A lot can be said about eyebrows. For one, they frame your face, so they have the power to completely change the way you look. And, as the saying goes: Most eyebrows are sisters, not twins, so it’s rare for them to be symmetrical. Whether you have a few sparse patches that need filling in, are trying to make your brows look more even, or are simply looking to accentuate what you’ve got, the right brow product can make all the difference.
As far as brow products go, there’s a ton of options ranging from gels and pomades to powders and pencils. According to brow expert Joey Healy, if you want to lengthen the tail of your brows, create more of a peak in your arch, or fill in a sparse spot, the easiest, most effective choice is an eyebrow pencil. You may have guessed it — these handy, pigmented pencils work like actual pencils and can be used to draw, shape and define your eyebrows. “A pencil feels more familiar,” says Healy. “You can really direct the color in a concentrated way.”
There are so many different eyebrow pencils out there, making it hard to narrow down the best of the best. After keeping texture, ease of use, color payoff, and shade range top of mind, the editors determined the seven best brow pencils of 2022. Ultimately, the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer Triangular Brow Pencil was the most impressive, thanks to its non-drying, creamy texture and beginner-friendly shape.
- Best Overall: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer Triangular Brow Pencil
- Best Value: e.l.f. Cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil
- Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Definer
- Best for Thick Brows: NYX Professional Makeup Fill & Fluff Eyebrow Pencil Pomade
- Best for Thin Brows: Charlotte Tilbury Brow Cheat Refillable Hair-Like Eyebrow Pencil
- Best Shade Range: Kosas Brow Pop Clean Dual-Action Defining Eyebrow Pencil
- Best Waterproof: HUDA BEAUTY #BombBrows Microshade Brow Pencil
Best Overall: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer Triangular Brow Pencil
What We Love: The tip’s triangular shape is user friendly and makes defining your brows a seamless experience.
What We Don’t Love: We wish this formula was waterproof.
Anastasia Soare knows a thing or two about brows. Aside from being responsible for JLo’s snatched eyebrows, she also is the mastermind behind her eponymous brand, Anastasia Beverly Hills. We tested two brow pencils from the brand, but this one, which our tester calls “the gold standard of brow pencils,” reigned supreme. The slim, retractable pencil makes drawing soft, hairlike lines a cinch.
“The pencil isn’t too thin, nor too fat and wasn’t heavy in my hands,” the tester says. The tip is triangular and “perfectly slanted” so you can’t mess up, regardless of whether you shade your brows in one swoop or cautiously make thin, hairlike strokes. Once you’ve penciled everything in, you can easily flip the product over and use the built-in spoolie to style your brows to perfection. And although the Brow Definer isn’t waterproof, our tester assures us that the pigment is long-lasting and doesn’t smudge.
Shades: 12 | Waterproof: No | Ingredients: Vitamin E, Hydrogenated castor oil
Best Value: e.l.f. Cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil
What We Love: For under $5 you can shape, tame, and define brows with this dual- ended pencil.
What We Don’t Love: There are only five shades available.
The e.l.f. Cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil is a dual-ended precision liner and spoolie duo that allows you to tame, shape, and define your brows in seconds. Between the price point (ahem, five dollars) and a creamy, smudge-proof formula, there’s a lot to love about this option. Ideal for filling in sparse areas, the eyebrow pencil goes on smooth and can be manipulated — with the help of the spoolie — to disguise the look of sparse areas. “I have thick brows, so I used it to fill in some gaps,” the tester shares. “It goes on heavier than other options I’ve tried, but it’s easy to use and it helped me achieve fuller-looking brows.” Aside from adding pigment, the formula also helps condition and promote brow growth over time thanks to a touch of nourishing grapeseed oil and vitamin E.
One thing our tester wishes she could change: The color range. “It only has five shades, so there isn’t much variety,” she says. “But, nonetheless, I would recommend this one, especially given the price.“
Shades: 5 | Waterproof: No | Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, Vitamin E
Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Definer
What We Love: The thin-tipped brow pencil is retractable, so it’ll never dull after you use it.
