The simple, strategic power of an enhanced eyebrow to transform the face is unrivaled; if a way to transform one’s appearance with a snap of the fingers (sans surgery, of course) were to ever exist, a well-groomed brow would be it.
If your reputation for having impeccable brows every day is something you value, but you also don’t necessarily want to squander your life’s savings on the admittedly amazing $30 pencil the Kardashians swear by (you know the one), a solid cadre of drugstore eyebrow pencils, powders, markers, and “sculptors” (definition unclear) is probably gonna be your jam.
Fortunately, there are some real winners of the budget variety—and these five are tried and true. Go forth for better brow game and more money in the bank.
The soft applicator on this powder-based brow enhancer makes application a breeze, since you can deposit as much or as little color as you like depending on whether you want a seriously strong brow or just need to fill in some stray hairs. It's easily blendable with a softer brush or your finger if you get cocky and end up looking like Groucho… and it doubles as an eyeliner, too. Everybody wins.
COVERGIRL Bombshell POW-der Brow & Liner, $8.22; at Walmart
More involved than a brow pencil but far less fussy (and less time-consuming) than you'd think, this compact features a pigmented wax for shaping alongside a color-coordinated setting powder, which helps to create natural-looking fullness that lasts until you remove it. Bonus points for the multitasking brush—there's an angled side to give brows arch and definition and a softer side for filling them in.
e.l.f. Eyebrow Kit, $3; at e.l.f.
When the standard-issue pencil-and-brush combo is not enough, this fully loaded 3-in-1 tool steps in. One: fill in sparse areas and add definition with the precision tip crayon. Two: use the brush on the cap to comb through brows, which creates shape and softens the color. Three: use the clear finishing wax to keep 'em in check, and you're (very, very) good to go.
L'Oreal Paris Brow Stylist Sculptor, $7.99; at drugstore.com
If precision is your thing, reach for this reliable brow pencil: It sharpens to a super fine point for utmost control, yielding thin, realistic lines that resemble the tiny brow hairs you're trying to create the illusion of without going overboard. A smooth, waxy texture gives it lasting power and helps to sculpt, but allows for the easy blending of a powder—and the spoolie brush on the opposite end ensures that everything goes exactly as planned.
Maybelline Brow Precise Shaping Pencil, $7.99; at Ulta
Much like a, uh, actual marker, the flexible felt tip enables you to draw smooth, easy strokes in one swoop. Unlike an actual marker, it's totally smear-, smudge-, and waterproof—and a water-based formula gives the ink a sheer, natural finish that can be layered for opacity if you want more, more, more.
NYX Eyebrow Marker, $9.75; at NYX