The future of beauty is here — and you’re invited. Check out the rest of our 2018 Refinery29 Beauty Innovator Awards winners for a full look at the products, brands, and people that are breaking the rules and redefining beauty standards, one lipstick at a time.
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. Hell, 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.
From 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.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
With just one stroke of this tapered felt-tip pen, you’ll see just how flattering and realistic the liquid pigment leaves filled-in brows looking. Even better, it’s totally smudge- and water-proof.
Ardell Stroke A Brow Feathering Pen, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty
This eyebrow marker is just as thickening and long-lasting as the last, but our favorite feature includes one of the shade options — one fit for redheads. Considering how difficult it is for red-haired people to find a brow product that works for them, this is a victory worth celebrating.
Kiko Milano Eyebrow Marker, $2.9, available at Kiko Milano
Most liquid brow products only offer one felt-tipped prong, but this launch from Maybelline features four. The fork-like marker mimics the same method of a microblading needle — leaving behind brushstrokes of lifelike pigment — minus the scraping pain and scabbing. Simply put, we love it.
Maybelline TattooStudio Brow Tint Pen, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty
Twist-Up PencilsJust ran 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, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty
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 Brow Definer Micro Pencil, $7, available at Forever 21
This thicker-than-most twist-up pencil looks just as natural as thinner versions — but covers more ground per swipe.
e.l.f. Cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil, $2, available at Ulta Beauty
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 Ulta Beauty
Clear GelsFinally, a taming gel that doesn’t make your brows look as glossy as your lips.
Pacifica Stunning Brows Eyebrow Gloss & Set, $14, available at Ulta Beauty
Medium hold and $5? Sold.
Milani Cosmetics Brow Shaping Clear Gel, $4.99, available at Milani Cosmetics
Highly recommended for big brows, this clear gel coats every inch of hair in seconds.
Rimmel Rimmel Brow Gel, $3.97, available at Walmart
PomadesOur biggest brow pet peeve? When our products smudge. Luckily, this waxy pomade ensures a long-lasting brow all day.
NYX Professional Makeup Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade, $7.49, available at Ulta Beauty
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 TamersQuite possibly the smallest wand we’ve ever swept across our brows, this one’s petite but unleashes intense pigment.
Soap & Glory Archery Volu-Boost Fibre Gel, $14, available at Ulta Beauty
This round wand guarantees a full brow in one spot.
Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Eyebrow 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
The tapered spooly makes brushing on brow color a bit easier, especially when you’re trying to reach those sparse edges.
Jordana Fabubrow Shape & Set Gel, $3.99, available at Jordana Cosmetics
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 Ulta Beauty
If you prefer an affordable alternative to Benefit’s 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 Ulta Beauty
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, $9.49, available at Ulta Beauty
Powder PalettesSimple and to the point, this powder-and-wax kit makes sculpting those arches a breeze.
Rimmel Rimmel Eyebrow Enhancer , $3.99, available at Target
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 Brow Drama Pro Eyebrow Palette, $8.49, available at Walmart
Compact and perfect for midday touch-ups, this kit has a lot more than just cute packaging. Bonus: It includes mini-tweezers.
Milani Cosmetics Brow Fix Kit, $7.99, available at Milani Cosmetics
Good news: This kit lasts forever. We can’t believe how much product you get for under $10.
Hard Candy Brows Now, $6.67, available at Walmart
Classic PencilsPencils are the O.G. way to get the brows of your dreams, and this creamy formula has us remembering why we loved these in the first place.
Maybelline Brow Precise ™Shaping Pencil, $5.89, available at Target
This reminds us of the first brow product we stole from our mother’s makeup bag — and we love it just as much today.
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 Cosmetics 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.
Physician’s Formula Eye Booster™ 4-in-1 Brow Boosting Kit, $14.95, available at Physicians Formula
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 tool features a pencil, powder, and brow mascara all in one.
NYX Professional Makeup 3-In-1 Brow, $12.99, available at Ulta Beauty
Thanks to its slanted tip, this natural-effect pencil will cut your brow routine in half. Bonus: The attached spoolie brush is one of the smallest on the market to make sure pigment is brushed out to feathered perfection.
Maybelline Total Temptation Eyebrow Definer Pencil, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty
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