Glossier Boy Brow in Brown, and Some Brow-Related Bloviation

It’s been so long since my last post! I’ve just been too busy to blog, despite having a pile of things to review and the desire to review those things. It’s really a terrible feeling. The science-fiction class for which I’m a TA had two paper deadlines in two weeks (don’t ask me why), so I was doing what felt like nothing but grading for what felt like forever. But now that my grading is done and classes are almost over, you can expect more frequent posting in the weeks to come! First on my to-review list is a product I’m very excited about: Glossier Boy Brow in Brown.

I haven’t written much about my eyebrows on this blog, because I don’t like doing much to them. I’m very grateful to my past self for not overplucking my naturally thick, dark brows, as so many girls and women did when thinner brows were popular. I’m young enough to have missed the heyday of sperm brows, but their baleful influence lingered for years. When I was a teenager and young adult, the socially acceptable brow was much thinner than it is today. My natural perversity ensured that I refused to pluck my eyebrows at all, even after a college friend literally held me down and removed my stray brow hairs to prove how much better I’d look with cleaner brows. I didn’t have a lot invested in being a nonconformist or whatever, but I liked my natural brows and disliked beauty rituals that caused physical pain. So I continued to shun tweezers, and then, about three years ago, a miracle happened: thick brows came back into fashion. Suddenly the eyebrows my father’s entire family inherited from some hirsute French ancestor were cool. I couldn’t believe it.

For a while, I didn’t feel the need for brow products or any kind of maintenance, but around 2014 I noticed that it wasn’t just thick brows that were in fashion, but thick, well-groomed brows. I also realized that my college friend had been right: my whole face looked better when I cleaned up the stray hairs that lay outside the natural arch of my brows. I bought a clear brow gel from Milani and experimented with filling in my brows with different brown eyeshadows, eventually settling on Primal from Urban Decay’s Naked2 Basics palette (second from right below).

And that was my routine until very recently: dab a bit of Milani gel on both brows, use a different spoolie to brush the gel through (the Milani one deposits way too much product), and do a quick fill-in job with Primal and an angled brush. This method gave me the effect I wanted, but it wasn’t terribly convenient: if I was taking a short trip, I had to bring the entire Naked2 Basics palette with me, even if I didn’t plan to use it for anything but my brows. So when Glossier’s Boy Brow came out late last year, I took note: here was a single product that promised the same subtle effect that I tried to achieve every morning with my clear gel and powder shadow. But I never got around to buying Boy Brow: the $16 price tag was a factor, as was the fact that it sold out eventually and returned only last month with Phase 2, but the biggest factor was that annoying name. (For the record, I find the faux-French pronunciation of “Glossier” equally annoying.)

As you know, I’ve long been skeptical of Glossier’s emphasis on “effortless beauty.” I resent the brand’s continual insinuations that true “cool girls” should look perfectly smooth and dewy and disheveled with minimal effort. Not only does this position fetishize extreme youth, it also dismisses as “uncool” the real effort that so many women put into their appearances, often because society gives them no choice. The phrase “Boy Brow” goes even further by holding up men as paragons of effortless beauty. Yes, most men have thicker, wilder brows than most women, and one of the reasons is that they face no social pressure to groom their brows. A beauty product that promises to make women look more like men is just as insulting as a beauty product that promises to make women more attractive to men. Why do men have to be part of the equation at all? Why can’t women have natural-looking messy brows that aren’t “boy brows”? You may think I’m overanalyzing a silly phrase, but, well, overanalysis is kind of my job. Also my eyebrows are much thicker and darker than my boyfriend’s, just saying.

