Nothing has quite as much face-framing potential as a pair of beautifully groomed brows. Ask the top experts, and they’ll tell you. “A great shape opens up the eyes, gives proportion to your cheekbones, lips and nose and brings modernity to the face,” says Meghan Markle’s favoured brow expert, Sherrille Riley. “It adds that last bit of polish to your makeup, too.”
In the age of the power brow (owing to, Dua Lipa, Cara Delevingne, Lily Collins and co), big, brushed-up brows have never been – well – bigger. And thanks to numerous innovations, which have bolstered the eyebrow market with even more solutions, we have an assembly of tools for the job.
Permanent and semi-permanent techniques have been finessed – powder brows, mist brows and ombre brows have gained momentum. Eyebrow Botox or “Browtox” has seen a pick-up from people looking to lift their eye area. And, a multitude of perfectors – gels, powders, waxes, pomades and more are reviewed, re-formulated and released every day.
And yet, the humble brow pencil remains one of the quickest and most effective ways to add oomph to arches, give sparse patches the attention they need and coax stragglers into shape. Provided you have your technique down, of course. The key is to draw in short, hair-like strokes (rather than shading in one block of colour) and flick the pencil upwards, rather than scribbling in horizontal motions.
Now that you’ve got the pro tips, brows our edit of the best eyebrow pencils below…
And, make sure to check out our eyebrow mapping guide if you’re not sure where to start. It’s a lifesaver!
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, £23, Cult Beauty
Loved by Kardashians and Jenners alike, this ultra-fine pencil is a dream for adding definition and hair-like strokes. If you don’t like your brows looking ‘blocky’, you’ll instantly fall for the super-slim tip.
NYX Micro Brow Pencil, £9, Cult Beauty
In an impressive range of eight shades, this soft pencil is ideal if your brows require some serious filling in. The pencil is super thin but not too heavy or waxy, so you don’t have to worry about going too OTT. And it’s under £10, so our bank accounts are happy, too.
Bourjois Precision Eyebrow Pencil, £4.99, Amazon
For a seriously hard-working, pigmented yet affordable product, Bourjois’s brow pencil is a steal. It has up to 16-hour hold, so is ideal for a night of dancing (read: sweating). Careful not to apply with too much pressure, as the shades are rich and a little goes a long way.
Brow Lift, £22.50, Charlotte Tilbury
This pencil is a three-in-one little whizz of magic for shaping, lifting and shading. There’s the brush for grooming and taking off any excess colour, the highlighter to dab under the brow bone to give you an easy lift and the creamy pencil for filling in.
Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Long Wear Brow Pencil, £30.50, Look Fantastic
This pencil has a 16-hour wear so will sit through sweat and tears without budging, making it worth the extra £££. The slanted tip is really versatile too, as you can use the flat edge for a softer look and pointed tip for a greater definition.
Yves Saint Laurent Dessin des Sourcils Eyebrow Pencil, £17.85, John Lewis
Misbehaving brows will be tamed to perfection with this nifty pencil and spiral brush that makes beautiful, full brows easy to achieve. This one is great for anyone with sensitive eyes and comes in five different shades.
Benefit Brow Contour Pro, £29, Look Fantastic
If you’re after a brow pencil with the WOW factor, look no further, because Benefit’s Brow Contour Pro is a four-in-one pencil. Yep, four. That may seem pretty extra, but seriously, you use all four. There’s a lighter brow shade, a deeper brow shade, an edge definer shade, an an arch highlighter shade. The waterproof pencil comes in five shades and lasts for 24 hours, too.
Signature Brow Precision Pencil, £17.10, Debenhams
Designed for buildable coverage, this pencil is ideal for brow beginners, or those who are fearful of the ‘big brow’ look. The pay-off isn’t instant, so you can layer colour until you get the desired effect. The elliptical tip is really precise, so the result is super-fine, natural-looking lines.
Tom Ford Brow Sculptor, £40, Harvey Nichols
Though this pencil is an investment for your makeup bag, it’s 100% worth it. It comes with everything you need for selfie-ready brows, including a grooming brush and sharpener. The calligraphy tip goes from thin to wide to achieve any type of stroke you like.
Barry M Brow Wow, £3.99, Boots
Barry M’s brow pencil only comes in two shades – light to medium and medium to dark – but at such a bargain price, we can’t complain. The soft texture of the pencil means you can create feathery strokes in an instant. We like to tame stray hairs with their Take A Brow brow gel afterwards.
HD Brows Browtec, £15, Look Fantastic
This twist-up pencil has an ultra-thin tip, making it perfect for slick arches and natural-looking hair strokes. Use the brow brush to comb hairs upwards and open up your eyes.
Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil, £31, Space NK
A clever combo of powder, wax and pencil, use the pointed tips of this Hourglass miracle product to outline and define arches, and the flat edges to subtly shade. There’s nine shades, all the way from blonde to natural black, and there’s even an ashy option for platinum blondes.
Blink Brow Bar Ultimate Arch Definer, £16, Look Fantastic
When it’s a product by the brand that brought threading to the masses, you know it’s going to be a winner. The two-in-one product features a velvety pencil for precise definition and natural-looking shading, with a kabuki brow brush for blending. Plus, there’s a decent array of seven shades to choose from, so you won’t be left with super-intense WTF brows.