I saw a video on TikTok recently where a girl did half her makeup as she would today and the other half as she would in 2016. What struck me wasn’t the lighter foundation use or our newfound love of blush (both distinctly 2021) but the way she did her brows. 2016-her has dark, arched brows; Kim Kardashian brows, sharply sculpted with concealer. 2021-her has the polar opposite: thick, fluffy soap brows, the hairs pushed up to lift the face.
Of course, trends aside, the way we do our brows is totally personal – we each know what suits our face best. But you can’t deny that brows are often our first feature to enjoy new treatments, applications and products, whether we’re laminating them, bleaching, tinting, microshading or shaving them off altogether, heading to the salon and spending a small fortune on the perfect look.
But if you think you need to drop your pub budget for the month on your own pair, think again. The beauty aisle in your local Boots and our favourite beauty retailers have everything you need to achieve your best brows at home, whether you’re a 2016-brow kinda girl or 2021 – no expert help needed. We scoured the 'best of' beauty reviews and asked around the Refinery29 office for the top brow products on the market right now, from your standard gels, powders and pencils to serums, treatments and tools.
Best eyebrow gel
Clear or tinted, eyebrow gel really is the lazy girl’s best friend. Just brush through your brows as you’re running out the house for a polished look, loading your brush with product if you prefer a heavier approach or wiping it off and brushing your hairs up towards your temples if you want a lighter, more awake vibe.
For those with naturally fuller brows or who take a lighter hand, you can’t beat Glossier’s Boy Brow, £14. Inspired by traditional hair pomade, it uses beeswax and carnauba wax to give brows a soft, flexible hold that doesn’t stiffen or flake – ideal for that my-brows-but-better look. It’s also packed with naturally fatty lecithin and oleic acid (derived from olive oil) to condition and moisturise your brows.
If you want a fuller look, benefit Gimme Brow+, £22.50, is a real hero product. Its formula uses tiny microfibres that volumise brows as well as combing them in place and is buildable and water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your brows shifting mid-afternoon.
For those with lighter brows who are looking to darken them as well as groom, MILK Makeup’s KUSH Fiber brow gel, £21, will add much-needed definition that still looks natural.
Best eyebrow pencils
We love a classic eyebrow pencil, especially one with a soft, blendable consistency that gives natural-looking brows and a formula that you can build up. Added bonus when it can double up as eyeliner.
The Brow Perfector from NARS, £21, delivers soft, natural-looking, hairlike strokes and comes in warm and cool shades for the perfect match.
At £33, Hourglass’ Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil is definitely pricey but we reckon it’s worth it; in the form of a mechanical pencil, its formula combines powder, wax and pencil for a truly natural-looking definition. It comes in nine shades, from an ashy blonde to warm brunette.
It’s not surprising that the unofficial queen of brows, Anastasia Beverly Hills, would produce one of the best brow pencils on the market. Brow Wiz, £23, doesn’t look like much at first but has a very fine tip which helps to mimic the appearance of individual hairs. Also, it has a waxiness that helps to shape and keep brows in place all day as well as defining them.
Best eyebrow pomade
Fan of a super bold brow? Try KVD Beauty Super Pomade, £19. It’s super pigmented, budge-proof, smudge-proof and sweat-proof for brows that won’t come off until you want them to. Better yet, the Super Pomade is designed also to be used as an eyeliner, perfect for on-the-go beauty.
A great eyebrow pomade needn’t cost you, as NYX’s Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade, £6.50, proves. It's consistently praised for its soft, malleable formula that doesn’t dry out quickly, like many other high street products do.
Best eyebrow powder
We love powder for a truly natural-looking brow, mainly because it often comes with two complementary shades that you can blend to create your perfect shade. This is an especially great option for redheads and blondes who struggle to find their exact shade.
Best eyebrow pens
Brow pens are perfect for touching up sparse areas of your brows or adding soft, natural-looking hairs for a fluffy look. Glossier’s Brow Flick, £15, is especially subtle.
For a brow pen that takes over from your gels, pomades and powders, Maybelline’s Tattoo Brow Micro-Pen Tint, £6.95, with its four-pronged tip, gives the same realistic, hairlike strokes as a microblading treatment – for that salon-fresh look at home.
Best brow waxes for 'soap brows'
If you’ve spent any time on TikTok over the last year, you’ll recognise the ‘soap brow’ trend, where soap or gel is used to lift and shape brows into a full and fluffy shape. It's like brow lamination at home. You can use actual soap for this look (hence the name), like a classic block of Pears soap, £1.20, or West Barn Co Soap Brows, £15, which conveniently comes with its own spoolie brush, or you could try a clear wax or gel. As ever, Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Freeze, £24, is the best. On the high street, NYX’s Brow Glue Instant Brow Styler, £6.50, also has a lot of fans.
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Best eyebrow serums, oils and treatments
It’s not just about styling your brows, it’s also important to consider treating them. Like any hair, a little TLC goes a long way towards thicker, fuller and healthier brows.
For those keen to build up sparse brows, we love the RE:BROW programme. At £100 it is pricey but it includes a three-stage routine that, if kept up daily over two months, has been proven to make brows thicker and fuller. You start with the vegetarian and cruelty-free Brow Vitamin gummies, which are packed with biotin (stimulates keratin production), vitamin C (helps to build collagen protein) and zinc (helps hair tissue growth). Then, every evening, the Brow Booster serum, full of peptides, vitamins, proteins, botanical extracts and amino acids to stimulate hair regrowth and strengthen hair follicles. Lastly, you use the Brow Roller, which is covered with tiny, titanium microneedles to stimulate the hair follicles and trigger the production of healthy new cells.
If a one-product routine is more your thing, try Revitalash’s RevitaBrow, £99, which, again, is painfully expensive but was originally designed for cancer patients suffering from hair loss and is often awarded a five-star rating.
At the other end of the price spectrum, BBB London’s Nourishing Brow Oil is only £18 and uses sweet almond, rosemary, lavender and sandalwood oils to deeply nourish brows. Perfect for those who suffer from dryness in the colder months.
Best eyebrow kits
Beauty kits are brilliant for saving money and space. Here, they include everything you need to shape, groom and paint on your brows, such as brushes and spoolies.
Best eyebrow tools
The secret to great brows is using great quality tools, whether that's a super precise pair of tweezers, an all-in-one brush that does everything or curved scissors for trimming extra long hairs.
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