To define and fill in your brows, you don’t have to splurge on a trip to the salon to get microblading, lamination, or brow-tinting. Hell, you don’t even need to reach for an expensive, high-end brow product if you don’t want to. Your local drugstore offers plenty of affordable brow-grooming options — no matter what state your brows may be in. It’s got everything, whether you need an amazing clear gel because you’re blessed with perfect arches or a pencil to will fill in even the thinnest, sparest brows.
Keep scrolling to discover 17 drugstore eyebrow products beauty experts always keep in their kits!
Maybelline New York Brow Fast Sculpt Brow Mascara
Filling in super-dark brows can get messy without the right products, and that’s why Allure beauty editor Devon Abelman sticks to Maybelline New York Brow Fast Sculpt Brow Mascara. Its deep and widely spaced bristles coat every single brow hair, and its hardening formula holds them in place all day.
If you like fluffy, pushed-up brows, look to Revolution Beauty’s Soap Styler, a sticky formula that’s perfect for achieving the soap brow trend. It looks white in its pan but glides on clear, so someone of any skin tone or hair color can use it.
The trio of shades in CoverGirl Easy Breezy Brow Powder Kit add extra depth and dimension, creating the illusion of fullness — and never the reality of smudginess, which is why it took home a 2018 Allure Best of Beauty Award for best brow powder.
L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Boost & Set Brow Mascara
The angled brush on the L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Boost & Set Brow Mascara perfectly fluffs and arranges arches to give them perfect definition. The 2018 Best of Beauty winner for best clear brow gel holds hairs in place but also comes in three other shades (blonde, light brunette, dark brunette) to fill in any gaps.
For those who have natural brows that are hard shade to match, New York City-based makeup artist Stevie Huynh suggests the Nyx Eyebrow Cake Powder. “It comes with a wax that you could use before to intensify the powder and to groom the brow to shape,” he explains.
Thanks to fibers in the formula that cling to individual brow hairs, this Best of Beauty winner helps thicken and elongate your natural brow hairs. The Maybelline New York Brow Precise Fiber Volumizer is also a favorite of New York City-based makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci because its formula has a “slight reflective quality which mimics the natural highlights in our brows.”
If you want a sharper tail, she has a quick tip for you. “Dip into the applicator tip with an angled brush and paint the gel on for precision,” Ciucci recommends.
Allan Avendaño, a Los Angeles-based makeup artist, has several drugstore brow product picks, but he calls the L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Definer his go-to. “It has a fine point that you can use to draw fine lines to mimic hair,” he says. “The end has a brush that you can use to blend those lines in and comb brows into place.”
“For those who are all about all-in-one products, I love the Revlon Brow Fantasy Pencil and Gel,” Avendaño says. On one end, you’ll find a traditional brow pencil formula that fills in the gaps along your brows. Then, you can comb it before locking it into place with the brow gel on the other end.
Allure editorial director Sam Escobar likes to refer to the CoverGirl Easy Breezy Brow Fill + Shape + Define Powder Eyebrow Makeup as the ultimate lazy-day brow definer. The Best of Beauty Award winner is that easy to use. All you have to do is sweep the spongey applicator over your arches, and the powder fills in gaps while defining their shape.
New York City-based makeup artists Vincent Oquendo and Nina Park are fans of the Joah Brow Down To Me Precision Brow Pencil, a super fine-tipped pencil inspired by K-beauty. “The colors it comes in are spot-on,” Oquendo says. “I find it very hard to get a good ashy brow pencil with depth beyond the makeup counter, let alone the drugstore. So when I stumbled upon this pencil, I was like, ‘Sign me up.'”
Maybelline New York Brow Drama Sculpting Eyebrow Mascara
Los Angeles-based makeup artist Fiona Stiles prefers this brow mascara option from Maybelline because of its the curved spooley. “I find it gives more control than a mini, straight one,” she explains. Plus, the Brow Drama Sculpting Eyebrow Mascara’s formula isn’t too thick or too thin, Stiles adds, and the color selection covers all the bases.
Maybelline New York makes several brow products that professional makeup artists swear by, though. If you prefer a pencil, Carissa Ferreri, who works with Gina Rodriguez, recommends the Total Temptation Eyebrow Definer Pencil. “This mechanical pencil with its unique diamond shape allows for defined strokes of hair that look very natural,” she explains. “It’s perfect for subtly filling in or adding a bold, bushy brow. It’s also my favorite because it has a short round spooley brush on the other end, which is essential when shaping brows.”
L’Oréal Paris Havana x Camila Cabello Gotta Give Liquid Brow
The L’Oréal Paris Havana x Camila Cabello Gotta Give Liquid Brow could easily be mistaken for a liquid eyeliner in your makeup bag. It has a similar formula, but touts an angled applicator that helps you outline and fill in your brows. Avendaño says the unique way to fill in brows may be weird to use at first, but it’s easy to get the hang of. “I like to put the product on a brow comb or spooley brush to blend it and create a full brow,” he says. “It’s actually quite an easy way to do your brows.”
