Brow Pencil: How This One Tool Makes All the Difference
Nothing can pull together a finished face more than a well-kept brow. Likewise, an unkempt brow can detract from your face, making your look messy or unbalanced.
A little professional brow maintenance (waxing, plucking, or threading) is usually the best way to get perfectly sculpted brows that compliment your face, but using a makeup product on your brows at home completes the look.
The pros at RMS Beauty are obsessive about natural, neat brows, and the perfect pencils and powders that complement them. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to get fabulous brows with ease.
What Do Brow Pencils Do?
Most of us aren’t born with perfectly balanced eyebrows. Whether your eyebrows are full or thin, there are usually a few empty spots or areas where one eyebrow grows and the other doesn’t, leaving your brows looking a little unbalanced.
Brow pencils to the rescue! A brow pencil or powder is used to add subtle color to your brows, giving them shape, correcting areas that are sparse, and helping balance them with one another for unilateral conformity. Brow pencils can polish off the look of natural brow hairs.
Will a Brow Pencil Last All Day?
Brow pencil and powder can definitely last all day, provided it has the right ingredients and is applied correctly. Clean, plant-based ingredients are better for your skin and brows and have natural staying power.
What About Ingredients?
What’s in your brow pencil matters, and unfortunately, most color cosmetics go relatively unchecked in terms of safety.
Here are three ingredients commonly found on the product package or brow pencils that have no place near your eyes.
- Chromium oxide greens. This is often added to pencils for its coloration, but the EWG Skin Deep website states it is a nano-particle material, which can be damaging to the environment and harmful to your body. The FDA doesn’t allow it to be contained in lip products, so why should it be in a brow pencil?
- Phenoxyethanol. This ingredient is a preservative with an unsafe EWG rating. It’s a known irritant and classified as a neurotoxin. Many countries, including Japan, ban the ingredient from cosmetics.
- Polyethylene. This is a plastic polymer (sometimes called a PEG) often added to brow pencils to thicken them and make their application easier. The problem is, they’re classified as a toxin with potential reproductive interference.
In terms of ingredients you do want to see in an eyebrow enhancing product, here are some of the best.
- Vitamin E (tocopherol). This nourishing ingredient keeps skin smooth and works as an emollient. It’s also an antioxidant that helps fight free radical damage that can make you look older.
- Mica. Natural mica is a talc-free alternative that gives brow powders rich pigment and longevity without risking irritation to your skin and eyes.
- Seed oil, beeswax, castor oil, or vegetable oil. Brow products need to supply a little moisture or wax to help shape and tame your brows and prevent the product from flaking away. Cocoa seed butter is nourishing, natural, and helps keep your brows perfectly shaped all day.
It goes without saying, this list isn’t exhaustive. The best way you can make sure your eyebrow pencil and eyebrow powder is safe is by buying from a brand you trust to offer only the cleanest, greenest products.
How Do Brow Pencils and Eyeliner Pencils Differ?
Brow pencils and eyeliners seem like similar products, and in a pinch you can probably use them interchangeably as long as the ingredient lists are both safe to use near your eyes.
However, there are some notable differences.
Eyeliner is typically creamier, thicker, and glides on easier than a brow pencil.
The best brow pencils and powders don’t have a shiny or waxy finish. Eyeliner usually has a glossier finish, which helps draw attention to the lash line.
Eyeliner is thicker than brow pencil. Eyeliner will be applied in a thicker, more precise line than brow pencil, which will be used to draw in thinner lines to help fill in sparse areas of your eyebrows. An ultra-thin micro brow pencil could even be damaging to the fragile skin on your eyelids. These precision brow pencils are created to give the illusion of the finest hairs in your brow, and can also have a very hard tip.
Both brow pencils and eyeliners look similar, and if you’ve ever used one for the other by mistake, you wouldn’t be the first.
Can I Use One in Place of the Other?
We’ve all been there: you leave your brow pencil when you go out of town and stare at your jet black eyeliner, wondering if you can somehow use it to fill in your brows and make it look like the right shade.
While you might be able to use one for the other in a pinch, the precise tip of a brow pencil will typically be too light and too difficult to apply to your lash line, and an eyeliner will likely be about 2-3 shades darker than your brows.
If you forget one or the other, just skip it that day, we promise you will look just fine.
How Do I Use a Brow Pencil?
Brow pencils and powders are used the same way. For this tutorial, we’ll focus on using brow powder and brush.
For application, we love the RMS Beauty Back2Brow application brush. It features two ends:
- A dense brush for sweeping powder up and through the brow for definition
- A spoolie end to shape, diffuse product, and help blend.
Define the Arch of Your Brow
The natural arch of your brow doesn’t need to be drawn on like a cartoon character. Using a little powder, begin gently sweeping through your brow at the arch to define it.
Follow Your Natural Hair Growth
Work outward with your brush toward the end of your brow, continuing to disperse powder throughout your brow. If you end up with areas that are heavier than others, don’t worry, you can blend it with the spoolie when you are done.
Use a Light Touch at the Front To Avoid Making Your Brows Blocky
Eyebrows weren’t meant to look painted on, nor were they meant to look like bookends that frame the space in between in your eyes. Use a light, upward brushing motion in this area to avoid creating unrealistic-looking eyebrows.
Avoid using too much product at the front of your brows; this can make them look too heavy on the inside.
Once you’ve added product, blend, blend blend, and add additional shape using the spoolie end of the brush.
How Do I Make Brow Makeup Look Natural?
Brows that look natural are what will work to complement your face, and it’s easy to create them if you’ve got the right tools.
Choose Lighter Shades
Darker shades will make your brow bone look heavy and angry. Choose a taupe-esque shade lighter than your natural brow color to ensure your brow makeup looks natural. Lighter colors are also more forgiving and easier to disperse into your brows to make more realistic-looking individual brow hairs.
Don’t attempt to match your brow pencil to your hair color. Even if you don’t color your hair, your natural hair color is usually a bit darker than your eyebrows.
Use Smaller Strokes
Broad, sweeping strokes create clumps of product and a crayon-like effect. Small, short strokes give the illusion of individual brow hairs. This will create fine lines that look more realistic.
Use Product To Fill Your Brows Rather Than Re-Shape Them
Tracing an outline of what you wish your brows looked like is generally a bad idea that will result in brows that don’t look natural. Instead, use brow powder to fill in areas that aren’t as dense. Don’t fight the natural growth of your brows or you’ll end up with brows that don’t match your face.
The Bottom Line
Eyebrow pencils and powders are essentials for any makeup bag, and learning to use them doesn’t take a lot of practice or pro tips. Beautiful brows start with the right shades of cruelty-free, vegan, and non-toxic brow products and a little know-how.
For full beautiful brows on a sparse brows budget, trust the natural look RMS Beauty Back2Brow Powder provides.
EWG Skin Deep|What is Chromium Oxide Greens
EWG Skin Deep® | What is PHENOXYETHANOL
The Dirty Dozen: PEG Compounds and their contaminants - David Suzuki Foundation