Hello Korio
14. 10. 2015

Ok, as the title says, I’m going to talk about eyebrows and eyebrow products today. Actually, eyebrow products is likely more accurate, because I am not going to tell you what to do with your personal eyebrows. I want to note a few things before we start: I know some people don’t do anything at all with their eyebrows, and that is fine. When I express concern about my own eyebrows, my concern is limited strictly to the eyebrow area on my own face. I don’t judge anyone for what they do or don’t do with their eyebrows. I will not look at you and think, “What is she thinking with those eyebrows?” Just because I do mine does not mean I think anything negative about what you do or don’t do with yours. I know that can sometimes be a sensitive point because the fact that I put so much thought into mine may naturally lead to the thought that I care a ton about eyebrows in general, and may think poorly of yours. I don’t, and I promise.

That said, if you don’t normally put a lot of time into makeup – which is also so fine – but do occasionally do the lipgloss-blush-mascara routine, daily or once in a while, I would definitely suggest considering adding an eyebrow routine into there, too. It can be quick and easy, and it really does a lot to pull a look together. It’s not necessary, but it’s a minimal-effort step that gives maximum-effort style results. I’m just suggesting you consider it. I don’t know how to more carefully tiptoe around this whole thing. I don’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am not looking directly at anyone’s  eyebrows right now. I am carefully averting my gaze away from all eyebrows.

So, if you’re interesting in knowing the different ways you can groom them up a little bit, I’m going to break down all the different types of brow products here, and maybe you’ll see one that works for you. Let’s do this.

1. The brow pencil.

I think the brow pencil is the most common option. Tons of brands have them, from high-end to drug store. They come in a decent range of shades and can be sharpened to keep a fine tip. They’re similar in style to eyeliner pencils, but they’re usually a bit waxier. Some are very soft, making it easy to put a kind of diffuse color through sparser patches, while others are very hard, which makes it easy to draw hairlike strokes in certain places, like if you’d like to fill out your arch a bit more. Which type you like depends on personal preference.

One brow pencil I’ve used is the Benefit Instant Brow Pencil (link $22). It’s available wherever you can buy Benefit products, like Sephora, Ulta, or some Macy’s. And other places, probably. I don’t know. Internet, I bet.


It’s got an all right range of shades, and it comes with a spoolie on one end. That’s fairly common/standard with the mid-range to high-end pencils in this style, but drug store brands may not have one, or may have one of those brush-style ones on the cap. Either way, you can find these in just about every makeup range, though you’re probably going to be more limited in colors on the lower end.

2. Automatic brow pencils.

Automatic brow pencils are probably my go-to eyebrow product, though not the only one I use. These automatic pencils don’t need to be sharpened. Instead, they twist up. The point is really fine. These are really great for drawing in those hair-like strokes that look natural, and the formula is usually quite hard, which makes it easy to avoid overdoing it. For a long time, my go-to was Anastasia Brow Wiz (link, $21), and I still think you can’t go wrong with that option.

Picture via anastasiabeverlyhills.com

This is a weird thing to say since it seems like such a basic thing, but the spoolie on these pencils is just… really good. I think I went through a bunch of these in the color Dark Brown before I randomly grabbed something else recently. I picked up a very similar product from LORAC, because my local Ulta never has anything in stock and I was going out of town and NEEDED an eyebrow pencil RIGHT THEN, and LORAC had one for me. It is extremely similar, except it is a couple of dollars cheaper and I got it in a dark gray color, which I was surprised about, but ended up very pleased with. Now even though the LORAC pencil (called the PRO Brow pencil, linked here) is a couple of dollars cheaper than the Anastasia Brow Wiz, it’s still not especially cheap. Fortunately, more brands are coming out with a similar style of automatic pencil, including NYX, a brand known for good quality at a drug store price. The NYX version is called the Auto Eyebrow Pencil, and it’s less than $5!

