The Drugstore Dupe Files: $7.50 Almay Brow Defining Pencil Versus $21 Anastasia Brow Wiz

Published in: Drugstore Beauty Finds

Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette

$7.50 Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette

It would probably be a fool’s errand at this point in my life to try to become an Olympic sprinter…

I’m barely 5’2″ tall, I’m in questionable physical condition, and one of my legs is shorter than the other.


The Olympic sprinting thing? Not the most realistic goal for me, but I do have other aspirations, like finding drugstore dupes of my favorite department store/high-end makeup.

Now THAT’s something I can do. 🙂

It’s not gonna be easy, for sure. Sometimes (but not always) with makeup, I do think that you get what you pay for.

So I’m on a mission. I’m a woman on a mission to find respectable, affordable alternatives to her favorite department store items.

Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette on the left and Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown on the right

$7.50 Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette on the left and $21 Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown on the right

This one here is Almay’s $7.50 Brow Defining Pencil, which I’d hoped would be a drugstore dupe for my current eye pencil love, the $21 Brow Wiz by Anastasia Beverly Hills.

I completely forgot to mention this pencil in the Ulta post the other day (it was buried at the bottom of that huge bag!), which is weird because, seriously, it took me a really long time to find in the store. I combed the aisles for a possible Brow Wiz dupe.

And then I saw it — Almay’s $7.50 Brow Defining Pencil — tucked away on the bottom shelf.

“Aha!” I exclaimed…to myself. 🙂

Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette on the left and Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown on the right

Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette on the left and Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown on the right

The size of the tip is what first caught my eye. It’s very thin, just like Anastasia Brow Wiz, and the pencil also has a brow comb on the back end, again, like Brow Wiz.

Unfortunately, I only spotted two shades on the shelf…

I figured, OK, well, maybe that’s because Ulta doesn’t carry all of the colors, so I checked online from my phone.

Apparently it only comes in two colors, Brunette (which is what I’m wearing here) and Dark Blonde, whereas Anastasia Brow Wiz comes in nine.

Obvs, the other major difference is price. Anastasia’s is $21, and Almay’s is $7.50.


Now for some may-jah bare-faced action in three, two, one…

Before Almay Brow Defining Pencil…

Before applying Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette in my brows

Untamed, naked brows (and face, because I’m makeup-less)

After Almay Brow Defining Pencil…

Wearing Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette in my brows

Wearing Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette in my brows

As for the barefaced action above, what I can say? It’s Friday and I felt lazy. And don’t even ask what’s going on with my hair…

After using the Almay pencil for the past couple days, I’ve found another difference between it and Anastasia’s pencil: texture.

Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette on the left and Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown on the right

Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette on the left and Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown on the right

The tips of both pencils are similarly fine (Anastasia’s is a tad finer), and Almay’s does create the plush natural brow look I like, but Almay’s formula is slightly drier and consequently not as smooth.

I mean, it’s not a huge deal… It’s not like the pencil’s painfully difficult to use, but Anastsia’s definitely does skim along my skin and brows more easily.

Even so, I think Almay’s Brow Defining Pencil is a decent Anastasia Brow Wiz dupe — if one of the two available shades works for you.

Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette on the left and Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown on the right

Almay Brow Defining Pencil in Brunette on the left and Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown on the right

Almay Brunette is slightly warmer and redder than the Anastasia shade I usually wear (Dark Brown), and I think it’s most noticeable in pics when I use a flash.

Of course, that could just be me…

For the most part, I’m happy with Brunette. If you’re looking for a brow pencil for day-to-day wear (and less for pics), it’s a great deal.

Oh! — before I forget, the Almay Pencil’s twisty thing-a-ma-bobber takes Hulk-like strength to turn. Either that, or I need to incorporate more push-ups into my workouts.

For now, this is a pretty good dupe for my favorite brow pencil, and a more-than-capable drugstore option.


For my next drugstore dupe mission? Finding something similar to MAC Strobe Cream.

