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Makeup Master Class: Eyebrows


I find that most people benefit from some brow color. You may not need a lot of filling in, but some will help define and perfect your brow. Each type of brow color will give you more complete coverage or a softer, more natural effect. Choose the formula that helps you fill in slightly or replace what is just not there.

Eyebrow Pencil

Pencil is the most precise and most common formula used to define the brows. It will give you full coverage and color. It usually has a slightly waxier consistency than other makeup pencils to help it adhere better to the brows and last longer. Formulas that are a little drier and harder give the most natural application. The more strokes you make, the more natural the application will look. Eyebrow pencils come in two forms, mechanical and wood. A mechanical pencil (if it is a good one) will not need to be sharpened. Simply twist it; the product will extend out, and you can apply away. If your pencil is wood, you control the point. Sharpen it before each use. The sharper the point, the better the application.


This is the most dramatic-looking brow color. It gives you full coverage when trying to fill in and define your eyebrows. It is a matte crème that is applied with a narrow, stiff-angled eyebrow brush, and it is best to set it with eyebrow powder so it will last and not smudge. I find that it’s the least natural-looking option. Even when set with eyebrow powder, it still can smudge, especially on oily skin. If you are a novice or want a subtle look, this is not your best choice.


Powder brow color is a matte, no-shimmer powder with a very high pigment content. Powder provides the most natural look when filling in your eyebrows. It is all you need when you are just filling in slightly—maybe the shape of your brow is there, but it’s sparse and you need to add a little bulk. In this case, powder is the ideal choice because it will look totally natural, not like you just drew your brows on. It is usually applied with a narrow stiff-angle eyebrow brush (see here). It can be used to set brow crèmes, and it helps give pencils even more coverage and lasting power when you are creating a brow from nothing. I often layer powder with pencil for more coverage and more precise application.


Pomade is a matte, creamy, long-lasting, usually water-resistant brow color. It creates a very dramatic look, much like crème brow color without the smudging and smearing. It’s great if you need a lot of filling in because it gives such complete coverage. It controls wild hairs while adding color and giving coverage. Because it is smudge-proof and matte, it does not have to be set with powder, but I do like to follow it with a little powder color to soften the look of it.

Brow Gel

This is basically a hair gel (or hair spray) for the eyebrows. If your brows seem to look out of place and don’t lie perfectly, gel can keep them where you want them. Brow gels are available in tinted or clear formulas. The tinted formulas (also called brow mascara) will not necessarily fill your brows in, but they will make the hairs you do have look fuller and more noticeable, which might be all you want or need, while keeping everything in place. The clear formulas can help set the color (pencil or powder) you already applied, while keeping your eyebrow hairs in place. I am not a big fan of the tinted versions, but I love the clear to keep brows looking great all day.

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