There are certain beauty woes that while completely unfortunate are equally inevitable (that pre-date pimple, for instance.) Thus, we’re thankful for the litany of products our favorite brands have formulated to prevent, treat, and camouflage annoying conditions like breakouts and scaly skin (aka dandruff). No, we can’t prevent the bumps and dandruff completely, (because if we’ve learned anything over the years it’s that our oil glands have a mind of their own), but there's no denying that our arsenal of acne-fighting cleansers and scalp-soothing elixirs lends a helping hand in a pinch. Save, of course, that one particular chin pimple that consistently makes its appearance 60 minutes prior to drinks. (Spoiler: The universe will always win.)
Another clause of Murphy’s Law? Our skin’s tendency to shapeshift from one annoying condition to another (usually seasonally). One such example being eyebrow dandruff, the lesser-known evil step sister to the same flaky situation that can haunt the scalp. Didn’t know that dandruff de la eyebrow was a thing? Consider yourself enlightened. Below, we break down who can get it, what it is, and how you can treat it. Keep reading for everything you never knew you needed to know about eyebrow dandruff.
Who gets it?
As with dandruff of the scalp, the eyebrow variety has nothing to do with one's hygiene. So while it's not exactly aesthetically pleasing, in no way should the condition be considered "dirty" or the result of a grimy complexion.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, there's a variety of culprits that could play a role in the causation of dandruff (including the eyebrow kind). "Many factors seem to work together to cause seborrheic dermatitis. These factors may include the yeast that normally lives on our skin, our genes, living in a cold and dry climate, stress, and a person’s overall health."
Specifically, the organization cites skin conditions (like rosacea, psoriasis, and acne), and other diseases like Parkinson's, HIV, epilepsy, alcoholism, eating disorders, and depression, as possible instigators.
What is it?
First and foremost, dandruff that haunts our eyebrows is the exact condition that can appear on the scalp. Medically known as seborrheic dermatitis, it's also known to show up on the breastbones, backs of the ears, and on either side of the nose—all areas of the body that have a greater concentration of oil glands. The true cause of seborrheic dermatitis is still unknown, but those who are prone to oily skin have a higher likelihood of extra flakes and scales.
David Lortscher, MD, dermatologist, and CEO of Curology said it best, explaining to us earlier this month, "Seborrheic dermatitis occurs in areas of the body that are rich in oil glands, so the central face is a prime target. Many people also have itching and flaking in the scalp, although both areas are not necessarily affected; the central chest may be involved as well."
Due to changes in climate and season, we're all prone to bouts of dry skin here and there, but those with a true case of dandruff will usually experience skin that's inflamed, itchy, greasy, and covered with flaky white or yellow scales—consistently.
And though Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care, tells us that dandruff is hard to prevent completely, there is a strategic, drugstore-friendly way to keep it under control.
How to treat it
As we've discussed, eyebrow dandruff is an entirely different beast than the dryness that riddles the likes of our elbows and shins. Thus, drenching your brows with lotions, moisturizers, and oils will probably do more harm than good. (Remember what we said earlier about oil glands?)
What your eyebrows do need? Dandruff shampoo. According to each one of our experts (and all of our research) using the same types of dandruff shampoos that are formulated for your scalp will also work wonders on your eyebrows. There are multiple ways you can use a product like this, but using it in lieu of your go-to face wash (at least for the time being) is a good place to start. To maximize results, Dr. Tanzi suggests letting it sit prior to rinsing, which will encourage a deeper clean and removal of scales.
However, she also adds that for some situations, this type of treatment may not be enough and a visit to your dermatologist may be in order. Once you're at the office, your doc will assess the affected area and decide if a stronger prescription medication may be needed.
Next up, according to Reddit, this is the most universally flattering brow color.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Seborrheic dermatitis: who gets and causes.
Borda LJ, Wikramanayake TC. Seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff: a comprehensive review. J Clin Investig Dermatol. 2015;3(2):10.13188/2373-1044.1000019. doi:10.13188/2373-1044.1000019
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Seborrheic dermatitis: signs and symptoms.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Seborrheic dermatitis: diagnosis and treatment.