The Best Clear Eyebrow Gel Out There: How to Use It, Why It Works
It’s probably primal: When we see a new face, we look at the eyes to get a quick sense of who we’re dealing with. And when we’re looking at someone’s eyes, the smallest detail—a tiny arch of the brow, a slight squint of the eyes, an extra 1/10th of an inch of eyelash drama at the corners—can register as meaningful, making someone look more innocent, confident, skeptical, “exotic.” Or beautiful. Which might help explain why something as simple as eyebrow gel can make a big impact on someone’s overall appearance.
We’ll be honest: we did not give eyebrow gel a lot of thought until we talked with Heather Packer, one of Mynd Spa & Salon’s expert hairstylists at the flagship location on Fifth Avenue, earlier this fall. When we were interviewing her to discuss some of the best new hair products out at Mynd, we were surprised when she revealed her favorite new product for her own routine: an eyebrow-hair product. Specifically, Magic Wand Brow Gel, a new clear eyebrow gel made by the haircare company R+Co.
“It’s the strongest brow gel that I’ve ever used,” says Packer. “It’s clear, which I like, and your brows stay in place all day. They’re not moving. It doesn’t feel tight, dries quickly. You can’t see it, but it makes the brows look just a little bit denser. It’s really great.”
A few days later, we asked Anthony Ramos, a gifted makeup artist who also works out of Mynd’s Fifth Avenue salon, if he could show us some tips and tricks on how to use it. In just two careful sweeps, Ramos reshaped and subtly defined our brows using just the Magic Wand Brow Gel, creating a polished, truly photo-perfect look (on the brows, at least), even though no color or visible makeup was applied.
“It looks more defined, but at the same time, you look like you,” says Ramos, who also echoed what Heather Packer said about Magic Wand: “It’s the best eyebrow gel on the market so far.”
Below, some details on eyebrow gel in general and what Packer and Ramos like about R+Co’s clear Magic Wand Brow Gel, including why it’s different from other products available.
What does eyebrow gel do?
What’s the point of eyebrow gel? Basically, to create and maintain throughout the day the eyebrow shape that you think works best for your face. While plucking or waxing might seem like the most obvious technique for shaping your brows, just as you style your (head) hair, you can also “style” your existing eyebrow hair into an angle that works well for your face using a little brow-gel brush.
Another benefit: if you brush the eyebrow hairs evenly, you’ll naturally fill in any mini-gaps in your brows, covering bare skin and giving your brows an overall darker look without added color.
How do you apply brow gel?
It’s up to you—there’s no wrong way. Follow the natural curve of your follicles, or nudge the hairs into a shape they don’t normally go to make your brows look a little bushier or sleeker. Eyebrow gels are a great tool for helping you achieve an on-trend look, like a thick tuft at the base, even if your eyebrows don’t normally grow that way.
While there’s flexibility in technique, we strongly suggest trying the quick and very clever two-step technique that Ramos showed us. It produces a clean, turned-down edge of hair at the top of the brow that looks naturally beautiful.
A two-step technique for applying brow gel:
First, dip into your brow gel so that the brush is coated but not gloppy. On the inner half of the brow (the thicker section that’s closer to the nose), sweep all of your eyebrow hairs up straight—like you’ve just seen a hair-raising event. Leave the outer half of the brow untouched.
Then, starting again on the inner side, use the brush to lightly skim across the full top edge of the brow, until you reach the farthest point. The brush should never touch your forehead. This one light sweep brilliantly curves the tips of the thicker brow hairs downward and gives the outer brow a sleek shape, creating a perfect top edge and more definition overall.
You can also try a three-sweep move: brush the thicker/inner half straight up, like before, but keep going on the thinner/outer half: brush those little hairs at an outward angle. Then do the full top-brow sweep to create that clean, naturalistic curve.
Clear eyebrow gel vs. tinted brow gel: Why use one over the other?
Many people use colored eyebrow gel to get a darker-looking, more dramatic brow (or to cover gray brow hairs, if they have them). But the wrong shade, a poor-quality product, too much product, smudging, or “melting” can create a cartoony look or even a big mess.
A clear gel has the benefit of making the brows a little more pronounced without risking a too-dark, they’re-the-wrong-brows-for-the-face look. But clear gel can also go wrong.
Why R+Co Magic Wand Brow Gel works better than other clear eyebrow gels
Ramos and Packer shared some common problems with other formulas. Clear eyebrow gels (or eyebrow gels in general) can:
- feel too tight.
- turn white. (After the gel dries, if you move your eyebrows a lot—hard not to do when you’re talking and expressing yourself—the gel starts to crack and turn white, like dry Elmer’s Glue if you break it apart.)
- flake off.
- take a long time to dry.
- never fully dry/feel sticky or waxy.
- bleed into other makeup or “steal” makeup that’s around the brow. (Says Packer: “Some other brow gels I feel like absorb any other makeup that you already have on, and it comes off on you after you use it for a while.”)
- lose their hold.
What’s exciting about R+Co’s Magic Wand Brow Gel is that the formula somehow avoids the classic problems. When applied, the gel:
- isn’t too tight,
- doesn’t turn white,
- doesn’t flake,
- dries quickly,
- dries completely,
- stays put and doesn’t mingle with other makeup,
- and maintains its hold throughout the day.
Also, since R+Co is a haircare company, Magic Wand Brow Gel is designed as haircare (of those little brow hairs), so there are some added benefits:
- Hollyhock-flower extract moisturizes and conditions brows.
- It’s color safe for those people who dye or tint their brows. “It won’t fade color,” says Ramos.
When should you apply clear eyebrow gel?
Ramos’s advice: Apply clear eyebrow gel as the very last step when you’re doing your makeup (assuming you’re wearing other makeup).
He also suggests trying a minimal combo, just:
- clear eyebrow gel
It’s one of those high-impact triads for people who don’t want to look too “done.”
Can you use clear eyebrow gel with eyebrow pencil or powder?
Yes. “If you want super-defined eyebrows, you do pencil or powder (wettened or dry) first, then the clear eyebrow gel,” says Ramos, who adds that eyebrow pencil goes on skin, and eyebrow gel—both clear and tinted types—always goes on the eyebrow hairs themselves.
He also shared another trick when using both eyebrow pencil or powder and gel: “I highly recommend that people apply any eyebrow color early on when they’re doing their makeup. It provides a guide to know where you can work with your eyeshadows.” After you finish your eyes and the rest of your makeup, again apply clear eyebrow gel as your very last step.
How can you fix mistakes using clear eyebrow gel?
Eyebrow gel dries quickly (or at least it should), but you can still adjust it, even though it looks like your brows are set in stone. Ramos shared a few tricks involving water and R+Co Magic Wand Brow Gel:
- If you think you’ve applied too much eyebrow gel and your brows look or feel too hard, dip your eyebrow-gel brush in water and go back over your eyebrows. R+Co Magic Wand Brow Gel is water soluble, so the water will thin it out. You can also dip your brush in water at the very beginning, before you dip it into the brow gel, so it goes on thinner at the start.
- If you ruffle your brow-gel’d eyebrows at some point in the day—maybe you pulled a low hat on and off—you can reset your brows easily again with water. Wet the brow wand, or even your fingers, and smooth the brows. Water can reactivate Magic Wand Brow Gel, and it will re-dry correctly.
R+Co Magic Wand Brow Gel (.14 fl.oz., $20) is available at all Mynd Spa & Salons nationwide. If you’re having a makeup service, feel free to ask for it to be incorporated into your service, or ask any makeup artist for a demo to try it out.
The brow gel is vegan and cruelty free and comes with a brush applicator.