Like mascara, I tend to go through brow products like there’s no tomorrow. I haven’t been blessed in that particular department so I really need all the help I can get. I have my go-to, fail-me-not, HG status product which I can always rely on, however, like every beauty fanatic out there, I like to experiment with new products now and again (or in my case, now and er… now). I am a massive fan of multi-tasking products (who isn’t?) so when it comes to brow products that can perform more than just their core function i.e. fill in the brows, is also budget-friendly and long-lasting (who has time to touch up their brows, seriously?) then it’s definitely got my attention. I’d be interested in not only whether the product can perform well but whether it can perform as well as its single-tasking peers.
So over the last few months, I have been testing out a handful of affordable brow products (this is what happens when Boots run a 3 for 2 offer. Every. Single. Time), some quite new-ish, whilst others are just new to my makeup collection. You can see quite clearly from the table below which one I consider to be the best affordable, long-lasting brow product available in the drugstores/high-street but to read a thorough review and to find out how I got on with each of the products including the pros and cons, then do read on.
|Score out of 5
|Soap and Glory Archery Brow Tint and Pencil
|Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Brow Pencil
|NYX Professional Makeup 3-in-1 Eyebrow Pencil, Powder & Gel
|The Maybelline Tattoo Brow
|Maybelline Tattoo Brow Easy Peel-Off Tint
Soap and Glory Brow Tint and Pencil Review – Score: 3.5/5
The Soap and Glory Brow Tint and Pencil is a felt tip tint on one end and a pencil on the other, a slight variation to what has become the conventional brow product; pencil on one end and handy spoolie to comb through those unruly brows on the other. I’m well accustomised to using these wax formulated pencils (my favourite and holy-grail is the well renowned Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz) whereas felt tip pens have only been on my radar within the last year. I purchased the middle shade of the three available, Brownie Points, a warm, mid-to-dark tone brown. Compared to both the ABH and the Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Brow Pencil (reviewed further down), the Soap and Glory Brow Tint and Pencil leans a tad more on the warmer side of the spectrum. Having said that, once on the brows and to the less discernible eye, they all look pretty identical. Although my hair is naturally very dark and I have a preference for cool-toned brow products, I can get away with slightly warmer shades due to the caramel balayage in my hair.
The pencil is a lot thicker in size compared to other brow pencils I’ve used and approved of and for this reason, it makes it somewhat difficult to get that level of precision I’m used to. Shaping the brows is especially difficult particularly on brows like mine which are rather skinny. Compared to other similar formulations, the pencil is waxier thus less creamy, which is a good thing, so you don’t have to be so cautious going in with a light hand. This results in little immediate payoff but with pigment that is buildable.
The felt tip tinted pen (similar to the Stila Waterproof Brow Pen reviewed here), for me, is the better side of the two. Lighter in shade, it’s definitely warmer of the two ends and the pigment, although light, is easily buildable allowing you to achieve the depth of colour you want without too much effort. The tip is super fine enabling you to get very precise, filling in any gaps with soft, hair-like strokes. It is also fine enough to allow for acute accuracy in shaping the brow and achieving that neat, clear-cut line is pretty easy.
Overall this is a pretty decent duo. I can make it work with the not-so-fine pencil but it’s the felt tip pen that I find myself reaching for most. Make the pencil end a pinch smaller and we are onto a winner.
Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Brow Pencil Review – Score: 4.5/5
The Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Brow Pencil is an affordable dupe to my beloved ABH but at around a third of the cost. Come again? The differences to the exterior packaging are unremarkable (The Maybelline Brow Precise is slightly shorter in length so I am assuming that there is less product – can’t actually see how many grams it contains but the ABH comes in at 0.085grams). I would say that the spoolie on the drugstore/highstreet counterpart is much more robust, surprisingly, and I don’t believe there has been a time where the spoolie on my ABH has not broken (and it baffles me that they have not rectified the problem). The notable differences lie within the formula. Where normally when talking about any makeup product, the term ‘creamy’ is generally considered a positive trait, when it comes to brow products, I prefer my products to be drier. Creamier products, I find, tend to have a higher pigment payoff. With my brow products, I prefer them to have less payoff whilst still having the ability to build colour easily. I’m terrified of going overboard with the brows as it is so, so easily done (I am guilty of this on many occasions especially at 7 am in the morning when it’s still dark and I’m frantically trying to get ready for the day).