3. Brow powder.

Okay, these are easy to find and probably really easy for most people to use. You don’t even have to buy a specialized eyebrow powder. If you have an eye shadow that works for your eyebrows, go ahead and slap the shit in there. There’s no law. So what I’m going to talk about instead is the different kind of brow powder kits you can get, aside from just single powders. One style is the kit that has both a powder and a colored or plain wax in it. You use the powder to fill in your brows and the wax to set it in place. Benefit has this kind of kit and it’s called Brow Zings (link, $32). However, elf has one, linked here, that’s nearly identical, and costs much less (link, $3).


In addition to these kits and the single powders, I also want to mention Anastasia Brow Powder Duos (link, $23).


These are just powder, no wax, but what I like about them is that they’ve got the two colors in one compact. For a lot of people, it makes sense to use a lighter shade near the inner corners of the brows, and a darker shade near the tail. These duos pair perfectly together and it’s easier than trying not to hamfist the front of your eyebrow. Not that I know anything about that. A lot. Every day. Anyway, a benefit of powders – whether single, in the kit, or these duos – is that they look pretty soft and natural and it’s easy to fix/hide mistakes, as well as difficult to overdo it.

4. Brow fiber-gel-tube-things.

Okay, I don’t know what to call these, but there’s probably a name. The first product I personally saw and used in this category would be Benefit’s Gimme Brow (link, $24), and I raved about it up and down to anyone who would listen. I guess they call it a volumizing fiber gel. This particular one, the Benefit one, comes in two shades: light and dark. I’ve used both without issue, so if you fall in the middle of normal people with just… brown eyebrows… you won’t have a problem with either. This has a tiny, tiny spoolie at the end of the wand, and you kind of sweep it through your brows to plump them up and fill in sparse spots.

Benefit Gimme Brow

I believe both Maybelline and L’Oreal have similar products now, and it shouldn’t be hard to pick one up at the drug store if you want to give this type of thing a try. The main selling point about these, for me, is that they take about two seconds to use. No drawing in little hairs, no creating an arch with a pencil or powder. It builds on what’s already there, and you’re really done in about two seconds. A drawback, though, is if you don’t really have much there at all to start with, these fiber gel type products don’t work so well. With no hairs to grab onto, the concept falls kind of flat, so while this one is awesome and I will never be without Gimme Brow (or something similar) (though right now I am without and need to get a new one), I don’t think it will work for everyone out there. Still, with drug store versions available, it might be worth giving it a shot.

5. Brow gels.

So, brow gels come in two different styles – tinted and clear. A brow gel is what you use to set your brows in place if you tend to have a nice shape, a nice fullness, but maybe a little wildness or hairs that wander around throughout the day. A tinted brow gel is just what it says – a gel that sets your brows but also tints them a little darker or redder or whatever you’re looking for. I’ve got to say up front, I don’t use brow gel, so I’m not a big expert here. I kind of think it’s not a big deal, especially if you’re using clear brow gel to set your brows – clear brow gel is clear brow gel is clear brow gel. In fact, I have a double ended item from elf (link, $2) that’s supposedly clear brow gel on one end and clear mascara on the other end, and they’re just both the exact same thing, I swear.


However, I have heard from people who do set their eyebrows that there is a hierarchy of clear brow gels, and that Anastasia clear brow gel (link, $22) is at the top. Whatever, I think that’s kind of baloney, but like I said, I don’t use brow gel, so I suppose I should defer to those who do.

6. Brow pomade.

Okay, so, brow pomade. So hot right now. These are a sort of cream – or, okay, pomade – that you apply with a brush. Most are waterproof, which is a big selling point. I’d say that Anastasia Dipbrow (link, $18) is probably the most well-known at the moment, though other brands are getting into this arena now, too.


This is the type of product most people are using for that “Instagram eyebrow” thing that’s all over… uh, Instagram. Tarte has one that’s a sort of brow mousse (link, $29), and NYX has one now, too, called Tame and Frame (link, $7).