Maybelline New York Great Lash Clear Mascara for Lash and Brow
If you don’t need any added color and just want to tame your brow hairs, the Maybelline New York Great Lash Clear Mascara for Lash and Brow is a great option. “It’s invisible but helps keep the brows in place,”Quinn Murphy, a makeup artists who has worked with celebrities like Lily Aldridge, Dakota Fanning, and Isla Fisher, explains. You can seal in powders or pencil with it, too. “It’s a great grooming product or final touch to the brows,” he adds.
Robin Black, founder of Beauty Is Boring, is a self-professed brow product snob who generally gravitates towards higher-end picks. However, she finds the Nyx Micro Brow Pencil “surprisingly good.” Reason being? “The thin tip allows for precise application,” she explains. “And I love that it comes in eight shades, including deeper cool tones.”
Another one of Black’s drugstore exceptions to her high-brow product taste is the Revlon ColorStay Brow Pencil. “[Revlon has] revamped this classic with an angled tip that makes filling in your brows easy and quick,” she explains. It comes in five shades, but Black wishes it came in a medium taupe and a cool dark brown. Let’s put that into the universe.
When Avendaño needs a basic tinted brow gel, he reaches for the Wet n Wild Ultimate Brow Mascara. “Sometimes you don’t even need to fill in your brows with a pencil,” he says. “This tinted brow gel does all the work with a couple of simple swipes.” He loves how it comes in three shades, which he considers to be great universal hues that suit most brow colors.
Finding an eyeliner that stays put it is no easy feat, even among those marketed as long-wearing or waterproof. That difficulty gets heightened a thousand-fold (no pun intended) when you’re trying to do makeup for hooded eyes, where a bit of skin hangs down over your eyelid crease and makes your eye makeup transfer with a single blink. But according to celebrity makeup artist Gita Bass, who counts Olivia Wilde and Elizabeth Olsen as clients, this annoying makeup issue has an easy fix.
On Instagram Bass posted an incredibly simple way to make eyeliner last on hooded eyelids. Her caption begins: “When you spend four hours doing liquid eyeliner because you can’t see close up without your glasses anymore, and then your liner transfers to your lids because they are hooded, and gravity is pulling them down!! Aaahh!!!”
And then the magic happens. Bass whips out a small brush and dabs it onto the wand of Hourglass’s clear Arch Brow Shaping Gel, then uses the brush to go over her majestic winged liner. She explains, “This is an amazing hack to help set the liner,” but cautions to only do it once you’re happy with the liner’s shape, because once it’s set, the line is hard to manipulate (a good thing).
The technique is genius, leaving Debra Messing in the comments wondering, “Why didn’t you tell me!?!?” and others saying they’re going to try the tip because they face the exact same problem. On Reddit, the “Makeup for Hooded Eyes” forum counts 17,320 subscribers, where the issue is a common thread of discussion. One person writes, “I honestly got rid of all of my liquid liners because I couldn’t find a way to make it work for me,” while others have sworn off the liner category altogether.
Bass’s easy hack might be the path to revolution, especially if you opt for the Hourglass gel she mentions. On Ulta, shoppers write that it’s miraculous for lasting all day, and never flakes or makes your brows feel stiff, benefits that definitely transfer to its liner-setting use.
If you need something to apply it with, Morphe’s $4 angled brush racks up raves for being soft but strong, universally approved for both liner and brow use. And if you layer something like Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner or Hourglass liner Bass uses with the gel, rest assured the combo’s not coming off for hours. Welcome back to the eyeliner fold — pun slightly intended.
Great makeup begins with great skincare. Prep your skin with CeraVe Moisturizer ($11; target.com), a lightweight daily moisturizer for normal to dry skin. Follow up with Estee Lauder Illuminating Perfecting Primer, ($38; nordstrom.com), a luminous face primer that hydrates and brightens skin for a dewy finish. The duo will ensure a flawless base that keeps makeup in place all day.
Concealer and Foundation
Beginners can eliminate the risk of caked-on foundation by adding an opaque concealer to their kit. L.A. Girl concealer’s ($3; walmart.com) creaseless formula camouflages imperfections, allowing you to use less foundation. When paired with Makeup Forever’s HD Invisible Cover Foundation ($43; sephora.com) no one will be able to tell where your skin ends and the makeup begins. Bonus: It lasts for 24 hours and comes in 50 shades.
Eyebrow Pomade and Spoolie Brush
Among the most important features on your face: Your eyebrows. Every beginner needs a tool like the dual-sided Anastasia Beverly Hills brush ($18; macys.com) to sculpt perfect arches. The brand’s Dipbrow Pomade ($21; sephora.com) is also a beginner favorite as it’s easy to apply, smudge-proof, and waterproof — so it’s great even for oily skin types.
Eyeliner and Mascara
For a beginner, skip the false lashes and go straight for an all-star mascara and liner combo. Tag-team Kat Von D Tattoo Liner ($20; sephora.com), which gives the illusion of thicker fringe, with a few swipes of Benefit’s They’re Real Lengthening Volumizing Mascara to add dramatic length ($25; sephora.com).
