They're all so different.
Shaping your brows doesn't stop at waxing, plucking, or threading. Using a gel, a pencil, or a powder to style your arches is also an important step. But with so many options available in each category, how are you supposed to know what type of brow product to use, let alone how to apply it?
From arch to shape to fullness, all of these products exist to meet a wide range of brow concerns — and that's exactly what makes sifting through all them so overwhelming. So, should you be using a gel, a pencil, or a powder, and what is the difference the three products, anyways?
That's where the professionals come in. We turned to Joey Healy, Celebrity Eyebrow Specialist, and Michele Holmes, Eyebrow Specialist and founder of Michele Holmes Studio and Rye Beauty, to break down the differences between these eyebrow products, along with how to know when to use each one.
Keep reading to find out the difference between brow gels, brow pencils, and brow powders.
Brow Gel: Creates Fullness
Think of brow gels as hairspray for your eyebrows. "Eyebrow gels hold your brows in place, allow you to style your brow in a visually pleasing manner, and give more hold to your brow hairs," Healy explains. "People use eyebrow gels to tame unruly hairs and give more shape to the brow."
Brow gels can be clear — which are typically used to control the shape of the brows — while tinted gels can make the hairs appear thicker in addition to holding them in place. "Tinted gels are miraculous for those with light or blond brow hair or those losing pigment (going gray) because they quickly deposit color bringing your brows back to life," Holmes adds. "Many tinted gels also contain thickening agents or fibers to bulk up eyebrows, giving the appearance of three dimensionally fuller, yet natural-looking brows."
Brow Pencil: Your Precision Tool
A pencil allows for precise shaping of the brow and can be used to fill in gaps. "I’ve always found that pencils are good for specific holes, gaps, scars, and when you want a lot of accuracy or to work on the perimeter of your brow," Healy shares.
As far as brow products go, a pencil is the most versatile. "Pencils are great because they can be used to create a variety of different looks; like a slick architectural look; a faux, fluffy brow; an ombré brow. It's all about how you lay down the product and blend out," Healy says. Two common methods of laying down the product include drawing fine, hair-like strokes or shading the entire brow.
Holmes says there are two forms of pencils: manual sharpen or twist up. "Both versions are extremely user friendly because their waxy or chalky qualities makes them easy to blend and correct mistakes," she says. "Fine-tipped pencils are best for adding realistic looking hair, while wide-tipped or angled pencils are better for a filling large areas or creating a fully designed set of brows."
Brow Powder: Delivers a Natural Finish
Brow powders come in a compact that looks similar to a pressed powder eyeshadow, and are usually used to fill in the brows.
When applying a brow powder, using an angled brush will give you the best finish. "An angled brush is used to apply powder which pushes it onto the skin," says Holmes. "The look is incredibly soft and matte on the skin." The expert adds that brow powder is great for achieving the ombré trend where where the powder is lighter in the front and darker on the tail.
In addition to creating the illusion of denser brows, Healy says a powder creates the most natural finish.
Brow gel vs. brow pencil vs. brow powder: Which one should you use?
There are a few factors that come into play when deciding what type of brow product to use. The first is your desired outcome or finish: are you looking for full, Cara Delevingne brows, or sharp arches?
"The type of product you use depends on your personal preference and the nature of your brows, Healy shares. "Some people simply prefer pencils because they feel more comfortable with it as a familiar object, as pencils are."
The expert says pencils are great if you want to add detail and more structure to the existing brow, gel is great for those with coarse hair or looking to achieve a no-makeup makeup look as they'll hold the shape in place, and powder can be beneficial for aging brows since it delivers a natural finish.
Your skin type and hair type may also impact what type of brow product you use. "People with oily skin might have better success with a chalky pencil or power, while waxier pencils or liquid brow pens work best for those with dry skin," Holmes explains. "All skin types can use brow gels as long as there is visible hair to apply it to. Thicker hair might do better with a sheer tinted gel, where fine brow hair would benefit from a thick or fibrous gel to bulk up the hair in a three-dimensional way."
Above all, it's vital that you choose the right shade for your brows. "Look at the color of your natural brow and try to match the undertone – is it warm, cool, honey blonde, auburn, etc.?," Healy instructs. "Don’t overdo it; less is more. If you’re between two colors, go with the slightly lighter one and build up the product. "