What Shade is Right for You?

Ever since I accepted that done-up brows are here to stay, I’ve tried out many, many brow products. Too many, actually. Wax pencils, brow powders, brow mascaras, brow gels, pan waxes … in medium-browns, light-browns and taupes. About 95% of the time after using a brow product that seems to be right for me, I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and think I look mad or evil or weird. I guess some of the colors I’ve chosen have been wrong for me and my application technique has been off. The universal problem is that I don’t (or didn’t) know what color choice to make besides “brown.”

Here are the facts: I am a brunette. My hair is naturally medium to dark brown but with time in the sun, grays coming in and the coloring I’ve done to cover them (which seems to lift my natural color), my whole head of hair is lighter than it would be naturally. So I would consider myself medium brown with highlights.

Here is my experience so far with brow makeup shades: Black and dark browns are obviously too dark. I don’t even go there. Medium brown or brunette, which sounds like the obvious choice for me, is often too yellow or golden for me. The color is obviously not my own. I think a yellow brown looks so weird on me. It would look more natural to draw in black brows that some of the browns out there! Then there is rarely a light brown option available. So next comes the dark blondes and taupes. Taupe always seemed to be made for someone else, but after trying it out I now think it’s the best option. It makes sense. Taupe is a color between brown and gray, but not quite tan either. I have both brown and gray in my hair. Ta-da!

Tips for Choosing A Brow Shade:
  1. Don’t assume that there is a good shade for you. If you see seven colors available but none sound like you, move on! I know it’s frustrating when you want to use a specific product, but the reality is that some other product would work better.
  2. Read the color descriptions. Is the color described as “warm,” or “cool,” or with red undertones? These are the clues you want to look for. If you get this part wrong you won’t get a natural looking brow no matter how well you apply the product.
  3. Try a palette or a kit with multiple colors. This won’t necessarily cost you more than a single pencil, and you have a much better shot at getting a match. E.l.f. has brow palettes for $3!
  4. If all else fails, pick the shade described as “neutral” or “universal,” or chose the un-tinted wax!

Reviews and Swatches of Taupe Brow Makeup:

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e.l.f. Instant Lift Brow Pencil – Taupe – $2

If you don’t want to spend much money on makeup, e.l.f. is a great option. I tried the Instant Lift Brown Pencil and found it to be of quality consistent with more expensive brands. The ingredients show nothing too scary to me, and the product even comes with a spoolie on one end for shaping. My only question at first was which color to try, out of: Taupe, Neutral Brown, and Deep Brown. In their website description, e.l.f. recommends using Taupe for blonde to light brown hair.

Then why does Taupe work so well for me, medium brunette? I think it has a lot to do with the few gray hairs on my head. Being that taupe is a combo of gray and brown, it makes sense that it would work for me.

[learn_more caption=”Ingredients e.l.f. Instant Lift Brow Pencil:”] Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polyethylene, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Microcrystalline Wax (Cera Microcristallina), Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Ozokerite, Mica, Silica, Tocopheryl Acetate (Ve), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol. MAY CONTAIN: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499). [/learn_more]  

Laura Geller Brown Sculpting Palette – Taupe – $29

Laura Geller Brow Sculpting Palette comes in Blonde, Brunette, and Taupe. I chose Taupe, but ended up being kind of surprised at the warmth of the color on the right of two brow powder semi-circles. The shades in this palette don’t feel as grayish as the other taupes I’ve tried. That said, you have full freedom with this palette. Give yourself just the lightest wax hold or a full on drawn brow. Obviously you can always avoid the side of the dual color that feels too warm, or what have you.

Each palette contains a two sided color of brow powder (it seems like a “baked” product, but the site doesn’t say it is….), a highlighter, a tinted wax, and a brush/spoolie applicator. There is also a mirror. I found that the included brush is good enough to use, which is unusual. Forgetting for a minute how much I love Laura Geller in general, I think this is an awesome palette no matter what.  At $29, you get the full gambit of what could be needed for brows. There are other brow palettes out there of course, but most will cost you a lot more money, and rarely contain a highlighter. (FYI, no one said you can’t use this highlighter on your cheek bones in a pinch… and did I hear someone say they’ve used this to line their eyes…?). I recommend this palette for brow newbies as well as for old hats.

[learn_more caption=”Laura Geller Brow Palette Ingredients “] TAUPE: BAKED BROW TONES INGREDIENTS: TALC, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, MICA, HYDROGEN DIMETHICONE, MAGNESIUM STEARATE, POLYMETHYL METHACRYLATE, DIMETHICONE, POLYETHYLENE, DIMETHICONOL, PTFE, ZINC STEARATE, ETHYLENE/ACRYLIC ACID COPOLYMER, CENTELLA ASIATICA EXTRACT, ZEA MAYS GERM OIL, CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF EXTRACT, SORBIC ACID, DEHYDROACETIC ACID. MAY CONTAIN: CI 77891 (TITANIUM DIOXIDE), CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499 (IRON OXIDES). BAKED HIGHLIGHTER – FRENCH VANILLA INGREDIENTS: MICA, TALC, SYNTHETIC FLUORPHLOGOPITE, DIMETHICONE, ISOPROPYL PALMITATE, POLYSORBATE 20, ACRYLAMIDE/SODIUM ACRYLOYLDIMETHYLTAURATE COPOLYMER, TIN OXIDE, NYLON-12, CALCIUM SODIUM BOROSILICATE, CALCIUM ALUMINUM BOROSILICATE, SILICA, MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE, OCTYLDODECYL STEAROL STEARATE, CETEARYL ETHYLHEXANOATE, ISOHEXADECANE, CAPRLYL GLYCOL, SORBITAN STEARATE, SODIUM DEHYDROACETATE, SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS SEED OIL (SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED OIL), TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, CENTELLA ASISTICA EXTRACT (CENTELLA ASIATICA EXTRACT), LAUROYL LYSINE, POLYSORBATE 80, HEXYLENE GLYCOL, PROPYLENE GLYCOL DICAPRYLATE DICAPRATE, SORBITAN OLEATE, PHENOXYETHANOL, CI 77891 (TITANIUM DIOXIDE), CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 77491 (IRON OXIDES). BROW WAX INGREDIENTS: POLYBUTENE, HYDROGENATED POLYISOBUTENE, ETHYLHEXYL PALMITATE, POLYETHYLENE, CERA MICROCRISTALLINA (MICROCRYSTALLINE WAX), TALC, SYNTHETIC WAX, DIMETHICONOL BEHENATE, SILICA DIMETHYL SILYLATE, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, CI 77891 (TITANIUM DIOXIDE), CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499 (IRON OXIDES).[/learn_more]

