The best brow glues and waxes

My grandmother, like many women of the second world war generation, soaped her brows. She would run an old toothbrush under the tap, blot it dry so that it was barely moist, then run it along the solid bar soap by the sink, the moisture helping to keep the waxy deposit relatively thin and clear. The toothbrush would then be used to stroke brows upwards, the soapy residue keeping them fluffy but neatly fixed in place for the day. The technique lives on in the film industry and drag community, but the rest of us can approximate its effects with less faff and one simple brow product.

For me, brow glues and waxes are a staple in summer, when drawing on perfect brow arches seems unseasonably high maintenance, and a sleek, sculpted shape jars with other, more casual, minimal, smooshed-on makeup. I want something I can sweep through carelessly to instantly fix brows and make them look thicker (when hairs stand proud, the overall thickness of the brow shape increases); that holds firm but doesn’t feel hard and spiky, or flake off as though my brows have dandruff.

My long-term love is Surratt’s Expressioniste Brow Pomade (£30 for 5ml), an outstanding product with a sobering price tag, so I’ve been on the hunt for more affordable alternatives. Refy Beauty’s Brow Sculpt (£16 for 8.5ml) has impressed. This double-ended wand features a dual comb and brush head at one end – useful for getting your brows where you want them before gluing them down with the fixing cream (dispensed via a mascara wand) at the other. It sticks without stiffness or flakes, though I find I need to scrape off any excess to avoid residual whiteness. I like it so much that I’ve just bought another.

NYX Professional Makeup’s The Brow Glue (£6.50 for 5ml) is as it sounds. This is a one-and-done solution that takes seconds to comb, shape and stick brows in place. You need to work quickly, on one brow at a time, to stop the glue setting before you’re ready, but once you’re done, you can forget all about it until bedtime.

The best balance of performance and price came from HD Brows’ Brow Glue (£16 for 10ml), which somehow withstood the heaviest downpour of the year but gave the sort of fluffed-up, full-looking brows that go perfectly with a lighter base, a smidge of bronzer and some tinted lip balm. My nan would have loved it.