Despite all my cavils, the product itself continued to tempt me. I’m not sure how long this ridiculous internal standoff would have lasted had Renee not sent me a tube of Boy Brow in Brown (one of three colors, the other two being Blond and Black) and a Generation G lipstick in Cake, a peachy beige. I got the entire iconic Glossier package this time, complete with the brand’s debatable but catchy tagline and one of those coveted pink bubble mailers:

The package included more stickers, as well as a sample of Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer with about three uses’ worth of product (spoiler alert: nice but nothing special)…

…and a poster featuring an extreme close-up of a dewy-skinned model’s face (complete with nose hairs: full points for gritty realism). I am not entirely sure why this poster exists.

Glossier describes Boy Brow as “not an eyebrow gel or mascara—it’s the first-ever brow pomade.” That seems like a matter of semantics to me, but there’s no denying that Boy Brow does what Glossier promises it will do: “thickens, fills in, and shapes hairs all at once.” The bottle is tiny, but it holds 3.12 grams, making it almost three times the size of Glossier’s Generation G lipsticks. Here’s Boy Brow next to a Revlon Matte Balm for scale:

 The brush itself is very small as well, with short, stiff, densely packed bristles. Here it is next to Milani’s brow gel spoolie:

I’d describe Brown as a neutral medium brown. It’s lighter than my natural brows, but not by much (plus, you want to use a product slightly lighter than your brows). The formula itself is thin and translucent; you get a good amount of product per swipe, but not an overwhelming dose of pigment.

It’s been said before, but it’s worth reiterating: Boy Brow is good for people who have naturally thick brows and/or people who want a subtle effect from their brow product. This pomade (I prefer to call it goo) will not give you on-fleek Instagram power brows, though it can be built up for more opacity. Personally, I think most people look great when they embrace their natural brow thickness or thinness, but if you have sparse brows and want a dramatic change, you should look elsewhere. I have a lot of brow to work with and I don’t want super-filled-in brows, so Boy Brow is perfect for my needs. Here are my brows without (top) and with Boy Brow (and no other makeupsay hello to my dark circles):

Not a huge change, but a noticeable one, and exactly the amount of change I want. Boy Brow softly shapes and tints my eyebrow hairs and colors the skin below my eyebrows (keep in mind, I’m extremely pale), and it lasts all day. I can’t ask for much more than that.

And for some context, here’s today’s aggressively boring face, inspired by, uh, having only a few minutes to do my makeup before going to teach Watchmen:

In addition to Boy Brow and my usual concealer and mascara situation, I’m wearing a shimmery theBalm taupe shadow, Illamasqua cream blush in Zygomatic, ColourPop highlighter in Lunch Money, and Milani Matte Naked lipstick. I’ve been wearing Lunch Money almost every day: adding a little extra light to my face just feels right for this lovely spring weather.

Another shot of Boy Brow with a slightly more interesting look featuring NARS Lhasa and Habanera eyeshadows, the same Zygomatic/Lunch Money combination, and ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Trap. As you can tell, I’m wearing a lot of off-nudes these days.

I don’t have much more to say, except that I’m definitely going to repurchase Boy Brow when I run out. Fine, Glossier. You win.

21 thoughts on “Glossier Boy Brow in Brown, and Some Brow-Related Bloviation

  1. Off nude lip colours are pretty rad.I've yet to get into the whole brow filling thing myself. Maybe because I'm lucky, brow-wise and there's no patchy bits, the hair is all uniformly dense and close. I'm still stick on the clear gel. Also because I usually rest the heel of my hand on my browbone in exasperation at work.Glossier/Into the Gloss bugs me as well but dammit if I don't sometimes fall prey to their carefully calculated effortless beauty schtick. At least they won't sell to me so I'm safe! For now.


  2. I laughed at your snarky take on Glossier, agreed with every word, yet like you I like Boy Brow despite myself. I ordered the \”Phase 2\” set though and it was the only product I liked at all.\”


  3. Don't mind me, I'm just basking in your criticism of a brand I don't like, soaking up some sweet, sweet vindication. I have no input on the full brow trend because my natural brows have been gone and they are never, ever coming back. They've been disowned. They are dead to me and I have no regrets. Consequently, the Boy Brow aesthetic is maximally unappealing.That picture of you with the poster is the best thing I've seen this week.


