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.
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.
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.
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.
Ok, let’s not bother with any explanations right now and just jump right back in to business as usual.
I get asked a lot of makeup questions on Twitter and other places and while I really enjoy going on about different products at length, there are a couple of questions I get asked fairly often and I thought I’d try to tackle some of them here so the response is less disjointed than the 140 character limit allows. One question I get a lot is about LORAC palettes vs Urban Decay’s Naked palettes. I don’t own all of either line, but I think I own enough of each to break it down a bit for those on the fence.
You should first know that my first suggestion is to buy both. Let’s just establish now that my prime advice is always to buy everything. Realizing that some people consider that impractical, let’s move on to advice part two.
Another thing to note is that I’m not going to go into which LORAC Pro palette or which Urban Decay Naked palette you may way. Just the differences between the two brands.
Let’s start with LORAC. I own the LORAC Pro 1, the LORAC Pro 2, and the LORAC Mega Pro 2.
Each Pro palette has 16 shades: 8 matte and 8 shimmer. Both Pro 1 and Pro 2 are permanent to LORAC’s collection. The Mega Pro 2 has 32 shades: 16 matte and 16 shimmer. The Mega Pro 2 is limited edition and is available now at Ulta. There’s also a Mega Pro 1, but it was limited edition as well and sold out very quickly.
I didn’t clean these up before I took the pictures because this is real life. Also, if I go down the road of keeping my palettes clean, no one will ever see or hear from me again.
As you can see, all the palettes – the Mega Pro 2 especially, of course – have a really wide array of colors. They all have the same shadow formula, as well. The LORAC formula is very soft and will kick up a lot of dust, even if you just tap your brush into the pan. With cheaper eye shadows, that’s usually a sign of poor quality and a difficult to work with shade, but that’s not the case here. The color payoff is very good on most shades, though there are a few that just don’t look as vibrant on the eye as they do in the pan.
Pros of the LORAC Pro palettes
Cons of the LORAC Pro palettes
Now, Urban Decay’s Naked palettes. Again, I don’t have all of these. I have Naked 1, Naked 2, and I did own Naked 3, but the shades didn’t work for me so I sold it.
Again, if these palettes look beat, it’s because they are. I’ve had Naked 1 longer than Naked 2, but both are in pretty consistent rotation.
Urban decay does have several other palette “lines,” like the Vice palettes and other special edition palettes, but I’m just going to talk about the Naked palettes here. All of them – 1, 2, 3 and the two Naked Basics palettes – are part of the permanent collection. Unlike the LORAC palettes, which have a variety of shades in each, each Naked palette has it’s own “feel” and the shades all go together.
Pros of the Urban Decay Naked Palettes
Cons of the Urban Decay Naked Palettes
Anyway, that’s just a quick rundown of both brands. As for what I personally think, I will tell you that I end up pushing the LORAC a lot when people ask me which to choose. For those less experienced with makeup, the soft formula makes it easy to do pretty washes of color, the wide variety of shades gives a lot to play around with, and the price isn’t a small factor.
However, I actually use my Naked palettes all. the. time. Yes, they’re more shimmery. Yes, not all of it is appropriate for every day. But it’s really easy to pull together a quick look without thought. The shadows are consistent and blend together well. Naked 1, and more and more lately, Naked 2, are my go to “I don’t have time to mess around, gotta get out of the house” shadow palettes. They’re easy to use if you’re not so great at coming up with a “look,” and on top of that, the Naked palettes are so popular that there are tons of tutorials out there for all of them. They may look more limiting than the wide shadow variety in the LORAC palettes, but you can do a ton with them.
In the end, of course, it comes down to your personal preferences about how you like shadows to perform and what kinds of shades you like. My personal preference is to buy them all. Just saying.