So given the Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Brow Pencil has more payoff (I chose the shade Deep Brown), one can easily mistake it for being darker. However, the ABH can easily be built up to the same depth and although the colour to any other person is exactly the same, to the discernible eye of a beauty fanatic, there is definitely a difference. Admittedly the difference is minute, and I would happily use the two products interchangeably. The ABH is a smidge-of-a -fraction cooler in tone with an equivalent to a split-second tinge more grey. In terms of longevity, despite the Maybelline one being creamier, I’d say they last equally as long and easily for a good 11-12 hours.
For those that want a really, really good, affordable brow pencil that allows for extreme precision yet is quick in application, I would highly recommend the Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Brow Pencil. And at a fraction of the price of the ABH, I think even I need to stock up.
NYX Professional Makeup 3-in-1 Eyebrow Pencil, Powder & Gel Review – Score: 2/5
The NYX Professional Makeup 3-in-1 Eyebrow Pencil, Powder & Gel really peaked my interest. This is a 3-in-1 product so, in terms of makeup multi-tasking, this almost has superpowers. With 10 shades available ( I opted for Ash Brown, a mid-tone, medium brown), I had extreme high hopes for it. This nifty product has a pencil on one end (although not quite as big as the pencil on The Soap and Glory Brow Tint and Pencil, nor as rounded on the tip, but definitely bigger than the Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Brow Pencil ), a tinted setting gel mascara on the other, and for the clever part, unscrew along the length and you reveal a powder! The idea is that you can use each part of the brow product on its own or mix it up and use two or even all three together at once. The pencil end is supposedly ideal for achieving the desired brow shape whilst the powder is designed to fill the brow in to create body and volume. The brow gel mascara is, of course, used to set the brow but to also provide texture that will help to create a sense of realness to them.
On paper, this is the dream brow product. However, in reality, it’s not quite right. For me, the pencil needs to be a lot finer to allow for more precision whilst the powder creates a bit of a mess. There’s quite a bit of fall-out so you have to be really careful to shake off the excess before applying to the brow otherwise you run the risk of very uneven product distribution (I’ve been there, got the damn t-shirt with the powder all down the front). The setting gel suffers from a similar problem with far too much product coming out and the wand, although narrow, is just too long. This means if you’re not blessed with wholesome brows, the wand can be a bit too large when it comes to brushing through the brows causing the tinted gel to go everywhere you don’t want it.
Verdict? Great idea but it’s the execution that needs working on. It did, however, last for the entire day which for me is easily a good 11 hours, so not all bad.
The Maybelline Tattoo BrowReview – Score: 3/5
I had very high hopes for The Maybelline Tattoo Brow even though I had spotted the Loreal Brow Artist Micro Tattoo 24hr Brow Definer on the market for some time (essentially the same product). I just couldn’t get my head around how the peculiar looking pen would work. It wasn’t until I spotted Tina Yong’s video using The Maybelline Tattoo Brow that my interest in such peculiarities peaked. It’s a similar look and formula to the felt tip pens I’ve come across but the difference is in the delivery system. Instead of being deposited through a conventional felt tip or fine brush nib, this particular nib is made up of a number of groves. Each grove creates a single stroke of ‘hair’. Essentially it is designed to give the effect of microblading – a form of tattoo artistry using a manual handheld tool that is growing rapidly in popularity.
I went for the shade 130 Deep Brown, the darkest of the three available (which isn’t, in fact, that dark at all). I have to say it takes some time to get to grips with how to handle the pen and to apply the product. However, after seeing Tina’s video, I was prepared for the learning curve.
Tip: Use the applicator flat against your brows and brush through. Don’t brush through on its tip as the pigment doesn’t deposit very well at this angle.
