beauty

This life-changing $5 brow gel is the perfect dupe for Benefit Gimme Brow.

The Great Brow Obsession came upon us very quickly, and without warning. One minute we were plucking and shaping our brows, and the next we were growing them out to be full, expressive wonders while gazing adoringly at photos of model, actress and supreme brow owner Cara Delevingne. Since this brow revolution, there has been one undisputed queen of brow products: Benefit Gimme Brow.

This “brow-volumizing fiber gel” is the darling of beauty editors and enthusiasts, because it does it all in one step – tints, lifts, holds and volumises – with the flick of its tiny, mascara-like wand. It’s like having my own personal celebrity brow stylist (her name would be Jessalyn-Marie) to tend to my sparse and droopy eyebrow hairs.

Given that Benefit Gimme Brow can do it all, it seems fair that it comes in at $42 for a 3ml vial. It’s so popular that it’s Benefit’s number one selling brow product.

But sometimes, I don’t have a spare $42, yet still want to whip my brows into shape with minimal effort. This is when my true fairy browmother – I mean, godmother – came into my life: Essence Make Me Brow eyebrow gel mascara, which I bought for $5 at Priceline, but can also be found at variety stores like Target.

If you don’t feel like pulling up the Calculator app, Essence Make Me Brow is around 12 per cent of the cost of Benefit Gimme Brow. Like its Benefit cousin, the Essence Make Me Brow is a tinted fibre gel “for beautifully defined and full eyebrows”.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was the best budget fibre brow gel I had tried. (Sadly for my wallet, I had purchased and tried almost every affordable brow gel out there, such was my brow obsession.) Essence Make Me gave me fuller, groomed and believably fuller brows.

After some sleuthing, I discovered that Essence Make Me Brow is famous amongst beauty YouTubers and influencers, who claim that it is a dupe (AKA a copy) of Benefit Gimme Brow.

An investigation beckoned me, to find out whether Essence Make Me Brow could truly stand in for its more expensive cousin. Let’s open this cold case file, shall we?

Packaging.

Benefit Gimme Brow dupe
Image: Supplied.
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Benefit is clearly the winner here, with its silvery finish and geometric lines. It’s like putting a diamond next to a beef rissole. That said, rissoles are delicious.

Both products have pun-tastic names, which makes me smile while I’m BROWsing through my makeup bag.

Brush.

Benefit Gimme Brow dupe
Essence Make Me Brow brush (left) and Benefit Gimme Brow brush (right). Image: Supplied.

Both products have small, tapered and compact brushes, although the Benefit brush is slightly smaller. I didn’t notice a difference between using either brush, as they were both easy to use and manipulate.

As you can see in the photo, the Essence brush comes out of the tube with too much product on it – something that has happened with every single brow gel I’ve ever used, so it wasn’t a big deal. Benefit had a few tiny clumps of product, but not as much as other brands. Definitely dab each brush gently onto some paper towel before applying, to remove the excess and allow for a clump-free application.

Colour.

Benefit Gimme Brow dupe
Swatches of Essence Make Me Brow (left) and Benefit Gimme Brow (right). Image: Supplied.
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I used the darkest of both shades – 6 Deep (Benefit) and 02 Browny Brows (Essence). As you can see, the colours are near identical. They are both a lovely, cool brown, which suits my combination of light skin and black hair.

Something I love about Benefit Gimme Brow is that it’s available in eight different shades, from very light, blonde brows to dark brows like mine. Essence Make Me Brow comes in two shades in Australia: Blondy Brows and Browny Brows. Overseas, there’s a third in-between shade, Soft Browny Brows.

Result.

I applied Benefit Gimme Brow to one eyebrow, and Essence Make Me Brow on the other. It was a fun day for my face!

Benefit Gimme Brow dupe
Here’s me with nothing on my brows. My eyebrows are sparse, not defined and a lil’ bit droopy. Image: Supplied.
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Benefit Gimme Brow dupe
Now I’m wearing brow products. Can you tell the difference? I’ve got Benefit Gimme Brow on the eyebrow at left, while the Essence product is on the eyebrow at right. I did one application of each product. Image: Supplied.
Benefit Gimme Brow dupe
The difference is minimal. Image: Supplied.

Benefit Gimme Brow is the product I’d use if I was in a rush and needed full, fluffy brows ASAP. They looked thicker, groomed and fuller in one application. I was actually amazed that one little brush and product could do the jobs of an eyebrow pencil, eyebrow gel and a wax. Make Gimme Brow Prime Minister, please!

Essence Make Me Brow could definitely do the job of Deputy Prime Minister, and would have PM Benefit Gimme Brow looking over her shoulder nervously, in case of a leadership spill. It’s a real Kevin Rudd-Julia Gillard situation, if you know what I mean. I didn’t get a full, filled-in look from one application of the Essence product, but it did lift the brow hairs and add a subtle tint. This is great if you prefer a lighter, more casual look. With a few more applications, it easily builds up to a fuller Gimme Brow look – and all takes are a few extra seconds in front of the mirror.

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Both products had a natural, lightweight feel, and didn’t become stiff or crunchy.

The main difference I noticed between the Benefit and Essence brow gels was that the Benefit product applied more smoothly and evenly, while the Essence product tended to have a bit of a patchy and inconsistent look. However, this could easily be fixed with a quick brush-through with a clean eyebrow brush, spoolie or toothbrush.

At the end of the day, both of my eyebrows were still intact, and did not smudge or rub off.

The verdict.

Benefit Gimme Brow is an exceptional brow product, doing the heavy lifting of several products within seconds. Essence Make Me Brow also does its job beautifully and effectively, and with a tiny bit of extra effort and care, it can produce results that are very similar to its posh Benefit cousin. And for only $5, it gives a lot of bang for your buck.

Carla Gee is a writer and illustrator living in Canberra. You can find her on Instagram as @bycarlagee and @littlecloudcarla

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