When I decided to grow my hair out gray, I didn’t realize that I would have to switch up my eyebrow makeup too. But it totally makes sense. As I was going from a dark, warm brown to a cool salt-and-pepper, I couldn’t rely on the same warm-toned eyebrow makeup products. Here are three recommendations I am loving rn.
By: Lisa Fennessy
IN THIS POST:
I lived with warmed-toned hair my entire life—until I was 39 and started growing out my hair gray.
I was so focused on the grow-out process and how I was feeling about myself that it wasn’t until around the 1-year mark that I realized my eyebrow makeup needed some adjustment.
RELATED: Read how to grow thicker eyebrows with the best brow hair growth serums and An Esthetician Weighs In: The Best Facial Hair Removal Tools.
The 1-year mark is also where the length of my grow-out was overtaking the plane of my eyebrows as my gray started to graze my ears—and I think that’s why I started noticing the disconnect.
I had always opted for warm-brown eyebrow makeup, but now that my hair was coming in salt and pepper, I realized warm brown brows against cool, salt-and-pepper toned hair was starting to look a bit odd.
Clean beauty eyebrow makeup for gray hair
So I started playing around with some better beauty brow products that would complement my new look.
And when I say a “better beauty,” I mean a brow formula that relies heavily on certified organic oils and natural waxes as opposed to ingredients like propylene glycol, polysorbates, EDTA and phenoxyethanol.
RELATED: Check out our No Thanks List for other ingredients we skip.
I also wanted to find that Goldilocks shade that would compliment my gray hair. Something in that brown/black family that was sans any warm or red tones. And not something too dark like a jet black either. I needed something like a dark ash gray or light black.
After a couple years of searching and testing, I found a couple that work for me so if you have similar coloring, these might work for you too!
And pro-makeup artists agree
And just to cover my bases, I reached out to a couple of better beauty makeup artists that I enjoy following to see if there were any recommendations I haden’t discovered yet.
After sharing my two picks, Katey Denno, pro-makeup artist to the stars, confirms, “This is a serious hole in the industry. Those [my picks, below!] are the only two in the clean beauty space that I ever suggest unless basic brown still works with their overall coloring, then I’ll reach for one of the browns from Ecobrow or Plume.”
And Rebecca Casciano, a clean beauty makeup artist and founder of The Sacred Beauty Collective adds, “I can’t think of one off the top of my head. This is clearly an area for improvement.” Rebecca adds, “Sometimes I can use a blonde one, depending on the person’s original hair color.”
RELATED: Read my gray hair makeup tips here.
Top picks for gray hair eyebrow makeup
A twist-up, rectangular-edged pencil for precision or broad strokes that comes with its own spoolie.
This is the pencil I’ve been using daily for the past 6 months-ish (and made it onto my BEST OF 2021 list). I love that it is an all-in-one tool. One side is a twist up pencil and the other side is a spoolie for blending. I untwisted the pencil to see how much product we get and it’s about an inch and a half, which is pretty generous—especially considering I’ve been using this daily for about 6 months and I still have most of that left.
The shape of the pencil is angled and rectangular, which is practical too. So you can apply with precision via the tip of the pencil or broad strokes with the wide edge.
Comes in ten (YES 10) shades. I initially wanted to try this brand because they make and offer a shade called “gray,” but in the end, gray was too light for me and black ended up being a better fit. It’s a soft black with no red undertones and it’s pretty much a perfect color match for my salt and pepper look.
Kosas Brow Pop Pros:
- No additional application tools needed
- Comes with a built-in spoolie to blend
- Easy to apply with a good color transfer
- Precision applicator
- Also broad-stroked applicator
- Twist up pencil dispenser
- Comes in 10 shades including GRAY
- Good staying power
- Easy to blend
- Ethically sourced mica
- Does not add bulk
- Easy to remove
Kosas Brow Pop Cons:
- Comes in plastic
Full ingredient list: hydrogenated coco-glycerides, hydrogenated castor oil, mica, euphorbia cerifera cera, copernicia cerifera cera, panthenol, simmondsia chinensis seed oil, tocopherol, ethylhexylglycerin [may contain ci 77492, ci 77499, ci 77491, ci 77891].