What We Don’t Love: If you press too hard, the pencil can be too pigmented.
This drugstore find is a favorite for a reason: The pencil has a precise tip, a connecting spoolie, and comes in 10 blendable shades. The ultra-fine tip — which is 0.5 millimeters to be exact — is the ideal size for replicating the look of super tiny brow hairs. And, because it’s so thin, it’s lightweight and fits nicely in between your thumb and pointer finger. A soft spoolie on the other end also helps to seamlessly style brows and blend out the pigment after it’s been applied.
The most underrated feature, though, is that it’s retractable. Unlike other pencils that require a sharpener to keep the tip in pristine condition, all this needs is a quick twist to dispense more of the formula. Plus, once you’re done using it you can twist it back down to fend off bacteria and keep the tip in pristine condition.
The tester notes that the pencil can be too pigmented if you press too hard, so keep that in mind during application. “Thankfully, the pencil is really thin, so it’s easier to control and eliminate any excess pressure,” she says.
Shades: 10 | Waterproof: Yes | Ingredients: Sunflower seed oil
Best for Thick Brows: NYX Professional Makeup Fill & Fluff Eyebrow Pencil Pomade
What We Love: It’s great for those with thick brows who are looking to fill in sparse areas.
What We Don’t Love: It’s pigmented and applies thick, so it’s not ideal for creating hairlike strokes.
If you have thick brows, you may not need a ton of help, but having a trusty brow pencil on hand to even out your brows is a total game changer. Not only is the Fill & Fluff Eyebrow Pencil Pomade shockingly affordable, but it works like a charm to fill in the gaps between thick brow hairs — even Stacy Wodu, the makeup artist behind Zoë Kravitz’s fierce brows in The Batman, can confirm.
Professional makeup artist Kelli Anne Sewell says that no matter the thickness of your brows, a creamy formula is key. “To achieve a natural-looking, fluffy brow, I turn to brow pencils that have a creamy consistency,” she explains. This option, according to our tester, is creamy and easy to blend, but stays put once it’s had a few minutes to set in. “It’s a better option for filling, rather than shaping,” she says. “One side is thick and one side is thin and angled, which gives you options. Just be careful which side you’re applying to different areas of the brow because the payoff can be different.” It’s not ideal for gently drawing hairlike strokes, but it’s highly effective for filling in and buffing out sparse areas.
While the shade range isn’t too extensive, the available shades are super pigmented. The line also includes a clear wax option, which is harder to come by.
Shades: 9 | Waterproof: No | Ingredients: Micro-crystalline wax, Castor oil
Best for Thin Brows: Charlotte Tilbury Brow Cheat Refillable Hair-Like Eyebrow Pencil
What We Love: This refillable pencil seamlessly mimics the look of real-life brow hairs.
What We Don’t Love: Some shoppers say the tip can fall out of the pencil.
If there’s one product on this list that outshines the others when it comes to drawing hairlike strokes, it’s this one from Charlotte Tilbury. The refillable pencil has a super precise tip that helps mimic the look of real-life brow hairs. “It’s a classic pencil shape, so it’s easy to grip and maneuver across your brows,” the tester explains. “The tip itself is pointed and angled so you can easily draw on tiny hairs.” The pencil is accompanied by an attached brow brush to assist with smoothing hairs into place both before and after application.
The formula contains carnauba wax, which gives stretch and elasticity to brow hairs, easy-to-glide micro-crystalline wax, and pure pigments to create natural-looking color without ashy undertones. “It goes on smooth and has a creamy yet sturdy texture,” the tester says. “It doesn’t drag either, but rather glides in between brow hairs.” As for the pigment: It’s rich but not overwhelming. “You only have to apply each stroke once — you don’t need to layer it on,” she says.
