The 5 Best Brow Pencils of 2023, Tested & Reviewed

It’s giving Brooke Shields

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Best Brow Pencils Lead

People / Tamara Staples

Eyebrows may not feel like the most important part of your beauty routine, but when styled right, they can be absolute showstoppers. From bold brows like those worn by Cara Delevingne and Lily Collins to trendy bleached brows rocked by Amelia Hamlin, the Hadid sisters, and Kendall Jenner at this year’s Met Gala, eyebrows are a statement piece for the face.

We tested 38 eyebrow pencils from the most popular makeup brands to compare the texture, usability, pigment, and performance of each. After fluffing, tinting, and prepping our brows using these beauty products, we created a list of the five best eyebrow pencils for beautiful arches.

For added measure, PEOPLE sat down with celebrity eyebrow specialist Joey Healy to gain insights about the best techniques for using eyebrow pencils. “There are three looks that pencils are really good for,” Healy tells us. “One is a slick architectural look... another [is] that faux feathery look, and you can even do that ombré kind of brow where it gets darker as you get further up to the tail.” He explains that you can use eyebrow pencils to create each look using different angles, strokes, and blending techniques.

Whether you’re going glam for a night out or keeping things natural for a quick Target run, these were considered the best eyebrow pencils that PEOPLE Tested.

RELATED: Julia Fox Reveals Her New Bleached Eyebrows Are Giving Her a 'False Sense of Anonymity'

Best Overall

Charlotte Tilbury Brow Cheat Refillable Hair-Like Eyebrow Pencil

  • The Charlotte Tilbury Brow Cheat Refillable Hair-Like Eyebrow Pencil features a rich pigment, precise application, and a design that makes maneuvering around your brows a breeze.

  • The shade range could be more extensive.

As a writer for PEOPLE, I usually live behind the computer screen, but as a lover of all things brows, I participated in the eyebrow pencil test (IRL!) as one of the testers. It was love at first swipe when I brushed the Charlotte Tilbury eyebrow pencil over my brows. As one of several testers for this batch of beauty goodies, I got a close look at this sleek rose gold pencil. I loved its smooth application, solid texture, and rich pigment (yours truly has dark brows!).

The body of the pencil was comfortable to grip and maneuvered easily along the brow bone, and the angled tip created precision with each stroke. “Pencils can be great because you can really define the brow,” says Healy. “You can heighten an arch, you can extend a tail, and you can create a really tight definition.” The pencil also felt quite sturdy — it didn’t drag at all or seem like it would break with extended use. The color is pigmented, but not enough to make it obvious that your brows are filled in. You only have to apply each stroke once for a natural look, filling in gaps between hairs. But, you can also layer it to create a full structured brow for glam makeup.

This pencil gives a matte finish, so it doesn’t distract from the rest of your makeup. And if your brows are curly (raises hand!), it also has a spoolie on the end to brush them into place before applying the tint.

The only drawback is there are only eight shades available — from light blonde to natural black — and it would be more inclusive to have more lighter shades available as well as gray and red tones.. The price is consistent with other brow pencils, and considering the quality of this option (near-perfect score in testing!), it’s an ideal eyebrow pencil to add to your makeup routine.

Price at time of publish: $45

Shades 8
Pigment Rich
Finish Matte
Uses Shaping, filling
Best for  Thick or thin brows, structured brows
Refillable  Yes 

Best Budget

e.l.f. Instant Lift Brow Pencil

  • This affordable eyebrow pencil lets you fill in any gaps along your brow with its creamy texture, natural-looking pigment, and easy application.

  • There are only five shades in the range.

Designed with a marker-like tip, this eyebrow pencil is perfect for filling in your brows. Our tester has thicker eyebrows and appreciated the heavier texture which applied smooth color between each hair. “It’s the right amount of pigment, not overly heavy, but saturated enough to actually fill in my brows,” she said.

The saturated pigment of this pencil makes it a great tool for the ombré style brow. Healy says you can create an ombré look “by blending more in the front and less on the end,” — creating a light to dark look from the center of your eyebrow to the tail. 

Our tester had no trouble gripping the pencil and maneuvering it across her brow. Once her brows were thoroughly filled, our tester praised this pencil for not leaving any gaps. “The color I used was deep brown, and a little dark for me, but it still looked natural,” she observed. Though the small shade range (five colors!) makes it difficult to get a perfect shade match, it’s not a deal breaker.

