Beauty Hack: Can I use Eye shadow to Fill in My Brows?

Hi Megan,

I’m a college student on a budget, so I try to save as much money as possible on makeup. Can I use eye shadow to fill in my brows?

– Nikki G.

Ohh.. this is a good question! It gives me “instagram makeup hack” vibes.

Sure! You can use eye shadow to fill in your brows.. but wait – not all shadow is equally appropriate to use as a brow filler. So first, let’s talk a little bit about what eye shadow will and won’t work for filling brows, and the best method for filling them using eye shadow.What Kind of Eyeshadow can be used as Brow Filler?

First of all, you’ll want to look for non-glitter shades. Then, you’ll pretty much want to rule out any powders with mica in them at all (mica is the shimmery pigment, by the way!) This is the majority of eye shadow shades. But, given how many matte palettes and mixed (matte/mica) palettes have come out in the past year—Anastasia Beverly Hill’s Modern Renaissance Palette for example (full review/swatches here)—you may be in luck when looking for an eye shadow shade to fill in your brows with.

In general, to find a great dupe for your brow filler you’ll need a shade that’s:

  • Matte and/or
  • Baked and
  • The same hue and undertone as your roots/skintone

If you’re saying “HUH!?” give me a second to explain.

Matte—I think we got that—is a flat shade. It’s one color, with no sparkle, shimmer, sheen or other dimension to it. You want to find a good match for your roots (to shade the inner brow corner to the arch) and–if you can find it–1 shade darker as well (to shade the arches through to the outer edges).

Baked is a term we use when talking about eyeshadows, highlighters, etc. Baked powders are liquids or creams that are dried via a baking process, whereas unbaked powders are simply powders that are pressed with machinery and compacted (they’re much drier). Baked powders are generally creamier and can be mixed with water or oil to be applied, if necessary. If you see a swirl-pattern product, it’s baked. Some examples of baked powders are Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Palette or really, almost any other Hourglass powder ever. Baked powders are so hot right now (no pun intended).

The reason baked powder would be better for brows is because of it’s chemistry; since it’s a bit creamier, it’s more versatile and will apply more smoothly to your brows. Most importantly, you can use a baked shadow wet or dry; wet for a thorough, dramatic, long-lasting application, dry for a lighter dusting. More on that below:

Examples: Shades from Popular Eyeshadow Palettes that can be used as Brow Fillers

Before I dive into these, let me just say that using an eyeshadow shade as a brow filler is an awesome alternative for those with really unique hair shades. It can be downright impossible to find the perfect brow product for someone with blonde, dark dark blonde (as I’ve found), or almost any shade of red or auburn hair. An eyeshadow palette just might be able to fill that void for you.

Also, from the manufacturer’s side, it’s cheaper and easier to make a warm (red) undertoned brow shade than a cool one. So if somehow you have one of those tough hair shades listed above and don’t have warm undertones, your brows don’t quite come out as #flawless as everybody else’s. This is also an issue for me, which is why the Hello Kitty brow pencil struck me as weirdly awesome—it was as cool as they come.

Some examples of shades from popular eye shadow palettes that might double as brow fillers are:

Naked 2 by Urban Decay

  • Tease (light taupe-ish brown with cool undertones)
  • Blackout (jet black)

Modern Renaissance Palette by Anastasia Beverly Hills

  • Golden Ochre (medium, golden blonde)
  • Raw Sienna (light, slightly reddish brown)
  • Burnt Orange (medium natural orange shade)
  • Warm Taupe (light golden brow, warm undertones)
  • Cyprus Umber (dark neutral brown)
  • Realgar (firey red)
  • Red Ochre (for dyed, deep scarlet red hair)

#HackInAction: How to use Eyeshadow as Brow Filler

To demonstrate how/if this would work, I had to try it myself. “Tease” from the Naked 2 palette looked like a good match; cool undertoned, perfect for a dark, dark blonde like myself.

Since this is a baked palette, I decided to use the shade wet and dry, to show the difference. When using it wet, I took a brow liner brush and ran it under the tap. Then I rubbed it directly over the shade (wet), and began to apply to my brows, first lining under the brow, then stroking up and out, mimicking the natural growth of my brow hairs.

I found that when applied wet, the shade was a little too heavy for me, especially near the inner corners, where natural, unlined sprouts should dominate the look.

On my right eyebrow, using a dry, fine eyeshadow brush, I applied the same shade to the hairs. The strategy on the right eyebrow was to fill without defining; I just wanted my brows to stand out on their own a bit more.

Here’s what that looked like:

Left eyebrow / wet application

Right eyebrow / dry application

While I originally thought the more detailed wet application would look better, in the end the dry powder application looked the most natural. “Tease” also looked a little more neutral on my brows than I expected, given the cool undertones of this shade—and of the entire palette. I would give this hack a thumbs up!

Takeaways: How to use Eyeshadow as Brow Filler

This beauty hack DOES work! However, the experience was nothing near using my favorite products, Brow Wiz and Boy Brow; you just don’t get the same precision. It’s really difficult to control. Powder in general is not my favorite, because it applies quickly and it’s kind of like.. poof! Ok you’re done. For better or worse, you’re done.

Every shade that I tried ended up looking warmer on me than I anticipated, so I would suggest to anyone that tries this hack to test the shades before doing your full brows.

But if you’re in a rush or just don’t care that much about getting your brows 110% on fleek, then this is a good beauty hack and a great way to save money on your beauty routine!

Personally, unless I’m all out of brow product, I’ll stick to my daily lash routine of WINK at night and feathered brows during the day, using Glossier’s Boy Brow. It’s reasonably affordable, portable, and incredibly natural looking.

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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