Boy are you in for a brow [freak] treat!
I’m reviewing not one, but TWO Shu Uemura Hard Formula Brow Pencils for you today! Don’t fret, I don’t own two. Here’s a short back story of how this came to be: my sisters were in town a few weeks back, and we had a bit of a Shu Uemura fiesta at the Duty Free counter there. They got loads of stuff, and I got treated to this:
Shu Uemura Hard Formula Pencil, Hard 6 Seal Brown, US$26, at Duty Free Philippines
Probably out of confusion, the SA bagged a Hard 6 Pencil, not a Hard 9 which I intended to get. It was too late when I realized I got a Hard 6 pencil, which looks like below when applied:
The color was right, Seal Brown, the brand’s most popular shade, a cool gray brown which is universal enough to suit my hair and skin coloring. But Hard 6 has a softer lead which means it cant be sharpened to a “sword” shape, only by a regular sharpener. I really fancy the sword shape, that’s partly why I wanted to get a Shu Uemura brow pencil, that and of course the hard-er formula. I have all sorts of soft lead brow pencils, I did not want another one. But I have to say, this was really easy to use, the color looked really natural on me and it’s foolproof. You cant possibly mess up your brows because while the lead was not too hard thus marking easily, the pigment comes out faintly. You’ll have at least a couple of chances to go at it and make something out of your brows. The sharp point means you can mimic brow hairs for an even more natural effect. And again, if you don’t want to be bothered having it sharpened at Shu counters, this one only requires a regular pencil sharpener.
Luckily, my other sister agreed to swap pencils with me. She also got a Hard 9 pencil, but in Acorn—a slightly lighter, warmer brown. Here’s what it looks like applied:
To be honest, it was harder to apply the harder pencil, Hard 9. That sounded obvious and stupid, I know, but Hard 9 pencils must be sharpened a particular way otherwise you wont get it to mark well. I’m sure you’ve read how this pencil only reacts to natural oils of the skin hence, it’s marking quality. But the lead shape (naginata or traditional Japanese sword-shape) has also got a lot to do with how it delivers color:
I usually mark the outline of my brow with the thin profile of the lead and then roll the pencil so I get the wide profile to fill it in. Though it sounds technical, the whole thing takes seconds and I’m left with natural yet nicely shaped brows that stay put almost all day long.
Color and formula numbers aside, the Shu Uemura Hard Formula pencils are great items to have, specially if you’re into brows as much as I am. It gives a controlled amount of pigment in each stroke, giving the most natural effect out of all the brow pencils I have (and I have A LOT). Because of the hard formula, it almost never streaks nor crumbles, leaving a faint but consistent lines. Back in school, in drafting class, we use an H pencil to draw guidelines, mark text lines, etc. These Hard Formula pencils are like that in a sense. It’s probably worth mentioning that these pencils are of made with good quality wood that is not prone to splintering when handled/sharpened.
I cant justify having to pay that much for a brow pencil—it’s a bit of an investment considering how many cheap and decent alternatives are out there. But I have to say that I have not encountered any other similar pencil, mostly in terms of the lead and wood quality. That said, you must try it out yourself to know if you like it or not as it takes a certain penchant/appreciation/resolve to be able to spend so much for it (and also to try if you like the Hard 6 or 9 better). Just now, I had an idea of having the pencil sawed in half to share with a friend (as the price is too much, Php1400 in local Shu counters) and just have both ends sharpened! I don’t know if that makes sense but in theory I think that could work. Anyway, the thought that I own a Shu Uemura Hard 9 brow pencil has stopped me from buying any other brow pencils so far (imagine how long it will take me to finish one long pencil–it’s 6 3/4 inches!) and that in itself is a very good thing.
If you want to read more about brows, I have a 3-part post on the subject, here.