Looking at the makeup on the models walking the autumn/winter runways, you could have been forgiven for thinking that you were seeing a show from the wrong season. Pops of blue, flashes of orange and pink, dustings of yellow, green and lilac… the painterly palettes chosen by makeup artists backstage at shows such as Dries Van Noten, Gucci, Maison Margiela and Missoni were decidedly springlike. And so, too, was their application, which was as important as the spectrum of colour itself. Sheer watercolour washes gave the look a very accessible appeal.
“Transparency automatically makes colour more beautifying on the face,” explains Terry Barber, director of makeup artistry for MAC Cosmetics. “It takes away the fear of looking garish or retro, and it’s those fresh, plump washes of colour that allow you to be more playful.” Be it a halo around the eye, a new or unusual experimentation in lip colour, or a gentle tonal clash on both eyes and lips, using products in this way gives an end result that is much softer – and this is, according to Barber, the easiest and most flattering in-road to exploring technicolour choices. “Veils of colour that bring out the features rather than enclose them are the unsung heroes of makeup,” he says.
So what to make of this more romantic approach? “It’s a good time to break the seasonal rules and not resort to the classic earthiness of autumnal beauty,” says Barber. “Instead celebrate the colours of optimism and freshness. Can we say spring/summer is the new autumn/winter?” It’s a resounding yes.
Because the ink doesn’t go as deeply into the skin as body art, microblading fades over time. Depending on your skin type, it could last one to two years. Sometimes, you even need a touchup four to eight weeks after your first appointment.
However, getting that touchup right now isn’t exactly an option. With salons across the U.S. shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak, people have been trying professional services on themselves, like facials and haircuts. But at-home microblading is absolutely not an option. Luckily, brow pens that create the same effect — no painful incisions necessary — exist. Sure, their hair-like strokes for the illusion of fuller, defined arches last only about two days, but the pens work in a pinch. They provide a quick touchup for your next Zoom meeting and will hold you over until you can finally make an appointment with your favorite cosmetic tattooist once again. For those who’ve never gotten the procedure done before, consider this a way to satisfy your microblading curiosity, too.
Most of the brow pens on this list take a three-pronged approach to master a microblading effect — literally. Milk Makeup and Maybelline New York launched pens with toothed applicator for quickly etching on lines that look just like naturally grown brow hairs. MAC and Urban Decay also make ones with felt or brush tips like your go-to liquid liner, so you’ll be used to maneuvering it. No matter what applicator you prefer, you’re sure to find a suitable option for your brow grooming routine on this list of best brow pens for creating a microblading effect, below.
Essence The Eyebrow Pen
The Essence The Eyebrow Pen is a no-nonsense take on the toothed marker trend. Rake it through your arches with short, upward strokes, and your handiwork won’t budge until you wash your face. Fans of the tool also speckle on faux freckles with the pen.
Glossier Brow Flick fills in where Boy Brow doesn’t. The latter tames and fluffs up arches; the paintbrush-like applicator of Brow Flick, on the other hand, focuses on the details.
Fill in gaps and add definition where you need it, but keep this tip from New York City-based makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes in mind: the pen works best on “completely clean, oil-free brows, so you shouldn’t have any moisturizer on them or any oils or serums or any skin-care product — and no highlighters.”
Comb the L’Oréal Paris Micro Ink Brow Pen through your brows like a little brush to bolster every hair for up to 48 hours straight. Its applicator has the sharpest edge on the market. Flip it over and elongate the tails of your arches with it.
The ingredient list for the Milk Makeup Kush Triple Brow Pen could be confused for a skin-care product as it touts aloe, sunflower oil, and CBD oil – all to help nourish your brows and the skin underneath them. The pen is offered in a whooping eight hues in warm, cool, and neutral tones of blonde and brown, as well as auburn and black, so you’re find to find your perfect match.
The Revolution Pro Build & Grow Brow Serum Duo wants to be a part of all of your beauty routines. While doing your makeup, uncap the pigmented side in one of three variations of brown: ash, warm, and dark to sculpt your brows.
When it’s time for your nighttime skin-care regimen, remove the white cap to reveal a market-like applicator to coat your arches in a transparent serum. We can’t attest to its hair growth claims, but millet seed extract and panthenol are sure to moisturize the area.
The forces of a pen and powder join together in one powerful baton. One of the MAC Shape + Shade Brow Tint is an ultra-fine felt tip liner to fill gaps; the other houses a self-depositing sheer pigment in its cap that clings onto the spongey tip. Smooth it onto arches to add dimension and lock in your brow look all day long.
Press down the tip to conveniently replenish the long-lasting inkiness of the Maybelline New York TattooStudio Brow Tint Pen — a genius feature most of the other pens lack. (For the others, store them cap side down to force the pigment to collect at the tip.)
Another thin brush tip option if the three-pronged applicators intimidate you: the Sephora Collection Microblade Effect Brow Pen. You can pick from two universal shades – light and deep – to make the faux microblading process that much more foolproof.
Although the Urban Decay Brow Blade is the priciest option on this list, it’s the perfect selection if your partial to a pencil. The two-in-one solution has a tiny retractable one that’s equally as neddle-like brush applicator for a subtle stain. Its shade range is also the most numerous with nine to choose from, including a universal color called Taupe Trap.