Skinny brows, like skinny jeans, go in and out of style every couple of seasons. But unlike changes in fashion that can be amended with a shopping trip, changes made to your brows can take time and effort to come back from.
Regardless of the cause for sparse brows, we wanted to understand the best route to fuller brows. To get the full scoop on regrowth, we turned to the experts: board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, global brow expert for Benefit Cosmetics Jared Bailey, and Gretchen Friese BosleyMD's certified trichologist. Read ahead for their top tips for growing out eyebrows.
Meet the Expert
- Marisa Garshick, MD, is Cornell's board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor.
- Jared Bailey is a Global Brow Expert for Benefit Cosmetics located in San Francisco, CA.
- Gretchen Friese is a BosleyMD-certified trichologist.
- Morgan Rabach, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City,
While Minoxidil is most commonly used as a scalp treatment, dermatologists will often prescribe it off-label for brow hair growth. You'll need to visit a dermatologist to oversee your treatment, but Rabach says that typically you'll start start with a 3 percent concentration and increase to 5 percent if needed. “I would recommend applying the liquid form of minoxidil directly to the skin with a Q-tip before bed," she says.
Put the Tweezers Down
"Brow hair grows on a cycle," Bailey says. He suggests eliminating temptation by surrendering your tweezers if you've gone overboard. "Focus on letting your hairs regrow for three months. Depending on how healthy the brow hair follicles are, it can take 12-16 weeks to see your fullest growth potential."
Garshick agrees, adding, "Avoid pulling out your eyebrow hairs. In some cases, this may be associated with a condition known as trichotillomania, if you cannot stop pulling out your eyebrow hairs, it is best to see a doctor to determine if any treatment could be helpful." Garshick also says to avoid plucking to allow your brows time to regrow. "While it can be tempting, over-plucking can lead to thin brows and cause potential trauma to the surrounding skin," she explains.
Take a True Rest Period
While hard to do, Bailey urges you to observe the entire rest period before altering your brows. "As tempting as it can be, try to let your brows grow for 12-16 weeks before having them shaped after over-tweezing. If the outgrowth becomes distracting, use a full-coverage, matte concealer, like Boi-ing Cakeless, in a shade that matches your skin tone," Bailey says.
He recommends using a small amount of concealer and a stippling technique to disguise the growth around your shape. "Depending on the depth of your brow hair, this technique may take a few layers to blend naturally into your skin," he says.
In the three months of rest, Bailey recommends avoiding tweezing, but he understands that you may need to clean up a few hairs. "Say no to power-plucking. Go for one brow hair at a time if you need to tweeze or shape the brow area during regrowth," explains Bailey. This will help ensure you don't grab the wrong one and end up with a patch or a hole.
Latisse is most commonly known as a prescription treatment to enhance eyelash length, but it can be used to promote brow growth as well. You'll need to see a dermatologist to see if you're a candidate—and it can be quite pricey at around $100 per month—but it's one of the fastest-working options on the market.
Fake Thicker Brows By Filling Them In
While you wait for your new growth to come in, filling in your brows may help to stave off additional plucking. The key to creating the appearance of thicker brows is creating believable, hair-like strokes throughout the arch. A micro-lining pencil like Precisely, My Brow Pencil ($25) is a sparse brow's best friend. The secret to making this look is twofold," Bailey explains.
- First, select a pencil shade that mirrors the undertone (warm, cool, neutral) and depth of color (blonde, brown, black, etc.) in your brow. Next, fill in sparse areas with tiny strokes to replicate the hair look.
- To achieve a natural result, leave hints of flesh between each stroke. You want to apply this product with as much intention as your concealer, only placing strokes where needed.
- Finally, use a fiber-based gel like Gimme Brow + ($26) to create a three-dimensional look. This gel has tiny microfibers that cling to the brow hairs and keep any brow from looking fake or drawn on.
- For maximum volume, start by backcombing your brows, beginning at the end of your shape and working toward the start. Then re-dip the wand into the vile and sweep the formula from the start of your brows to the end, keeping the formula on the hairs and avoiding the skin.
Bailey also recommends adding a topical product to your routine that includes ingredients known to promote healthy hair growth, like BROWVO! conditioning eyebrow primer ($28). "The BROWVO! applicator tip is made up of small nodules that can be used to massage the brow area, encouraging blood flow to the derma vessel, which can help promote hair growth," Bailey shares
Practice Good Brow Hygiene
You'll likely use eyebrow pencils, powders, etc., to fill in your sparse brows during the grow-in period. It's important to keep the skin under your brows healthy to provide the best environment for new hair to grow, which Garshick explains includes appropriately removing all cosmetics at the end of the day.
"Make sure to wash your brows. It may seem obvious, but people often forget to cleanse and wash their brows thoroughly, so brow pencil and powder can build up," she says. Garshick also recommends the use of brow conditioners. "Similar to the hair on the scalp, it can help to use products that help to condition the brows to soften and smooth the appearance of the brows," she says.
