If you and your eyebrows survived the ‘90s, you know that there was nothing precise or careful about how we groomed our brows back then. There was no talk of the best shape for your face, no consideration of their color — just that they needed to be skinny. Today, the philosophy towards brows has completely evolved. Arches are now flawlessly full, defined, and manicured, and this once-overlooked feature now has the potential to make or break the rest of your beauty look. After all, a good pair can prove the perfect frame to your features, while sparse or spotty strands can detract from an otherwise flawless face (more on how you could be ruining your brows here).
As carefully filled-in brows became trendy, prestige brands launched a broad range of product options, from pencils and powders to waxes and gels, yet it was challenging to find these formulas at an affordable price point. Luckily, these days, more and more drugstore brands are developing sophisticated products for getting the look, and makeup artists are counting themselves as fans. Whether you’re looking to set, shape, or fill (hello fibers!), read on for a range of budget-friendly gel formulas pros swear by for achieving next-level brows in a pinch.
Natalia Thomas, a celebrity makeup artist in New York, says the fiber-infused L’Oréal® Brow Stylist PlumperTM ($10) really does the trick when you want to amplify sparse arches. “It comes in a few shade variations and gives brows a shiny, perfectly-groomed effect,” she notes. Reviewers of the highly-rated product have also noted its longwearing benefits, so you won’t have to worry about fitting any touch-ups into your day.
New York makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci says she wasn’t typically a fan of products that contain fibers, as they can come across as “fake-looking or flaky,” but Maybelline® BROWprecise® Fiber Volumizer Eyebrow Gel ($5) made her a believer. “The flat football applicator allows for precise application, and the fiber-gel is sheer and has a hint of sheen for natural brow effect,” she says, adding that the formula dries quickly.
Andrew Sotomayor, a celebrity makeup artist in New York, relies on CoverGirl® Easy Breezy Brow® Setting Gel ($9) when he’s creating a look that needs to last. “It keeps even the smallest brow hairs groomed and in place all day, and works with all brow shades and skin tones — perfect for creating a natural look!” he says. If you’re trying to achieve a bolder style, you can add a pencil to fill in or amplify brows, and then use the clear gel to seal it in.
Norah Salazar, a makeup artist in the New York metro area, recommends NYX Professional Makeup® Eyebrow Gel ($5) for those looking for rich pigmentation and a waterproof formula. “I also like how the wand doesn’t clump heavily, and if you make a mistake, it can be brushed down with a clean wand or fanned brow brush,” she says.
Ardell® Professional Brow Building Fiber Gel ($5) is another one of Salazar’s brow staples. “The smudge-proof gel contains fibers that adhere to your hairs, providing instant volume for thicker brows that you can build on easily without too much fuss,” she says.
Pixi by Petra® Brow Tamer ($10) helps to keep brows in place without making them look hard or stiff, like some other products can. “Use it on its own, or to tame brows after you’ve filled and shaped,” suggests Los Angeles-based Annie Tevelin, a professional makeup artist and founder of SkinOwlTM. The paraben- and cruelty-free formula has also received Target’s® clean seal of approval.
Tara Dowburd, a Los Angeles-based makeup artist and owner of Make-Up Therapy℠, looks to Rimmel LondonTM Brow This Way® Brow Styling Gel ($4) for clients who have full brows and don’t need any additional color-filling. “It tames hairs so they stay [put] and helps enhance the brows’ arch,” she explains. “I especially love it because sometimes clear brow gels can flake, feel sticky, or look heavy, but this one doesn’t do any of that!”
Product prices may vary from the time this article was written.
Allergan® may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this article.