Is it possible? Time will tell… 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,




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So far, 25 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. nai says:

    I don’t think any of the colors are similar to MAC Strobe, but I do enjoy Revlon Skinlights. I use it exactly the same way I use the golden (limited edition *sad face) version of Strobe, and I like the effect.

    Also, strangely, I’m not that enamoured of Brow Wiz. Maybe the Sephora SA took my saying that I like my brows to look more natural a little too far, because I think he gave me a shade too light. But I like the idea of it – how thin the pencil is, how easily it draws, and the super-useful spoolie. I think the Almay one sounds like an excellent option but I think the Brunette might be too red for me.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nai,

      I was looking at Revlon Skinlights as a possible Strobe option. Which shade do you have? I loved that golden version of Strobe… Must look into it ASAP!

      OK, I have to admit that it took me a while to get on the Brow Wiz train. The first time I used it I was like, “Eh. It’s a’ight.” The more I worked with it, though, the more I fell in love. It also seems to really come to life when there’s a clear brow gel up in the mix. Have you tried it with a brow gel? ‘Cause that takes it to the next level.

      • nai says:

        i haven’t tried brow wiz with a gel, but i will now.

        i use the pink skinlight mixed into my foundation, especially on days that i feel meh at work. i know that someone with my skin tone (NC40) usually would be encouraged to get a warmer shade, like peach, but i already had the gold strobe (which i love, and hope they bring back this summer, because i’m hoarding every drop) and i don’t always listen to people, LOL. i don’t know how it photographs but when i look in the mirror at work, i feel like my skin/makeup looks just glowy enough.

  2. Agata says:

    The Brow Wiz is on my list of products to try but I think I will stick to the original even though the Almay version is much cheaper. And I also like the fact that Anastasia has so many shades to pick from.
    Agata recently posted … For A Natural Looking Pout Try The New L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-last Lip Color

  3. Kwmechelle says:

    Speaking of dupes, I recently bought the “new to me” NYX Eyebrow Gel. Supposedly, it’s a dupe for the MUFE product of the same name. I can’t corrobarate if they’re similar, since I’ve never tried the Aqua Brow from MUFE, but DUDE!!!
    This NYX brow gel DOESN’T. MOVE. Seriously, methinks Raul needs to meet this drugstore vixen. I can’t recall how many shades there are with the NYX brand, but it gets much needed hella reviews. It dries really fast so you have to work quick and a little goes a LONG way! It’s super affordable & major pigmented. Of course, it takes some getting used to but if you ever feel like experimenting and need more ammunition to keep Raul in place, you gotta try it. Just use a light hand, your NARS flat angled brush, and go swimming afterwards. It. Won’t. Move.
    #thankMeLATER ☺️

    • Jasmine says:

      Girl, I feel you. I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything about the NYX eyebrow gel. I freaking love it! It does go on a tad strong if you’re not paying attention, but if you’re using it alone, you can get a pretty natural eyebrow look.

  4. Chelsea says:

    I’ve been using the Sephora brand retractable waterproof brow pencil, honey blond is a great color for me. I have the Anastasia Brow Wiz too and really like it, though I think I need a different shade next time.

  5. Katie says:

    I’m intrigued about the Almay pencil! Brow Wiz is my bonafide, can’t-live-without, most hard-working cosmetic item. (I’ve professed my love for it and what it does to my wimpy brows many times here at MBB.) I have a back-up of my back-up, and maybe that’s not wallet-friendly…

    But Karen definitely touched on the two things that I always thought differentiated Brow Wiz from other brow products: color (they’re wonderfully *neutral* – never red/too warm) and texture (they’re neither dry or possess too much “slip” – easy to create results that look groomed and natural)

    OK, that’s my brow spiel for the day, LOL. TGIF, everyone.

  6. Sun says:

    I second the recommendation for the Revlon Photoready. Bare Light and Pink Light are my favorites!

  7. Sun says:

    Meant to type *Revlon Photoready Skinlights Face Illuminator* – didn’t quite make it the first time around. Again, highly recommend them! They give you a beautiful glow without making you look greasy or like you’re trying too hard. I haven’t tried the Bronze Light, but it’s supposed to be gorgeous on.