A gentle wax that provides good staying power and a natural-looking brow. Vegan & cruelty free.
Sappho is a high-performing makeup line that is also clean, cruelty-free and vegan. I love their Brow Pomade in Taupe Gray, which is great for ladies with gray hair but founder and Emmy-nominated makeup artist JoAnn Fowler says it’s also a great match for black hair, blondes and people with Asian complexions as well.
This is the case because there are no warm or red undertones in this shade, which is truly hard to find. A perfect match for us gray-haired ladies, but it also comes in 4 other shades for those who don’t have gray hair. And, not to mention, I’ve had this pot for 2 years now (is that too long?!)—it lasts forever and I can confirm it won’t dry out.
Sappho New Paradigm’s Brow Pomade Pros:
- A light finish
- Gentle wax that adds a little texture and provides good staying power
- Pigmented so you can layer to your own needs
- Minimum usage provides maximum coverage and results
- Made with certified organic waxes
- Enriched with flavonoids, phytonutrients and antioxidants
- Will not dry out
- Taupe gray will work for some shades of gray
- Packaged in glass
- Beautiful ingredients
- Easy to remove
Sappho New Paradigm’s Brow Pomade Cons (Considerations):
- You need to buy an additional tool to apply. This is the brush I use.
But the application process is not hard. Check out this video to see how I use it plus what it looks like applied.
Full ingredient list: Ricinus communis (Castor) Seed Oil*, Euphorbia cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Copernicia cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Stearic Acid, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil* and Calendula officinalis Flowers* and Matricaria recutita (Chamomile) Flowers*, Hectorite, Phenethyl Alcohol, Argania spinosa (Argan) Oil*, Zinc Stearate, Tocopherol.
The precision point of this pencil makes it easy to apply, and it comes with its own spoolie.
Love the convenience and precision of the Kimiko Beauty Super Fine Eyebrow Pencil. I’m a sucker for built-ins and this twist-top pencil comes with a capped blending spoolie at the opposite end. Available in three color options: Latte, Coffee and Black Tea—all elevated, soft-toned shades.
I personally find Black Tea to be a perfect color match for me.
We do have some ingredients to consider here, but that’s what happens when we are trying to find the best of the best in a space where there are very few options.
Specifically, we see talc, which can be contaminated with asbestos.
There is a general agreement among U.S. federal agencies and the WHO that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure (1). We reached out to Kimiko to inquire about the talc they use. They didn’t get back to us but VERT Beauty, a clean beauty retailer that used to carry them, confirmed that it is “clean-sourced.”
The other thing we are seeing is palm oil in two forms: hydrogenated palm kernel oil and hydrogenated palm oil. Palm oil is a highly controversial ingredient (2). We like to support the use of ethical palm or no palm at all, and we confirmed again with VERT Beauty, who originally spoke to Kimiko, that this is indeed a sustainably sourced palm oil.
Kimiko Beauty Super Fine Eyebrow Pencil Automatique Pros:
- No need to buy any added tools
- Comes with a build in spoolie to blend
- Easy to apply
- Precise application with twist-up pencil dispenser
- Black Tea will work for some shades of gray
- Good staying power
- Easy to blend
- Does not add bulk
- Easy to remove
Kimiko Beauty Super Fine Eyebrow Pencil Automatique Cons (Considerations):
- Packaged in plastic
Full ingredients list: Stearic Acid, Rhus Succedanea Fruit Wax, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Talc, Beeswax, Squalane, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Sorbitan Isostearate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, May Contain [+/-mica, Iron Oxides (Ci77492, Ci77491), Titanium Dioxide (Ci77891).].
We also have our eyes on Eye of Horus’ pencil too, which may work for people who have an ashy or blonde base. Do you have any eyebrow makeup recommendations for gray hair?
1. Mayne, Susan Mayne, Ph. D, Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition; FDA In Brief: FDA Releases Final Report of Talc-containing Cosmetic Products Tested for Asbestos, March 2020; https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-brief/fda-brief-fda-releases-final-report-talc-containing-cosmetic-products-tested-asbestos
2. Shah, Vaidehi; Eco-Business, March 23rd, 2017; What is sustainable palm oil?; https://www.eco-business.com/news/what-is-sustainable-palm-oil/