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The Best Brow Pencil - 2022

Last updated on August 11, 2022

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Our Picks For The Top Brow Pencils

Show Contents
Our Take
  Top Pick

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Skinny Tip Micro Brow Pencil

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP

Skinny Tip Micro Brow Pencil

Overall Take

Plenty of TextureThick or thin brows can get well-sculpted with this pencil.

  Runner Up

L’Oreal Paris Waterproof Ultra-Fine Brow Pencil

L'Oreal Paris

Waterproof Ultra-Fine Brow Pencil

Overall Take

Long-Lasting LinesThe fine tip makes it easy to get brows just the way you want.

  We Also Like

e.l.f Instant Lift Dual-Sided Brow Pencil & Brush

e.l.f

Instant Lift Dual-Sided Brow Pencil & Brush

Overall Take

Good For DefinitionCustomize your eyebrows with this versatile tool.

  Strong Contender

Maybelline Total Temptation Matte Finish Brow Pencil

Maybelline

Total Temptation Matte Finish Brow Pencil

Overall Take

Goes On SmoothThe more you use this versatile pencil, the better the lines look.

Guide written by Tod Caviness
Last updated on August 11, 2022

The point of most makeup is to hide lines on the face, but there are a couple of key lines that women (and many men) spend a lot of money trying to enhance. Those lines, of course, shape the eyebrows. You can take your pick of products that care for those little hairs, including gels, powders and tweezers. But the easiest tool to use — and arguably the most effective — is the eyebrow pencil.

What exactly is in an eyebrow pencil? The exact shape, length and configuration may vary. The core of a regular pencil is graphite, but the core of an eyebrow pencil is usually a carefully formulated blend of pigments mixed with waxes and oils that help it bind to your brows. The cheapest pencils might be nothing more than that core wrapped in wax or wood (in which case you’ll have to sharpen it), but most eyebrow pencils are mechanical. You draw with one end, then style your brows with a brush on the back of the pencil.

In most cases, you won’t have to worry too much about the ingredient list on these pencils — if you can even find it. The chemical names might be long, but for the most part, they’re science-speak for “wax.” Pigments don’t really need preservatives, after all. Carbon black (which can irritate the eyes) and heavy metals (which can be downright toxic) are two red-flag ingredients to avoid, but you won’t find them in most modern pencils.

There are three important things you want an eyebrow pencil to do: Complement the color of your brows, put that color on precisely and stay put for as long as possible.

The first one might take a bit of trial and error. You’ll notice we said “complement” your eyebrow color, not “match.” That’s because pencils that are the same color or darker than your own brow hair will simply look like what they are: lines drawn onto your face. The trick is to make your brows look fuller, and a subtle interplay of colors will help create that texture. Go for a shade just a little lighter than your natural brow color.

Finding a pencil that goes on smoothly can also be tricky. Those with a higher concentration of oils can glide right on, but smudge too easily. Pencils with a more powdery texture might create a fuller look but require a lot more maintenance. You want something that binds to your hairs without looking waxy, and what works for one skin type may be a disaster on another face.

It’s best to start with a pencil that has a more rounded tip and work up to something sharper when you feel more comfortable. Pencils are the best for beginners because they’re easy to handle. Find the right tool and it won’t take long before your finished makeup is raising a few other eyebrows.

The Best Brow Pencils

1
  Top Pick

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Skinny Tip Micro Brow Pencil

Whatever look you want, this precise pencil with an ultra-slim tip can draw the line. It goes on smoothly but isn't too creamy, and creates texture with repeated applications. Use it alone for a slim line or with powder for thicker brows.

Features


Specifications

Brand
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP
Model
2
  Runner Up

L’Oreal Paris Waterproof Ultra-Fine Brow Pencil

The precise point on this pencil is easy to control with durable pigment. The fine tip is perfect for detail work and it leaves behind a brow color that can stand up to plenty of moisture. It's easy to layer if you want a little extra thickness.

Features


Specifications

Brand
L'Oreal Paris
Model
3
  We Also Like

e.l.f Instant Lift Dual-Sided Brow Pencil & Brush

There are two sides to this tool for shaping, filling and defining, and both are easy to use. The pencil tip can last a long time and won't break easily. The brush can be used to fill out thick brows in a jiffy. This won't smear and stays on all day.

