I’ve had this idea for a while now and I am barely executing it for you. Ever since I tried the Benefit Cosmetics Precisely, My Brow Pencil, I was immediately hooked and I still consider it my holy grail brow pencil.
I haven’t come close to finding a brow pencil that works just as as good as Benefit’s, and one that also makes my brows look natural because let’s face it: natural brows are always in, especially now. Yours truly has some sparse areas from when I was a teenager and overplucked, so I have* to fill mine in for them to look decent. I literally NEVER go to work without filling in my eyebrows so I’ve had to buy several drugstore brow pencils to see how they compare to Benefit’s and which one is best for me.
So to remind me, this is what we’re looking for:
Note: wearing the Benefit Precisely My Brow Pencil in all photos
Now before we start and I tell you which ones I picked out, I do want to note that I’m only using cruelty-free products/brands. I’m sure there are other drugstore brands that have great products but I’m committed to buying CF only, so my options are limited. With that said, let’s see which ones come close!
The Brow Pencils
- Colourpop Brow Boss in Light Brown & Dark Brown
- Covergirl Ultra Fine Brow Pencil in 710 Soft Brown
- e.l.f. Cosmetics Ultra Precise Brow Pencil in Brunette
- Kokie Cosmetics Precision Brow in No. 555 Warm Brown
- Milani Cosmetics Precision Brow in 160 Ebony
- Morphe Micro Brow Pencil in Latte
- NYX Cosmetics Micro Brow Pencil in Chocolate and Ash Brown
I will be taking a look at each of the following attributes and rating each brow pencil with a maximum of 5 stars if they meet my own personal standards:
- Shade Range: Could I pick several within the range to find a near perfect match?
- Undertones: Do they provide neutral/cool undertones or are they too warm-toned?
- Preciseness: Does it have an ultra fine, micro tip to allow for feathering? Or will it draw thick lines?
- Smoothness: Is it creamy enough to not need a lot of pressure? (i.e. Can I use a light-hand? Is it dry?)
- Results: Do my eyebrows look natural? Or do they look muddy?
Drugstore Brow Pencils:
Comparisons & Mini Reviews
Colourpop Brow Boss
Size / Price: 0.003 oz / $7.00 USD
Colourpop is technically not a drugstore brand, but some of their products are readily available in-store at Ulta, brow pencils included, for those of us in the states. These brow pencils used to go for $5 USD but CP has since then raised the price to what it is now. Even so, I consider their current price affordable.
In the past I have gotten a brunette shade from this line and it seemed to fit me ok, but it was warm enough for me to want to venture out a bit and explore their other shades. The second one I bought was in the shade light brown and finally the one I most recently got, dark brown. Both fit me ok, the light brown is a bit warmer but I can get away with using it. The dark brown fits me fairly well as it is cooler toned.
Here is how they both look on me:
Left: Light Brown / Right: Dark Brown
These pencils have a small rounded tip and are not creamy on contact (half a point off), but once it warms up I can use a light hand to use the feathering technique. Overall, I like these pencils and they are easy to use, which is why I have repurchased them several times. That and I’m really looking for the shade that fits me best 🙂
⭐ Rating: 4.5/5
Covergirl Ultra Fine Brow Pencil
Size / Price: 0.003 oz / $8.99 USD at Ulta, $6.99 USD at Target
I found that this line has only four shades, which is ridiculous to me. I got this pencil in the shade 710 Soft Brown, and while it is warm toned, it is dark enough for me to use, so half a point for that. The shade of this is fairly close to CP’s Brow boss in dark brown. This pencil is slightly creamy and can be used more precisely so that is a good thing.
At the tail of my brow you can see how warm it is, which makes it seem less natural, so half a point off for that. The rating of this one is really low as far as my rating system, but it is among my top 3 so I may end up repurchasing the darker one and see how it works out for me.
⭐ Rating: 3/5
e.l.f. Cosmetics Ultra Precise Brow Pencil
Size / Price: 0.002 oz / $5.00 USD
This is the most affordable brow pencil out of all the ones I included in this post. This line has 8 shades and on their site they provide swatches to see the undertones which range from warm to cool. It is not their fault the store I went to didn’t have all the shades in stock, so full points for these attributes.
This pencil is as dry as CP’s Brow Boss and less precise than Covergirl. I noticed I needed to apply more pressure which tugged on my skin a bit. It takes longer to warm up than CP, so I will not award it any points for this. The shade I got is heavily warm toned, it has a reddish tint so it totally does not fit my natural color. Since they have a darker one that may fit me better, I will award half a point for natural results, since I still feel like it looks muddy. Despite the rating, I’ve had some luck with this one in the past, just need the right shade. It looks muddier if the shade is wrong.
