To all those '90s kids who overplucked their brows to keep up with the latest trends, the possibility of full, fluffy eyebrows seems like a distant dream. While there are growth serums, tattoos, and more to help fill out eyebrows, we decided to take a comprehensive look at brow microneedling to see if, in fact, it's an effective treatment to help brow regrowth. We chatted with dermatologists Alexandra Snodgrass and Dendy Engleman, and brow specialist Kendra Bray to see if microneedling is a solution to fuller brows. Ahead, we've compiled everything we've learned to give you the scoop on brow microneedling, and whether or not you should attempt this treatment on your own eyebrows.
Meet the Expert
- Alexandra Snodgrass is a board-certified dermatologist in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland at the Naderi Center for Plastic Surgery and Dermatology.
- Dendy Engleman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a board-certified and nationally-acclaimed dermatologic surgeon based in New York City.
- Kendra Bray is a brow specialist and owner of Better Brows and Beauty in New York City.
What is Microneedling for Eyebrows?
You might've heard about microneedling for the skin already, and the treatment works similarly on the eyebrows. Microneedling is the act of poking tiny holes in the skin (in this case, brow hair follicles) to wake them up and help regenerate hair growth. A microneedling tool is used over the brow area repetitively, especially where growth is sparse or might need extra attention. The penetration of the needle allows for a deeper reach to the hair follicle, which in some cases can help stimulate hair growth where it might be initially stunted.
The Benefits of Microneedling for Eyebrows
Brow microneedling has been known to help stimulate growth for brow hair, but the reviews are mixed from specialists who perform this treatment and dermatologists who tend to these kinds of issues with patients daily. Bray doesn't prefer to perform this service because "the treatment could promote new hair growth, but there is only a small percentage of people that would experience this growth."
When studying hair growth patterns, genetics have shown to play a huge role in results. Bray says, "If you were never born with full brows, microneedling the brows will never result in creating a full dense brow if you never had one. People that may have spent years waxing or tweezing could experience some old-growth come back again. The issue here is that this is a very small percentage of people."
Also, a history of tweezing and waxing can play a huge factor in whether or not you ever see growth again. "Many people that have tweezed and waxed for extended periods of time eventually damage the hair follicle, and hair growth will never happen there again. There is also no way to know if you are a person with dormant or damaged brow hair follicles." Bray recommends microblading to give better results.
Snodgrass adds that the treatment is "typically very safe in all skin types, but be sure to seek treatment with a trained professional to avoid complications." While stimulating hair growth is typically the main reason clients seek out this treatment, Snodgrass notes that it can also be used to remove microblading tattoos.
While some have experienced success with microneedling, others have not. “Microneedling with PRP has potential to grow eyebrow hair, but growth is doubtful on its own, and I wouldn’t recommend this particular treatment," Engleman says.
How To Prepare For Your Appointment
Since your skin will experience the act of being punctured through tiny needles, it's important to keep a few things in mind before receiving this treatment. Ensure that skin isn't sensitive to any waxing or sun-exposure at least five days before your appointment, and that you've avoided any Retin-A product. It's also best to avoid alcohol, ibuprofen, heavy amounts of caffeine, or supplements that could cause the skin to react or become sensitive to the treatment. Dress comfortably and know you might be lying still for quite some time, so the more relaxed you can be during this procedure, the better.
What to Expect During Your Appointment
Whether you're getting a full microneedling treatment on your face including the eyebrows or want to focus on your eyebrows, the main thing to expect is the repetitive movement of the microneedling device on your skin. The technician will treat the area with tiny needles, and you might feel a slight tingle or sensitivity during the treatment. Depending on your eyebrows' nature and where they need stimulation, the technician will address those areas to help stimulate blood flow and hopefully some hair growth. The sensation isn't unbearably painful, though; a numbing cream is applied before the treatment to negate any discomfort.
What is Microneedling vs. Microblading?
You've probably heard of microblading, which is often confused with microneedling. Microblading is a little more intense due to the sharp tool that is used to deposit ink into the skin, mimicking hair-like strokes for those who have very sparse brows or no hair at all. Considered a tattoo, this treatment takes longer than microneedling, is more permanent, and produces instant results. Microblading creates a full shape to all brows, while microneedling results aren't always guaranteed. Below, you can see a before-and-after of a microblading treatment.
Potential Risks of Microneedling Eyebrows
While you might experience some sensitivity after treatment, the main risk associated with microneedling eyebrows is that the treatment may not be effective. While stimulating hair follicles and penetrating them might enhance hair growth production, it's not always guaranteed or seen after receiving this treatment.
Depending on how often you choose to receive this treatment, the cost can vary. While a single brow treatment starts at $200, the technician might add it onto a full-face microneedling treatment that can start at $700. If you need a series of brow microneedling treatments (which, in most cases, people do), you could easily spend up to $1000 after just a few treatments.
After you've received microneedling for the brows, be sure to avoid any sun exposure for about a week, and wear sunscreen outside. Avoid touching the area to reduce the risk of bacteria contact. If you experience redness or sensitivity, you can apply a gentle healing serum or cream to the specific area.
Fertig RM, Gamret AC, Cervantes J, Tosti A. Microneedling for the treatment of hair loss? J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Apr;32(4):564-569. doi: 10.1111/jdv.14722.