Laura Geller Brow Sculpting Palette - Taupe
Laura Geller Brow Sculpting Palette – Taupe

Sephora Retractable Brow Pencil – 05 Neutral Gray Brown – $12

I bought this pencil because the color sounded perfect for me: Neutral Gray Brown seems synonymous with “taupe.” (There are six other choices as well.) Sephora’s pencil turned out to be one of my favorites. It has a few things going for it. First is the price ($12), which is the lowest of brow pencils at Sephora. I also like how slim the drawing point is, because it allows you to draw in “one hair” at a time. The tiny point is really the only thing that keeps me from drawing in brows that are too wide or too obvious. I am not a “precision” brow drawer but I just make little strokes with the pencil and it looks fairly believable even at random. I also like the hardness of the pencil/ wax and the color. In this case the lack of color pay-off and muted shade work well for me.

[learn_more caption=”Sephora Retractable Brow Pencil Ingredients”] Diisostearyl Malate, Triethylhexanoin, C20-40 Acids, C20-40 Alcohols, Polyethylene, Synthetic Wax, Glyceryl Behenate/Eicosadioate, Polypropylene, Ethylcellulose, Boron Nitride, Vp/Eicosene Copolymer, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Mica. May or may not contain (+/-): Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499 (Iron Oxides)[/learn_more]

Anastasia Perfect Brow Pencil – Medium Brown (Taupe Based Brown) – $23

Some time ago I received a mini Anastasia Perfect Brow Pencil with a now forgotten gift with purchase. I’ve had the pencil in my makeup bag in my purse for ever it seems. Every time I decide to pull it out and use it, I marvel at what a difference the brow works makes on my face. Anastasia’ pencil is also hard and gives little color pay-off, which is a good thing for me. The downsides are that the pencil has to be sharpened and I don’t feel like I have a lot of control over my art work because the tip is relatively wide compared to a slim design like Sephora’s.

I’ve also tried out quite a few browns and medium browns, and thought I’d show you what a range of colors you may get when picking “brown.” I comparison swatched the taupes discussed above, along with browns: Ulta Ultimate Brows Shade and Shaper Pencil – Brunette, Sephora Tinted Brow Freeze– 05 Medium (VERY similar to the color of Sephora Retractable Brow Pencil), Essence Brow Pencil – 02 Brown, and Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Brow Defining Pencil – Saddle (A Rich Brown).

See alternate views of the swatch line up as you scroll down.

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Left to right: Anastasia, Bobbi Brown, e.l.f., Essence, Laura Geller palette colors 1, and 2, Laura Geller palette highlighter, Laura Geller palette wax, Sephora Tinted Brow Freeze, Sephora Retractable Brow Pencil, and Ulta pencil.
Left to right: Anastasia, Bobbi Brown, e.l.f., Essence, Laura Geller palette colors 1, and 2, Laura Geller palette highlighter, Laura Geller palette wax, Sephora Retractable Brow Pencil, Sephora Tinted Brow Freeze, and Ulta pencil.

Take a look at how subtle the differences are among the four brow options below. These were all drawn on forcefully, as some do not deposit much color with a light application. What amazes me here is that the subtle differences in swatches here show up as huge differences on my face!

Top to bottom: swatches of Essence, e.l.f., Bobbi Brown, and Anastasia brow pencils
Top to bottom: swatches of Essence, e.l.f., Bobbi Brown, and Anastasia brow pencils

Next, I wanted to look at Sephora’s two pencil options, which are very similar in color. The Tinted Brow Freeze is a stand alone tinted wax pencil that can be used on top of a brow powder or pencil.

Top to bottom Ulta, Sephora Tinted Brow Freeze and Retractable Brow Pencil, Laura Geller palette wax, and Laura Geller palette highlighter
Top to bottom Ulta, Sephora Tinted Brow Freeze and Retractable Brow Pencil, Laura Geller palette wax, and Laura Geller palette highlighter

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I have genuinely learned a lot from trying out so many brow products. Unfortunately I’ve created a lot of waste in the process, but at least I now know what colors to go for right away. I hope that any other brunettes out there will feel more comfortable trying shades they thought were meant for someone else!

Take care,

-JGG


The product or products featured in this post were chosen, purchased, and paid for in full by me, Jackie, the author of posts for CosmeticHaulic.com. Please note that this post contains an affiliate link or links that direct you to a third party site where you may make a purchase or transact business. Arising out of that third party purchase I may receive a commission, not visible to you.  For more information please see this page, or email jackie@cosmetichaulic.com.

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