“When I started doing eyebrows in the early ‘90s, I wanted to fix my own eyebrows because [they were] pencil thin,” says Anastasia Soare, founder and CEO of Anastasia Beverly Hills. “Then, there were no products for eyebrows; I used to mix aloe vera with Vaseline and some eyeshadow to fill in the perfect shape.”
So she set out to make the perfect products for every type of brow, created a patented brow-shaping method and, in doing so, became a household name. Now 25 years later, the brand is celebrating its milestone with some of the biggest stars. Bringing Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah and other trailblazing women together to toast Anastasia Beverly Hills’ anniversary earlier this week, the glamorous occasion highlighted how Soare introduced brows into luxury beauty.
While the brand now has a full line of color cosmetics, its brow collection remains its crown jewel. With over a dozen products dedicated to the art of perfect arches, there’s something for all brow types, hair colors and skin types as well (Soare notes that this impacts the way you fill in your brows). From cult-favorite brow pencils to newer launches, we tested 10 Anastasia Beverly Hills brow products to find which ones really measure up.
What we liked about it
Whether you’re after an all-in-one brow product or prefer the control of a multi-step routine, Anastasia’s products meet a variety of needs. They play well together, and plenty of them perform just as great on their own, too. Our review takes into consideration varying makeup skill levels, preferences for a more natural brow versus fully sculpted arches and when our own results differed from the general consensus on top-rated products.
Five editors participated in the testing, with a variety of hair colors (blonde, auburn and dark brunette) and brow types. From thin and sparse to full and bushy to downright average (my brows are medium-full and medium-thick), we tried Anastasia’s most popular brow products to find the universal winners. Here are the results.
Anastasia's answer to the soap brow trend, this styling wax helps hold brows up for a lifted, feathery effect. We loved how natural it looked on, and we found that it kept our brows in place all day without flaking. It has a thick gel-like texture that can feel a bit wet when applying, but it then dries into a waxy pomade. For some, this might feel a bit heavy, but if you're looking for a strong-holding product for stubborn brows, this will help hold them in place. Two of the testers said that this product was enough for their daily brow look. "I'm a huge fan of a natural, lifted brow, so I used it on its own and loved the way it looked," says social lead Stephanie Griffin, who defines her natural brows as thin and sparse towards the ends.
Brow Freeze is one of Soare’s own personal favorites, and she uses it as the first step of her brow routine, before filling them in with any color. I tried this method and found that fluffing up my brows with Brow Freeze and giving them a bit of shape before applying any brow pencil or powder actually made it easier to see what areas of my brows needed to be filled in.
Because the product comes in a pot, you’ll need a spoolie to apply it. Anastasia makes a handy Brow Freeze Applicator — which features one flat end to scoop out a bit of the product, and a spoolie end to actually apply it to the brows — that we found essential for smooth application. “It’s definitely worth it to use as it made the process quick and took seconds to apply,” says social strategist Madison Yerke, who has medium-full, fine brows. Just be careful not to overload the spoolie. “One mistake that people do is they use a little too much,” Soare shares. “It’s going to be too cakey, too much product and you don’t get the best result.” Instead, start small and build from there.
This retractable brow pencil features a triangular tip to make it easier to outline and fill in brows. Overall, we liked the flexibility that the triangular tip gives for application, and having a retractable format is always convenient compared to a traditional pencil that requires sharpening. We also liked having the spoolie on the other end of the pencil, which can be used for blending and shaping.
"I found it comes out much more muted and dissipated so making strokes isn't as precise — which is good for me as a newbie," says senior lifestyle editor Rachel Lubitz. She appreciated the softer pigment for filling in her full, bushy brows and tested the shade Caramel. "This felt more like a pastel crayon than a pencil, and I mean that in a good way," she explains. "It came out more faded so you could really build the color and it was less obvious what strokes I had made with it."
We also tested the ultra-thin Brow Wiz, which is a skinny, precision-tip brow pencil and one of the brand’s top-rated products at Sephora. Our testers had middling reviews, however, and noted that while the retractable, thin tip was great for filling in detailed strokes, it wasn’t as blendable as the Brow Definer and applied a bit darker overall. For those who opt for a sculpted brow look on the daily, Brow Wiz could be a worthy addition to your routine, but if it’s a five-minute-face kind of day, Brow Definer is by far the less fussy option.
A surprise hit for all of the testers, the Dipbrow Pomade was easy to apply and delivered buildable color that defines and shades the brows. Reviews editor Tobey Grumet Segal, who has medium-full brows with sparse ends and tested the product in Medium Brown, notes that the product gives a more done-up effect: "I would use this more for going out in the evenings, not daytime," she says.
Even so, each of the editors said they would reach for this over a brow pencil, thanks to its user-friendly pigment (you'll just need a great eyeliner or slanted brow brush on hand to apply it).
“Because I had never used a pomade before I assumed that it would come out as super dark, paint-like strokes in the worst way possible, but this ended up being one of my favorites,” says Lubitz, who tested the Caramel shade. “It comes out pretty light so you can build up too, which is exactly what I need. I’d actually wear it alone, and if it still needed some diffusing i’d go back in with the Brow Definer.” Griffin also thinks it makes a great pairing with the Brow Freeze for an easy two-step brow look.
Both of Anastasia's pigmented brow gels performed well in our testing, so it's truly up to personal preference and what kind of brow look you prefer. "With these two tools it's an all-in-one product: It brushes out your brows, fills them in with pigment and leaves them feeling and looking fuller all at the same time," Lubitz says. She tested the Dipbrow Gel in the shade Caramel, and the Tinted Brow Gel in the shade Brunette. Each one provided decent hold and color that didn't flake or smudge once set.