Despite the fact that the tip retracts into the applicator when not in use, some shoppers have found that the tip can fall out. When this happens, it’s hard to use again.
Shades: 8 | Waterproof: Yes | Ingredients: Carnauba wax, Micro-crystalline wax, Pure pigments
Best Shade Range: Kosas Brow Pop Clean Dual-Action Defining Eyebrow Pencil
What We Love: The ten blendable shades ensure a match for every brow color.
What We Don’t Love: It has a natural finish that can appear light if you don’t press hard enough.
As the name suggests, the Kosas Brow Pop Clean Dual-Action Defining Eyebrow Pencil does quite a few things. The triangle-shaped tip is multipurpose: The thick side fills in bald spots, while the thin side helps sculpt and add feathered strokes that replicate brow hairs. The built-in spoolie brush then helps blend it all in for perfectly snatched brows.
The extensive shade range doesn’t go unnoticed, either. With a variety of colors including Honey Blonde, Taupe, Auburn, four different brown shades (Soft, Medium Chocolate, Medium, and Dark), Brown Black, Black, and Gray, there’s a match for everyone. Though pigmented, the finish can be lighter than expected. “The payoff is great for a natural look,” our tester says. “It shows very lightly on the skin, so you have to play around with it to get the finish you want.“
In addition to having a deeper shade range than some of the other options on the list, there’s also conditioning benefits to consider as well. Shoppers have said that the pencil also increases brow volume over time. While our tester can’t speak to that just yet, the formula includes castor oil and panthenol provitamin B5, which the brand says helps brows reach their “full growth potential.”
Shades: 10 | Waterproof: No | Ingredients: Castor oil, Panthenol pro vitamin B5
Best Waterproof: Huda Beauty #BombBrows Microshade Brow Pencil
What We Love: The waterproof formula is excellent for triple digit temperatures, high humidity, and even unexpected rainstorms.
What We Don’t Love: The shade range, which skews darker, could be better and more inclusive of lighter options.
There’s nothing worse than having your brows come dripping down your face in 100-degree heat or during an unexpected rainshower. With the Huda Beauty #BombBrows Microshade Brow Pencil, you can get sweaty or even dance in the rain and know that your brows will stay put. How? Well, the pencil’s pigment adheres to hairs and the skin between them. You do have some time during application to manipulate it, but once it dries down, it stays there until you intentionally remove it.
Thanks to the pencil’s geometric, ergonomic shape, the tester found it easy to hold. Despite the size, this small but mighty pencil seriously packs pigment. “It can be overly-pigmented if you are heavy handed with it, but it works really well,” the tester says. “It doesn’t drag or skip, either.”
One thing we wish we could change is the shade range. After taking one look at the color options, you’ll notice that it skews dark, with the blonde hue looking more like an ashy brown.
Shades: 8 | Waterproof: Yes | Ingredients: Hydrogenated castor oil
What to Keep in Mind
Type of Tip
To avoid breakage and achieve a more precise look, consider a retractable pencil with a fine tip. “Big chunky pencils or ones that need to be sharpened are a pain and can be inconsistent,” Healy says. “It’s easier to manipulate a pencil with a retractable tip.” And, according to Sewell, pencils with a slanted tip offer more versatility (think: filling in and drawing on hairs), which is one of the reasons why the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer Triangular Brow Pencil claimed the Best Overall spot.
When shopping for a brow pencil, consider the finish. Some options have shimmery sheen, and, although pretty, Healy says to avoid them. “For a more natural look, find something that is matte, as it mimics the look of real hair,” he says.
Some brands don’t offer enough shades, and other brands offer too many, which makes things confusing. According to Healy, it’s best to match your brow pencil shade with your eyebrow color, not your hair color. “For example, a lot of blondes who are very blonde have darker brows,” he explains. “In this case, you’d match the brow pencil to the dark brow color instead of the golden blonde hair color.“