Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best eyebrow powders

If your eyes are the “mirror to your soul,” your eyebrows serve as the frames for those windows. While styles might come and go–bushy brows were all the rage in the 80s, followed by a decade or two of heavily plucked brows, and now back to a more natural look–one thing has never changed; skimpy eyebrows don’t give your eyes the spotlight they deserve.

If you’ve been wondering how to give your brows a little more oomph, we’re here to help. Eyebrow powder is a quick and relatively easy way to style even the thinnest brows, yet keep your look natural. No painted-on stripes here!

But the dizzying array of eyebrow products on the beauty shelves can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve decided to tackle your questions and concerns about choosing and using the best eyebrow powder for your needs.

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Eyebrow powder makes it easy to intensify your brows and bring attention to your eyes.

Different types of eyebrow makeup

There are several different types of eyebrow makeup available. The most common are pencil, powder, pomade, marker, and gel.

  • Eyebrow Pencils: The most common type of makeup reached for by those with skimpy brows is the pencil. These makeup staples look like an eyeliner pencil, but generally are a little bit harder than a pencil designed to line the eyes, and thus create a softer, more natural look. Eyebrow pencils are easy to use, very portable, and are generally fairly inexpensive, as well. This is a great choice if you want a natural look, need to fill in gaps in your brows, or have asymmetrical brows. Many eyebrow pencils include a brush or smudge tip on the end so you can easily blend your lines into a natural, no-one-will-notice finish.

  • Eyebrow Powder: You’ll generally find eyebrow powder packaged in a similar fashion to eyeshadow. Some brands offer single-pan brow powders, while others sell double or even triple palettes, making it a snap to perfectly match your own color. Eyebrow powder is the perfect choice for those with sparse or very light eyebrows. Brushed on lightly–many brands include a brush specifically designed for the brows–the powder fills in gaps in your brow line and creates the illusion of thicker hair. Of course, if you are aiming for a more dramatic appearance, go ahead and brush on two or more coats. Some beauty mavens use brow powder to thicken an underlying application of brow pencil.

  • Eyebrow Pomade: Most eyebrow pomades come in a small plastic or glass jar, and are applied with a brush. While some brands include the brush with the pomade, more often, you’ll have to buy it separately. Eyebrow pomade has a creamy or waxy base, and gives your arches a dramatic, strong look that really brings attention to your eyes. Pomade also helps keep unruly brows under control. This isn’t the product for those who prefer a nature-girl appearance, though.

  • Eyebrow Marker: Looking much like the markers you use to color in your favorite adult coloring book, or the markers used to line eyes, eyebrow markers impart a bold dose of color to fill in sparse brows or gaps in your arches. They also help hold wayward hairs in position, although not quite as effectively as pomade. Eyebrow markers are definitely not for the timid or the newbie to the beauty scene.

  • Eyebrow Gel: Brow gels generally look much like a tube of mascara, and include a similar, albeit smaller, brush. Eyebrow gel is excellent for taming bushy brows, and also makes a good sealer for brow powder or pencil. Depending on the color, brand, and application, eyebrow gel can create looks that range from natural to highly dramatic.
"Even waterproof or water-resistant eyebrow powder wipe away easily with makeup removing pads or cleaners."

Choosing a great eyebrow powder

The best eyebrow powders are waterproof or water-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about smudges or smears, even if you break a sweat. It’s nice to have an included brush, although some makeup connoisseurs prefer to use a full-length brush from their collection, rather than the short, stubby brush often included in the powder case, as it is easier to control a longer brush.

If you only use powder occasionally to fill in sparse spots or to add a touch of drama, a single color, single product eyebrow powder is all you need, along with your brush and spoolie. If you like to play with your makeup, however, or enjoy creating bold eye looks, you’ll be happiest with a kit that includes two or three shades of powder, setting wax, an angled brush and a spoolie, and perhaps even an eyebrow stencil to help you evenly define the perfect arch.

How much does eyebrow powder cost?