Did it live up to my expectations though? Yes….and no. I think this could work better for some than others, with me falling into the latter’s camp. Like with the other felt tip pens I’ve used, the ink is soft yet buildable (which is definitely my preference when it comes to brow products). The pen works a treat when filling in and mimicking your brow hairs. You just brush it the direction of hair growth and instead of just the one hair, you’ve got 4 strokes of ‘hairs’. So in a sense, filling in your brows should be quicker (with all the faffing around trying to get the angle right….not really). What I didn’t get on with was its ability to shape the brow. Now if you are one that already has a good outline but just suffering from a case of sparseness, then sure this pen could be a godsend for you. Me, on the other hand, I need a lot of help in the shape department and this just doesn’t deliver. I can’t get the neat line on the underside of my brows without placing the pen too low and ending up drawing on my eyelids! Definitely a no-no.
This could be a really great product. With some fine-tuning so that you are able to shape your brows more precisely, and also a tweak to the applicator so that the pigment is deposited more easily (rather than being restricted to certain angles) this could easily be a 10 out of 10.
Maybelline Tattoo Brow Easy Peel-Off Tint Review – Score: 4/5
Now the Maybelline Tattoo Brow Easy Peel-Off Tint just so happens to be the third product from the brand I’ve tried and tested. What can I say, Maybelline have got their brow game going on. I was a little dubious when I first saw this product (forever the cynic) but again after seeing successful results online, I decided to brave it. I mean, it’s only meant to last up to 3 days right? What could possibly go wrong? Worse case scenario is I don’t leave the house during that time. Totally feasible.
I chose the shade dark brown which is the darkest of the three available. Nervous is an understatement when it came to applying the product. It comes in a tube applicator similar to that of a lipgloss and you literally just paint it on top of your brows or where you want to create the illusion of brows. Wait 20 mins and peel off. Simple. I have to say, after the first time I used it, I was gobsmacked. It looked like I had just filled in my brows like I normally do. The finish is soft, powder-like in a way to give that slightly blurred effect. I was amazed at how well I was able to shape my brows with the brush as well. What you don’t get, however, are the precise brow like strokes you would get when using a pen or a pencil but for me that’s not too much of a deal breaker. If I am able to shape my brows well whilst filling in all the sparse areas quite easily, then I am a happy bunny.
The shade dark brown is definitely dark, very cool in tone too- a tad green even (don’t be alarmed here. You know there are many variations of black just like when you walk into a Dulux paint store and realise that there are 100+ variations of white) so if you have a lot of warmth to your hair, you might find that this could look too dark on your brows. I’d imagine that if you left it on for longer than 20 minutes too, the results would be even darker. 20 minutes is fine for me bearing in mind that 1. although my hair is very dark, my brows are quite sparse and 2. I’m not someone who likes to have strong brows. However as the product fades over the 3 days, the colour actually changes and becomes more warm. Less green and more yellow.
Now for the million dollar question…did it last the 3 days? Yes! Now day 3 is not going to be as equally as prominent as day 1 and you may need help in defining the shape of your brows but the pigment is still there and evenly so. It doesn’t fade away patchy so that’s another plus point!
However, I feel like the times I have gone on to use it subsequently, it hasn’t lasted as long or maybe I’m getting too used to it so am not getting that same feeling of being bowled over. I feel like if you have quite oily skin as well then this product might not also last as long on you. I have to say that each time I’ve used the product, I’m very gentle at washing my face around the brow area. I don’t know that it would last that long if I went in full throttle removing my cleanser with a hot flannel (actually pretty sure it wouldn’t)- I just give a quick swipe over with some micellar water on a cotton pad.
This is a great product especially for those who are short on time when getting ready and would rather be spending less time on their makeup or for weekends away i.e. do your brows on a Thursday/Friday and you won’t have to touch them again come the following week. Obviously that time saved is lost to application (you do have to take your time and be careful when applying as it can easily go wrong – I’d say allow 1-2 minutes per brow) but when you are waiting for it to set for that 20 minutes, you can be getting on with other things on your mammoth to-do list.
So the best affordable, long-lasting brow product for me is the Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Brow Pencil. Size does matter at the end of the day and Maybelline has nailed it with the size of the nib on this pencil. It’s super fine allowing for that extreme precision not only to perfect your shape but also to fill in your brows will real hair-like strokes. The handy spoolie on the other end allows you to brush through your brows once they have been filled in to make sure the product is evenly distributed and for a much softer finish.