If you aren’t blessed with naturally thick brows, the past several years of brow looks have probably been a bit of a headache. No matter how much you love the look of dark, strong brows, if your hair just doesn’t lend itself to that, it can start to make you self-conscious.
And while sometimes you can feel a bit dramatic when you’re in a Google-hole of how best to embolden your brows, you’re definitely not! Eyebrows actually have a serious impact on how we perceive other people’s faces and are key when it comes to recognizing one another. So if you’re cultivating a signature look… you might want to start at the top.
Especially when many brow products are targeted toward emphasizing the appearance of the brows you already have, if you don’t have the brow hair to pull off the look to begin with, finding a way to get the perfect brows can feel like beating your head against the wall.
Enter long-term solutions like microblading and eyebrow tinting. These options have become increasingly popular over the past few years, offering results that last anywhere from weeks to years. And although that can be really appealing if a long, involved makeup routine isn’t really your vibe, these professional treatments can be expensive and come with a not-insignificant list of possible side effects if your body doesn’t get along with the ingredients or if your technician isn’t as skilled and trustworthy as you’d hoped.
There’s also a bit of a healing process involved when it comes to microblading! We don’t say this to knock these treatments—they can be amazing!—we just mean that they aren’t for everybody.
So what’s left if you’re still lusting after that bold brow look and you can’t find your way with powders, gels, or professional treatments? We think it just might be eyebrow pens.
What Are Eyebrow Pens?
Eyebrow pens are exactly what they sound like! While brow pencils may be familiar, much like pencil eyeliner versus eyeliner pens, eyebrow pens tend to be better for precision. They also are often a bit sheerer in color than pencils, so not only can you draw finer hairs, but they look more natural because they aren’t as bold. And while that may sound counterintuitive if your dream brows happen to be thick AF, it’s actually not. Just as naturally full brows don’t look like a single piece because they’re formed of many, many tiny hairs, eyebrow pens allow you to create a more natural look.
They aren’t permanent or semi-permanent like the treatments we’ve mentioned above, and their staying power is only as good as your makeup remover. But they’ll get you through a day (or two, with proper precautions!) like any other cosmetic, so if you keep frowning at your own image on your Zoom calls, eyebrow pens may be the perfect solution.
What Color Eyebrow Pen Should You Choose?
Before you even think about what kind of eyebrow pen is right for you, you may be wondering how you pick the right color to match your hair and your complexion. It’s pretty easy, although not necessarily as intuitive as you may assume! It’s important to give this part of the process some thought first because not every brand and type of eyebrow pen will have the right color for you.
You’ll want to consider what your undertones are. Of course, you know if you’re blonde or brunette or whatever your main hair color might be, but within those categories, there are tones ranging from cool to neutral to warm. This will help determine whether you’re looking for more of a cool, ash brown or a warm auburn, for instance.
You’ll also want to think about your hair’s texture. If your hair is thick and dense in texture, a dark and bold brow will work well. If your hair is finer, you might want to lighten up a bit so as to avoid clashing with your natural tendencies.
Whatever your hair color and texture, if bold brows are your goal, it may be tempting to reach for a darker shade of brow pen to get that look, but there’s a twist! You’ll actually want to go one to two shades lighter than your natural hair color.
Of course, some people rock much darker brows or bleached brows or any manner of other colors that have nothing to do with their natural hair color, and if that’s your vibe, we say go for it. This is more advice if you’re going for a natural look.
What Kind of Eyebrow Pens Are There?
Once you’ve figured out what color your brow pen should be to some extent, you’ll want to think about what kind of eyebrow pen is best suited to you. There are really two main kinds of eyebrow pens and the difference comes down to the tip of the pen.
Some eyebrow pens have a singular, thin, precise tip. They look really similar to an eyeliner pen or gel eyeliner if you’ve ever used that! These pens are perfect if you’re looking for a more structured brow. They give you a lot more maneuverability and the ability to place every brow hair very specifically to create your desired shape.
They’re also a great option if your brows are thinner than you’d like, but not quite what you’d call sparse—if tinted gels or other more one-stop-shop options for filling in your brows leave you looking too bold, working a precision-tip eyebrow pen into your routine will do wonders.
On the other hand, some eyebrow pens take more of a pronged approach. Pens like our TatBrow® Microblade Pen offer a look similar to microblading like the name implies. But instead of costing an arm and a leg, not to mention being slightly painful, these eyebrow pens just offer you a new way to fill in your eyebrows.
