Pencil, Powder, or Gel? Experts Break Down Every Brow Makeup Type

Plus, find out how to properly apply each and every formula.

Shaping and grooming your eyebrows on your own is a tricky endeavor; usually, this is something we leave to the professionals. If you can't book an appointment, but want your arches to look polished, turn to makeup instead of plucking yours at home. You have quite a few options formula wise, from pencils and pens to powders and gels. This might feel overwhelming at first, but there's no need to fret—we have you covered. We asked Naseeha Khan, a makeup artist and the co-founder of CTZN Cosmetics, and celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli to break down every type of eyebrow makeup, including how to apply it.

woman applying eyebrow makeup
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Brow Pencils and Pens

Brow pencils and pens are great for giving arches structure and shape without making them look too bold—it's by far the most natural approach. To use these tools correctly, Scibelli suggests scooping up a fine-pointed pencil, like Lancôme's Brow Define Pencil ($25, Draw in quick strokes in the direction of the brow's growth. "This way, you can really zero in on where your brows may be sparse and fill in where needed," he explains.

Brow Powder

If you're looking for a fuller, more defined look, go for a powder. Khan likes to apply these formulas with an angled brush to create a distinct shape and fill in any gaps where hair might be sparse. She says to start at the inner corner of the brow and, using light pressure, brush the powder upward. Increase the pressure as you work your way outward. If you're looking for a tried-and-true option, Khan recommends the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo ($23,, which features two dimensional shades; mix them to create a more natural look.

Brow Gel and Pomade

Gels and pomades are highly pigmented and have the greatest payoff, note our experts; most brands categorize these formulas by hair color, but you can also find clear gel options (which offer subtle hold and shape, but no color). As for application? Khan suggests using a spooly to groom your arches first, before putting any pomade or gel on. Then, once the hairs are combed through, take your wand, dip it into product, and start from the inner corner. She recommends gently holding the skin above the eye upwards as you stroke the product onto your strands. Once you've reached the end of your brow, use your spooly to shape the outer corners.

Scibelli suggests products like Milani's Skin Fresh Avocado Clear Brow Gel ($8.99,, which nourishes and conditions arches with avocado oil and plays well with other products (you can use gel to lock-in pencil or powder, for example). He also recommends the Milk Makeup Kush Fiber Gel ($20, if you want to add volume and thickness. And if you're looking for a really strong hold?

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