  4. Sorry, I know that this is entirely not the point…but now I'm reminded of how I used to really want that Milani Naked lipstick. Do you think the formula is good? I've never actually had anything by them.


  5. The most annoying part of the slogan for me is \”smile always,\” which reminds me of creepy older men shouting \”smile!\” at me on the street. The tube is definitely smaller than I expected, but I also don't need a huge amount of product per application, so I'm curious how long it will last with daily use.


  6. I love Milani's Moisture Matte formula! It's one of the only truly moisturizing matte formulas I've come across. Some of the shades are better than others (I also have Matte Fearless, a dark purple, and it's a bit patchy), but I highly recommend Matte Naked.


  7. I tried to be less snarky in this post and it just didn't work, damn it. I can no longer claim to dislike Glossier as a whole, but their branding just brings out the snarkiest in me, for some reason. Maybe it's because I'm also somewhat attracted to that aesthetic and I hate myself for being attracted to something so problematic. I still can't figure out who would actually want to hang that poster on their wall.


  8. I wish Phase 2 had included more color makeup! I think it's odd that they categorize their concealer as \”makeup\” and their tinted moisturizer as \”skincare.\” I actually like the two Generation G lipsticks I've tried, but I find it hard to get excited about concealer, and I already have two that work perfectly for me.


  9. I have yet to find my perfect true nude (Maybelline Nude Lust is close enough for now), but I love slightly weird nudes. They're work-appropriate but still fascinating. You have lovely brows! I sort of regret starting to fill in my brows, because now I don't feel \”done\” until my brows are done. At least with Boy Brow it takes only a few seconds.


  10. Do you have any international students in your class? I read 'Watchmen' and I couldn't understand it until a helpful US friend supplied the context. I find that some knowledge of American history is vital to orient yourself when reading 'Watchmen.'Into the Gloss was one of the first beauty blogs I regularly read. Not anymore though, since they cut down on product reviews and spotlights. Not to mention, the women in their Top Shelf interviews grow more and more uniform each day.


  11. I've been putting buying anything from Glossier too, but this review isn't helping.If I wanted to brush stubborn brow hairs a different way do you think the Boy Brows would hold it?


  12. It's pronounced to rhyme with \”dossier,\” so \”gloss-ee-yay.\” The other pronunciation makes so much more sense to me, because it implies that the skincare and makeup are even \”glossier\” than Into the Gloss itself! I'm really curious why they chose the less intuitive pronunciation.


  13. I'm pretty sure none of my current students are international, but they needed historical context anyway–it's a very dense and multilayered text!I noticed a huge change in ITG's content after the launch of Glossier. I assume they've stopped spotlighting products to reduce any competition with their own products. It's rare that they run more than one article per day now, and I think the interviews are targeting a younger audience. ITG is still a daily read for me, but I don't enjoy it as much as I did in say, 2012.


  14. I actually weirdly like the fact that Glossier rhymes with dossier, but good god I can't stand the name Boy Brow for exactly the same reasons you went into.I would have liked to try it when I went to order, but it was out of stock (probably around the same time you went to order). I do still have a tube of Benefit's Gimme Brow and I find that it gives a very similar effect to what you show here, so it would be a good comparison post if I do ever end up getting it. That could be something for you to try, although I'm not sure of the US price compared to Boy Brow.


  15. Yeah, I've come around to \”Glossier\” with the silent r. At least it's not as overtly offensive as \”Boy Brow.\” (I'm not a fan of theBalm's dude-themed eyeshadow palettes and liquid lipsticks for the same reason.)I'm still trying to buy mostly cruelty-free makeup (though I obviously don't have a perfect track record), so that's the major draw of Boy Brow over Gimme Brow for me. Gimme Brow is also more expensive: $24 for the same amount of product.


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