There’s just something about bleached hair that’s a compelling contradiction—it’s somehow punk yet princess at the same time. And when you bleach your brows, it really raises the ante on the look. Need an example? Chanel Brow Artist Jimena Garcia points to the OG fan, Queen Elizabeth I, who plucked or shaved her brows into non-existence. “It was a way of drawing away from the tension of femininity,” she muses. “History always repeats itself. In the era that we're in, we're really becoming gender-neutral.”
Centuries later, modern-day queens like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Amelia Gray, and Julia Fox have recently rocked the trend. Once reserved for rebellious teens and punk rockers, some of the most beautiful women in the world are now wholeheartedly embracing the look.
“Brows have always been an important facial feature, but they really stepped into the spotlight during mandatory masking, and now feel anchored as features we are more free to use to express ourselves,” says Dani Kimiko Vincent, celebrity makeup and brow artist. “Along with the resurgence of trends like skinny brows comes the return of the bleached brow. It’s less invasive than removing the hair and is a fun way to play with different looks. It opens up the eye and is an editorial look that we see trending in real life, partially due to the DIY culture embraced by many during lockdown.”
Bleached brows also bring an aura of intrigue. “It takes away the focal point of our face because everybody's always talking about how brows frame the face,” Garcia says. “The brows always give the expression of what somebody's feeling, whether they're squinted or slanted to show if they're angry, sad, or whatever. And when you take emotion away, there's something interesting about being more instinctual about things.”
Wondering about trying out the trend yourself? Here’s everything you need to know about bleached brows—including whether the DIY route is safe.
Are Bleached Brows Right for You?
The beautiful thing about bleached brows is they can work for all hair colors and skin tones. “There are no hard rules, but it’s worth spending some time googling bleached brow images of people with similar complexions and hair colors as yourself to be sure it’s a look you will feel comfortable wearing,” Vincent advises.
While the look works for all tones, the real catch is texture. If you have sparse, thin brow hair, Garcia warns you might want to avoid the trend since bleach is harsh on hair and can weaken thin brows even more. “With thin hair, you have to watch your brows because you don't have a lot of texture and you will literally look like you have no brows if you bleach them,” she says. “Bleached brows look best with a lot of texture, which requires thicker brow hair.”
Another thing to keep in mind is skin health. If you’re on the sensitive side, your skin is currently irritated, or you’re experiencing a breakout, this isn’t the time to reach for the bleach, since it can cause damage to the skin.
Can You Bleach Your Own Brows at Home?
Both Vincent and Garcia stress that it’s definitely best to see an expert for this dye job. “As a brow specialist, I encourage people to see a pro for any changes in color or shape,” Vincent says. “Bleach and peroxide are chemicals, and there is plenty of room for error. Leaving the product on too long can damage brow hair (it can singe off), and your skin can get burned by the bleach.”
But What If I Still Want DIY Bleached Brows?
Don’t do it alone. “If brow bleaching is something you do attempt at home, I would encourage asking a dexterous friend to help, as this allows you to keep your eyes closed and reduces the risk of product getting into the eyes,” Vincent says. “Keep in mind that the end color may not be exactly what you expected. However, in a worst-case scenario, you can always see a professional to dye them back to your original shade.”
Start with clean hair and skin. Jolen Creme Bleach ($16) is a popular go-to and can be found at most drugstores. Be sure to follow the enclosed instructions, which include a patch test, as the chemicals can be quite irritating to the skin. If you didn’t have an adverse reaction during the patch test, you’re good to go. Apply a protectant with a cotton bud all around the outside of the eyebrows to protect the surrounding skin. Vaseline ($3) is an old standby, but Garcia swears by Egyptian Magic ($16), or a really rich eye cream, like Chanel Sublimage La Crème Yeux ($260).
Next, apply the bleach with a spoolie and be sure to coat the entire hair, including the roots, for even lightening. “One concern is bleach falling down into the eyes, so use a piece of plastic wrap and cover the brows to prevent bleach dropping down where you do not want it,” Vincent says.
“Everyone’s brows will bleach at different rates depending on the starting color and the texture of the hair. The best way to avoid over-bleaching is to periodically check the brow color. You will likely feel some itching, which is normal, but any burning or strong discomfort means you should immediately remove the product as your skin is having a reaction. Once you get to the color you desire (and dark hair can require several sessions), remove the product and clean thoroughly using a water-dampened cotton round or tissue.”
If the color is brassy or has yellow or orange tones—something those with dark hair are more prone to—use a purple shampoo or toner and leave it on for 10 minutes to help cool the tone down.
Accidents do happen, so if bleach gets into your eyes, flush immediately with water and consult a doctor.
What Does Bleached Brow Maintenance Look Like?
That depends on how much you’ve lightened your brows. “The darker the original hair and the faster the regrowth, the more you’ll be working to maintain the look,” Vincent says. “It can be a matter of touching up every two weeks, keeping in mind that you’ll only leave the bleach on for a fraction of the time you did when you first lightened them, as hair can become too brittle when bleached repeatedly. An easy way to maintain between touch-ups is to use a full coverage concealer or a brow mascara product in a tone that matches your new lighter brows to coat the darker roots of the new brow regrowth.”
To keep brow hair healthy, it’s all about constantly conditioning them. Garcia recommends nourishing them with ingredients like argan oil, vitamin D, sweet almond oil, and castor oil.
How can I style bleached brows?
Make the most of bleached brows by working that texture. Try a clear brow gel, like Kimiko The Brow Sensei ($35), to fluff them up and give them body. Garcia’s go-tos are the Chanel Le Gel Sourcils ($32) and the Surratt Expressioniste Clear Brow Pomade ($35). “The biggest thing with these two products is that they don't flake and you want your brows be as conditioned as possible,” she says.
How Can I Work the Look Sans Bleach?
You can still sport the trend without reaching for the bleach. For a temporary touch, Garcia suggests coating your brows in concealer and/or adding some sparkle. “There's a lot of oils with gold in them now, like Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil ($100) and Chanel Les Beiges Illuminating Oil Face, Body and Hair ($90), that I've been using on people's brows,” she says. “That shimmer gives the effect of a lighter brow. Using shimmer oils and highlighters on your brows gives you that look, but it’s not extreme.”