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Cara Delevigne, eyebrow queen. Photo: Getty.
Cara Delevigne, eyebrow queen. Photo: Getty.

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The Complete Guide to Perfect, Natural-Looking Brows

Six products for six different levels of eyebrow expertise.

A couple of weeks ago, someone told me that they like my eyebrows because they look natural, instead of plucked and penciled to perfection. I should have taken this as a compliment, but of course, my first response was "What do you mean my eyebrows aren't perfect?"

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I get it, though. There's a fine line between filling in your brows and overdrawing them, making them ideal for Instagram but not so much for your everyday life. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of overdoing it in every aspect of life, but there's definitely an art to doing your brows just enough. Trouble is, not every brow product gives you versatility to build your brows the way you want to. Some only give you one end result: Severe. So I gathered six different products for six different skill levels that will give us all better brows, and, in turn, better lives.

The Brow Newbie: Lancome Sourcils Tint ($26)

The newly launched Lancome Sourcils Tint is a felt-tipped pen that is perfect for drawing in individual strands of hair (which is less time-consuming than it sounds.) The sheer ink from the fine-tipped marker darkens as you layer it, giving the illusion of natural baby brow hairs.

If you're new to enhancing your brows, this marker is a great place to start. It's also a great option if you're looking for a product that's not going to budge. It's fast drying, and once it has set, it's not going anywhere. After all, there are few things scarier than fussing with your bangs only to discover that you just wiped off your eyebrow. Learn from my mistakes.

Lancome Sourcils Tint is available in blonde, a lighter red brown, an ash brown, and black.

The Brow Amateur: MAC Eye Brows ($16)

You're going to find an eyebrow pencil in every makeup collection, and you may already have a favorite. This selection from MAC is the standout when it comes to both form and function.

This is another tool that allows you versatile results. You can subtly enhance your brows with just a few light dashes of the pencil, giving you soft coverage that blends in with your natural hair. Or, with just a bit more applied pressure, you can fill in patchy spots, draw more defined edges, or sharpen your arch. Some pencils are too dense, dragging on your skin and putting up a fight. MAC's pencil responds beautifully to how you choose to apply it. In my experience, it always gives me as much or as little coverage as I want on my first try. In short, it works like a good pencil should.

Even better, the pencil itself is a twist-up, so you won't have to carry a sharpener around with you. I always have too much extraneous shit in my bag already, so for me, any product that needs a sharpener is an automatic no, regardless of how good it might be. The added bonus of the twist-up pencil is that the tip is thin enough to stay fine, so you'll never find yourself going at your brows with a blunt object.

The Brow Enthusiast: IT Cosmetics Brow Power Waterproof Perfector ($24)

This multi-purpose brow tool gives you all the best parts of a cream or pomade along with the precision of a pencil. Whether you're looking to define the shape of your brow, lengthen the tail, or make it fuller, this is your first step to really manipulating size and shape.

My favorite way to use it is to go in and softly fill in places where my brows are more sparse, dotting on the pencil and then diffusing the color with the spoolie brush on the opposite end. From there, I go around the edges and even things out. You can really get a lot out of this pencil with just a little use. It's also great for drawing on a beauty mark, but you didn't hear that from me.

Available in four shades, the Brow Power Waterproof Perfector is especially ideal for people with lighter hair, brows, and skin because the blonde and auburn shades are flattering against fair tones. Also, when it says "waterproof," it means it. After using it to do my brows, I swatched all four colors on my hand and they were still there after doing the dishes and taking a shower. They didn't budge at all.

The Brow Control Freak: Urban Decay Brow Box ($29)

Pencils are great for effortless application, but if you prefer having maximum control, you're looking for a custom shade, and you like a bit of blendability, you might want to reach for a powder. Available in two shade duos, this little box is your all-in-one kit for perfect brows, and it fits in the palm of your hand. This is the kit Batman would keep in his utility belt for when he needed to touch up his brows right quick.

There are two pans of powder, a light and a dark, plus wax for shaping, two small angled brushes, tweezers, and two mirrors. You can seriously use this box to do your brows anywhere.

The two tiny brushes probably aren't ideal for applying your makeup in the comfort of your own home, but they get the job done when you're on the subway, in a bathroom stall, or wherever you find yourself needing them. You can blend your own shade of powder or use the powders to mimic the coloring of your natural brows. The powder is dense, but applies and diffuses out nicely, so whether you're looking for just a subtle wash of color or more intense coverage, you'll be able to achieve it.

The Brow Addict: IT Cosmetics Build-A-Brow Waterproof 5-in-1 Micro Fiber Crème Gel Stain ($24)

You're comfortable with perfecting your brows—addicted almost. And now you're looking for your new fix. The IT Cosmetics Build-A-Brow Waterproof 5-in-1 Micro Fiber Crème is your gateway to the harder stuff. This cream does the job of a shaping wax, a powder, and a setting gel all in one.

While this brow cream is among the top tier of brow products, it's not going to leave you looking like an over-filtered Instagram model or a drag queen (and I say that with nothing but love, since like two-thirds of my friends are drag queens. If anyone can do a good brow...)

Of all of the creams and pomades that I've tried, this one is the creamiest and most malleable, giving you intensity where you need it but allowing you to blend it out where you don't. My biggest worry when filling in my brows, especially with a product like this, is overdoing it and making them too harsh. Even when using the darkest shade of this cream, I found it gave me enough time to diffuse any hard lines and blend to look natural before it set.

Taking a stiff angled brush, I draw under the lower line of my brows, filling in any spots where they're uneven. Then, I take the remaining product on the brush and, using short strokes, brush backward toward the inner corner of my brow (closest to my nose) where the hair is most sparse. This fills in the brows, making them more prominent without creating any hard corners. After this, I might drag the brush down the tail of the brow, defining the outer corner where they tend to lose the plot.

The Brow Bad Girl: MAC Brow Set ($17)

Even if you DGAF about brows, or really don't care to add them to the list of things you need to "do" in the morning, you'd do well to keep a tube of MAC's Brow Set in your purse. It's such a good product that it's almost unfair that I saved it for last. It's a tinted brow gel that helps shape brows and keep them in place, while making them look fuller and more sculpted.

The gel itself is very thin, thinner than a mascara, so it glides on evenly without any clumping and layers without getting heavy or building up. While it's not going to give you the sharp definition that a pencil would, since the product is clinging to your brow hairs instead of being drawn onto your skin, it helps shape and fill your brows in seconds, making them look fuller but still natural. And it wears beautifully all day. MAC'S Brow Set is available in three tints and a clear gel that would suit all shades.


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