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  • Melissa

Brows

Updated: Dec 30, 2021


BROWS! I'm so excited to talk about brows because I feel they are SO important in makeup. I didn't fill in my eyebrows until I was around 18 but looking back at pictures from high school, I really wish I filled them in back then too. I also wish I didn't tweeze them as thin as humanly possible and think they looked great because I assure you, they did not. If you've never filled in your brows, the first time is a little unsettling. It's like there's this new person staring at you through the mirror and honestly, she looks a little more manly than you. At first, it's normal to think you look a little weird but when you find a way of doing your brows that you like, you'll never want to leave them naked. The reactions I see people have when they first fill in their brows only proves to me how important and life-changing it can be (ok, I'm getting a little dramatic but stay with me here).

Now, let me be clear: if you were blessed with full brows, you definitely don't have to fill them in. Maybe just run a tinted brow gel through them or even a clear brow gel. Or don't touch them at all! As always, you should do every step of makeup according to your own preferences. Now if you're like me and have pretty thin brows or you're lacking hair in the tail of your brow (my biggest struggle), then filling in your brows will really change the way your makeup and your face look. You can do a light fill-in or go for what I lovingly refer to as "Instagram Brows."

Before I get into brow products, let's talk maintenance:

Maintenance

Most people only trust a professional to handle their brows, but if you're cheap like me, you can do them yourself! When I do it, it never comes out quite as clean and perfect as when they're professionally done, but I do a good enough job. If I let them get out of hand, I might go to a salon to have a fresh start, but that's maybe once a year.

The first step to tweezing/waxing my brows is to fill them in. I used to use a jet black eyeliner or a colorful eyeliner to outline the shape I wanted my brows to be. Having a distinct line to follow makes it easy to see which hairs fall outside the line so you can pluck them away with ease.

Lately, I fill in my brows with pomade (the way I typically do when I wear a full face of makeup). I tend to make my brows thicker than they are when I fill them in, so it helps for me to see all the little hairs I include in my filled-in brow.

I own a Gigi Wax Warmer and use the Brazilian Hard Wax with it. This is the kind of wax that hardens quickly so you just rip the actual wax off without applying those wax strips. I wax when I've let my brows get out of hand but like I said earlier, it's still not quite as good and clean as when I go to a salon to get them waxed. Most of the time, I just tweeze stray hairs when I see them and do hardcore maintenance maybe once a month if I'm not being lazy.

Also, if I feel that my brow hairs are growing too long, I brush them up and trim them with a little pair of scissors. Like tweezing, start small when you do this. Take a step back from the mirror and if you think you need to trim a little more, do a little bit more at a time. It's easy to trim/tweeze too much and then you've got crazy thin brows again.


Dying your own brows

Upon personal recommendations and watching YouTube videos, I decided to try dying my own brows with Just For Men Mustache & Brow (very important that it's this formula because it's safe for your face). It actually worked really well and I do it often now. To really keep up with it, you might want to do it every week. I do it every 2-4 weeks depending on my mood. Once dyed, it's a lot easier to lightly fill in my brows or even just gel them up with clear gel for a real no-makeup look. This is the way I do it, which is a combination of directions from the product and YouTube tutorial recommendations:

1. Just squeeze a tiny amount of each tube (1. the color and 2. the developer) onto the plastic tray that comes with it.

2. I used the plastic end of the brush to mix them together

3. I used one of my angled brow brushes to apply the dye to clean brows in the shape I wanted (it stained the brush hairs but didn't ruin the brush. Just wash it after).

4. It will dye your skin a little bit (for me it completely fades off skin in 2-3 days) but if you're afraid of applying too much you can outline your brows in Vaseline before you begin (I've never tried it but it is said to help).

5. Leave the dye on for 5 minutes (I usually leave it longer but no more than 10 minutes)

6. Wash the dye off with shampoo (be careful not to get in your eyes)

7. I usually reapply the dye to the tail end of my brows one more time to make them a little darker since that area is lighter and more sparse. Then just wash off again and you're done.

*Note: As mentioned, the part of my skin that is dyed (near the arch/tail in the picture below) will stay dyed for a couple days until it completely fades off the skin. I personally wish it wouldn't fade off the skin so fast because there's no hairs for the dye to cling onto there. But if you're afraid of it looking too fake, don't worry, the dye fades off your skin especially if you don't leave it on for too long.




