.
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.