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Let’s be honest (and vulnerable): Hair loss can feel heartbreaking. In a world where gorgeous hair and perfectly-groomed arches are key components of what’s considered to be beautiful, it can feel incredibly isolating to experience hair loss—and not just on your scalp, but your brows too. That’s what we’re here to talk about today. The reality of brow loss and the often-debated question of whether or not brows ever grow back—and, if so, how long does it take? Ahead, all of your questions about brow loss and how long it takes for eyebrows to grow back, answered by pros.
Meet the Expert
- Gretchen Friese is a BosleyMD certified trichologist.
- Dr. Michele Green is board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic dermatology on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NY.
- Dr. Brendan Camp is a double board-certified dermatologist based out of MCDS: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery.
Common Causes of Brow Loss
According to Friese, over-plucking or waxing can lead to thinner brows and potentially even kill the follicle so that the hair will never grow back. What’s more, she says that excessive itching or rubbing your arches can lead to inadvertently pulling hairs out.
Green tacks on to this, noting that genetics, [reproductive and aging] hormones, lifestyle, stress, vitamin deficiency, alopecia, and eczema can also play a role. “Eczema is caused by an oversensitive immune system. Due to this, hair follicles are impacted in the skin which may delay the growth of hair,” she explains. “There is also Psoriasis. This a long-term autoimmune disease, with no cure, that causes skin cells to multiply just around 10x faster than normal. In most cases, this can cause painful patches that block hair follicles and stops hair growth, which can lead to the lack of hair follicles in your eyebrows.”
Oh, but there’s more. According to Camp, infections, skin disorders, thyroid disease, and even leprosy can cause hair loss.
What we’re getting at is that there are many, many things that can lead to less-than-full arches. The best way to determine what’s causing your specific hair loss is to work with a dermatologist or trichologist to find the underlying issue or medical condition. Once you do that, you’ll be able to best address your hair loss.
Do Eyebrows Grow Back?
Rest assured, eyebrows can grow back. However, it depends on the reason for your loss to determine whether or not yours, in particular, will.
“Depending on the etiology or cause of eyebrow thinning, the hair may or may not grow back,” Camp says. “For example, eyebrow loss from alopecia areata can often be successfully treated with in-office treatments like cortisone injections and hair loss from too much plucking or tweezing can improve by simply stopping. Less common forms of hair loss such as frontal fibrosing alopecia can cause scarring that can lead to permanent hair loss.”
The issue arises when your loss is due to a dead follicle. “If the eyebrow follicle is still alive the hair will grow back just like the hair on our heads,” Friese says. “If the follicle is lying dormant it may need a little help.” But, if the follicle has been repeatedly damaged, Camp says that a hope for growth may be unmet. “When hair is removed from the root repeatedly over time the mechanical stress on the follicle may damage it enough so that it does not grow back, leading to sparse growth,” he explains.
How Long Does it Typically Take For Eyebrows to Grow Back?
Just like it requires knowing the cause of your loss to determine whether or not your brows will grow back, the same goes for concluding how long it will take for them to grow back.
As a general rule of thumb, Friese says that it takes anywhere from four to eight weeks post-removal to notice new hairs, though the actual brow growth cycle typically takes three to four months. To better illustrate this, check out the growth cycles below.
- The Growth Phase (aka Anagen Phase): This is the first phase of the brow growth (and it goes for regular hair, too). “This is where the eyebrow grows to their predetermined limit,” Green says. “This phase can last from 30 to 45 days.”
- The Transition Phase (aka Catagen Phase): During this phase, the follicle moves closer to the skin and begins to shrink before reaching the third and final stage. “This phase can last from two to three weeks,” Green says.
- The Resting/Shedding Phase (aka Telogen Phase): This final stage of the growth cycle is also where the new hair begins to grow from the hair follicle. “As the eyebrow grows, the old hair will fall off and the new strand will continue to grow and start the cycle all over again,” Green explains, noting that this phase can last anywhere from four to eight weeks. (It’s worth noting that some dermatologists, like Dr. Salma Pothiawala, considered this third and final stage to be broken into two: The telogen resting phases and exogen shedding phase.)
In total, the entire hair growth cycle comes out to between four and six months. That said, if the hair wass simply shaved, it won’t take nearly as long, as the entire hair doesn’t have to regrow from the follicle.
Risk Factors For Slow Eyebrow Growth/Eyebrow Loss
- Hormone changes
- Thyroid issues
- Lifestyle habits
- Environmental pollution
- Frequent grooming
At the end of the day, Friese says that all of the factors that can inhibit hair growth on the head can also stop eyebrow growth in its tracks. While specific hair disorders and forms of grooming and plucking are obvious in their ability to halt growth, what’s not so apparent is how environmental and lifestyle habits can also play a role.
According to a recent study performed by Hyuk Chul Kwon at the Future Science Research Centre in the Republic of Korea, pollution in the air (ambient particulate matter in particular) can lead to lack of growth and loss as a whole.
“Studies have shown toxins and carcinogens in polluted air can interfere with the protein producing processes within the body which stimulate hair growth,” Green says. Additionally, she points out that major lifestyle changes can lead to internal stress that shows in the form of loss or slow regrowth. “Hair follicles do not continuously produce hair, but instead go through carefully timed cycles of growth and shedding. Any major lifestyle changes such as pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, Thyroid issues, significant physical trauma, such as waxing, threading and over plucking, can disrupt that cycle and cause the follicles to shed hair.”
How to Speed Up Eyebrow Growth
Fortunately, there are ingredients and products that accelerate your arch regrowth. Find out what they are, below.
According to Friese, applying castor oil can be a safe and affordable home remedy for sparse brows. “It has been used for years to treat a variety of conditions, including hair loss,” she explains. “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.”
Stimulating, Hydrating Natural Ingredients
“Products containing olive oil, vitamin E, coconut oil, biotin, peptides, and lipids can all help the eyebrow grow longer and thicker by stimulating the brow follicles, by creating a healthier environment for the brows to grow,” Green says. “These ingredients help the brows by moisturizing and nourishing the follicle which extends the life of the hair allowing it to stay in the anagen phase longer. As a result, hair grows longer with more volume.”
Believe it or not, the fan-favorite suncare ingredient is also fab for promoting brow growth. “Studies show that the aloe vera leaf also provides calcium and magnesium,” Green says. “Calcium is a vital mineral for the maintenance of the body; hence, it will benefit the overall health of the hair. Magnesium plays its part in promoting follicle hair growth as well.”
BosleyMD Follicle Energizer
This fan-favorite product is designed for scalp re-growth, but Friese says that applying it on thinning brows may help regrow brows, as well.
“Latisse is the only FDA approved product that is backed by research and contains the active ingredient, bimatoprost, that is clinically proven to stimulate growth,’ Green says. For optimal growth, Latisse is designed to be applied to arches once a day for 16 weeks.
Eyebrow loss can be the result of many things, but with patience and the right ingredients in hand, regrowth is possible. If, however, you fall into the category of inactive follicles, there’s still an option to achieve stunning arches. Say hello to microblading and microshading.