The Dipbrow Gel scored slightly higher overall due to its matte color and stronger hold. The Dipbrow Gel is also available in a broader shade range that focuses on ash tones, while the Tinted Brow Gel’s shades are more warm-toned. The main difference between the two products is that they have different applicators.
The Dipbrow Gel has a cone-shaped spoolie that you can easily brush throughout your entire brow, even towards the ends. On several occasions when I’ve been in a rush to get out the door, I’ve used the Dark Brown Dipbrow Gel alone, quickly brushing it back and forth across my brows (trust me! this helps the pigment reach under the hairs too, so you can completely fill them in) before shaping them in place.
For those that love a natural brow look, Tinted Brow Gel is a great option. It has a lighter hold and tint that gives a full effect without looking as dramatic as the Dipbrow Gel. The pigment looks a bit shimmery in the bottle, but once it dries there isn't any noticeable shine or sparkle. I also noticed that the Espresso shade I tested looks a bit lighter in the bottle, but it still goes on a deep brunette.
The Tinted Brow Gel features a straight spoolie that has longer bristles on one side. The long bristles allow you to brush the pigment throughout the brows, while the shorter ones make it easier to target specific areas. "For the fuller parts of my brows I used the longer brush side, and then flipped it over to the shorter brush side to get my sparser strands in the middle of my brows, which I love to accentuate," Lubitz explains. Meanwhile, I found that the shorter bristles gave me more control overall and I usually defaulted to using that side.
Yerke preferred the Tinted Brow Gel in the shade Chocolate to the Dipbrow Gel in Dark Brown, which she found smeared easily during application. “[The Tinted Brow Gel] felt a lot lighter to wear and I felt like it blended smoother with my eyebrow shape and texture than the Dipbrow Gel did,” Yerke shares.
What we didn’t like about it
With a collection as robust as Anastasia’s, some products are bound to outperform others. We found that the brand’s brow gels and shaping products were the stars, while the filler products, such as the Brow Pen and Brow Powder Duo, fell short.
Each of the testers experienced finicky application with the Brow Pen — sometimes it would come out too light if not enough pressure was used, but other times it would come out extremely dark and too pigmented to properly blend. Wiping the applicator in between uses helped with consistency, but maintaining the product just adds another step. Additionally, the color itself wasn’t as long-lasting as the brow pencils we tried.
“It smudged super easily and it was hard to find my eyebrow’s natural shape,” Yerke says. “The pigment was too hard and the texture was too wet. I’d say the pencil or gel would be longer lasting and allows for more wiggle room when making mistakes. Not to mention that the pen came off super easily. I would recommend this only if you’re looking for a serious, thick, dark brow.”
On the other hand, the Brow Powder Duo allowed for much softer application, but less precision overall. “Although it was buildable, it was hard to get those natural-looking strokes with a powder formula versus a pencil,” says Griffin. Furthermore, we had mixed feelings about the two-tone pigment. While it includes a lighter and darker shade so you can create dimension for your brow, none of the testers felt confident enough with the product to try the ombré effect.
It’s worth noting, however, that this is another one of Anastasia’s top-rated products and plenty of people have had success with it, whether creating a gradient look or using both colors simultaneously to create the perfect color match for their brows. “The reason why I have two colors in each is to custom blend,” Soare explains. “The inner part of the eyebrow should be lighter, so you use the light color there, and from the highest part towards the end, you could use the darker color.”
The last product that we didn’t love is the Pro Pencil, a concealer pencil that can be used to highlight your brow bone, clean up the outline of your brows after filling them in or brighten dark circles. All of the testers found it difficult to blend, and the shade range (it comes in three colors) did not go deep enough for darker skin tones. We concluded that if you want to highlight your brow look, it’s better to reach for an actual highlighter, and if you want to conceal, a cream concealer will give a more natural effect.
How it compares
For a prestige beauty brand, Anastasia’s products are user-friendly and fairly priced, especially considering it invented the luxury brow category.
The closest comparison can be made with Benefit Cosmetics, which is similarly accessible at major retailers and also has a robust offering of popular brow products (which our editors also love), but there are a few spots where you can save a few bucks by opting for Anastasia and achieve similar results. For example, Benefit’s Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Brow Gel is $26, while Anastasia’s Dipbrow Gel is only $20. Both give virtually the same amount of product and fill and shape the brows with ease. The main difference is the applicator — Benefit’s is a petite spoolie, while Anastasia’s is a bit elongated. I’m personally an Anastasia convert on this one.
Kimiko, Joey Healy and the just-launched KS&CO are other luxury brow brands with stunning products that our editors have tried and loved, but they aren’t as readily available as Anastasia. And while Joey Healy has some products comparable in performance and price, the others are considerably more expensive as well.
Anastasia Beverly Hills has been making brow products for 25 years, so you can be assured it knows what it’s doing. Its brow stylers are high-quality, beginner-friendly and easy to find (although certain products have been prone to selling out).
In researching for this story (read: scouring the pages and pages of Sephora reviews), a pattern popped up: reviewer after reviewer would note how they’ve been using a hero Anastasia product, like the Brow Definer, for three, four, five+ years — which makes it even more exciting that some of our top-performing products in our testing were some of the newer releases, like Brow Freeze. Either way, it’s clear that once you’ve found an Anastasia product you love, you stick with it.