It's honestly through no fault of my own that I'm not blessed in the eyebrow department. I didn't even over pluck them in my teenage years, in order to replace them with a swipe of black eyeliner. (Side note: Why was that ever a thing?) Don't get me wrong I do have brows, they're just very fine, but growing by the day thanks to a nightly application of a castor and rosemary oil mix.
For a long time, I just did the bare minimum with them and because my makeup routine takes long enough, I have no energy to spend more than a few minutes on my eyebrows. However, as a diligent beauty aficionado, it's time to break out of my comfort zone and embrace more of a defined look.
Eyebrow trends are subject to change, but in general, the emphasis should just be placed on shaping what you already have. Gone are the days of the blocky Insta-Brow (which utilised six products)—it's now all about embracing your natural brows and elevating them with the helping hand of some great products.
So I decided to do the rounds (I've already tested foundations and nude lipsticks, so it was about time) and give all of the brow products out there a go. You'll need to make a concealer that's a bit lighter than your foundation your homegirl. I use a fine brush dipped in a little concealer to clean up my brows from any product residue and to create more definition and shape.
From gels to pencils and everything in between, I tried them all and rated them based on a few criteria. I've had endless mishaps with eyebrow shades because my hair is quite fine but black, so realistic shades are a must. Unfortunately, you'll find these problems no matter what your hair colour and skin tone. Spending just as long on your brows as you would on a smokey eye is just too much, so these products need to be easy to use. Basically, the goal here isn't to create a brand new brow but to shape and define what you have.
Here are my findings…
Lime Crime Bushy Brow Precision Pen
I had to take a second look at myself in the mirror once I applied this. I was pretty convinced that someone secretly microbladed my brows as I slept, as this pen is seriously next level. It's basically a liquid eyeliner but for brows, so I was able to create really defined strokes to mimic extra hair. As it's a liquid finish it thankfully doesn't budge, but it can look a little shiny (that's it's a small price to pay for the end result).
My Shade: Smokey
Benefit Cosmetics Precisely, My Brow Pencil
This secret weapon clad in its silver outfit saved me from endless eyebrow stress. Before this pencil came into my life, I would spend way too much time applying and reapplying pomades into my sparse brows, as pencils just weren't cool enough anymore. The game was forever changed when I realised how easy this was to use. The pencil gives me the softest looking brows, and as the nib is so fine, I can create those all-important hair strokes.
My Shade: 6
Kevyn Aucoin The Precision Brow Pencil
This pencil is razor sharp but still didn't give me the scratchy feeling that many super-fine brow pencils often do. For such a precise product, I was really surprised at how fluffy it made my brows, as there were virtually zero harsh lines. This was the darkest shade in the range, but it would benefit from some more pigment to add extra definition.
My Shade: Dark Brunette
Glossier Boy Brow
Although I've been recently inducted into the eyebrow pencil wearer's club, I shall never forget where I came from. Brow gels don't give me the precision I'm after, as they're best suited for those with fuller brows, but this will always be a mainstay in my collection. The mini brush helps me get enough product into my brows so I can create more of a statement. This is also the one I find myself reaching for when I'm in a hurry.
My Shade: Black
MAC Cosmetics Eyebrow Styler in Stud
All good things are worth waiting for, or so they say, anyway. This pencil takes slightly longer to apply, as it has a waxy finish, but once I dedicated myself to the process I most certainly reaped the rewards. It gave me realistic "I woke up like this" brows that stay put all day, even after liberal sprays of a rosewater face mist.
My Shade: Stud
Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade
The singular product that defined the entire Insta-Brow movement. I remember watching all of these impressive brows that were created as a result of this pomade and being completely mesmerised. We may have moved on to more natural looking brows, but this pomade is still a must-have. I always use it with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Duo Brush 7B (£18), and it only needs a smidge of product to create a full brow. Yes, it did take me more time and a bigger concealer clean up, but well it's well worth it. A true classic.
My Shade: Ebony
Kat Von D Brow Struck Dimension Powder
When covering backstage beauty at fashion week, I'm always on the lookout for those secret tips from makeup artists to simplify my makeup routine. Using an eye shadow on my brows was one of the first tips I learnt, as I could find the exact shade that works with my brows and mix a few matte shades to get the right look. So I was really excited to try this powder as it has the extra benefit of being water and smudge resistant. The incredibly soft formula clung to each hair for a full look that looked like a more enhanced version of my own brows.