So, these brow pomades. They can produce some really nice, polished, sharp results. If that super sculpted, flat, sharp-cornered eyebrow look is what you’re going for, these are probably going to be your best choice to achieve that. There are tons of tutorials all over websites and YouTube, so you can find the method you like and perfect it. I will say that I have owned a couple, and the results are nice, but gottdangit, Bobby, are they fussy as shit. I just. They’re good products and absolutely have a place in my collection of everything ever, but for me, personally, not an everyday thing. Not an every week thing, even. I know a lot of people have a routine nailed down that takes two minutes and looks natural and fabulous, but coming from someone who lives to sit around and fuss with makeup, I rarely want to fuss with this stuff.

Last points.

So here’s some stuff that doesn’t fit in up there.

Stuff 1: You’ll notice I mentioned Anastasia Beverly Hills a lot. That’s because when it comes to brow products, Anastasia is just the best and always in the lead. I don’t know if that’s going to last forever, and she has branched out into other makeup products lately, but I am pretty comfortable in saying that for me, at least, Anastasia just about always nails it first. She has more products, more options, and the color range cannot be beat. If you’re a hard to match color, go right to Anastasia products. You can tell her I sent you, but she has no idea who I am and also probably won’t be there.

Stuff 2: Speaking of color matching. Matching your eyebrow color can be a bitch, because it has a lot to do with undertones. If you’re warm-toned, it will probably be easier for you. Even if you’re neutral-toned, you’ll be able to find something fairly easily. However, if you have cool undertones, you might have to spend a bit more time finding a good color. A lot of brown shades have warm undertones, and it may look like a good match in the package, but as soon as you put it in your brows, even the slightest hint of red shows up like a fire engine on your FACE. The cooler toned you are, the more this is true. This is why I end up with so many Anastasia products despite the higher price – she actually has some real, true, cool-toned colors in her range, and it doesn’t seem as common to have true ashy shades in the less expensive lines. It’s not impossible to find, though, I’m sure.

Stuff 3: As far as actual eyebrow grooming, I always always always recommend visiting a Benefit Brow Bar if you have one nearby, even just one time. They are really good at sorting out a great shape for your face, and if you like, you can maintain it at home from there, just plucking and trimming in line with the shape the Brow Lady gave you. If you don’t have access to a Brow Bar, that’s no big. I get mine done at a nail salon these days. It’s cheap and quick. You want to make sure you see someone who does take some effort with the shape, though. Waxing and then sending you out isn’t good enough. They should also pluck and trim as needed. There’s also threading, which some people will tell you hurts less than waxing, but that is a LIE put out there by BIG THREAD. That shit hurts like a bitch. However, a lot of those ladies are the best at creating a nice shape for you, so 6 of one, half dozen of a face of pain.

I think that’s about it. That’s a lot to say about eyebrows, but, you know. Eyebrows.


25 responses to “Let’s talk about your eyebrows.”

  1. Jane says:

    I agree that eyebrows are important… can I suggest very nicely (not being a hater, troll, promise) that you are over-plucking yours in the center? At least in your sidebar photo, the space between them is way too wide. This video is helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qqi0o1WlmXg

    I triple hope that’s not offensive.

    • korio says:

      Not offensive at all! The last time I went into the Brow Bar before I moved, she said, “You’ve at least been plucking the middle!” But alas, nope, I don’t do anything there. I just don’t have anything there. I do sometimes try to fill in a little more there, but haven’t come up with a look I liked yet. Maybe I over-plucked when I was younger and they just never came back? Whatever happened, I have like the anti-unibrow. Nothing going on in the middle.

    • korio says:

      That’s also why I didn’t give any advice on how to actually DO brows, haaa. When I figure it out, I’ll share.

  2. Kalane says:

    You were the one to suggest Gimme Brow to me, and I have LOVED it. I have tried brow gel, something I dislike about it, it ends up flaking off. It may have just been the fact that I was using a cheaper option (E.L.F.), but eyebrow “dandruff” was not a good look for me

    • korio says:

      That’s why I wonder if maybe I didn’t like brow gel? Because I used a cheap clear one? I don’t know. I wonder if even I tried the more expensive kinds, I’d really need it. You know who probably needs industrial strength brow gel? Husbands. I am always smoothing Phil’s wild eyebrows back into place. I should just shellack them down every morning.

