7 best eyebrow pens for creating the microbladed look at home


Just when we thought we’d conjured up every possible eyebrow product, along came the brow pen. Designed to mimic the effects of microblading, the tattoo-like treatment promising fuller arches for up to two years, they’ve swiftly grown as brands rush to produce their own version as a much cheaper alternative to blading.

With smaller, sharper tips than your standard pencils and pomades, brow pens deliver hair-like strokes via water based (and often waterproof) ink. They’re perfect for a non-uniform, individual kind of brow, but can be tricky to master due to the brush applicator.

Our advice? Start light and soft, with a shade lighter than you’d usually reach for. The three- or four-pronged pens are the easiest to wield, and you can use them in pretty much the same way as a pencil – just keep your grip light when it comes to the unforgiving inner brow.

For the single point brushes, keep the tip at a 90-degree angle and gently flick the pen upwards for a tapered effect. And don’t be put off if you’re not a wiz straight away; like all good things, the art of a great eyebrow takes practice.

For the perfect brow, it’s important to invest in a pen and formula that won’t let you down from the start, so we’ve trialled as many products as we could get our hands on to find the best of the bunch.

The main concern with brow pens is whether they’ll dry up on you midway through using, so our requirements were wetness and consistency. After that, ease of application, longevity, shade range, and how realistic they looked were on the top of our testing list.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Ciate microblade brow This pen does what it says on the tin: it delivers a microbladed look in just a few swipes. Whether it’s the four-pronged tip or strongly hued ink, it’s perfect for anyone wanting to add an eyebrow pen to their morning routine without spending extra time mastering it. The only drawback is the precision; compared to that of single tipped pens, these lines are slightly thicker, so each “hair” doesn’t look individual and defined, but they’re still stamped out to create a hairlike shadow. The shades do edge on the darker side, so buy a shade lighter than you ordinarily would. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Glossier brow flick Brow pens really started to become a thing when Glossier released its brow flick iteration. Although a few fans of the brand found it tricky to wield and too quick to dry up, make-up artist Katie Jane Hughes (who helped develop the product), shared tips on her Instagram stories on how to tackle these issues: use it on clean skin with the pen pointing down; create hair strokes using just the tip of the pen, and store it upside down. While this is definitely one that takes practice and a steady, painterly hand, it’s the sharpest and most pigmented of all the pens, and you’ll definitely need to brush some sections out with a spoolie brush to avoid them looking too drawn on. It only comes in three shades, but they span pretty inclusively across blonde (slightly warm light brown), brown (dark and cool), and black (very dark brown, perfect for deep skin). {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Lime Crime bushy brow pen With a super-precise tip that deposits just the right amount of ink, Lime Crime’s pen ticks the most important boxes. Even after being used for a year, it’s still going strong and has only dried up a little bit. One thing to note is that the shade line-up leans more on the warm side, making it perfect for red heads, but we’d recommend it for all hair shades if you can find a colour to suit you. It’s the most similar to Glossier’s pen, but less strongly pigmented, which is ideal for beginners who want to practise without making any obvious mistakes. And finally, it lasts all day without fail – even the practice strokes on our hands survived multiple hand washes. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Benefit 3D brow tones eyebrow enhancer Although not advertised as a brow pen as such, the structure of the brush is so unique that it doubles up as a pen and a gel. The five-pronged spoke at the tip delivers tiny strokes of the gel formula onto the hairs and skin for a lighter, feathered effect – ideal for those wanting just a bit of extra definition that a standard brow gel can’t deliver. And despite being nearly undetectable on the brows, the formula has subtle shimmer with the aim of softening dark brows and deepening light brows. Whatever the effect is, we like it. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Rimmel brow pro micro 24hr precision-stroke pen It may not be as micro as some of the other pen tips, but that makes this marker-style pen perfect for beginners wanting to practice their hand. It delivers subtle lines that can be widened by pushing harder, or softened by barely touching the skin, that last for most of the day. We found it tricky to get the inner sections right due to the thicker nib, but with a few strokes of a tinted brow gel it all blended out to look very natural. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Maybelline tattoo brow tint micro pen Maybelline’s offering is the most similar to L’Oreal’s micro tattoo pen, but it stays just a little bit wetter for longer, giving you time to correct any mistakes before they dry down completely. We did struggle a little to get it to deposit enough ink onto the tail end of the brow, scribbling the four prongs back and forth to muster up a shadow rather than the individual lines we got in the inner corner. We did also find that the colour changed slightly throughout the day, from dark brown to an almost purplish red, but this can be resolved with a simple top-up. For a budget option, this is a decent buy. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}}

The verdict: Eyebrow pens It’s a really tough call, but it has to be Ciate’s microblade brow for its ease of use, highly pigmented ink, and four-prongs for quickness. Coming in a very close second is Glossier’s brow flick, but this is more suitable for those willing to practise until perfect (or anyone with a hand for detail). For a more forgiving hue, go for Lime Crime’s bushy brow pen. If you’re looking to make a statement with your eyes, read our review of best waterproof mascaras that won’t smudge, crumble or smear

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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