My Shade: Graphite
Morphe Arch Obsessions Brow Kit
As brow products don't spark joy for me in the same way that lipsticks or highlighters do, I resent having to use several products to achieve my desired look. So when I saw this kit, I was internally shaking my head. Don't be put off, though, as this kit features some of the best products I've ever used. What's great about this kit—other than the insane price—is that you can use each of these individually.
I decided to use them all so you can see how they look when combined together. I started with the brow cream and brush to fill in my brows, before going in with the super sharp pencil to add those key hair strokes. I never use holding gels, but this one added texture and kept all of my handy work in place. The final touch was the highlighter stick which, I used on my brow bone, to add some sparkle and to define my eyebrow tail. Add to basket immediately.
My Shade: Chocolate Mousse
Topshop Brow Definer
This brush is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and, therefore, a good brush can really make or break a brow gel. It can have the best formula or shade, but if the brush is wrong, then it has to head into early retirement. This one has a long brush, but it swiped onto my brows and coated them with the utmost ease. As the brush works so well, I didn't need much clean up. It was a bit too pigmented for my fine brows, but a spoolie brush helped to tone it down.
My Shade: Check
Rimmel London Brow This Way 2-in-1 Fill & Sculpt Eyebrow Definer Pencil
By now, it's been proven that mothers usually know best. Well, mine has been using Rimmel's eyebrow pencils for years. I would always roll my eyes at her as I applied my luxe brow goodies worth four times the price of her one. Well, consider me schooled. This is a wonder product. So much so that I'm considering hoarding a few in case it gets discontinued. It's an angled nib which creates really full but crucially natural brows. The brush on the other end was really handy so I could brush through as I worked. Sorry, Mum.
My Shade: Dark Brown
Milk Makeup KUSH Fiber Brow Gel
There's cannabis seed oil in this (there's cannabis oil in pretty much everything these days). It makes sense here, though, as it's a vegan-friendly alternative to beeswax, which is usually found in most brow products. This is a great brush that delivers just the right amount of products. I'm often wary of gels, but as this one also coats brow hair with microfibres, it gave me the fuller look I was craving.
My Shade: Diesel
Nude by Nature Defining Brow Pencil
Still unconvinced by eyebrow pencils? Your mind is about to be changed. Calling this a pencil doesn't really do it justice; it's more like a portable pomade. It has the creamy consistency of pomade but with much more control, so I could build up the intensity. It also felt really nourishing and kind to my brows, which is quite rare, as brow products are designed to stay put and therefore feel quite stiff.
My Shade: Dark Brown
Sleek Makeup PWDR Brow Shape & Sculpt Pencil
Pencils like these are always getting bullied by their flashier product counterparts. Let's face it—a basic eyebrow pencil wouldn't get picked to be on your P.E team, but it really deserves a spot. Especially this one. It's a no-frills pencil that gave me such good results. Yes, there wasn't a handy brush or gel, and I had to dig around for a pencil sharpener, but it's worth it. For £5, you're guaranteed thick, true-to-life brows that are ridiculously easy to do.
My Shade: Dark Brown
Nudestix Eyebrow Stylus
I'm still not at the stage in life where I have any desire to do my brows on the go, but if I were, this would be the one I'd keep in my bag at all times. With a dream formula that glided on to my brows like an ice skater attempting a spin, this makes brow-defining such a breeze. The addition of the included gel saved me from searching for a brush and kept my brows in place for the entire day.
My Shade: Brown/Black
Overall, there's some excellent products out there, but I'm pretty surprised at the shade offerings. A lot of brands only have blonde, brown and black, and that's nowhere near enough shades to create realistic looking brows for anyone. But my main advice for finding the brow product for you is to forget about the trends and what's "in." Also, if you've got sparse brows, you'll find it easier to use a pencil, and always try to mimic extra hairs by creating fine upward strokes. If you've got full, thick and bushy brows, then gels should be your go-to. Just do your own thing.