D.O.A: Eyebrow Pencils

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Does anyone remember those Dead Or Alive fighting games? Do they even still make those? I used to play them back in the noughties, they were so good. I’d always choose to play my girl Lei Fang and I cannot BELIEVE they paid her dust in the terrible film adaptation. She had like one scene! For shame, Hollywood.

Anyway, today is going to be the first installation of our Dead Or Alive: Makeup Version series where we take two (or more!) makeup products– one expensive, one cheap– and basically do a little compare and contrast. I know, my propensity towards groundbreaking and original ideas astounds me, too.

Let us kick things off with a little battle of the eyebrow pencils, shall we? It’s Shu Uemura versus Silkygirl. Get ready…. FIGHT!

SHU UEMURA HARD FORMULA EYEBROW LINER (RM85)

You know I’ve been wanting to try this eyebrow pencil for a couple of years now, but the price and the fact that you had to bring it to the shop to sharpen it weighed on my mind. I mean, apparently you can just sharpen it with any ordinary eyebrow pencil but then what would be the point? You’d just end up with any old 90’s-looking eyebrow pencil. No, girl, it’s slanted shape or bust.

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But when MyLS girl Jun Yong said she used it and that it lasts her basically forever I figured, what the hell, why not? Eyebrow pencil is something that I use every single day so if I don’t have a problem dropping the dosh on a blush (which I wouldn’t use every day!) why not do so on something you’ll definitely use? So I headed off to a Shu Uemura counter to get myself one.

While I was busy swatching these pencils at the counter (they come in a great variety of shades!) the salesgirl suddenly came up to me and, without saying a word, grabbed my hand and squeezed out some foundation on it.

“Okay, whet?” I thought. If she was going to start pushing “their latest foundation! So natural” on me, she had another thing coming. But no, it turned out that having a foundation on gives the product more payoff so she was just trying to help. I know I’m supposed to say something like “if you need to have foundation for the product to be visible, then take your money elsewhere hunny!” but… man. I mean I wear foundation nearly everyday anyway so I don’t really have a problem with it. I’m not going to be wearing eyebrow pencil if I’m not already wearing foundation, you know what I mean?

Anyway, the shade I have is in Stone Gray.

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Okay, afternoon sunlight is a cold, cruel bitch of a mistress! Back to the product. As you can see, although I’m not super heavy handed with the brow pencil, I don’t totally go for the “just going to fill in any gaps” thing either. I definitely extend the tails of my eyebrows more than it might be wise to do, so a problem I have with some of the cheaper eyebrow pencils I’ve been using (AKA all of them) is the waxy texture.

If you’re just filling in tiny gaps then this might not be a problem but if you’re drawing an eyebrow on where there isn’t any actual hair the waxy texture is really going to come thru and just look really nasty sometimes. Especially when it’s hot. Half melted eyebrows is up there with half melted under eye concealer, to me. With this eyebrow pencil, you wouldn’t really have that problem. It isn’t waxy at all, but is instead very soft and wispy. At the risk of sounding corny, you know how sometimes you check out South Korean actresses and they have these obviously filled-in brows but they still look soft and un-harsh but then you try replicating it and just end up looking crazy? This is the kind of pencil you use when you really want to fill in and thicken up your brows without making them look too strong.

Although you’d be hard pressed to get this eyebrow pencil to show up on your hand, it goes on easily and smoothly on your brows. I don’t know what kind of illuminati magic is involved, but it just becomes twice as pigmented on your brows as it does on any other part of your body. I’m guessing that it needs the help of actual brow hairs to support it, which makes me wonder if this product would be good for someone who barely has any actual brow hair. Another thing is that it doesn’t stay on as well as waxier eyebrow pencils do. I’m a chronic napper, and I’ve found that this doesn’t withstand nap time (you can judge me but the truth is I’ve already judged myself so it’s redundant) as well as my heavier, waxier, Scouse-brow eyebrow pencils do. Maybe it wasn’t made for the ratchets who fall asleep in the daytime!

The sword shape, which is the main reason I bought it, is absolutely excellent. It’s definitely great for the tails of your eyebrows, which can look too bulky and funky with regular, non-samurai sword shaped brow pencils. So far I’ve already taken it to the store for resharpening once, and I’ve got to say it works better after you’ve sharpened and shortened it a bit. When fresh out of the box, it’s a bit long and tends to smack against your mirror when you’re trying to do your brows. It gets annoying.

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SILKYGIRL EXPERT BROW SLIM LINER (RM20.90)

I know, the horror, comparing Silkygirl to Shu Uemura??? Clutch your pearls, Martha! But Silkygirl was one of my first makeup brands and I’ve always found it to be steady and reliable. I wouldn’t say I have any Holy Grail products from them, but they’ve never given me anything horrific before.

As can be seen from the pictures, this eyebrow pencil has a very small, very fine tip. I know that some people love this kind of shape because it makes it easier to draw in more precisely, but I’ve never been much of a fan. Firstly, it’s so fragile! I’ve had superfine eyebrow pencils before only to find that they’ve shattered on the inside. Like leave the internal shattering to ME, okay? My eyebrow pencils don’t need that.

Aside from that, I personally find small eyebrow pencils to be more difficult to use. I guess I can kind of see the appeal if you like to really design your eyebrows– plus I will attest to the fact that it’s definitely easier to extend the tip of your brows with this one, due to how slim it is– but I’m not into that and I find that this pencil tends to leave me with unintentionally blocky, drawn-on brows, especially on the inner parts of my brows. Am I saying it’s a bad thing? No! But it’s just not my thing!

I guess you could avoid that look by patiently feathering in tiny, ‘hair-like’ strokes as we’re so often advised to do but… no. Most of the time when I’m doing my makeup, I’m in a rush to get out the door and beat traffic. Unless I’ve got some fancy event to go to, I really do not have the time to be sitting around gingerly tracing on individual ‘hair-like’ strokes.

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Presumably to overcome any issues of overdrawn rectangle eyebrows, a spoolie is provided on the other side, although to be honest it isn’t the best spoolie around. One day I’ll really sit down and study the various spoolies I’ve tried and determine what is it which makes me like/dislike them, but in the meantime I’ll just say that I don’t like the spoolie. It’s pretty rough and kind of painful to use.

Despite everything I’ve just said, I really do not think this is a bad eyebrow pencil at all. My problem with it just stems from the fact that it’s not made for someone with my aesthetic. I have pretty typically Asian brows (by that I mean East Asian although I’m not East Asian at all) so I go for the typically Asian brow look. This Silkygirl eyebrow pencil was made for someone who goes for a more Western power brow, and for that I think it would actually work pretty well. Not only is the tiny nib ideal for really controlling the shape of your brows, the payoff is excellent (I could use it as an eyeliner if I wanted to) and it’s soft and creamy, so there is no struggle in getting it to actually show up.

And yeah, it will definitely last through nap time.

So is there a K.O. in this fight? Nah. It’d just depend on what you’re going for, actually. If you’d like a softer look, or if you’re just incapable of doing your brows with a light hand, I’d recommend the Shu Uemura since I really haven’t found a brow pencil as soft and natural as this.

However, if you’re into the power brow then I’d stir you to the direction of the Silkygirl eyebrow pencil long before I recommend to you any of the more expensive brands which probably does the same thing but at three times the price (e.g. rhymes with ‘fart’…).

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