Features


Specifications

Brand
e.l.f
Model
4
  Strong Contender

Maybelline Total Temptation Matte Finish Brow Pencil

There's no fear of flaking with this classic pencil. The tip has a slanted edge that lets users do pinpoint work or create thick lines with equal accuracy. You can expect it to last the day with minimal maintenance. It also has a spoolie brush tip.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Maybelline
Model
5
  Also Great

Anastasia Beverly Hills Smudge-Proof Retractable Brow Pencil

The tip on this pencil is ultra-fine, but you can use it to create a soft, feathered look with very little pressure. It creates soft lines without being flaky and and will last even in humid weather. The pencil handle is easy to grip and there's a spoolie at one end.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Model

Our Brow Pencil Buying Guide

The point of most makeup is to hide lines on the face, but there are a couple of key lines that women (and many men) spend a lot of money trying to enhance. Those lines, of course, shape the eyebrows. You can take your pick of products that care for those little hairs, including gels, powders and tweezers. But the easiest tool to use — and arguably the most effective — is the eyebrow pencil.

What exactly is in an eyebrow pencil? The exact shape, length and configuration may vary. The core of a regular pencil is graphite, but the core of an eyebrow pencil is usually a carefully formulated blend of pigments mixed with waxes and oils that help it bind to your brows. The cheapest pencils might be nothing more than that core wrapped in wax or wood (in which case you’ll have to sharpen it), but most eyebrow pencils are mechanical. You draw with one end, then style your brows with a brush on the back of the pencil.

In most cases, you won’t have to worry too much about the ingredient list on these pencils — if you can even find it. The chemical names might be long, but for the most part, they’re science-speak for “wax.” Pigments don’t really need preservatives, after all. Carbon black (which can irritate the eyes) and heavy metals (which can be downright toxic) are two red-flag ingredients to avoid, but you won’t find them in most modern pencils.

There are three important things you want an eyebrow pencil to do: Complement the color of your brows, put that color on precisely and stay put for as long as possible.

The first one might take a bit of trial and error. You’ll notice we said “complement” your eyebrow color, not “match.” That’s because pencils that are the same color or darker than your own brow hair will simply look like what they are: lines drawn onto your face. The trick is to make your brows look fuller, and a subtle interplay of colors will help create that texture. Go for a shade just a little lighter than your natural brow color.

Finding a pencil that goes on smoothly can also be tricky. Those with a higher concentration of oils can glide right on, but smudge too easily. Pencils with a more powdery texture might create a fuller look but require a lot more maintenance. You want something that binds to your hairs without looking waxy, and what works for one skin type may be a disaster on another face.

It’s best to start with a pencil that has a more rounded tip and work up to something sharper when you feel more comfortable. Pencils are the best for beginners because they’re easy to handle. Find the right tool and it won’t take long before your finished makeup is raising a few other eyebrows.

DWYM Fun Fact

You’ve heard that stress can give you grey hair, but recent research has found that it might not give you much hair at all — and that includes eyebrow hair. A 2021 study by an NIH-affiliated team of scientists found reduced hair growth in mice who were subjected to mildy stressful conditions over a period of months. Their adrenal glands work much like ours, and the stress hormones they produce were found to inhibit follicle growth.

The takeaway? If you’re trying to grow out your eyebrows for a big wedding or prom date, stop worrying about them and take a vacation. (Eyebrows tend to grow faster in warmer conditions, too.)

The Brow Pencil Tips and Advice

Everybody’s eyebrow routine is different, and that’s OK. Often, it will involve more than just an eyebrow pencil, but there’s a lot you can do with just this simple tool.

If you’re just starting out, use the pencil as a level to make sure that your natural brows are even. Many times they won’t be, and that’s fine — that’s what the pencil is for. Just mark where one brow is lower so that you touch it up later.

In general, your brows should begin just above where the edge of your nose is. (Again, you can hold the pencil against your face to find the line.) Sharpen your pencil and start there. Draw with short, slanted upward strokes, and “feather” your hairs out to the outer edge of the brow. You want to create lines that blend in with your own hairs. Blend the lines in with the brush on the other end of the pencil, and voila! You’re on your way to fuller brows.


About The Author

Tod Caviness 

Tod Caviness has been a features journalist and writer for the past 20 years. He took the easy route to grooming and shaved his head decades ago. Little did he know it would open up a whole new world of expertise in razors, hats and suntan lotion. He is still learning how to braid his daughter's hair.