Nude and Red Lipstick
No kit is complete without a super versatile nude and red lip color that can take you from day to night. Try Chanel Rouge Coco Shine ($38; chanel.com) for a hydrating nude and MAC Lipstick ($17; maccosmetics.com) for a universally flattering bold red that stays put for hours.
Brushes and Tools
In order to put apply your makeup properly, you’ll need to use the right tools. The Beautyblender ($20; sephora.com) is perfect for effortlessly blending foundations, blush, and concealer. For precise eye makeup and dusting on powders reach for Sonia Kashuk’s brush set ($40; target.com).
Blush and Highlighter
Add healthy color and a subtle glow to your skin with a classic blush and highlighter. Nars and Becca have both created cult favorites that are must-haves for every kit. Nars Blush in Orgasm, $30; sephora.com. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector, $41; sephora.com.
If you’re experimenting with eyeshadows, this Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette ($42; sephora.com) is perfect for you. It offers a range of everyday nudes, plus a hint of bright colors to play around with.
Q-Tips and Makeup Wipes
Even pros make mistakes — and dabbing a Q-Tip ($3; target.com) into lotion is their secret for instantly erasing errors. And for those nights when you’re too lazy to wash your face, makeup wipes will be your best friend. Try Cleanse by Lauren Napier ($40; net-a-porter.com), which comes with 50 individually packaged wipes you can throw in your travel bag to use on-the-go.
Of course, these are the basics to help get you started. The more you work, you will realize the need for more products, textures, and colours. Some additional items to this list include:
Top four French makeup artists have spoken about high-quality, democratically priced future cult classics that they stock up on in U.S. drugstores. Here, 12 steals you should add to your beauty repertoire, with some of my tips along the way.
Batiste Original Dry Shampoo
“When you have bangs, dry shampoo is your best friend. I also use it to give my hair texture and help shape and style it. I love the mini travel size version.”
My tip: working early mornings and late evenings leaves me no desire to wash my hair as often as I’d wish, so, this bad boy has been my third-day staple for years! It comes in a variety of different scents and sizes, as well.
“You can create a smoky eye on the go in just two minutes. I bought the entire shade range and pick one each day based on my mood.”
My tip: the shade MILK from this lineup is an industry staple white base, perfect for other shadows to pop on the lid or in the waterline. No-budge formula of this pencil has been around for years for a good reason.
“This mascara not only makes your lashes look longer and full, but lets you easily add more than one coat without clumping.”
My tip: this industry staple is one for a reason, with almost every brand out there trying to recreate their own version of a result that this mascara gives you. Volume, length, separation, longevity – it has it all. It also comes in a waterproof version, and a variety of fun shades!
“I keep a few of these with me so I can use it on my clients and give it to them for touch ups or a night on the town. The formula is rich, velvety, and easy to apply, and the pen doesn’t need to be sharpened.”
My tip: if you can’t find this product in your local stores, I recommend Maybelline’s SuperStay Ink Crayon as an alternative.
“I mix this serum into foundation to get rid of bags. I place two drops into the palm of my hand, add one dot of foundation, blend with my finger, and smooth it from the inner to outer corner of the undereye area.”
My tip: for a quicker and better result, use this product by itself before makeup application. Perhaps along with a moisturizer, while you’re working on the eye makeup or brows.
Oh boy, my eyebrows were a casualty of the early teens in the sense that when I say I tweezed them into one singular line of hair, it’s not at all an exaggeration.
After time passed and trends evolved, I finally decided it was time to restore the damage I’d done on my brows. Thankfully, my brows — through years of training — rose from the ashes like a phoenix, and now, I tend to them like the miracle story they are. That of course includes using a brow gel on the daily so they look their best.
And since I generally try to scale back my makeup-wearing days to care for my skin, I often prefer to restock my usual makeup staples from more budget-friendly options — which is exactly how I found my new holy-grail brow product, the NYX Cosmetics Control Freak Eyebrow Gel.
As is the case with most great makeup discoveries, I started with a Google search and ended up on Amazon. In my quest to find a dupe for my usual brow gel, I came across this NYX one thanks to the thousands of glowing reviews of the formula. Then, after spotting the $5 price tag, it was on my mind to purchase within seconds.
Since I first tried Glossier’s Boy Brow years ago, I’ve been sold on it. It gives my brows just enough hold without feeling sticky and locks them in place throughout the day unlike any formula I’d used before. But with a $16 price tag, I wasn’t above finding a dupe, which in and of itself gives me a high, if you will. And based on the reviews, it’s clear I’m not the only one who’s made this discovery.
“I bought this because I ran out of Boy Brow and didn’t feel like paying for a refill,”said one Amazon shopper. “I’m SO glad I didn’t. I will be using this from now on. This holds brows in place and isn’t heavy. You only need to sweep over the brows one time and you’re good. For such an affordable product I’m seriously so impressed, I don’t usually buy cheap makeup but this has blown my mind and now I’m wondering why I’ve been spending so much money on products that might work as well as drugstore brands.”
I’d have to agree. The clear gel tames my brows into a natural and defined shape, and keeps them that way throughout the day without ever feeling heavy or sticky. And at a price tag that’s less than a latte, it’s one staple I plan on keeping in my makeup bag for a very long time.