Such eyebrow pens usually have a pronged, fork-like type that enables them to create multiple precise, hair-like strokes in a single swipe. If your brows are super thin and could really use some love—or if statement brows are your thing—a microblade pen is an amazing way to get the look you want while still looking natural and soft. It also saves a lot of time if there’s a lot of work to be done on your brows by drawing multiple hairs at a time. Your (lack of) carpal tunnel will thank you!
We’d also recommend ensuring your eyebrow pen is water-resistant. That way, it’ll definitely stay in place throughout the day, and even last up to twenty-four hours if you avoid scrubbing it off with your usual makeup remover. Have you ever gone camping or done something equally outdoorsy, only to be disappointed by how you look in the pictures on day two? Yeah, not anymore.
How Do You Use Eyebrow Pens?
Using eyebrow pens is actually super easy, so if you aren’t a dab hand with makeup, no need to worry. It’s actually much easier than using other types of brow fillers, like powders and pencils, because it gives you a lot more precision and a softer, more natural finish, no matter how bold you end up going.
The first thing you’ll want to do when it comes to filling in your brows is to give some thought to your ideal brow shape. There are many ways to do this. The easiest is probably getting your brows professionally maintained, whether that’s waxing or threading. That way, a trusted professional will be able to talk you through the best brow shape for your face and do all of the work for you.
If you’re more of a DIY kinda gal, we’d definitely recommend looking into brow mapping. Brow mapping is actually a super simple process—it just sounds like a high school subject you wanted to nap through—that will help you figure out your ideal brow shape so you know not only how to groom your brows, but how to fill them in with your eyebrow pen. It’s really just three steps!
- Angle a pencil or brush from the corner of your nose to the inside of your eye. That’s where your brow starts.
- Angle a pencil or brush from the corner of your nose to the middle of your eye. That should be your arch!
- Angle a pencil or brush from the corner of your nose to the outer edge of your eye. That’s where your brows ought to end.
By mapping your brows, you can figure out the most flattering shape for your face. There is, of course, some personal preference involved here—if you map your brows and you don’t really like the shape that suggests, you don’t have to use it! Go with your gut here; brow mapping is merely a guide.
Once you know the shape you’d like to create for your brows, and you’ve groomed them as much (or as little!) as you’d like to, it’s time to get to work with your eyebrow pen. If you’ve just tweezed your brows, make sure to give them a quick once over with a wet or dry washcloth to make sure there aren’t any lingering hairs throwing off your shape.
You’ll want to start by drawing your lines from the inside out. At the start, you’ll want to draw your lines going upwards—this mimics the natural growth of your hair. You can draw as many or as few lines as you’d like! We’d recommend going easy to start with, as it’s much easier to add than remove your hard work.
That said—and we know this sounds contradictory—if you’re planning to use both a precision-tip pen and a pen that mimics microblading to get your perfect brows, we’d recommend starting with the microblade pen. That way, you’ll be able to craft the majority of your shape with the more substantial pen, and go back in with the precision tool to fill in any areas you’ve missed, or help clarify some harder-to-reach angles.
As you get toward the arch of your brow, you’ll want to switch up your technique. Rather than drawing the hairs upwards, you’ll want to start drawing them downwards. Again, this is just to give your brows the most natural possible look!
Do You Need Anything Else To Achieve Your Perfect Brows?
This is largely up to you! If you finish drawing in these fine hairs and love the look of your brows, no need to take any additional steps. Any waterproof eyebrow pen should stay put without any other products, and we’re totally behind the idea that less is more when it comes to your makeup routine.
If you feel like your brows could use a little more love, however, you could finish up the look with a health swipe of super-hydrating Ultra Hold Brow Gel to make sure your actual brow hairs stay in line with the ones you’ve just created. It’s clear, too, so you won’t risk overdoing it if you’ve already drawn in your brows pretty boldly.
Eyebrow pens are an amazing tool to help you get the perfect brows you’ve always hoped to have. Whether your brows are naturally thin, recovering from overplucking, aren’t as full as you’d like, or just aren’t the right shape for your face, eyebrow pens can create the look you want with zero pain and very little effort.
Once you decide on the best color and type of pen for you and the look you’re trying to achieve, using your eyebrow pen won’t just be your favorite part of your makeup routine, but also the easiest.
If you think eyebrow pens are for you, here are some great products to help you bring your perfect brows from dream to reality.