Keeping our eyebrows looking good is important, seeing as they play a large role in shaping our face and features. Through the years, we've seen eyebrow trends fluctuate, from thin and over-arched to full and fluffy, and all of us have certainly fallen victim once or twice to over-plucking and tweezing off too much hair, not to mention the tinting, dyeing, continuous rubbing from cleansing our face, and much more that have affected the health of our eyebrows over time. Keeping our brow hair healthy is key when wanting it to stay put and not shed. But what causes eyebrow hair loss in the first place, and how do we treat our concerns? Is everything that we do for our eyebrows helping or hurting us in the long run? We asked two trichologists (dermatologists that specifically study the science of hair and scalp) some of our burning questions to break down all the reasons behind eyebrow hair loss and the best practices to keep our eyebrows in the best shape they can be in. Literally. Keep reading for their tips.
What Really Causes Eyebrow Hair Loss?
"The cycle of hair of follicles is normal, and everyone will lose and regenerate hairs as part of this natural process," explains Dominic Burg, évolis Professional Hair biologist and trichologist. "However, styling can damage the follicles leading to follicle death, causing eyebrow hair to inevitably not grow back." Human styling error is not always to blame for thinning arches, though, as internal factors can certainly affect their shapeliness. "Some medical conditions cause eyebrow loss, such as alopecia totalis, alopecia universalis and alopecia areata where the body attacks the hair follicles," says Burg. "Other conditions such as thyroid imbalances can also lead to hair loss on various parts of the body, as can poor diet and stress."
Aging plays a big role too: Just as the hair on our heads gets thinner with age, brow hairs also start to decrease. Burg explains, "This is related to slow changes to the hair cycle, where hairs no longer maintain a strong growth phase, making it hard for them to fully grow back."
Are There Ways to Avoid Eyebrow Hair Loss?
It's important to keep in mind that routine shedding is normal, just as it is on your head—the issue arises, though, when damage is done to the follicle. "As with most hair on your body, eyebrows grow in a natural hair cycle of growth, and your eyebrows have a very short growth phase of only a few weeks, followed by a transition phase of 2-3 weeks, after which the follicles rest for 2-4 months, then shed," explains Burg. "After shedding, a new eyebrow hair will grow back in its place from the population of follicular stem cells that reside below and around each follicular pore. When you are plucking, pulling and mistreating your eyebrows, you are actually damaging the follicle environment and resident stem cells, and causing local inflammation, thereby reducing the capacity of the follicles to cycle, which can lead to poorly growing follicles, premature hair fall, weak hairs or follicle death."
So what's the solution to help avoid brow loss altogether? "In terms of best practice, it is important to treat your brows with care," says Burg. "Don’t over-pluck, and if you want shaping done, have it performed by a professional, keeping in mind that any severe damage done to the hairs may be irreversible. Eyebrow hair can grow back, provided there's not been too much damage to the hair cycle, or the follicular stem cells."
Which Eyebrow Growth Serums Will Yield Results?
We've seen tons of ads for beauty products that claim to help grow eyebrow hair back that we feel is long gone, but do they really work? Says Blaisure, "Using an eyebrow enhancement serum may help as they often have stimulating ingredients that can help as long as the follicle is not damaged or thinning due to hair loss disorders."
With these, it's important to remember that frequent use of serums will help stimulate hair growth over time. You need to apply serums consistently for at least five weeks to see change in hair growth.
How Should We Maintain Our Eyebrows?
Like Burg, Michelle Blaisure, certified trichologist and product and technical specialist for Bosley Professional Strength, advises to gently cleanse and shape your brows (professionally, if you have the budget). If they're especially thin, micro-blading is a great option to give you a great-looking brow. "Just be sure you read reviews and look for someone who is experienced," she urges. "You could also look into eyebrow transplant surgery, which has become more popular when you want a permanent solution to restoring thin brows. If they have suddenly gotten thinner, it doesn't hurt to go see a doctor or dermatologist to see if something specific may be causing the thinning."
No question is ever too silly for your dermatologist or doctor, so be sure to ask everything you need when it comes to your concerns to get the best answers and treatment options possible.
Do Daily Supplements Work in Treating Eyebrow Hair Loss?
It's no surprise what we put on the inside of our body is just as important as anything else, and using supplements may help aid in hair health and growth is a great way to maintain fuller-looking brows in conjunction with enhancement serums. There is however, little research that proves supplements help with hair growth unless you are truly deficient in certain nutrients such as zinc or iron.
What Can I Do Today to Hide Sparse Brows?
For a temporary fix, invest in a good pencil or fine-tip pen. Filling in eyebrows and using a brow gel to keep hair in place is ideal when wanting to create a healthy and natural-looking brow shape. Try using an eyebrow precision pen that allows you to mimic the look of hair strokes, then follow up with the brow gel to set eyebrows, adding a little bit of color to help fill in sparse areas.
Up next: Can castor oil really help grow your brows? We investigate.
Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017;7(1):1-10. doi:10.5826/dpc.0701a01