Garshick also cautions that other skin conditions, like seborrheic dermatitis, may also affect the brows and lead to flaking and redness. If you suspect your sparse brows may be due to underlying skin issues, it's best to consult a dermatologist for evaluation.
Try an Over-the-Counter Growth Serum
While patience is key, and there is no substitute for the time it takes for the hair to go through the growth stages, some products may boost eyebrow hair growth. Garshick has several brow growth serums that she recommends including:
- RevitaBrow ($111): This formulation incorporates biopeptin complex, including peptides, lipids, biotin, green tea extract, and panthenol to help strengthen and strengthen and condition the brows. In addition, it has calendula, which Garshick says serves as a humectant to draw moisture in. Once daily use is recommended, results can be seen as early as eight weeks.
- Vegamour GRO Brow Serum ($72): Helping achieve fuller brows, this contains Polyphytobase Complex with phytomolecules, including mung bean and red clover, and zinc, designed to help support the hair follicle through antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and hair-boosting properties, shares Garshick.
- The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash and Brow Serum ($15): Using various peptides and different natural extracts, this serum can be used on the lashes and brows to help improve the overall density and appearance of the brows, says Garshick.
Massage Your Brows
In addition to applying growth-boosting serums, you may also try alternative strategies to boost growth. "Since every hair is connected to a tiny blood vessel, stimulating blood flow to the brow area can help encourage healthy hair growth," says Bailey. "Try giving your brow bone a micro-massage with your fingertips when going through your skincare routine by gently using the fingertips to tap over each brow for about 30 seconds." You can incorporate the brow massage into your regular facial cleansing or skincare routine or even add these practices to your application of growth serums to boost their absorption.
Exfoliating your brows can also help. "Use a soft bristle toothbrush to gently exfoliate the brow area to stimulate the hair cycle," advises Little. Simply brushing them regularly with a tool like the NARS Eyebrow Brush ($26) will also encourage your brows to grow.
Approach Future Tweezing With Precision
After following the above steps, it's important to approach any future tweezing with caution. According to Bailey, the most common mistake people make when tweezing is removing the hair in the wrong direction.
He explains that every hair is connected to a tiny blood vessel (derma) that keeps it healthy and allows it to grow back. "Once that vessel is ruptured, the hair never returns. So, to tweeze properly, you must hold the skin taut with one finger and then tweeze the hair in the direction it is growing. Typically, that direction is upward or toward the temple rather than straight out. It's really important to work with mother nature on this one."
"Healthy and hydrated skin is fundamental for happy hair growth," says Bailey. That means keeping the skin moisturized from the inside out (and vice versa). By providing your body with ample amounts of water, your body is able to detox properly and keep in all the right nutrients. In addition to keeping a water bottle at your side all day long, it's important to topically moisturize your brow area.
"Let’s face it, we often neglect the skin under or around our brows," says Bailey. "Simply bring your eye cream all the way around your eye and up to your orbital bone each time you apply." Make sure that whatever eye cream you do apply is done with light pressure. Try Skin Owl's Eye+ ($48) for a lightweight option.
Apply Castor Oil
Castor oil is widely used to encourage growth for both the lashes and brows. "Castor oil can be a safe and affordable home remedy," adds Friese. "It has been used for years to treat a variety of conditions, including hair loss. While there haven't been scientific studies that prove that castor oil can regrow hair, it's a low-risk remedy that may help you get thicker/fuller eyebrows."
The product has been used across different cultures for centuries. Just make sure to choose a 100% pure, organic variety. Its mass appeal means you could be purchasing a version that is diluted and won't render the growth results you're looking for. We love this $26 one from Briogeo.
Trim Your Brows
Instead of reaching for the tweezers the second things get out of hand, trim your brows properly. "If eyebrows are getting too long, brush them upward and trim the ends but make sure not to cut too short," says Friese. Then you can fill in with a pencil or gel of your choosing to create the illusion of more fullness. "There are a number of eyebrow gels on the market that contain conditioners as well as colored fibers to create healthier brows with a fuller look." Friese likes the Milk Makeup Kush Fiber Brow Gel ($20).
While easier said than done, when it comes to brow growth, patience is a virtue. "The hair on your brows is like the hair on your head, it grows in a cycle and can take a while for all the hairs to grow in evenly," says Bailey. "And the struggle is no joke when you’re dealing with patches or gaps in this regrowth period." In the meantime, you can fake the look of full brows using makeup and grooming techniques.
Support Your Brows With a Conditioner
Keeping your existing brow hairs conditioned and nurtured is key to preserving existing hairs. Gretchen Friese, BosleyMD certified trichologist, recommends RevitaLash RevitaBrow, which is loaded with peptides, lipids, panthenol, and botanicals to help soften and strengthen brow hairs. We also love Benefit Browvo Conditioning Primer ($28). Its soy and keratin protein-packed formula has been shown to make brows look fuller and healthier. (FYI: These products can't claim to make your brow hairs physically grow longer, but they do make them look as though they have).