What is worth your coins? A shopping guide to affordable brow mascaras

Cover image We are glamerus

I love brow mascaras. They’re really the only thing I use on my brows now. I used to exclusively use the Anastasia Brow Wiz pencil but I honestly can say I haven’t touched it in years at this point. I would say my brows are of average thickness without too many gaps, and quite long. So I find all I need or want is to brush a tinted mascara through them a few times to get added thickness, color and lift. If you have to completely reshape your brows on the daily or you don’t have many hairs at all, you’ll most likely need a pencil in addition to a brow mascara to achieve your desired effect.

Since I’ve tried my share of brow mascaras over the past few years, I thought I’d gather a shopping list together for you that detailed my recommendations on what to try and what perhaps to avoid. For the most part all the brow mascaras I’ve used until this point are from the drugstore, which is my preferred place to shop for makeup these days, so everything listed below is fairly affordable (yay!). Of course, this is all based on my own personal experience with these products. You may feel differently about something I’ve mentioned, and that’s cool. We all have different experiences and preferences for what we want. So let’s begin!

What’s worth a try!

1. L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper — $8.99 at full price. 5 Stars.

I’d say this is my all-time favorite brow mascara at the moment. This one delivers just the right amount of color & thickness in my opinion thanks to its fiber-infused formula. It has an unusually long wand but the brush itself is quite small & tapered, which is a winning combination for the brows. This one also has a significant amount of hold if you like to brush your hairs up. The one drawback is it only comes in 2 shades (which I have both of), Light-Medium & Medium-Dark.

2. Maybelline Tattoo Studio Waterproof Eyebrow Gel — $12.99 at full price. 4 Stars.

I believe this is a newer launch from Maybelline so I haven’t been using it as long as some of the other products here but I’m already impressed with it. I picked it up from a big display in my local Harmon Discount. Besides being the most expensive product on my recommend list, it also has the most ‘involved’ application system, which includes a cute mini spoolie. Below are the instructions from Maybelline’s site:

Step 1. Use sculpting tip to fill mid-brow and tail, moving outwards.
Step 2. Lightly fill in inner brow.
Step 3. Blend using grooming spoolie.

Step 4. Allow time to dry.

The applicator, or ‘sculpting tip’ as Maybelline calls it, is an interesting one here. It’s not a traditional brush at all. I can best describe it as a fuzzy nib that when run through the brows gives them this enhanced yet still natural appearance (my fave!). It has a decent amount of hold as well which I love. But you do need to be a bit careful with it. You must wipe off the excess product at the very tip before applying to your brows, and move in very light strokes otherwise you do run the risk of applying too much color. I find that if you work this way you don’t always have to use the spoolie afterwards. I haven’t necessarily tested the waterproof or smudge-proof claim but it does stay on very well for me so far, and easily removes with an oil-based makeup remover. Available in 4 shades.

3. Kiko Cosmetics Eyebrow Fibers Coloured Mascara — $10.00. 4 Stars

This is another more recent addition to my brow collection, and I’m loving it! It’s got the longest brush of all the products here, which I thought would be a disaster, but actually is no problem at all for me. It deposits just the right amount of color, and holds my brow hairs in place fairly well throughout the day. (Remember from my previous post: if you’re in the U.S. you can only buy Kiko products online (kikocosmetics.com) unless you happen to live near one of their very few stand-alone stores in NYC & Florida.) Available in 6 shades.

Clockwise: L’Oreal, Kiko, NYX, Maybelline

4. NYX Tinted Brow Mascara — $7.00 at full price. 3.5 Stars

This was the very first brow mascara I ever used and I’d recommend it if you’re just looking to darken your brows. There are no fibers so it won’t add thickness nor will it hold your hairs in place if you prefer to brush them up. I did find it very easy to use in general since I didn’t have to brush off any excess color from the wand before application. The brush is of medium-length I would say and tapers to a point as most all brow mascaras do. My mother in particular loves this product but one word of warning from her, it did recently smudge on her forehead in the early summer warmth. The formula is not waterproof but it doesn’t claim to be, so just be mindful of that. Available in 5 shades.

5. Beautaniq Beauty Fill & Tame Brow — $12.00. 3.5 Stars. 

I received this in my Birchbox a few months ago, used it one day and found myself reaching for it again and again after that. I gave this the same ranking as the NYX because they both produce the same effect: darker brows but with less emphasis on thickness or hold. The packaging is small and dinky, as is its tiny, tapered brush. Where this wins is in convenience. When the time came around to pack a makeup travel bag, I decided to take the Beautaniq purely for its small size and ease of use. If it means something to you, Beautaniq is a plant-based brand that seeks to link wellness and beauty together and their products are vegan, cruelty- and paraben-free with no mineral oil. Available in 3 shades plus a clear version from either beautaniqbeauty.com or Birchbox.com.


What to avoid!

I won’t stay here long with either product because what’s the point?

1. Rimmel Brow This Way Brow Gel — As low as $3.99 on Walmart.com. 2 Stars. 

I used this one for a while and I tried to convince myself I liked it, but it just has way too much product on the brush. I had to stand there wiping it off on a tissue for what seemed like minutes and even then I still had to be careful when applying. I remember having a few brow disasters while using this, so I just wouldn’t recommend it. I’m giving it 2 stars only because of its extreme affordability.

2. Wunderbrow Extra Long-Lasting Eyebrow Gel — $22.00. 1 Star. 

I know, I know. Twenty-two dollars for a brow gel is hardly affordable. But since Wunderbrow became available in a lot of drugstores in the U.S. within the past couple of years, I decided to include it in this list in case anyone was curious to try it. For the price you’re paying, it’s just not worth it in my opinion. The formula gets gloopy over time and again, there is tons of product on the brush wand everytime you go to use it. Like tons. You have to stand there and wipe, wipe, wipe otherwise disaster. And since it’s waterproof, your mistake could last for more than one day. Think about it.

What are your recommendations for affordable brow mascaras? Do you agree or disagree with my list? Let me know!

xo, Erica

P.S. And the answer to which eye had the By Terry and which eye had the Kiko eye shadows from my last post: left eye = Kiko, right eye = By Terry.


Author: Erica

Hi! I’m Erica, a makeup enthusiast based outside of NYC. I discovered my love of cosmetics back in 2011 when I started watching simple tutorials on YouTube. It was a revelation to me that with just a simple few swipes of mascara or dabs of blush, you could transform into a more enhanced version of yourself. My obsession has not abated over the years, but instead has grown stronger as the beauty industry has gone from strength to strength. After graduating from business school in 2018, I decided to finally share my thoughts and opinions on all things cosmetics and this is where ‘We are glamerus’ was born. I share my musings on a bi-weekly basis on everything from my holy grail products and preferred application techniques, to the latest trends overtaking the beauty world. I hope you enjoy! xo

4 thoughts on “What is worth your coins? A shopping guide to affordable brow mascaras”

  1. I want a brow mascara that is waterproof and that has a wand just like a mascara wand… no doe foot applicators for me ! They dispense too much product and need to much “work” to get what a few simple swipes of a mascara like wand produce. Suggestions? 😬 Informative post!

    1. Glad you liked the post! I’ve heard the L’Oreal Boost & Set Brow Mascara is a good one. It’s got a tiny little bristle brush, and I believe it’s supposed to be “smudge-proof.” I have not tried it myself though.

Leave a Reply