Bye Bye Benefit, Hello Budget-Friendly Brows

Bye Bye Benefit, Hello Budget-Friendly Brows

I’m going to keep it real. Brows used to scare me. Everyone always seemed to have perfectly shaped and filled-in brows. As soon as I would get in front of the mirror with my overpriced pencil in my hand — that costs about $24, but I know it is worth nowhere near that — I got … Nervous? Scared? I don’t know. What I do know about brows, though, is that they’re supposed to be “sisters” and not “twins.” That always made me feel a bit better — until I looked around me and saw brows on my friends that look like identical twins. Meanwhile, my own “sisters” resemble cousins more than anything.

That being said, I love makeup, and I think years of practice have made me pretty good at it. But brows? They’re always the hardest part for me. It’s not because there’s multiple complicated steps. It’s because your brows frame your face. There’s a lot of pressure on those two little arches. You can transform a no-makeup look completely with just filled-in brows. That’s power. And because of that, I’ve always seen brows as an essential part of my routine, even though they started off as something that seemed intimidating. 

Luckily, since the days I used to be afraid of my brows in high school, the beauty community recognized that doing your brows needed to be a lot easier, and there needed to be more tools than just a pencil or pomade. The addition of gels, powders, and pencils that vary in thickness and stroke have made doing brows way less stressful. 

In fact, it’s kind of fun. 

There are different products for everyone, regardless of what kind of brow mood you might be in. Want a feathery look? Just brush in some gel and you’re good to go. Want something that resembles the Kardashians? Start with a lighter pencil shade at the front and blend it with a darker one towards the arch. There’s something for everyone now, and that’s why I think eyebrows are one of the beauty industry’s biggest focuses, especially for college students.

Leiah Breitfelder, a DePaul student and Sephora Collection campus ambassador, talked to me about why she thinks brows are currently beauty’s “it thing,” and what makes Sephora’s latest Big Brow Energy campaign the perfect brow fix for busy students.

“Our generation’s interest is brows right now. They wanted to level up against brands that are already doing that, and it’s a lot cheaper too,” Breitfelder said as she went over the campaign itself. And honestly, she’s right. Some of the most well-known eyebrow products are made by Benefit and Anastasia Beverly Hills. Benefit’s classic brow pencil, the Precisely, My Brow pencil, is $24. That is, unfortunately, the price I personally pay for filling my brows in every day. Anastasia’s most similar product, the Brow Wiz, is $23. That is a lot for one pencil, especially for college students that might be on a tighter budget. In contrast, Sephora’s Retractable Brow Pencil is only $12. A little more budget friendly, in my opinion.

The Big Brow campaign started a few months ago, focusing on how to get the best brows without a big investment. Breitfelder said the products are especially exciting because they are for everyone. 

“I think their goal was to make a whole line that could be used universally. They are trying to come up with a line of brow products that can be used for everyone no matter your brow shape or how thick they are,” she said. There are five products in the line. These include a clear brow gel, a brow shaper pencil, brow volumizing mascara, a microblade effect brow pen and a retractable pencil. These five products can be used in combination with one another, or separately, depending on an individual’s brow needs.

Breitfelder’s personal routine involves the use of a brow shaper pencil and clear gel to set everything in place. Breitfelder said she starts with drawing a line all the way through them and then fills in the tail. She then uses a lighter colored pencil in the front of her brows, blending it in with the darker color. Then she runs a gel through them to finish off the look. 

“I found that Benefit is not as blendable,” she said. Breitfelder thought that even though the Sephora brow pencil may lack pigment as compared to Benefit products, she still likes it because it’s “more natural.” That seems to be a big makeup trend these days, which is why she doesn’t mind the softer pigments. 

Melissa Lopez, a junior transfer student at DePaul, agreed that the natural look is on trend, especially when she has class. 

“I prefer lighter coverage makeup when going to classes because makeup can easily feel heavy and greasy. I try to look presentable while also maintaining a level of comfort,” Lopez said. College students often don’t have a lot of time to do a full face of makeup out the door (if you do, kudos to you, I wish I could do it). Because of that, convenience and face framing is key, and having a good pair of brows is the best way to achieve that. Lopez added that having her brows done makes her feel like her face is more symmetrical and that filling her brows helps enhance her natural features. 

Don’t get me wrong, doing a full glam look is always an easy way to feel your best, but like Lopez stated, a lot of college students just want to look presentable for their busy schedules. Breitfelder noticed that change within her own routine. As someone who used to do a full face of makeup everyday to high school, everything changed during college.

“It depends on what you’re doing with your day,” she began. “Now it’s like, do I have my internship today? Do I have to impress? For me, if I’m looking to be really put together I’ll do a full face, but if it’s like class or like even the gym, you don’t need to dress to impress. I feel like that’s a lot of people’s mindset in college.” 

That’s why brows are so important, especially if you don’t have the time to do a full face but still want to feel your best. Breitfelder said our generation is all about making a statement, and the easiest way to do that is with a good pair of brows. And in comparison to other brow products on the market, Sephora’s Big Brow Energy collection has all the same products as prestige makeup brands, but at a more college friendly price.

Advertisement courtesy of Breitfelder

Kameron Stanko, another DePaul student, agreed that brows are a big beauty fixture for the Millenial and Gen Z-ers of today. “I feel like eyebrows are an important feature. Having my brows done makes me feel good about myself.”

Because of the importance of eyebrows to college students, as well as our busy schedules, Breitfelder is having an event today, Friday, March 13, where she will be giving out free products for everyone to try. The event is taking place at Ion Lincoln Park, near campus. This will give students a chance to try out the affordable collection and make sure their brows are looking in tip top shape. Cheap and easy but comparable to Benefit? It’s a BIG yes from me.

Header image by Yusra Shah