Out of all the makeup we use on a daily basis, brow gel gives us the biggest hit of instant satisfaction. It never fails to amaze us how something as simple as running a teeny mascara wand through our brows can take them from shapeless blobs to works of art. Even when we’re not wearing any other makeup, a swipe of gel always makes us feel more put-together. We bet you feel the same way, so we’ve rounded up the most popular brow gels (purchasable below) and dish on what makes them worthy of a spot in your makeup bag.
Best for Beginners and Unfussy Types:
Benefit Gimme Brow + Volumizing Eyebrow Gel
If you’re new to styling your brows (or if you just need something basic to zhuzh them up), Benefit Gimme Brow + Brow-Volumizing Eyebrow Gel is a great place to start. It shapes and defines with a hint of pigment (but not too much!) and a soft, flexible hold that doesn’t feel crunchy. It’s easy to apply and the effect is subtle and natural-looking. It also comes in an impressive range of 10 shades, so everyone from redheads to silver foxes will find something that works.
Best for Big, Bold Brows:
Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Gel
Our next contestant is not for the feint of heart. Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Gel is one of the most pigmented brow gels we’ve tried, which is excellent if you a) want a full-beat Instagram brow or b) have thin, faintly coloured hairs that need some pigment to show up. The gel transfers to the skin as you swipe, filling in the spaces between individual hairs and mimicking the look of thick brows. Because of the pigmentation, application can be a bit tricky—this is not a product we’d recommend applying in a rush—but the payoff is worth it.
Best for Soap Brows (Without Soap):
Surratt Beauty Expressionista Brow Pomade
By now, you’ve probably seen soap brows in your Instagram feed. It’s a makeup artist’s technique where you use a toothbrush and a bar of soap to paste your brow hairs in place for a fluffy, feathery effect. Surratt Beauty Expressionista Brow Pomade offers soap brows but with sexier packaging. The toothbrush-like wand grabs every hair (even the coarse, unruly ones), and the pomade formula gives a nice amount of hold without getting crunchy, sticky or flaky.
Best for Shaping and Defining:
Hourglass Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel
This formula does a solid job of adding fullness, colour and hold, but what really stands out is the brush. It has two sides—one with short bristles and one with long bristles—which makes it perfect for distributing the product and adding definition exactly where you want it. We like using the shorter edge of the wand for the front of the brows (aka the “sprouts”) where we need more control and coverage, and then running the longer side through the rest of the brows to put everything in its place. If having every hair in its place is important to you, give this one a try.
Best for Volume and Thickness:
Tom Ford Fiber Brow Gel
Most brow gels talk about adding volume, but Tom Ford Fibre Brow Gel really hits the mark. The texture of this gel is thick and moussey, thanks to a ton of tiny fibres that cling to individual brow hairs and make it look like you have more than you actually do. It also helps fill in sparse brows to create a full set of natural looking brows. One swipe and the colour tints your eyebrow hairs and keeps them in place. It does go on quite thick, so be careful not to apply too much at once! Compared to other brow gels on the market, it’s not exactly cheap, but the generously sized tube lasts a long time.
Best for Structuring and Nourishing:
Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Brows Eyebrow Gel
This is a one-step brow wonder. The little gold tube and its magical mascara-style wand glides on easily, which instantly makes your face look a hundred times more put together without looking too done-done. The gel is enriched with nourishing vitamin E and adds structure to create full, defined brows. There are four shades, including a clear one that sculpts but showcases your natural eyebrow colour. We’re also in love with this applicator:It has a long, super-skinny spoolie, so we’re able to brush the gel onto individual hairs and small sections of brows, giving them a more natural, gradual-looking shade – and a shine that rivals a horse’s mane.
Best for Bushy Brows and Sculpting:
Glossier Boy Brow
When you want that on-the-go, 15-second brow pick-me-up, Glossier’s Boy Brow will never fail. The gel is a two-in-one: one-part tint, one-part gel. It’s also more on the waxy side, so it thickens brow hairs while keeping them looking natural and full. This gel does the job of keeping eyebrow hairs in place perfectly without leaving behind a hard texture. There’s no pilling effect with this gel, and it doesn’t turn white when reapplying or brushing through brows once they’re dry. The tight spoolie is perfect for precisely applying wax and grooming unruly hair while also thickening and shaping the brow. It also comes in a travel-friendly size, which is a total lifesaver for an on-the-go makeup bag.