⭐ Rating: 2.5/5
Kokie Cosmetics Precision Brow
Size / Price: 0.003 oz / $10.00 USD on Kokie Cosmetics
Another brand that has only four shades, but it looks like two other ones might fit me better so half a point for that. I cannot tell what undertones they have as they provide no swatches, so half a point off. I love how precise I can be with this pencil and it is creamy enough that a light hand works. I noticed this specific shade, 555 warm brown, is closer to Covergirl’s color when swatched, but appears warm and reddish in photos. I will award it half a point for natural results because I think my brows would look better with a different shade. One thing to note: this is the only one without a spoolie on the other end.
⭐ Rating: 3.5/5
Milani Cosmetics Precision Brow
Size / Price: 0.0018 oz / $8.99 at Ulta, $7.99 at Target
This line has 6 shades and their undertones range from warm to cool. Even though I think they could add a few more shades, the undertones kind of make up for that, so I’m giving it full points. I got the darkest shade because it seemed the others one looked warm, but I won’t know until I try them. The shade I got is the darkest in my collection, and it is technically for black hair, so I was shocked at how natural it looks on me.
This brow pencil is so creamy, precise, and easy to use that I can use a light hand for feathering. I noticed I can also use a heavy hand if I want it to appear darker, which for me is not necessary but for those out there with darker hair, it might be a plus. Wish I could give it extra points for containing more product than the rest.
⭐ Rating: 5/5
Morphe Micro Brow Pencil
Size / Price: 0.003 oz / $5.00 USD at Ulta, $6.00 USD on Morphe.com
The second most affordable brow pencil, technically not a drugstore brand either, but it is easily accessible and available to us in the states in-store and online at Ulta. For those who have a Morphe store near you, I am sure they have these in there too. They also have 10 shades in total, most than the other brands in this post, so I have to give it full points for that. As for the undertones, another job well done as they have warm, cool and neutral undertones.
The shade I got, Latte, has a cool undertone, and I think it fits me fine. The neutral ones look warm to me, so I think I’ll have to stick with cool undertones for this brand. Anyway, enough about undertones. This pencil was a bit dry, I needed several strokes and pressure for pigment to show thereby making it less precise. Lastly, I think it looks half natural and half muddy. I think it has potential if the formula was creamier.
⭐ Rating: 3.5/5
NYX Cosmetics Micro Brow Pencil
Size / Price: 0.003 oz / $10.00 USD
This line has 8 shades which is amazing, but I found it hard to tell what undertones each shade has. They did provide swatches but the shades I got didn’t look like they had warm undertones, and yet they look warm on me? Half a point off for undertones. This pencil is decent, creamy, and precise, I can use the feathering technique to make my brows look more natural. This one is amongst my favorites for the preciseness alone.
Left: Chocolate / Right: Ash Brown
I have been purchasing this one for a long time, and I’m still looking for my near perfect match. The first I got was the one, but I forgot to check what shade it was, so that is why I’m still looking into it and figuring out which shade fits me best. I think this might be one who comes closest to being a dupe for Benefit’s brow pencil.
⭐ Rating: 4.5/5
Let’s see the ratings one more time from highest to lowest.
If tied, I’ll put them in alphabetical order:
- Milani Cosmetics Precision Brow — 5/5
- Colourpop Brow Boss — 4.5/5
- NYX Cosmetics Micro Brow Pencil — 4.5/5
- Kokie Cosmetics Precision Brow — 3.5/5
- Morphe Micro Brow Pencil — 3.5/5
- Covergirl Ultra Fine Brow Pencil — 3/5
- e.l.f. Cosmetics Ultra Precise Brow Pencil — 2.5/5
So there you have it guys, all these drugstore / affordable brands, ranked. I hope this serves as a guide for those of you who are in the market looking for a cruelty-free brow pencil. I do wish some of these brands had more shades and/or include more undertones because one thing became clear to me: a lot of drugstore brands have warm undertones, and it is hard to find a good match. It’s a lot of trial and error.
I will be sure to update you guys if anything changes when I try new shades. I am thinking I will want to try some mid-range or high-end ones and do a post for those as well. Not only is this helpful to some to figure out which brands cater to you personally, but it is also a way for me to search for my holy grail and finally stick to one. 🙂
Thanks to those who read this entire thing, I know it was long.
I miss you guys loads, and will be seeing you in the comments, hopefully. 🙂
What is a brand and/or brow pencil or product that hasn’t failed you?
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