By Samantha Sasso
Remember back in
middle school, when filling in your brows was like a secret trick? Those were the days — but definitely not our most polished Kodak moments. Then, we blinked and our brow woes were a thing of the past, thanks to tinted gels; powder palettes; and smooth, twist-up pencils. Heck, even the most low-touch makeup users might run a clear gel through their arches every morning.
While some of us are pros at this point, and can master a well-traced brow in seconds, finding the right products can still be a challenge, especially when you’re on a budget. As you likely know, we’ve exalted the wonders of drugstore finds
time and time again, but today we’re focusing on just bargain brow products. That’s right: We put boxes of brow products to the test. After diligent swiping and brushing, we’ve landed on our favorites from many categories. In fact, a lot of them stood up to our favorite prestige formulas.
bold and bushy to sharp and thin, all kinds of brows went up against these products — and they passed our test with aplomb. Click ahead to see our favorites.
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Twist-Up Pencils Just run out of that prestige favorite? Take this wonderfully pigmented pencil for a spin and see how quickly your brow game changes.
L’Oréal Brow Stylist Definer, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
One of those pencils you don’t need to warm up on your hand before using, this one’s loaded with dense pigment at first glide.
Flower Beauty Draw The Line Eyebrow Pencil, $6.98, available at Walmart.
Sure, the pencil is really smooth, but it’s the opposite end that steals the show. The sponge applicator is covered in a light dusting of powder, which adds additional fullness after you create definition.
Maybelline Eye Studio Brow Define and Fill Duo, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
With four color options, this pencil makes it easy to find a match.
Palladio The Brow Definer Micro Pencil, $7, available at Palladio Beauty.
For an “I woke up like this” look, lightly define the bottom line of your brow with this soft pencil, then brush through the brow with the spoolie to diffuse the pigment.
Honest Beauty Brow Filler, $15, available at Honest Beauty.
This thicker-than-most twist-up pencil looks just as natural as thinner versions — but covers more ground per swipe.
E.L.F. Instant Lift Brow Pencil, $2, available at E.L.F.
Clear Gels Finally, a brow gel that doesn’t make your hairs look as glossy as your pout.
Pacifica Stunning Brows Eyebrow Gloss and Set, $14, available at Ulta Beauty.
The teeny-tiny brush on this
best-selling formula ensure that you catch every single brow hair.
Glossier Boy Brow in Clear, $16, available at Glossier.
Medium hold and $5? Sold.
Milani Brow Shaping Clear Gel, $5, available at Milani Cosmetics.
Highly recommended for big brows, this clear gel coats every inch of hair in seconds.
Rimmel Brow This Way Brow Styling Gel, $4.49, available at Ulta Beauty.
Pomades Think brow pomade may be too intense for you? Dip your toes into the trend with this lightweight formula.
Soap & Glory Archery Brow Putty, $14, available at Ulta Beauty.
Our biggest brow pet peeve? When our products smudge. Luckily, this waxy pomade ensures a long-lasting brow all day.
NYX Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade, $6.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
This waxy formula delivers color and keeps brow hairs in place, but the pencil is a bit thick for direct application to some arches. If yours are on the thinner side, apply the product with a brush.
Soap & Glory Archery Brow Almighty Power-Glide Crayon, $14, available at Soap & Glory.
Pomades can dry up quickly, but consider this one the exception. Every time you open it up, feel confident that the formula will be as smooth as when you first got it.
Ulta Brow Pomade, $10, available at Ulta Beauty.
Tinted Tamers Quite possibly the smallest wand we’ve ever swept across our brows, this one’s petite but unleashes intense pigment.
Soap & Glory Archery Volu-Boost Brow Fibre Gel, $12.19, available at Soap & Glory.
This round wand guarantees a full brow without one sparse spot.
Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Have large brows that never seem thick enough? This inexpensive find really delivers the drama.
Catrice Eyebrow Filler Perfecting & Shaping Gel, $5.49, available at Ulta Beauty.
Just like your favorite mascara, this pigmented gel ensures a brushed-out look even Cara Delevingne would ask for.
Wet n Wild Ultimate Brow Mascara, $4.99, available at Wet n Wild.
R29 senior beauty editor Lexy Lebsack has a pro-tip for this favorite: “Wipe the brush with a damp, clean paper towel every few uses or it starts to pick up too much product,” she says.
Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel, $24, available at Sephora.
If you prefer an affordable alternative to Gimme Brow, you’ll love this. The smaller wand makes filling in brows — sans powder and pomade — incredibly easy.
Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara, $2.99, available at Target.
While the pencil is a solid B, it’s the gel that wins an A+. Never worry about depositing a little too much pigment with this finely bristled brush.
Revlon Brow Fantasy Pencil & Gel, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Powder Palettes Simple and to the point, this powder-and-wax kit makes sculpting those arches a breeze.
Rimmel Brow This Way Brow Sculpting Kit, $4.49, available at Ulta Beauty.
There are days when we just want a no-frills product that gives us intense brows in seconds.
Wet n Wild Ultimate Brow Kit, $3.99, available at Wet n Wild.
While the brushes aren’t our faves, the highlighting powder and tinted wax are
perfect for a standout look.
Maybelline Browdrama Pro Palette, $12.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Compact and perfect for midday touch-ups, this kit has a lot more than just cute packaging. Bonus: It includes mini-tweezers.
Milani Brow Fix Brow Kit, $8.99, available at Milani Cosmetics.
For professional-quality precision at a too-good-to-be-true price, this fine-tipped twist-up pen is not to be missed.
NYX Professional Makeup Micro Brow Pencil, $9.99, available at Target.
Fun fact: This kit lasts forever. We can’t believe how much product you get for under $10.
Hard Candy Brows Now! Ultimate All In One Brow Powder Kit, $7, available at Walmart.
Classic Pencils Pencils may be the OG way to get the brows of your dreams, but this creamy formula has us remembering why we loved these in the first place.
Maybelline Brow Precise Shaping Pencil, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
This reminds us of the first brow product we stole from our mother’s makeup bag — and we love it just as much.
Jordana FabuBrow Eyebrow Pencil, $2.99, available at Jordana Cosmetics.
Pencils ensure no flakes or fading throughout the day — and this one comes in a wide range of shades, for every hair color and complexion.
L’Oréal Brow Stylist Designer Eyebrow Pencil, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Double the pigment, double the fun — this chubby pencil is perfect for the days when you wake up a little too late to fiddle with brushes.
Milani Brow & Eye Highlighters, $6.99, available at Milani Cosmetics.
Skipped your last threading appointment? This all-in-one kit makes sure your browbone highlight is on point, while unruly hairs stay in place all day.
Physicians Formula Eye Booster 4-In-1 Brow Boosting Kit, $14.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Any product that comes with its own sharpener is a winner in our book.
CoverGirl Brow & Eye Makers Pencil, $4.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Prefer to travel light? This space saving newbie features a pencil, powder,
and brow mascara all in one.
NYX Cosmetics 3-in-1 Brow Pencil, $13, available at NYX Cosmetics.
This dual-ended number is thin enough to etch little hairs on
just so and comes with a clear gel to set everything in place.
Tyra Beauty Brow.Set.Match Dual-Sided Brow Definer in Deep Brown, $24, available at Tyra Beauty.
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