Every once in a while, a brand new beauty category comes along and makes you wonder how you ever lived without it.
Tinted brow gel is one of those, for me.
It wasn't that long ago that brow gel really only came in clear. Okay, maybe there were a few makeup artist brands that did tinted ones, but their effect was subtle at best. When it came to eyebrow-filling makeup, we were basically stuck with pencils, powders and pomade. That's it!
Then, a little something happened called "the Cara Delevingne effect."
Suddenly, brands started scrambling to come up with innovative new brow products that would allow us to recreate her signature bold brows. And so the tinted brow gel was born.
What is a Tinted Brow Gel?
The tinted brow gel is a NEW approach to brows, because the product does all of the following:
- It adds colour: The tint allows you to match your brow colour; add warmth to ashy tones; or even darken them by several shades for a dramatic look.
- It gives control: Today's brow gels have a much more powerful hold, so they can keep your brows in a controlled, brushed-up shape all day long.
- It creates fullness: This is the biggie! Whether the product contains mini fibres or just consists of a thicker gel, the point is that you can build up each individual brow hair to give an overall illusion of thickness. This looks MUCH more natural than if you were to colour in the skin underneath (although I get that you may want to do that as well).
How to Use a Tinted Brow Gel
Before you start, roll your brush over a Kleenex, to avoid any excess clumpy bits getting in your brows.
There are two ways you can apply a tinted brow gel:
- One direction: No, not the band. This is the usual method—starting from the inner fans and moving across to the outer tail, simply brushing the hairs into place in a few short strokes.
- Windshield wiper technique: Do this if you REALLY want to take advantage of the bulking benefits of the product. Starting at the tail of your brow, brush in the opposite direction of the hair growth, moving towards the inner corner. Next, reverse direction and brush from the inner fans to the tail. You can either stop here or repeat as many times as necessary before you work the brows into their final shape.
Pro tip: For extra-thick brows, let the product set for half a minute or so before going back over the hairs for a second round. This helps create a base for getting more "bulk." (I do this to build up my inner fans, for example.)
Okay, I hope you're as excited about this product category as I am! Here are seven tinted brow gel options and the pros and cons of each:
Tarte Colored Clay Tinted Brow Gel
Tarte Colored Clay Tinted Brow Gel is your best option if you want a (slightly) more natural formula—it's made with a few different types of clay. You will also like this one if it's important to you that your brows feel soft, not crispy. On that note, it doesn't give quite as much hold or tint as other formulas. However, the colour itself looks natural, not too warm, and it gives a subtle brow-perfecting effect; no clumping. This one is available in five shades and I use Taupe, the lightest. You can read my full review over here.
Clinique Just Browsing Brush-On Styling Mousse
Clinique Just Browsing Brush-On Styling Mousse is your best option if you don't need a lot of control and just want an overall fullness/softness. This product won't make your brows crispy nor is the control super-strong. It is more about a luxurious, touchable feeling, with a very decent amount of tint. There are four shades and I tried 02 Light Brown. But 01 Blonde, the lightest, would have been better on my light, ashy brows. No problems with clumping with this one.
Yves Saint Laurent Couture Brow
Yves Saint Laurent Couture Brow is your best option if you like lots of definition and all-day hold. Rather than the soft-focus fullness that the Clinique gives you, this product is a "jellyifying formula" that keeps your brow hairs looking brushed-up and ultra-groomed until you take it off. It is slightly more clump-prone, but I really find it excellent for emphasizing the hairs at the inner corners of my brows. For my needs, this is a fantastic "all in one" product. There are two shades and 2 Ash Blond, the lightest, is a perfect match for me. You can read my full review over here.
Rimmel Brow This Way Eyebrow Gel
Rimmel Brow This Way Eyebrow Gel is your best option if you prefer soft (non-crunchy) fullness, similar to the Clinique, but want something at a drugstore price point. I won't beat around the bush—this one takes some work in your application, because the brush is big and it deposits the product awkwardly. However, if you take the time to work it through your brows, you do get a ton of thickness, with that slightly blurred, "soft-focus" effect I've been mentioning. There are three shades and I tried Blonde, which looks like it's going to be too light when you first put it on, but then dries to a normal colour. Probably the darker two work best.
Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara
Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara is your best option at the drugstore, in my opinion—unless you just can't tolerate crunchy brows, which is its only real "fault." If you can live with that, you'll enjoy its fantastic hold and tint. Similar to the Yves Saint Laurent, this product is great at coating and defining each hair for a controlled, polished look. But that's not to say it can't also build incredible fullness, if you do the windshield wiper thing. (The ball-shaped brush is actually the most amazing for that.) There are five shades, including clear, and Blonde, the lightest, is just perfect for me. You can read my full review over here.
Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Gel
Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Gel is your best option for a quick, natural-looking light tint with no extra volume. Unlike the other brow gels, this one is a pen format with a brush on one end; you just twist the bottom to get the formula to come out through the bristles. The gel itself is very thin and barely tinted, so the effect is super-natural. The hold is average, but it is not clumpy in the least and is pretty much foolproof to use. There are three shades, including clear, but it's so subtle that even I can get away with either 002 Blonde or 003 Brown. I'm not sure how well it would show up on darker brows.
Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel
Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel is your best option for building up your fans at the inner corners and/or filling in sparse sections. The reason being, it is actually composed of miniature fibres that adhere to your hairs (and even skin) to create brows where there were none before. This was the first brow gel I fell for, and still my favourite for my fans—for me, it adds too much bulk if I brush it through the rest of my brow. This one is also prone to clumping, so take your time with it. There are two shades and I use Light/Medium. You can read my original review over here.
Whether you're considering tinted brow gel for the first time, or just want to find one you like better than what you have, there should be something for everyone in this selection.
These products seem to deliver one of two possible effects: a "soft-focus" overall thickness, as per Clinique and Rimmel, or a controlled, almost gelled definition, as per Yves Saint Laurent and Maybelline. Personally, I prefer the latter look, but it really comes down to your brow needs and personal preference.
In general, I am a HUGE advocate of tinted brow gel as your brow filler of choice for the most natural look. However, depending on your desired level of impact and amount of sparseness, you may want to combine a tinted brow gel with pencil or powder on the skin around or underneath your brows.
I just think, for the most polished appearance, a brow gel always needs to be part of the mix! You just can't beat them for giving your brows (and therefore face) a subtly more groomed appearance.
If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. See our Disclosure for more information.