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Road Test: Are high-end brow soaps worth the hype?

WORDS BY RUBY STALEY

Or is it just smart marketing?

Have you always wanted to try out the laminated brow trend without the hefty price tag and commitment? Then I’ve got something to put you on to.

Made popular by thrifty beauty-fluencers and makeup artists, it’s become industry knowledge that a bar of Pears translucent soap (a ridiculously inexpensive product that is typically used to clean your skin) has another superpower.

When mixed with a light spray of water or setting spray and lathered onto a spoolie brush, the soap is said to hold your brows in place all day – better than most brow gels will.


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Although makeup pros have been using soap to slick brow hairs for years, the rise of beauty TikTok propelled the ‘soap brows’ trend further into the mainstream, endowing it with the cult status it currently holds.

Having personally tried many brow gels – both pricey and cheap – in my pursuit of keeping my long but thin brow hairs spiked up, the soap brow trend obviously caught my attention.

With an excess of time to experiment, I trialled the method a few times mid-lockdown last year and liked the way it made my brows look. Bushy but neat. But because I wasn’t using the intended Pears brand of a transparent, glycerine based soap and instead just used a creamy one I found lying around in the cupboard, I found my brows didn’t stay put the way I had anticipated.

Since the trend exploded, a variety of luxury and affordable makeup brands have jumped on the bandwagon and tried to launch their own ‘brow soap’. Usually encased in luxurious packaging with hefty price tags to match, these new products are designed to mimic the performance of a bar of soap. Obviously, this piqued my interest.

After seeing my favourite beauty-fluencers Hannah English and Bianca Hill try out and endorse Mecca Max’s version, the Brow Guru Super Soap, I purchased it in the hopes of fulfilling all my soap brow dreams. After using it consistently for over a month, I decided I loved the way it made my brows look initially, but that my brow hairs started to fall and slip over a period of a few hours.

Thinking back to where the soap brows trend originated – the iconic bar of Pears soap – I wondered if it was worth revisiting that tried and true soap method. Ultimately, I hoped to compare it to the Mecca Max version to see if these purposefully marketed ‘brow soaps’ are actually worth the extra dosh.

Comparing the pair

Although there are a huge variety of brands that offer a brow soap, some even dedicating their entire brand to the product itself, I was attracted to Mecca’s version as I’ve used and loved the brand’s brow gel previously. For $16, the Mecca Max Brow Guru Super Soap promises to lift and style brows in a way “that will defy gravity all day long”.

Funnily enough, Pears Soap Bar Transparent didn’t come with any claims to tame my brows but instead to “gently moisturise skin to keep it smooth”. For $2 a bar, or $6 for a 3 pack, it boasts a wealth of product sitting at 125g a bar compared to Mecca’s 10g pot.

Although both products listed similar key ingredients (water, sorbitol, sodium palmate and glycerine), Mecca’s version had a far shorter list, something usually associated with more natural products. The Pears Soap ingredients list is comparable to most mass-produced soap products – including a range of ingredients I’ve never heard of before and can’t pronounce.

For consistency, I trialled both products side by side. I made sure to follow the instructions indicated by Mecca for its brow product. This included dampening my spoolie with water or setting spray, rubbing the bristles into the individual soaps – using a new spoolie each time – and brushing my brow hairs upwards with the product.

My verdict?

While at surface level the two products seem to fulfil a similar purpose and luckily, are both vegan and cruelty-free, they actually performed differently over a series of hours.

Upon initial application, the two produce a pretty identical brow, however, the Pears soap seemed to stick my brow hairs much more vertically than the Mecca product. But after trialling the two side by side on a night out, Mecca Max on my left and Pears on my right, I was surprised by just how good the soap was.

At the end of the night, after hours of drinking, chatting and sweating on the dance floor, the Mecca side was expectedly a bit flat and on my left side the brow hairs had essentially gone back to their natural positions – not ideal but not terrible either. However, on my right side, the Pears soap had managed to keep my brows hairs basically vertical and they looked essentially untouched at the end of the night.

Personal experience aside for a second, it’s worth acknowledging that the Mecca soap is a product that was purposefully designed for the specific brow slicking use in mind, rather than just surprisingly working well, so it’s possibly better for your skin in the long term.

Much like other brands, Mecca’s development team took the idea of the soap brow and hoped to create a luxurious experience and more effective product and I’m sure in the process it would have ensured it was safe for the face and around the eye area.

However, for all the reasons I wanted to declare the Mecca product the winner – its ingredients list is far more appealing and less intimidating than the Pears soap, the packaging is perfect for travelling while being lux and it was intentionally made to be used on the brows – if I’m being honest, I liked the Pears soap more. And it’s only $2!

In acknowledging that everyone likes a different brow look, at the end of this experiment I decided I would be comfortable recommending both products for slightly different purposes.

For serious brow slickers out there who, like me, love a laminated and spiked-up brow look, I urge you to give the Pears Transparent Soap Bar a go. You won’t regret it. But for those who like their brows a little more natural, textured and malleable, the Mecca Max Brow Guru Soap is a great place to start.

Need more soap brow tips? Check this out.

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