Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
(CNN) —  

Using a brow pencil can be intimidating. When I started trying to fill in my brows, I was overwhelmed by all the product options and techniques. It seemed so complicated! The brushes. The gels. The pencils. The crayons. The waxes. So many products for my two little eyebrows.

After watching a few YouTube videos (thank you, Jackie Aina and Desi Perkins), I decided to buy the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($23; sephora.com). I opted for it above all the others because I found it far less intimidating to just have one product for my brows that could do everything I needed, from brushing them out to filling them in with a pencil that replicated my hairs exactly. And after a few days with the tool, I was totally hooked.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz

I’m not alone. In nearly 15,000 reviews on Sephora, shoppers describe how they love the perfect color match, the precision of the pencil and the fact that it literally never smudges. And among beauty bloggers, it’s undoubtedly a cult favorite.

But one day, I woke up from my Brow Wiz dream. The pencil ran out. And suddenly, I was in need of a precise eyebrow tool, but couldn’t justify the $23 cost again. So I began my search to find a cheaper alternative, and ended up finding the NYX Professional Makeup Micro Brow Pencil (starting at $7.08; amazon.com), which looks incredibly similar to the Brow Wiz. I haven’t looked back since.

  • NYX Professional Makeup Micro Brow Pencil (starting at $7.08; amazon.com)
NYX Professional Makeup Micro Brow Pencil
NYX Professional Makeup Micro Brow Pencil

Like Brow Wiz, this micro mechanical brow pencil allows you to create more defined brows by filling in sparse areas with precision. The retractable pencil goes on smooth and is highly pigmented, available in eight colors to suit your natural eyebrow color for a natural-looking finish.

To use the brow pencil, start by brushing your brows up with the spoolie brush. Then, apply the crayon by drawing short strokes to mimic natural hairs in order to add fullness. Once you’ve filled and shaped your brows, you can flip the pencil and comb the hairs out with the spoolie end again. This should distribute the color and help soften the strokes. If you’re not yet satisfied, you can easily use the pencil over areas of the eyebrow you want to enhance.

For me, I don’t see any major differences between the Anastasia Beverly Hills pencil and the NYX one. While NYX comes in eight shades, Brow Wiz is available in 10, so there’s a chance you might find a better shade match with Anastasia. I personally like my brows pretty dark, so I opt for Ebony in Brow Wiz and Espresso in the Micro Brow Pencil, which are both perfect for me.

Testing the Micro Brow Pencil (left) versus Brow Wiz (right)
Testing the Micro Brow Pencil (left) versus Brow Wiz (right)

I do find that the Anastasia Beverly Hills formula glides on easier and creamier than the NYX option. Because of this, it can take me longer to fill my brows with the NYX pencil because I spend more time trying to blend the color across my brows. The Brow Wiz spoolie is also a little thicker and fluffier, which I believe helps blend the product faster for a natural finish.

For a few days, I did one eyebrow using Brow Wiz and the other using the Micro Brow Pencil as a little wear test. Whether I was relaxing at home, getting late-night drinks with friends or commuting to and from work, both brows held up equally with no budging. Sometimes I could barely remember which brow was which!

While Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz proves to be a top-notch pencil, the NYX Micro Brow Pencil definitely gives it a run for its money for affordable, effective and stay-all-day brow coverage.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.