If you don’t err on the side of full brows, you’ll likely have little left by age 35, and nothing by 50.Why? Repetitive tweezing can lead to permanent hair loss. If you pluck the same hair over and over again, it can cause inflammation that creates scar tissue. The scar tissue acts like cement that won’t allow the follicle to grow anymore, according to New York City dermatologist Marc Avram, M.D., who specializes in hair transplantation and is a professor of dermatology at The Weill-Cornell Medical School.
When we’re young, we’re nearly all guilty of it at some point: getting over-zealous with those tweezers and attacking our bushy brows. Then, impressed by passing fashion trends or the steep arches of the latest A-list celeb, it’s easy to continue to pluck past the point of no return.Stop, says science! Even if the latest fad is to go thin or significantly change the shape of your eyebrows, full is what humans find most evolutionarily beautiful. Just like your skin ages, your brows age too, and will naturally thin as you get older.
“Full eyebrows communicate that you’re young and healthy,” says Doris Day, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center. “In addition to aging, sparse brows can also be a sign of thyroid disease, hormonal imbalance or even autoimmune conditions,” she adds.Thankfully, the “it” brow of the moment is big and beautiful, thanks to the popularity of model Cara Delevingne. If you want to maintain or get back your fullest brow possible, you need a plan. Here’s how to coax out your inner Elizabeth Taylor.
Only Tweeze Strays: Embrace the shape Mother Nature gave you, and simply tweeze errant hairs. “I always suggest filling in your arch first [with pencil or powder], so you have an established guideline of hairs that are staying or going—and only tweeze what falls outside of the defined lines,” instructs celebrity eyebrow expert Anastasia Soare.If you’re not sure what qualifies as a stray, use New York City brow expert Elke Von Freudenberg’s rule of thumb: “To keep brows as full as possible, only tweeze hairs that are not touching the main brow in any way,” she says.
Stick to a Schedule: Resist the urge to pluck emerging hairs constantly, and instead commit to a regular “clean up” session that depends on your personal rate of growth. For example, it could be weekly, biweekly or even monthly. And don’t over-tweeze in an attempt to get brows to come back in at the same rate. “Note that brow hairs all grow in different cycles—sometimes when you pull a hair, the next cycle still has to start because the hair was from a previous cycle,” says Von Freudenberg.
Deal With Regrowth the Right Way: Anastasia uses a highlighter pencil or a concealer lighter than skintone on the brow bone to separate the eyebrow from eyeshadow. It not only accents bone structure attractively, but it also hides the hairs beginning to poke back through that often drive us to over-pluck in the first place.
Darken Brows if You Have Light Hair: If you have fair-colored brows that grow in even lighter—a common occurrence for natural blondes and redheads—your brows can look skimpier than they actually are. Try a tinted brow mascara, or consider a professional brow tint at the salon as a longer-lasting way to make brows appear fuller, says Von Freudenberg.
Brush Your Brows: If your brows are thinning, the popular old wives’ tale of growing hair with 100 strokes at bedtime can actually apply here. “I’ve seen great results from clients who ritually brush brows at night, to the extent that I created Brow Scrub,” says Von Freudenberg.Using an old toothbrush, brush your brows for at least a minute above, through and below the brow. “If there is a root, the stimulation causes the hairs to grow, much like brushing your hair on your head. Clients see results in as little as two weeks,” adds Von Freudenberg.
Fill in With Powder and an Angled Brush: If you’ve overdone it and have areas that need some love, Anastasia says that brow powder applied with an angled brush looks softest and most natural. (Anastasia’s Brow Powder Duo is actually our longtime favorite.) “Always start at the halfway point and work towards the ends, using upward strokes to mimic hair,” advises Antastasia. Go lighter towards the inner corner that can get oily from the t-zone throughout the day, as the oils will darken brow product, she adds.
There’s Hope for the Thinnest Brows: Popular over-the-counter vitamin serums will help grow brows that still have active follicles, say our experts. For brows that have long since stopped growing, Dr. Day has witnessed impressive results with a couple of prescription drugs. “I’ve seen off-label use of Latisse and Rogaine work amazingly well on brows—the medications seem to push the hair into the growth phase, and hold it there longer,” says Dr. Day.