“I would definitely recommend this one, especially considering the price,” said our tester. It earned a high score in all of our tests, and we think this is a solid eyebrow pencil for someone with a lower budget. And it’ll save you from creasing your brows because you won’t be  frowning at the price!

Price at time of publish: $3

Shades 5
Pigment Medium
Finish Natural
Uses Filling in gaps, creating definition
Best for  Thick brows, ombré brows
Refillable  Yes 

Best Splurge

Gucci Crayon Définition Sourcils Powder Eyebrow Pencil

  • This luxury eyebrow pencil creates a smooth, creamy finish that can line your brows or fill them in seamlessly, and comes with a spoolie and a sharpener.

  • The rich pigment and wide tip makes it difficult to create natural hair strokes.

You may not be an Italian heiress, but that doesn’t mean you can’t channel Lady Gaga’s eyebrows from House of Gucci. This Gucci powder eyebrow pencil creates an oscar-worthy brow perfect for a full glam look. Its creamy texture glides across the brow, and feels lightweight on the skin. The pigment is dark, and perfect for outlining and filling in gaps in the brows. 

Our tester felt that the traditional pencil end was too wide to create natural-looking hair strokes because she has thinner brows, but the sharpener (included!) can help create a finer point. “It [wouldn’t] be my go-to if I’m looking for a natural look, but definitely something I would pick for glam,” she said. 

This pencil tint locked in place, and even when our tester rubbed her brows repeatedly, “there was absolutely no smudging,” she said. This is a premium pencil that can give you dramatic eyebrows for a price that’s not too much higher than others on our list.

Price at time of publish: $33

Shades 6
Pigment Rich
Finish Creamy
Uses Shaping, filling in gaps
Best for  Thick brows, structured brows
Refillable  No

Best for Thin Brows

Too Faced Super Fine Brow Detailer Eyebrow Pencil

  • This eyebrow pencil is ideal for thin brows because its angled tip and medium pigment create precise strokes that blend in with your natural hair.

  • The shade range is limited.

Our tester loved the “buttery feel” of the Too Faced eyebrow pencil. “It’s smooth and silky on my skin, easy to use, and did not break at all,” she said. The medium pigment makes this pencil light enough to look natural, but it’s buildable and creates a darker tone when layered. 

The design of this pencil made it easy to apply, especially with the twist applicator. It also has a spoolie on the end to help brush hairs into place before applying the color. “It gives a great pop to my face and looks natural and smooth on my brows,” said our tester.

Though this product has eight different shades, we feel there could be more options for lighter eyebrows. Our tester also noticed there was some smudging after brushing her finger along the brow bone. Overall, we believe this is a great everyday eyebrow pencil for thin natural strokes and for shaping the brow.

Price at time of publish: $25

Shades 8
Pigment Medium
Finish Matte
Uses Shaping, filling in with small strokes
Best for  Thin brows, feathered brows
Refillable  Yes
Too Faced Super Fine Brow Detailer Eyebrow Pencil

People / Tamara Staples

Best for a Natural Look


  • This sleek eyebrow pencil offers an angled tip and light pigment perfect for creating natural buildable color.

  • Once again, the shade range could be more extensive.

Kylie delivered with this “kybrow” pencil and frankly, I was impressed. As the tester for this pencil, I was a little nervous because the pigment is fairly light, and my eyebrows, alas, are not. However, the color surprised me with how buildable it is, allowing me to darken the hair strokes by making several passes, and still retaining a natural look.

I prefer the feathered look, which Healy says you can create by “making little feathery strokes in an upward flick-like motion, mimicking the direction of the hair growth.” He suggests also using a spoolie for a soft blend that helps achieve a natural look. 

Operating like a standard pencil, this product was easy to grip and swipe across my brow, getting under the arch and along the tail. The texture was smooth, not overly creamy or grainy, and the pencil seemed sturdy like it wouldn’t break with extended use.

Though there are only six shades (some variety couldn’t hurt!), the low price and high quality make this eyebrow pencil a great value. Brush on a hint of this tint, and your brows will achieve the no-makeup makeup look with an effortlessly natural appearance.

