How to Choose Which Brow Product to Use
From pencils to powders, find out the one that is best for you.
Shaping your brows doesn't stop at waxing, plucking, or threading. Using a pencil, powder, gel, or pomade to style them is also an important step. But, at times, it may seem like there are just too many products out here. When you search Sephora, for example,141 products pop up for brows, and at Ulta, there's a cool 234 products to choose from.
From arch to shape to fullness, all of these products exist to meet a wide range of brow concerns — and that's exactly what makes shifting through all them so overwhelming. "Everybody's brows are unique and there's so many different ways to style them," says Nikki DeRoest, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Roen Beauty.
So should you be using a pencil or pen? And what's is the difference between pomade and gel? To make the selection process stress-free, we asked DeRoest to help us break down when to use each type of brow product, plus her tips for using them.
"A pencil can be used to draw in some hair on areas that are sparse, or you can fill in an entire brow with it," says DeRoest. "You're doing more detail work with a pencil, but it's also an intuitive, easy tool to use."
When choosing a brow pencil, go with the smallest pencil possible. The micro tip will make the hairs you draw on look realistic.
How to Use: DeRoest says the spoolie brush on end of a pencil is equally as important as the applicator. "Go back and forth with drawing the pencil on and combing the product through with the spoolie brush," she suggests. "This moves the product around so that it’s blended, plus it softens any harsh areas where you've applied too much."
With a few flicks of the wrist, a brow pen can transform thin brows into thick, full ones. But, DeRoest says a felt tip pen isn't the best choice for anyone who's new to grooming their brows. "It's hard to use while looking in the mirror because it can be tough to control how much pressure you're putting on the product as you're applying it," she explains.
How to Use: When used with a light touch, a pen will give you the most three-dimensional, natural look. DeRoest likes mixing a pencil and marker to add texture to brows.
This product is ideal for adding texture or grooming unruly hairs. "A pomade is great because it can give you a really nice fringy texture and fluffs them up, but also makes them look full and groomed," says DeRoest.
How to Use: A pomade can be used alone to groom full brows. On sparse brows, it can be used over top a pencil for extra volume. DeRoest suggests starting at the end of the eyebrow and backcombing the product in. Then, go back the other way and groom it. "Backcombing the pomade in creates more volume, distributes the product evenly, and helps it adhere to the brow — especially if you’re adding a tinted one," explains DeRoest.
A powder can make your brows look dark and full, but you won't get the same texture or dimension as you would from other tools. "Years ago, powder was the universal product people were using," says DeRoest. "This was when people first started getting into doing their eyebrows more and the brow style back then was different, too."
How to Use: If you have oily skin and find that brow products tend to melt off, a brow powder could be your best option. Use a tiny brush to apply the product. You'll be able to draw on hair-like strokes for a shadowy, natural finish.
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A gel will give you the same texture and fullness of a brow pomade, but with more hold. "The difference between brow gels and pomades is that pomades tend to move a little bit more," says DeRoest. "If you put a brow pomade on one brow and a gel on another and then put on a sweater, the one with the pomade will probably be facing downwards after you have it over your head. If the gel is a good one, it should have held your brows in place."
So, how do you choose between a gel and pomade? It all comes down to personal preference.
How to Use: Given their similarities, apply a gel exactly like a pomade. Start at the back of the brow and backcomb it in, then go over the brow the other way to groom it.