There’s a wide range of price points for eyebrow powders, so no need to break your budget.

  • Under $10: These are the least expensive drugstore brands. While many of these products do a good job, you’ll tend to find less color choice, poor quality brushes, single-color pans rather than double or triple palettes, and inexpensive-looking packaging.

  • $10 to $20: This is the sweet spot for higher end brands, such as you’ll find sold at Sephora and other beauty specialists. In this range, you’ll find a much wider color selection, kits that include more than one color, as well as extras like setting wax, better quality brushes and spoolies, and attractive packaging.

  • Over $20: This is the realm of the designer or highest-end makeup brands. Expect glamorous packaging, excellent brushes, a wide range of colors, and kits that include everything you need to create brows from the most natural to the most glamorous.

Tips for applying eyebrow powder

You’ve chosen your powder and you’re ready to create the perfect arch. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Start by using a brow brush or spoolie to smooth your brows into their natural positions. Pluck any stray hairs, or use a cuticle scissor to trim the tips of overly long or bent brow hairs.

  2. Before doing your brows, apply your eyeshadow and mascara.

  3. You can’t create great brows without a starting and finishing line. Use a pencil, straw, or makeup brush to determine where your brows should start and end.  First, line up your pencil from the center of your nostril straight up to the inner corner of your eye. Your eyebrow should start right above that point. To find your ideal outer brow edge, line up your pencil from the outer edge of the nostril to the outer edge of your eye. Imagine that line continuing up and into your brows, and that’s the right end-point. Repeat on the other eye.

  4. Wondering where your eyebrows should arch? Stare straight into your mirror, and note the outer edge of your eye’s iris. Right above that spot is where your brows should reach the peak of their arch.

  5. Now that you’ve determined the perfect brow shape, it’s time to apply your powder. The best brush has short, angled natural hairs. Always stroke across the brows with the shorter side of the angle pointing toward the outer edge of your eyebrow.

  6. Run your brush across the eyebrow powder, and then start making small, short strokes across the bottom edge of your eyebrow, working from the inner corner outwards. The goal is to create a soft line defining the bottom edge of the eyebrow.

  7. Repeat the process on the upper edge of your brow.

  8. Now, use your brush to gently smudge the two lines inwards, so there are no hard edges or obvious lines.

  9. Run a spoolie brush over your brows to smooth everything into place.

  10. If you want your brow makeup to last all day, now is the time to lightly brush on a top coat of brow gel or pomade to hold the powder in place.

  11. Repeat the process on the opposite eye.

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Eyebrow powder kits include everything you need for a finished look, including powder, setting wax, and brushes.


Q. How do I know which color of eyebrow powder to use?
 A great question, and one that’s asked by just about every newcomer to the product. As a general rule, if you have blonde hair and light brows, choose a powder that matches the base color of your hair–that’s near the roots, not the washed-out color towards the ends of the hair shafts. If you have dark hair and dark brows, your look will be most natural with a brow powder that’s just one or two shades lighter than your hair. If you prefer a more dramatic look, however, reach for a powder that closely matches your hair color. It’s always best not to go much darker than your hair color, however, as the results can look clownish.

Q. Is it really worth it to pay more for a designer brand of eyebrow powder?
 While it’s true to a certain extent that you get what you pay for, when it comes to the beauty aisle, that often means lower-priced products are nearly as good as their more expensive counterparts when it comes to performance, but aren’t nearly as beautifully packaged. So if your budget is tight, don’t fret about selecting a powder that isn’t very expensive. You can still enjoy the benefits, even if the product doesn’t look so glamorous when you pull it out of your makeup bag.

Q. My eyebrows and hair are naturally dark, but I bleach my hair blonde. What color eyebrow powder should I use?
 This is a common scenario. While it’s possible to have your eyebrows lightened by a professional–never try this at home–most women prefer to leave their brows as-is, even if their hair is bleached. Choose an eyebrow powder two or three shades lighter than your natural brow color to slightly dial down the intensity while keeping things soft and natural looking.

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