Products

There are SO many different products out there for brows, so let me break it down for you.

Powders are light, natural looking and pretty easy to apply. They are also pretty forgiving, so if you mess up, they're pretty easy to brush away or remove. I apply my powders with a short angled brow brush.

Pencils are great because they are quick and easy. You can do a quick, natural fill in or a thick, detailed brow. I love a good retractable pencil because they tend to have a finer point so you can be more precise.

Pomades and gels often come in gel liner pots or squeeze tubes. They are usually more intense and will give you that full "Instagram Brow." There are more natural ways to use these products, but I usually reach for them when I want a really drawn-in brow...which is most of the time because I have no shame.

Tinted brow gels/mascaras are lifesavers! They come in a mascara tube with a tiny mascara wand so you can just comb it through your brows to add a tint of color and keep the brows in place. This is a staple in my collection because I use these on "no makeup" days. It's so quick and easy and can fill out my brow but still look like I'm not wearing anything.

Clear brow gel is great for setting your brows into place. It comes in a mascara tube with a mascara wand like the tinted brow gels, but the formula is a clear gel that acts like hair gel for your brows. Whatever direction you comb them, they will stay that way (as long as the quality of the product is good of course). I use these once my brows are filled in to comb the hairs up and keep the product in place too. If you have full brows, you can use this to comb them in one direction so that they look neat without filling them in.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pomade ($18): A really solid brow pomade. Goes on smoothly, stays put really well. I didn't love it enough to repurchase for the price, though. I'm loyal to the NYX pomade.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo, Medium Brown ($23): Probably my favorite brow powder ever but once again, I feel like I can make it work with more affordable products.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($21): A great pencil, but...there are more affordable options that are just as good if not better. If you like to splurge on your brows, any ABH product will be worth it but I use brow products so often that I prefer more affordable options.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel ($22 for full size): The best clear brow gel but (I really feel like a broken record here), I will always go for a cheaper option. I feel like clear brow gel gets dirty and goopy quickly and although I ride mine out until they're completely dried up, I just don't feel like spending so much money on a product with such a short shelf life.

Benefit Gimme Brow ($24 for full size): A really nice tinted brow mascara that beefed up my brows on my "no makeup" makeup days. I'm not even going to say I prefer more affordable options because I'm sure you know that by now.

ELF Eyebrow Kit ($3): One of the first brow products I ever used and it was actually pretty good. It's a small palette, one pan of gel and one pan of powder, so you can get a nice natural look but the gel actually filled in my brows pretty well. I remember really liking it.

ELF Instant Lift Brow Pencil ($2): I did not like this pencil. The price was too good to be true. I just felt the tip was a little too thick for my liking and the formula was a little messy because it smudged when I would run the spoolie through my brows when I was finished.

Essence Lash and Brow Gel Mascara,Clear ($2.99): A decent clear brow gel. This is very picky of me, but I don't like that it's a clear tube because then I can see how dirty and gross the product is getting in there. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara ($2.99): A really good and really affordable tinted brow mascara! I would definitely repurchase.

LA Girl Shady Slim Brow Pencil ($5.99): Not my favorite brow pencil. It was a litte more of a stiff formula. (see comparison picture at end of post)

L'Oreal Brow Stylist Definer ($8.99): A good pencil but not my favorite (see comparison picture at end of post)

L'Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper ($7.99): Another good option for a tinted brow mascara.

Milani Brow Shaping Clear Gel ($5): An average brow gel. (see picture below with Clear Wax)

Milani Brow Shaping Clear Wax ($5): I bought this but I never really use wax before doing my brows. If you have rather unruly brows, you may like this to slick them down before filling in.

NYX Bare With Me Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Brow Setter ($7): I used this for quite a while and it was pretty good but I just really prefer NYX Control Freak or ABH Clear Brow Gel. This has a bit of a white color that dries clear, but I just don't think it's as clear as a truly clear brow gel. The CSS Oil has great skincare properties so I guess it will nourish the skin around your brows. I tended to use it first to fluff up my brows, hold them in place, and then add a few strokes with a pencil where needed for a natural brow look.