Price at time of publish: $16

Shades 6
Pigment Light
Finish Natural
Uses Filling in between gaps with natural strokes
Best for  Thick or thin brows, feathered brows
Refillable  Yes

People / Tamara Staples

Things to Consider Before Buying Eyebrow Pencils


The first thing to consider is what’s in an eyebrow pencil. “All pencils have wax in them, and waxes are really what makes the brow pencil form into a stick,” says Healy. “You want to look for high-quality waxes. Something that our brow architects deal with is the type of wax called carnauba wax.” He praises the wax for being an emulsifying agent, emollient thickener, and hypoallergenic — which basically means its high quality and performs well. Another thing to watch for is claims of being “waterproof.” Healy explains that “water-resistant” is sufficient because “waterproof” can mean materials that make the color hard to remove, causing damage to your brow hairs. 

Color Matching

When selecting a tint for your eyebrows, the general rule is to go either slightly lighter than your natural hair color, or match the exact shade. (But it’s your face, so if you want dark brown brows and light blonde hair, that’s okay too!) Most makeup brands have between five and ten shades to choose from (like classic blondes, browns, and blacks) so you may need to try more than one shade — or even layer two — to get an exact match.

Brow Type

Though a good eyebrow pencil can change the shape and fullness of your brows, you should still keep your brow type in mind when selecting the right pencil. Some are designed with thin angled tips to add volume with hairlike strokes in sparse brows, and others have a thicker tip to fill in gaps and create more of a shaded-in brow.


Some applicators come with spoolie on the end to brush and shape the hair before applying color to your brows. “Don’t ignore the spoolie side because it does help you control the color,” says Healy. “Sometimes I think of the two sides as ‘addition’ and ‘subtraction.’ Addition with the pencil lead, and subtraction with the spoolie, which helps you soften and blend.” Others have traditional pencil tips (need sharpening) vs. cream-based refillable tips that glide along the brow. The refillable tips are usually narrow and better for shaping and creating precise lines, and the thicker pencil tips are better-suited for filling in gaps and creating dimension.


You can do a lot with your brows if you just set your mind and your pencil to it. Whether you want your brows tight and arched or loose and feathery, the right pencil can help you achieve your desired look. Pro tip? “Less is more,” says Healy, adding that you only need a little color and blending out the pencil will help it last longer.


People / Tamara Staples

How We Tested Eyebrow Pencils

During a day of glam in our Manhattan lab, 10 beauty testers (including this writer!) got to work on our brows with 38 of the best eyebrow pencils on the market (designer! celebrity lines! drugstore!). We tried them all, testing for texture and feel, pigment, shade range, and ease of application.

First, we drew a couple of practice strokes on the back of our hands to see the texture and pigment up close, as well as get a sense of the feel. Was the pencil gritty? Creamy? Fragile? Sturdy? Did it smudge when we rubbed it with our fingers? Each were scored accordingly. We then applied the pencils to our brows, mimicking hairlike strokes, filling in the arch and tail, and addressing  any remaining gaps. For the pencils that came with spoolies, we used the brushes to help smooth out the hair and spread the color. Then we considered how easy it was to apply, and of course, how it looked. Some pigments were too dark, others too light, and some… just right. The last consideration was the shade range, and, in some cases, the lack thereof. Was it easy to find a shade match? Is there a large enough variety? Our top picks ranked well in each of these categories, earning their spot on our list (and in our makeup drawers!).

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How long do eyebrow pencils last?

    Eyebrow pencils can last up to 1 year. If you tend to use your pencil everyday, it will surely need to be replaced before then.

  • How do you make your eyebrow pencil stay all day?

    Try these tips increase the lifespan of your eyebrows. First, after applying foundation, blush, highlighter, and bronzer, use an oil-absorbing face powder to prime the eyebrow area. Use a waterproof eyebrow pencil and use an eyebrow gel or sealer as the final step.

  • Can eyebrow pencils cause acne?

    While eyebrow pencils can cause acne, they are not as likely as gels and pomades to block hair follicles and cause irritation. The best way to prevent acne from makeup products is to remove makeup and deep clean your face every night.

  • What makes eyebrow hair grow?

    Allowing your eyebrows time to grow, generally eating a nutritious diet, and paying a bit of extra attention to the area can help promote hair growth. Here are a few ideas to try. Massaging your eyebrow area daily can promote circulation which helps with healthy growth, try adding a small amount of olive oil. There are eyebrow serums specifically formulated to help with growth. Avoid overplucking eyebrows with tweezers. Eating a diet rich in biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins will help provide the nutrients and minerals your body needs to grow healthy hair.

What Is People Tested?

We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.

But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.

In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.

Want more product recommendations? Check out all of our People Tested content.

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