Many kids are born with delicate, wispy eyebrows, but I was born with a unibrow that only got bushier as I got older, requiring constant threading appointments to keep them from looking like the start of a Penny Dreadful werewolf transformation. (One brow salon even stopped charging me because it "felt like robbery.") But thanks to the recent beauty trend of big-as-hell eyebrows, my once-alienating "curse" is now my favorite part of my face. That said, my brows are still needy creatures that require daily taming and sculpting , which is where brow gels come in.
Unlike pencils and powders, which amp up sparse, tiny brows, gels enhance your current situation without adding too much bulk or drama. Brow gels are a bushy brow must-have for keeping those hairs in place but of course, not all gels are created equal, and some formulas just straight-up suck. So to cut through the noise, I've rounded up the most popular gels on the market for the ultimate brow-gel showdown. Whether you're looking to create a feathered soap-brow or going for a bold and bushy Cara Delevingne-inspired brow, ahead, you'll find the perfect brow gel formulas to tackle all of your power brow needs.
Winner winner, buy Emily Weiss dinner! This ultra-pigmented formula is a cult favorite, and for good reason: The itty-bitty spoolie brushes on the perfect amount of buildable pigment and never stains skin. Plus, it remains workable for a few full minutes, adds natural-looking volume, and it never feels stiff. I applied this one Friday morning, danced my ass off until sunrise, and woke up for brunch to the exact same brows.
Tame and strengthen your brows with this aloe vera-packed formula. This non-sticky, fiber gel works to freeze those thick and unruly hairs in place. The beauty of this brow gel is that it doesn't leave my brows stiff. A hack for super defined brows: Use the tip of the spoolie to comb the inner corners of your brows upwards and slick down the outer corners with the base of the spoolie brush.
Seal the deal with this waterproof formula. Urban Decay's Brow Finish Gel comes in both a clear and shimmering finish called "Midnight Cowboy". The best part of this brow gel is that it really pins the brow hairs down and doesn't leave behind a flaky residue. It's super long-lasting, so be prepared for its slightly stiff finish. At least you'll know your brow shape isn't going to break any time soon!
The versatility of this brow gel is unmatched. Whether you're going for an off-duty, no-makeup makeup brow, or a gorgeously groomed stand-out brow, the buildable coverage of this fiber gel can do it all. And it certainly stand the test of time. This gel glides on super easy and has more of a soft flexible hold, so feel free to create a perfectly imperfect, untamed brow.
Keep your brows sculpted all throughout the day and into the night with Brow-Fro. The tapered applicator brush does wonders for forming full and fluffy brows. Sparse eyebrows can certainly benefit from this defining gel. But Beware: the color payoff is really bold, so a little goes a long way.
This brow gel is formulated with cannabis oil and beeswax to naturally fill in and condition the brows without smudging. The unsung hero of this gel is the amazing hold it offers. If you have thick unruly brows, you'll want to reach for this gel to lock those hairs in place for a long-lasting sculpted effect. However, if you're in search of a super bold color pay-off this may not be the gel for you.
I really wanted this one to be "easy breezy," but the thick, curved brush picked up too much gel, leaving little streaks on my brow bones and clumping my hairs together. On a positive note, the color payoff was high—it gave me a super-bold, Cara Delevingne look. Just make sure to use a light hand and lightly dab off the tip of the wand first if you try this one.
The wand in this gel is so chubby, you'd think it would create majorly amped-up brows. But the size actually made it difficult to hone in on my feathery hairs, and the formula was so sheer, it barely made an impact on my already-dark brows. Try this if you're a brow newbie who wants a super-minimal finish.
The formula in this small-but-mighty tube is filled with tiny fibers that latch onto your hair to bulk up your brows with each swipe. For those with thin, sparse brows, this will be your holy grail, but, for me, the final look was a little over the top. Fair warning: Work quickly, because once this one sets, it's not budging.
It's hard to see on camera, but IRL, my brows looked 50 percent larger (by my estimation). That's a look I'm all about on a Saturday night, but maybe not for a no-makeup makeup day. For those of you who want an even bolder finish, first brush your brow hairs in the opposite direction (towards your nose), then brush them back to coat each side of the hair.
I'm in love with this applicator: It has a long, super-skinny spoolie, so I was able to brush the gel onto individual hairs and small sections of my brows, giving them a more natural, gradual-looking shade. The precision was 100, and it left behind a shine that rivaled a horse's mane.
The spiky, ball-shaped spoolie looks more like a medieval flail than a brow brush, but I promise it's completely foolproof. Just wiggle the tip through your brows, and the formula-loaded bristles will coat every single hair with just one swipe. Whether you're a first-time gel user or a master-level crafter, this is easily the best drugstore gel I've tried.