Okay—you want groomed and defined brows without breaking the bank or settling for less-than-perfect quality from the products you're using. The good news is that there are thousands of low-cost, high-quality eyebrow pencils at your disposal. The bad news is that sifting through them takes time, effort, and energy that you don't have. For some people, finding an exemplary eyebrow pencil requires trial and error. For you, however, the process of elimination can come more easily with the help of customer reviews, expert advice, and a beauty editor who has tested each product for you.
Below, I'm providing you with the best tips, tricks, and product recommendations to cut down the time on your product hunt and expand your chances of finding your product pairing. Sure, it can be just like dating, but in this case, you have the help of a brutally honest critic and glowing reviews. If that sparks your interest, read on to discover Who What Wear's ultimate guide to the best drugstore eyebrow pencils money can buy. Your brows and your wallet deserve it.
Creating Perfect Brows
Like any other makeup product, the formulas in eyebrow pencils can make or break any makeup look (yes, even when it's done by a pro with extensive knowledge). In addition to an affordable price point, shoppers should be on the lookout for eyebrow pencils with creamy, hydrating formulas that, when applied to the skin, glide effortlessly over it without tugging the surface. Most of the options you'll see below are dual-ended, multifunctional products with a fine pencil tip on one side and a spoolie on the other to shape and further define your brows.
I generally prefer eyebrow pencils that are mechanical, allowing me to conserve product where I can and store it however I see fit. Take notice of the shape of the tip: Is it a triangle, slightly slanted to one side, or defined and small? An eyebrow pencil's tip contributes to the definition of the brow, creating precise lines and coating the hairs with product for added pigment.
When it comes to application, using your pinky for stabilization and letting your applicator glide smoothly and steadily across the skin helps avoid shaky application or rogue marks from the pencil. Try starting off by making light-handed strokes in the direction of your natural hair growth, darkening only as needed to get that natural-looking finish.
Now that you have a running start, check out a few of my favorite drugstore eyebrow pencils below!
Best Overall: Maybelline Express Brow Ultra Slim Eyebrow Pencil
When I need to get my eyebrows in check, this Maybelline eyebrow pencil does the trick. It uses an ultra-slim pencil to effortlessly draw on precise, hairlike strokes and a built-in spoolie to shape and blend.
Customer review: "The best eyebrow pencil. I am amazed by the quality of this product for the price. It is comparable to the expensive brands and lasts all day. Do not sleep on this product!"
Pro: Features a break-resistant formula and built-in spoolie brush
Best Waterproof: Revlon Colorstay Brow Pencil
The staying power of this brow pencil is unparalleled. Revlon's Colorstay Brow Pencil creates fine and precise strokes for a hairlike finish that stays put for up to 14 hours of waterproof wear.
Customer review: "This pencil goes on lightly, so it appears quite natural. The built-in brush blends it in well. If you want it to go on darker, just press harder. I was able to match my hair/skin tone on the first try. I’m planning on buying another."
Pro: Glides on smoothly and easily
Con: Micro-tip is thin and breakable
Best Smudge-Proof: Milani Stay Put Precision Brow Pencil
I'll always love a good smoky eye on other people, but I swear by a smudge-free makeup look for myself. Milani's Stay Put Precision Brow Pencil is my smudge-proof tool of choice thanks to its pigmented, blendable formula and ultra-fine tip.
Customer review: "This pencil is amazing! I have naturally black hair, but this shade of brown is just dark enough to blend in but not be too noticeably different. It goes on smoothly and doesn't smudge throughout the day. I have oily skin and this formula stays well."
Pro: Available in six shades to match all brow tones
Best for a Natural-Looking Finish: Physician's Formula Slim Brow Pencil
Are you on the hunt for a pencil that keeps your brows in check without ending up with a Sharpie-like finish? This retractable brow pencil creates precise hair strokes and is ideal for spot-filling gaps for fluffy and defined brows.
Customer review: "This pencil is so versatile!! I use it as an eyeliner and a brow liner and it doesn't smudge/get everywhere, even after a full day of wear. I normally use it to stencil out where my black eyeliner is going to go and this step has been a game changer for me."
Pro: Mechanical (no sharpening needed)
Con: Limited shade availability
Best for Blondes: Nyx Professional Makeup Vegan Micro Eyebrow Pencil
Can we take a moment to praise how many shades are offered for this vegan eyebrow pencil? Blondes can count on this product evenly coating even the finest hairs with color to shape, define, and fill your brows.
Customer review: "This is my go-to brow pencil! Not too creamy, the pencil is thin and easy to use and since the actual brown tint is so thin, you can really give the illusion of individual eyebrow hairs. Love it!"
Pro: Features a creamy, long-wearing formula
Con: Product finishes quickly
Best for Brunettes: E.l.f. Cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil
My fellow brunettes, this one is for you. E.l.f.'s Instant Lift Brow Pencil delivers natural, polished-looking brows using a dual-ended design featuring a fine-tip liner and a spoolie to help you pull off a flawless arch.
Customer review: "I've bought many eyebrow products and I keep going back and repurchasing this one. I like how it goes on smooth and dispenses just the right intensity of color. The pencil isn't too thin or thick too. It's the perfect, easy-to-use brow pencil."
Con: Breaks easily with pressure applied
Best Cruelty-Free Option: Rimmel Kind & Free Brow Definer
This pencil has a 1.7-millimeter tip for precise application, lending to groomed, natural-looking brows. The best part? It's completely vegan and cruelty-free and formulated with no added fragrances or minerals.
Customer review: "The best brow brush ever! I’ve used a ton of different ones before and this one is the perfect color for my dark brown brows and the brush is perfect to blend it in. The tip is defined and small so it will continue to stay small and be useful. Definitely recommend!"
Pro: Formula is vegan and cruelty-free
Con: Slight smudging throughout the day
Best for Sparse Brows: Wet n Wild Ultimate Eyebrow Retractable Definer Pencil
If you have sparse eyebrows, Wet n Wild has you covered with this pencil. Its retractable triangle tip uses a rub-resistant formula that coats the hairs with a blend of pigment and palm wax for long-lasting color.
Customer review: "This is an excellent product. It stays put and lasts a while in comparison to some higher-end products I tried in the past. It does not smudge. The slanted tip makes it easy to put on in one swipe. The brush is great as well. I would recommend this product!"
Pro: Does not feel waxy or oily
Con: Smudges with all-day wear
Best for Beginners: Burt's Bees Brow Pencil
Yes, applying makeup to your eyebrows for the first time may be daunting, but using the right products makes all the difference in your experience. The Burt's Bees Brow Pencil easily fills, defines, and shapes brows with a 99.9% natural-derived formula crafted using jojoba oil and shea butter.
Customer review: "I am really amazed by this product! It goes on easily and smoothly and the brush end blends everything together beautifully. I like a more natural eyebrow look which can be difficult for me to achieve with a lot of products, but this pencil can go on as soft or dark as I want. Really great!"
Pro: Formulated for delicate area around the eyes
Con: Pencil becomes dull quickly after use
Best for Oily Skin: Morphe Brown Dual-Ended Pencil & Spoolie
If you have oily skin, there's a good chance you've experienced your makeup slipping and sliding away throughout the day. Morphe's dual-ended mechanical pencil utilizes a hard-wax formula that provides long-lasting, buildable color without tugging on the skin.
Customer review: "The best brow pencil around!! I can't believe how affordable it is too. Soft application yet does not smudge. All day wear I've gotten so many compliments! Absolute gem."
Pro: Extremely pigmented
Con: Drying formula