      • Kalane says:

        Yes!! Doug always has crazy brows, but refuses to use hair product beyond shampoo. There is NO WAY he would be alright with brow gel.

  3. Lara says:

    Yesssssss. Brows have become a “can’t leave the house without” thing for me in the last couple of years.

    I have a Lancôme brow mascara thinger that is nice and quick, but current routine is a powder (NYX, I think. Cheap.) and the Anastasia pomade.

    I am firmly on Team Threading because I’ve always been happier with the results I get but yeah YMMV and all. One thing I did hear, not sure how valid it is – is that threading doesn’t yoink the skin as much and so is kinder on the skin. I don’t know. It does hurt though but not as much as threading your upper lip. Seriously do not EVER do that, anyone. Do not.

    I really TRY not be be judgey about other people’s brows BUT. I know a few ladies who are still stuck in the early 90s ultra thin brown trend and GROW THEM BACK, seriously. I’ve GENTLY suggested this to a few of my friends – one friends just won’t grow back and the other grew hers back and I swear she looks 10 years younger. So I do think of it as not judging to be an ass, but because I want to help. (Heh?)

    • korio says:

      So they say that fuller, darker brows make you look younger. At first I thought that was propaganda of the Power Brow Trend, but no, it’s right, you just do look a bit younger when your brows are filled in a bit more, even if you don’t go HUGE BUSHY BROW with it.

      Also, I would never thread my lip. Not ever. I of course always get the waxers asking if I want my lip done, too, but I don’t need any help there. I need someone to show me which brow hairs need to be waxed (I have more of an eye blob on the one side than an eyebrow), but I don’t need any help knowing which lip hairs need to be removed, and I can totally do it in my own bathroom. HAVE YOU SERIOUSLY THREADED YOUR LIP? THAT’S NOT EVEN SANE.

      • Lara says:

        I did it ONCE. I was getting my brows done for my wedding and the threader was all “here too, yes?” and I was all “umm what” I hadn’t even really noticed I needed any work there but had visions of mustachioed wedding photos and yeah NEVER AGAIN.

  4. Lara says:

    Oh ps, I love the new site and that picture of you is the best.

  5. Swistle says:

    Favorite part: “I’m just suggesting you consider it. I don’t know how to more carefully tiptoe around this whole thing.”

  6. Claire says:

    Any recs for those of us with blond eyebrows? Every time I try to use a pencil, it looks ridiculous and super-fake.

    • korio says:

      So Anastasia’s Dipbrow comes in both blonde and taupe, though I feel like the blonde color leans warm, which wouldn’t really work so much on those with cool blonde hair, but more for those with honey tones, maybe? I think the taupe could be a good choice. BUT it is Dipbrow, which, again, is a pain in the butt, unless that’s your thing. I’m not particularly good at shaping my brows, which makes Dipbrow kind of a big hassle for me. Then there’s the brow wiz, which happens to be my favorite product, and it does come in Ash Blonde. I’ve never swatched it myself, but from what I see online, it’s nice and cool, which works great for shading in the brows. The brow powder duos also come in a couple of shades that are near the lighter end of the spectrum, and since they’re two powders together, it’s easy to blend them together to get a more natural gradient. I know I sound like a shill saying Anastasia, Anastasia, Anastasia over and over, but I really think that they’re great products, ESPECIALLY for people who have a hard time finding a color match. Her colors are just the best and the most natural out there.

  7. H says:

    I want nice brows in the worst way. I have crazy, wild brown-turning-gray brows and my hair is white and gray. I’m so afraid to go to just anybody for brow help because I’m afraid this bad situation can actually get worse. I don’t have a brow bar where I live but damn straight I will hit one up next time I travel to a city that does have one.

