Brow Fillers: Pencil Vs. Powder

Sparse brows? We can help. Here's how to choose between pencil or powder eyebrow fillers

Choosing between pencil or powder eyebrow fillers

I have always had the most difficult time with my eyebrows. They are very light so I have to fill them in somehow, but it has been a struggle finding a product that looks natural and is easy to use. There are so many different options of eyebrow makeup to choose from and the kicker is you may need more than one type of brow product depending on the occasion. High maintenance much?

The reason there are so many different types of eyebrow products is because there are so many different types of eyebrows, and the going look seems to change every year. Whether you have thick, sparse, light, or dark, there must be a product out there to help you manage them. The most common brow products are brow fillers, more specifically, eyebrow pencils and eyebrow powder (among many other forms). Laying down the basics of both of these products will help give you a better understanding of which is probably the right choice for your brows.


The eyebrow pencil is probably the most popular type of brow filler on the market. They do the best job at producing soft and natural looking definition. They are very easy to use, especially when filling in sparse or light areas of the brow. You can also use a pencil as a base for a brow powder (I said high maintenance, didn’t I?).

Pencils are typically best for eyebrows that have gaps, sparse areas, or are asymmetrical. If you prefer a soft natural look, as opposed to sharp and overdone, then you will like a brow pencil.

They are used mainly for filling and defining. With the sharp pointed end of a pencil, you can achieve natural hair-like precision, resulting in a realistic appearance. Another reason they are the most popular, is because of how easy they are to use. You already are familiar with holding a pencil, so it is easy to increase or decrease pressure to achieve the look that you want.

One drawback of using a pencil, is the soft, waxy material. Some don’t like the look of it and it may not stay put for long periods of time.

Application: You will likely want to start at the inside of the brow. However, the best technique is to start in the most sparse region of your brows, since we are usually heavy handed at the beginning. Then, draw short, feathery strokes in the same direction as the hair grows. Finish with the inner corners with upward and outward strokes.

TIP: Comb your brow with an eyebrow brush after you apply the pencil. This will distribute the color and give you an even more natural look.


Brow powders do a great job at filling in holes or gaps in the brows. They create somewhat of a shadow underneath your natural brows, giving your natural eyebrows a more dense appearance. Powders can also work great with a pencil to help them last longer and appear more full.

You can still achieve a soft and natural look with powder, just without the precision of a pencil. If you are a brow beginner, powder may be a better option for you. It is much easier to clean up mistakes when using powder. You will also prefer powder if you have oily skin.

Application: The biggest drawback with powders is that you will need the right color and the right angled brush to get the look you want and it can be a little more challenging to apply than a pencil. Once your brush is coated in powder, sweep it across the brow in the direction of your hair, starting with the arches. Then comb through the brows with an eyebrow brush to soften up the look and blend the powder throughout.

There are plenty of other types of brow fillers that you could consider, from pomade to gel. Pencils and powders are the most popular brow fillers for a reason. They provide a natural look and are fairly easy to use. Knowing the differences between both, should give you a better idea of which option will work best for you. Still, much of the final look of a dressed eyebrow has to do with technique, and that is a learning process. Once you make a choice on product, you can begin to experiment with your technique to nail down the perfect look for your face.

Resources —  Allure, Byrdie, Self.com