Our Favorite Brow Gel: The 2022 List Beauty Awards

All prices are current as of time of publication.

Once again, we find ourselves in quarantine limbo. Our grooming routines are certainly harkening back to 2020, when elaborate makeup steps were replaced by their skincare counterparts (via Vox). The uncertainty of going outside as well as the omnipresent mask has cut down on our time and tools to get ready. The brow gel, however, has maintained its status as an essential. This could be because it's fairly easy to use and is seen above the mask, but it may owe its status to Lily Collins, whose perfect eyebrows make appearances on our screens every time "Emily In Paris" gets renewed. 

For The List Beauty Awards, we tested brow gels that were on everybody's wishlist. Each gel had to pass through many hurdles, from the application process and the formula to the finish and the staying power. We also looked for gels that gave us a combed-back natural feel but didn't leave a crusty hardened mess behind. Finally, we threw in a mix of clear and pigmented gels, and testers with both full and sparser brows wore these to give you a well-rounded verdict.

So without further ado, here are The List Beauty Awards: brow gel edition.

Glossier Boy Brow: Winner

Our winning product may not come as a surprise to many; the Glossier Boy Brow is one of the brand's top sellers, boasting an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on its website. Since its launch in 2012, Glossier has found itself in a long-term relationship with editors, makeup artists, and anyone with a penchant for cute bubblegum packaging. The brand's emphasis on barely-there, skincare-focused makeup appealed to many, especially those who wanted an effortless alternative to full-coverage maximalist makeup.

True to the brand's philosophy, the Glossier Boy Brow isn't a flashy product. It's super easy to use and is perfect for enhancing your natural brows. The formula features oleic acid and beeswax, which leaves your brows moisturized and soft to the touch rather than sticky. 

We tried two shades: a black tinted one for a tester with sparser eyebrows and a clear one for the tester with fuller eyebrows. The spoolie brush grabs the perfect amount of the lightweight product as it combs through our brows. It's fairly easy to remove the product if there's too much on, and the black tint isn't overwhelming. However, if you do have full eyebrows, we'd stick to the clear one.

The gel set onto our newly bushy brows with ease and stayed put as it ventured into the New York winter. We think the product justifies the $16 we spent on it (and would probably spend again on a refill).

Kosas Air Brow: Runner-Up

There may be a pattern here; Kosas is another brand that infuses skin-loving ingredients into its makeup products, along with the cutest, glossiest packaging. Its brow gel is no different. A transparent fuchsia case enclosed the tinted Air Brow Volumizing Treatment Gel in the shade Brown Black, and we were overwhelmed by an urge to buy everything on the Kosas website — just so we could have matching packaging. But with the brow gel retailing at $22, we abstained.

We put some of the mousse-like gel onto our brows with a sturdy spoolie, which brushed and deposited product evenly. A few strokes later, we had feathery brows that didn't feel sticky, stiff, or overly filled in. Infused with castor oil, biotin, and provitamin B5, the Air Brow claims to support your brow health by boosting growth and fullness. It was also surprising that we didn't really need to fill in our brows with a pencil too much as this product did most of the work. 

We loved the way our brows felt and looked, and couldn't wait to take our gel out to dinner later in the day. We didn't even have to reapply it — our brows had stayed put with the product from 3 p.m. At dinner, our brushed brows held up well, basking in compliments and dim lighting. Definitely one of our favorite brow-defining moments of the year.

E.l.f Wow Brow Gel: Runner-Up

This drugstore brow gel really wowed us with its formula, hold, tiny spoolie, and of course, the $4 price point. E.l.f Cosmetics' Wow Brow Gel hasn't heard of a bad review; it has 4.5 stars on Google's User reviews from 4,000 reviewers across the web. One reviewer on Ulta said that it was "Better than Benefit" (we're assuming they mean cult-favorite Gimme Brow), and that was the push we needed to bring it home.

The bottle itself feels like a sample; it's tiny, and the brush is even tinier. With nimble hands, we applied the product to our brows. The waxy gel-like formula felt very thin and was really easy to comb through. It also filled in the gaps in our already-full brows. However, it didn't fare as well for sparse eyebrows — the formula splayed itself beyond the brows in a way that called for a brow pencil. It also took a while to dry, which we personally appreciated as we could brush off excess product easily. The finish wasn't too stiff either, giving us natural, feathery brows. However, it didn't last very long. After a trip to the grocery store, our brows were back to who they used to be.

For the price point and the fact that it does do its job, we'd recommend the E.l.f Wow Brow Gel, but on account of its inability to stay on too long, we'd advise caution.

NYX Tinted Eyebrow Mascara: Runner-Up

We were feeling particularly silly on the day we tested this product; we applied the Tinted Eyebrow Mascara from NYX on one eyebrow and the Glossier Boy Brow on the other. We couldn't help but notice how much longer NYX's brush was than Glossier's — and it also had a far thicker formula. While the brush helped us cut application time by half, the formula's tendency to clump made Glossier the winner that day.

However, the brow mascara from NYX redeemed itself with its coverage. The waxy gel went underneath our brows to tint the gaps in a way that no other brow gel on this list did. The color also looked natural, as did the finish — we had bushy brows that lasted throughout the workday. We also liked the brush as it was generous with the product, but we did experience constant clumping, so we'd suggest keeping a clean spoolie to brush it off. We'd definitely say that this product is for someone who wants to skip other brow steps; for fuller eyebrows, this brow gel needs a different brush.

Overall, the NYX brow gel is a great addition to cut downtime in your brow routine. At $7.50, it's a cheap addition, too.

Patrick Ta Major Brow Lamination Gel: Runner-Up

The renowned Patrick Ta Beauty Major Brow Lamination Gel doesn't compare to the other gels on this list — at least in terms of the finish. This gel doesn't give you natural, bushy brows. Instead, like its name states, the gel is a hack to laminated brows without actually going to an esthetician. Celebrity makeup artist Patrick Ta, who's worked on names like Gigi Hadid, released this brow gel last year with the promise that it would "hold even the most stubborn brows in place."

We'd like to confirm that he wasn't lying. The gel comes in a sleek golden bottle with a double-edged wand that combs on one side and "laminates" on the other. The product is a clear, thick gel that dries pretty quickly, so make sure you do your brows quickly — there's no room for error. When brushed upwards, the gel creates a soap brow, laminated look. 

The hold was unbelievable; the gel stayed put for over 12 hours. Around hour 10, however, the gel began coming off in a weird, sticky white residue around our brows, signaling that it was time to remove it. Removing it turned out to be an absolute nightmare as the gel was stubborn, even with micellar water, cleanser, and makeup wipes. Ultimately, we mourned the loss of a few brow hairs that couldn't make it and called it a day. Final verdict: This product transforms your brows — but at what cost? Well, $26 and two brow hairs. We'll be sticking with our favorite from now on.