  8. macy says:

    I have never tried strobe cream, however I *think* that the loreal magic lumi primer would give a very similar effect. You should try it out!

    As for the brow wiz, I have really enjoyed Maybelline Define-a-Brow. Its a really great dupe.they also have great color options for drugstore. (Like 5 different ones. I have the one in dark blonde and it is IDENTICAL to the medium brown brow wiz.

    I also think you should try the Maybelline wonder fluid. (The little tear drop shaped foundation bottle) it has a similar formula to the Laura mercier smooth finish.

  9. Nice find, Karen, thanks for sharing! And in full war paint or bare-faced, you always look glowing 🙂
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Make-up tutorial | A smokey party look in silver and black

  10. If this was what I looked like bare-faced… You are glowing!
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Inspired by Guerlain Les Tendres Collection Spring 2015

  11. fancie says:

    This looks like a great dupe! The Almay pencil looks a little light in the swatch but it seems to work very well for you. Your brows look great! Very natural
    fancie recently posted … What’s Your Favorite Fragrance?

  12. Krista says:

    I think I’m going to give this a try!! I haven’t found a good drugstore eyebrow pencil that I love like the brow whiz yet!
    Krista recently posted … Fab Fit Fun–Winter 2014 Box!! Over $350 Value! *Plus, $5 off!!*

  13. Lorenda says:

    Hi Karen!

    Have you checked Maybelline Define a Brow? It has a very thin tip and I’ve seen people compare it to Brow Wiz…

  14. Alison M says:

    Shade selection! The biggest reason I quit shopping drugstore products. I can’t work a warm brown eyebrow pencil. Give me all the ash tones! I can pull off one drugstore-ish brow pencil… Sonia Kashuk’s Brow Definer in Taupe is rockin’!
    Alison M recently posted … Finding the Pantone Color of the Year 2015: Marsala with NARS Pigalle

  15. Erin says:

    I like the look of the Almay on you just fine. It is much lighter and redder but it still looks pretty natural. I might have to try it. It’s worth $8 to find out I guess. I’d probably need that shade because it’s lighter than most brunette pencils so the blonde is probably hella light. I forgot to look for the L’Oreal one yesterday. I hear their pencil is nice and the new brow gel they have isn’t bad either.
    Erin recently posted … Two Mini Reviews: Nikon Coolpix L330 and ATA Clothing

  16. Lisa says:

    Has anyone here tried the Dark Blonde Almay brow pencil? I’m wondering if it’s cool or warm toned. I have a tough time finding brow products that don’t skew too warm. I need something that’s cool and ashy. If there’s even a hint of warmth, it looks weird on me. I may just have to break down and try Brow Whiz.
    Lisa recently posted … Review: Urban Decay On the Run Palette

  17. Thats is a great find.. I am also always on lookout for drugstore dupes of High end stuff.. Even with that diffrence in formula Almay did a fab job!! 😀

    I have MAC Strobe cream but I would love to know its dupe 😀 😀
    Poo@beautyandmakeupmatters recently posted … 9 Best Makeup Removers In India

  18. Ronda says:

    Milani has a better dupe than Almay for Brow Wiz

  19. Kim says:

    Nice work finding an almost-dupe! I love how you do all the heavy lifting for the rest of us. 🙂 The Almay looks like it goes on less smooth and leaves a few clumps to comb out. But, as you say, for $7.50, that’s a pretty good deal!

  20. cocofiere says:

    I used to LOVE the Almay pencil and then poof! I couldn’t find it anywhere. I tried the Maybelline one (meh) and random standard pencils (I like Wet n’ Wild because I can use it to whip up a brow in seconds and it’s a buck) like Rimmel and NYC but usually default to my MUFE Aqua Brow. I have debated getting the Anastasia and MAC pencils but have yet to complete the purchase of either one. Seeing this post made my night and the next time I do a haul in Ulta, I will be adding a few of these. Thanks!

  21. Renee says:

    BH Cosmetics has one that’s even cheaper – works great!

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