NYX Brow Glue ($8): I use this every day with the Lift & Snatch Brow Pen for a more natural "soap brow" look. I think this glue does a good job of slicking my brows up to get that laminated brow kind of look. Unfortunately, my brow hairs fall by the end of the day (as seen below - left side is beginning of day, right side is end of day) but I can always glue them back up.



NYX Build 'Em Up Brow Powder ($8): I don't love the applicator it comes with but I just use an angled brow brush to take the product and put it in my brows. The formula of the powder is great.

NYX Can't Stop Won't Stop Longwear Brow Ink Kit, Ash Brown ($11): Overall I won't be repurchasing, but here's my thoughts: It's a liquidy formula with a thick brush. Comes with a separate brush & comb duo at the top. The only way I was able to manage using it without giving myself block brows was to brush a tiny bit at the bottom of my brow and then brush it up with the brush/comb, but I'd almost always make a mess and have to do some serious damage control with concealer. I dipped an an angled brow brush in the product and used it that way sometimes. If you have disposable mascara wands those are great too. It was long-wearing, so I'll give it that.


NYX Control Freak Eyebrow Gel ($6): My go-to brow gel because it's good and affordable. If I brush my brows straight up with it, they stay there all day!

NYX Eyebrow Gel ($7): Super intense! I have yet to find a way to make this look natural if you don't have thick brows. That being said, I love it when I want a nice thick fill-in. It gives a flawless shape to my brows and it's waterproof so it'll stay all day.


NYX Fill & Fluff Eyebrow Pomade Pencil ($11): NYX really kills the affordable eyebrow game! This is their newest pencil (at the time I write this) and yet again, I'm impressed. The tip is thicker than my other favorite pencils but it has different angles you can use for different applications. The micro paddle brush on the other end fluffs up brows for a full, natural look.

NYX Lift & Snatch! Brow Tint Pen ($11): I use this every day with the NYX Brow Glue for a more natural "soap brow" look. I just wish the ink didn't smudge sometimes. I wish the strokes were crisp to look like brow hairs but overall I just use a super light hand and it does the job. I mostly just use in the tail of my brow where the hairs are more sparse.


NYX Micro Brow Pencil ($10): The OG affordable pencil that "duped" the Anastasia Brow Wiz. This made me a believer in affordable brow products. Half the price of the Brow Wiz but you can get the same result. I won't say the formulas are the same but I loved this one for a long time.

NYX Precision Brow Pencil ($10): My current favorite pencil! Ever since it came out, I loved it even more than the NYX Micro Brow. The shape of the pencil makes filling in brows even quicker and easier than before. Some people may still prefer the super fine point of the Micro Brow, but I love this one. And the formula applies nice and smoothly too.

NYX Tame & Frame Brow Pomade ($7): I use this every day that I wear a full face of makeup which is at least 5 days a week since I work in cosmetics. I'm not going to lie, it took me a little while to get used to the formula but once I did, I couldn't stop using it. This product is really creamy when you first open it- almost too creamy. But once it starts drying up a little it has a perfect consistency (in my opinion) for filling in brows. For me, this gives me a finish between natural and "Instagram" because I've gotten tons of compliments ranging from "perfect" to "natural" so even though I feel like they're a little thick, I suppose it doesn't look fake. It also stays really well throughout the day since it's waterproof.

Rimmel Professional Brow Liner ($3.49): Not bad, but I prefer retractable pencils so the tip can be more precise.


Wet n Wild Ultimate Brow Kit, Dark Brown ($4.49): The powders are super pigmented. I haven't used the gel, brush or tweezers that come with it, but I find it really handy that it includes all of that (and a mirror that slides out!). Compared to ABH brow powder, this applies a little more heavily, so the ABH looks a little more natural. Just use a tiny bit of this and you'll be fine.


Side note: often times, product will start to fade and look patchy in the tail of my eyebrow where I have very few hairs. This happens with a lot of non-waterproof products like pencils but even occurs with my beloved NYX pomade sometimes. 2 tips to avoid that are to 1) apply a tiny bit of translucent setting powder before doing your brows to soak up any oil that might break down the product over time (I proudly discovered this tip myself) and 2) go over the pomade in the tail section with brow powder. I will sometimes avoid setting the tail with clear gel in order to avoid moving the product around or removing it. I plan on posting a detailed brow tutorial eventually because there's a lot of steps I take to get my brows looking the way I want them to.

And here are some comparison swatches:

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