Welcome back to Put This On Your Face, the series where I tell you what to put on your face!
Technically, eyebrows are already on your face, but you can do so many things to them! As a South Asian, and as a queer person, my relationship to my eyebrows (and hair in general, honestly) is a little complicated. Bushy brows were generally frowned upon in my childhood, both by media and also just the people I was around, but now they’re kind of nice to have and would (hopefully) be considered lesbian eyebrows!
I’ve been doing things to my eyebrows for the past 20 years. It started with trips to the threading salon, where an older Indian woman would, through some magic, use sewing thread to shape my brows. I did briefly try waxing, both by myself and in the hands of a professional, but I didn’t like it and also it hurt and I definitely didn’t like that!! Now I’m mostly just tweezing when I remember, and relying on makeup for the rest of it.
Brow makeup is a big category composed of a bunch of things: gels, powders, waxes, pomades, pens, pencils… it all depends on how much hold, color, and volume you want!
If you’re looking for a low-effort way to up your brow game, look no further than brow gels. Brow gels are the platonic ideal of a brow product IMO. They give you a firm hold, some color deposit, and, perhaps more importantly, some extra floof in your brows and yes, floof is the scientific term!
They’re typically sold in tubes, with wands not unlike those found in mascara used to disperse the product through the brows. Just a few swipes of product and your brows are all set. The tradeoff here is that brow gel isn’t usually the most color-depositing option, so if you’re trying to fill in gaps, you might want to go for something more pigmented. But!! If you want something forgiving, something that you can brush haphazardly through your brows while gulping coffee that is a little too hot because you’re late to work but also simply must have the caffeine… brow gel is your new low-maintenance BFF.
So, some options. Boy Brow took the world by storm in 2015, and for two years straight won an Allure Best of Beauty “Game Changer” award. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it, but also there are tons of other brow gels out there that can do what Boy Brow does, some that might, dare I say, even be even better? Refy’s Brow Sculpt comes with a double-ended brush, one end for subtle brows and the other for more prominent ones. Kosas and Merit are “clean” options, which is admittedly a murky term but also the marketing has worked on me, so if it’s important to you, use them!
Pencils and Pens
I have terrible luck with brow pencils tbh so I have mostly given up on them entirely! When I did use them, I used the ABH Brow Wiz (pencil on one end, brush on the other). The shade range was great, but the thinness of the pencil meant that it broke pretty much every time I pushed down on it. I couldn’t justify the cost after a while, but I did then try the ColourPop Brow Pencil that’s linked above and I felt like I got the same experience at a fraction of the cost!
For the past five years, I’ve been almost exclusively a brow pen user — I like that they’re more inky and less waxy than pencils. If you want precision or just want the microbladed look without having to actually get microbladed, a multi-prong pen is the way to go. Both the Benefit and the L’Oreal above have multi-prong tips, making it easier to fill in sparse areas, with the result being surprisingly realistic.
Soaps and Waxes
Yes, you read that right — soaps! You might’ve seen “soap brows” trending on the Internet recently. Turns out, a brow brush and a little glycerin soap go a long way to making your brows more voluminous. Both waxes and soaps are a great way to fake a “laminated brow” moment, but if you’d rather leave bar soap for your hands and body (which, fair, especially if you have sensitive skin), you can still get the same effect through a wax. Both the ColourPop wax and the Patrick Ta wax above boast glycerin as their first ingredient. If you’d rather have a pencil experience but get the hold of a wax, the e.l.f. is a great choice.
It’s hard to stick brow products into categories, honestly, because many of them straddle the lines between two or even three types of products. Boy Brow is technically a brushable wax pomade, but it comes in a little tube and is often categorized as a brow gel so I guess chaos just wins this time!! Some of the waxes I mentioned earlier could arguably belong in the pomade section as well, but for our purposes, let’s consider pomades to be super pigmented with light to medium hold.
Now, ABH’s Dipbrow is to pomades what Boy Brow is to gels. That is to say, it’s a mainstay in the category. The bold, arched brows of YouTube makeup tutorials in 2015 often relied on Dipbrow and honestly? It’s pretty good. The color payoff is hefty, on the same level as the Rare Beauty blushes IMO — I don’t think I’ve ever made it to the bottom of a jar of Dipbrow. The shade range is decent, though definitely bigger than other pomade shade ranges I’ve seen. You could also try the e.l.f., especially if you’re looking for a two-in-one brow and liner situation!
Powders are great for building a soft brow and for filling in any sparse areas. You can use them on their own, but they really shine when used in conjunction with other eyebrow products, like waxes or pencils. The nice thing about powder palettes for eyebrows is that they contain several shades, making it easier to create multidimensional realistic brows. They also can come with waxes already in the palette, so you don’t need to buy a separate product for hold!
You could also totally use eyeshadow to fill in your brows. The shade range on eyeshadow is often way bigger than that of brow powder, which means you’re more likely to find Your Perfect Match in the eyeshadow section IMO! It’s also a great way to incorporate more color and glitter into your brows, if that’s something you’re into!