Can You Use Hair Gel As Brow Gel? Experts Explain What To Do In A Pinch

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
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For those with a strong brow game, a trusty brow gel is nothing short of a staple. Problem is, those beloved staples can be used up rather quickly. If you've come eye to eye (or eye to brow?) with a dry, brittle wand, you might dig through your beauty arsenal to find something—anything—to keep those brows in place. With a stroke of creativity, you may wonder: Will clear hair gel work?

It would make sense to swap in a hair gel to brush up those brows; after all, both products offer a pliable hold, and clean options usually add healthy, nourishing oils to the mix. But can you really substitute hair gel as brow gel, just like that? Here, we take the guesswork out for you.

The answer? Sort of. 

If you're in a total pinch, brow expert Joey Healy says hair gel will do—depending on what product you have on hand. Ever noticed how some gels make your hair a bit crunchy after slicking back your strands? The same goes for your brows: "Hair gel can have a lot of alcohol in it, and it often results in a finish that is crispy and crunchy," says Healy. Not to mention, traditional gels tend to flake, likely as a reaction to other water-based stylers or simply the dryness in the air. On your eyebrows, the look may resemble a case of eyebrow dandruff (yes, it's a thing). Not so cute.

If you have a gel on hand that offers flexible hold, minus the crunch (a flaxseed gel, perhaps), a swipe or two on the brows might work fine. Just ease up on the application; less is more on those fragile hairs. 

But the better option, says Healy, is to snag your trusty tube of lip balm: "[Lip balms] will hold the brows in place and leave a residue that's a little bit softer," he explains. "An option with SPF is even better because it can protect your brows from bleaching in the sun." While your brows won't necessarily go platinum from sun exposure, those with newly tinted arches might want to take note. 

As for Michelle O'Connor, texture specialist and artistic director at Matrix? She recommends a gentle, clear soap, a disposable spoolie, and some water. "The soap and water tends to glue your brows into place for a perfectly sculpted look," she explains. "This produces a really perky, brushed up, editorial brow." Aka, the fluffy, full brows you may see gracing your Instagram feed.

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The takeaway. 

While you can use hair gel as brow gel, it's not the most ideal swap. Rather, try using a gentle soap and water for a simple yet effective trick. And if you come across a clean balm lying around, that'll do for an on-the-go option. Great alternatives for those of us blowing through our brow gels.

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