Not to exaggerate, but I would die without my eyebrow pencil. You know how Abbi Jacobsen says in Broad City, "I finally figured out my eyebrows. They're sisters, not twins"? Well, my eyebrows are distant cousins with nothing in common who are dying to log off their family Zoom call. They're just fundamentally different. Without my trusty pencil, my right brow is missing a chunk of its arch and I am compelled to stare at it in every mirror I pass. I've labored and fought and wasted time with pencils and that are too brittle, too soft, too harsh, or too liable to smear in my lifelong effort to find brow makeup that gives the illusion of my arches being twins. But finally, I've found the brow pencils that really, truly work.
What kind of brow pencil should I use?
Everyone needs a different pencil, depending on what they're trying to accomplish. If you over-plucked when those skinny Xtina Aguilera brows were en vogue, a skinny, slanted formula can help you add faux hairs and create a new shape where you need it. Or maybe you've got a ton of hair on those arches, but you just need to add some shading to some sparse spots, and a powdery chubby option might be a better fit. No matter what your brow sitch, we've got you covered. Here, the absolute best of the bunch.
If you're not sure what you're looking for in a brow pencil, start with Anastasia Beverly Hills' Brow Wiz. It comes in a dozen shades, can provide light or heavy coverage (depending on how much you use), and looks super natural—like your existing brows, but better.
I often fall asleep in my eyebrow makeup (I know, I know, don't yell at me), and few things are worse than finding pencil stains on your pillowcase the next morning. Enter Benefit's Precisely, My Brow Pencil, which is waterproof and super durable, so you won't accidentally smear it while touching your (newly gorgeous!) eyebrows.
NYX's Micro Brow Pencil is often referred to as a facsimile of Anastasia Beverly Hills' Brow Wiz—it does much of the same work, but at one-third of the price. And you can get it just about anywhere. What's not to love?
Hourglass' super-luxe Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil is made from a combination of powder and wax, so you don't need a lot of it—one sweep and you're good. It's more expensive than its competitors, but it does so much that you don't have to use as much of it, so really, it's a cost-saver in the end.
The Wet n Wild Color Icon line is a drugstore favorite—its eyeshadow palette sold out within days—and its Brow Pencil, which provides buildable, natural coverage, is a steal at $10 for a 3-pack. Keep one at home, one at work, and one in your purse, just in case you need to touch up on the go.
A 2-in-1 pencil seems so passé when Charlotte Tilbury delivers a 3-in-1 so effortlessly. The angled tip for precision comes with a thick brow spoolie for grooming the most unruly hairs and evenly distributing color throughout your arch. The best part? The bonus of a built-in highlighter shadow to brush under your brows for a truly lifted effect.
This micro pencil is a new rendition of IT Cosmetics' traditional eyebrow pencil. and it's perfect for creating believable hair strokes. If you're fascinated by microblading brow videos on Instagram but aren't ready for the commitment of an invasive procedure, this pencil mimics those results without any down time.
There's more to building a good brow than a few extra strokes, and the Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil adds one more easy step. After you draw on a few extra wisps where your arches look thin, brush up your hairs with the spoolie on the other end.
This brow pencil is about as classic as you can get. The stylo pencil is shaped perfectly to easily create fuller-looking brows without needing the expertise of a makeup artist. A few strokes is all you need to create model-esque brows.
While some arches require fine lines to create the illusion of more hairs, this pencil is perfect for adding soft, subtle dimension and pumping up the pigment for a more voluminous brow.
Whether you're packing for a three day weekend or just a night out, this dual-ended option will transform brows in seconds. Fill in sparse spots with the pencil, then brush brows through with the gel on the other side.
Sometimes, raking a spoolie through your brows can make all the difference. Create a more defined shape with the slanted pencil, then brush them with the grain for a more polished look or upwards for some bold bushiness.
This micro pencil is all that you could want for your brows: it's waterproof, smudge-proof, and has an innovative brush on the other end. Instead of the traditional spoolie, it has a tiny paddle brush for a natural-looking, bushy brow.
The slanted end on this no-snag pencil creates superfine strokes, and as an added bonus, the pencil's cartridge is refillable.
If you want to create the illusion of more hairs (especially around those tough to grow tails) grab this superfine option.
This is among the most expensive pencils on the list, but bear with me—no eyebrow pencil holds a torch to Tom Ford's Brow Sculptor in terms of a natural finish. It boasts a "calligraphy" tip, is near impossible to mess up, and stays on all day.
You know when you just want to fill in the sparser parts of your eyebrows, and leave the rest? That's when to turn to Bobbi Brown's Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil, which will give you gorgeously even, natural brows. It's particularly good for light hair and skin tones, which need less definition as a rule.
If your eyebrow pencil has a bad habit of running during the sweaty summer months, Milk Makeup's Gel Brow is the pencil for you. The gel formula is waterproof and smudge-proof—honestly, you could swim wearing it.
For a three-pronged attack against weak brows, toss the Sisley-Paris Phyto-Sourcils Design 3-in-1 Pencil in your bag and go. Fill in sparse spots with the angled wax, shade in the shape you desire with the powder pen, then brush up the hair with the spoolie for maximum impact.
Whether you're taking a dip or an extra-sweaty virtual Pilates class, the un-budgeable Thrive Cosmetics Infinity Waterproof Eyeliner will keep your penciled-in brows put. But don't worry, the formula doesn't get chunky like other water-resistant options.
Yes, that price is actually less than $2. A latte costs more than this cheap, cheerful, and shockingly effective eyebrow pencil. The Essence Eyebrow Designer is a great option if you don't want to do too much to your eyebrows—just a little touching up here and there. It'll take you literally 15 seconds to apply, and did I mention it's $2?
A waxy eyebrow pencil plus oily skin can spell disaster. Fortunately, Wander Beauty's Frame Your Face Micro Brow Pencil won't slip or blur throughout the day. Plus, it's sturdy, easy to apply, and blends in well with your natural brows.
Look, we all have our strengths, and some of us just aren't that good at applying eye makeup. (I love liquid eyeliner, for example, but I hardly use it because the potential for disaster is too high.) Benefit's Goof Proof Brow Pencil (fun fact: Benefit is the only brand with two eyebrow pencils so excellent they both made this list) is just that: hard to mess up, and easy to fix when you do.
Consider the Maybelline Brow Ultra Slim Defining Eyebrow Pencil as the James Bond of brow saviors, because this formula is stealthy in the best way. The super-skinny tip allows you to create wispy, natural looking strokes that look completely natural, and the wax won't bleed or flake.
The super-super-slim Kevyn Aucoin The Precision pencil is so called for a reason. If you have sparse eyebrows, or close to no eyebrows at all, this tool will help you create natural-looking eyebrows, one teeny-tiny brushstroke at a time.