  8. Lawyerish says:

    That graphic at the bottom is so unbelievably disturbing.

    This post is a perfect example of how terrific a writer you are (and why I’m so glad you’re blogging more again). I have never once considered doing anything to my eyebrows, and still am not considering doing anything with them, yet I read this raptly, just because your voice is so engaging and fun to read.

  9. animalcrackers says:

    For people who want a pomade-ish product that is not super fussy and awful, Too Faced has one called Bulletproof Brows, and the Universal Taupe shade is really very universal. It’s cooler toned and I just really like it. It’s on my short list of products I will re-buy until they stop making it. It comes with a brush that is fairly nice, and good instructions on what to do with it once you have it in your hand.

    That’s not going to stop me from buying 15 things from this post, however.

  10. Cherie says:

    The internet has been trying–and failing–to get me to care about my eyebrows for years and this post made me care. Maybe. Sort of. The fiber-gel thing sounds most tempting because it also sounds easiest.

    Also, I have a complete terror of getting my brows done because I have sensitive skin and I fear walking around with big red patches above my eyes for days. Also, beauty people scare me in general.

    Perhaps I need therapy more than eyebrow help.

  11. PinkieBling says:

    Big plug for Anastasia’s Brow Fix! I have eyebrows that need both shaping and filling in, and the shaping part was giving me fits until I started using the Brow Fix first. It makes them lie down in the shape I want, and then I can really quickly fill them in with Dipbrow, and enhance the arch with Brow Wiz. A little pop of Highbrow or Brow Duo, and boom! Real actual eyebrows in a shape and filled-in-ness that STAYS all day!


    Really I just came here to give you a high five for outing those “oh, threading doesn’t hurt at all!” people as the lying liars that they are. That shit is torture. Wax is NBD compared to that hell.

    (I am still hyperventilating a little over the person above who had their upper lip threaded. I feel faint.)

  13. Angela (@Aferg22) says:

    I am very interested in trying something to fill in my brows, but haven’t had luck with finding a product that doesn’t make my skin itch. Just a bit of background, when I wear anything besides blush or eye makeup (shadow, liner, mascara) on my face, it gets itchy and uncomfortable. This includes foundation, BB cream, and powder. It is very frustrating. I tried the Clinique brow pencil, but the same itchy face thing happened. I had hoped that my eyebrows would fall in the “eye” category of make-up wearing (no issues), but no such luck. Do you know which of the products that you recommended might be more similar to eyeshadow than foundation, so I could wear it and not want to itch my face off?

    • korio says:

      Brow pencils tend to be a bit waxy, so maybe a brow powder, really similar to eye shadow, would work well for you? You could even use an actual eyeshadow if you found a color you liked.

  14. Sheila says:

    I started doing my eyebrows last summer. It was hit for miss for quite a while, but I loooove my face with eyebrows now. The entire outer 1/2-2/3 of my brows grow downward and make my whole face look droopy. I’m terrified to pluck/wax, because I know the hair stops growing back after a while, and I don’t want to be browless when I’m am old lady. I use the Olay facial hair removal cream, which they specifically say is NOT FOR EYEBROWS, because they have to limit liability.

    One option you didn’t mention was tattoos! Which I only know about because Mom got them a few years ago. They look great!

  15. Linnea says:

    Oh man. Eyebrows. I did SQUACK with mine until I started performing on stage (even a small one, in natural light, with an audience only about 6 feet away). The first… dozen or so times I did it, I couldn’t tell if I’d done too much because ANY amount of extra color looked so unnatural on me.

    But, after not looking at my face for a few minutes, I’d look back and not really notice.

    I love powder with wax, and just bought my first automatic pencil to try more… controlled eyebrow detailing.

    I have fairly thin eyebrows, and love the Gimme Brow. It doesn’t plump things up A LOT for me, but it does just gradually darken and kinda shape them a smidge as I wave the wand about. It’s perfect for quick “oh, crap, I have lips but no eyebrows” face things.

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