The bleached eyebrow trend reached new heights this summer when celebs like Kim Kardashian, Lizzo, and Katy Perry swapped their OG brows for a pale blonde shade. The look is undeniably dramatic (that’s why it’s typically reserved for the runway), but as these stars have proven, it can instantly up the ante on a beauty look — especially if you pair it with equally striking makeup and hair.
If you feel like trying something new, you’re in luck. Bleached eyebrows are actually DIY-friendly. The process involves putting chemicals near your eyes, so you’ll need to be very careful or enlist a professional. But with the right tools, it *is* possible to bleach your eyebrows at home (and also see if bleached eyebrows work for you before debuting them in public). “It requires patience, a little discomfort, and [most importantly] the correct prep and finishing,” Lisa Aharon, makeup artist to stars like Zosia Mamet and Rachel Brosnahan, tells Bustle over email. “Luckily, if you can get through the first round, the upkeep is much easier.”
1. Prep Your Eyebrows For Bleaching
First things first, do a patch test, says Kinjo. Mix a tiny amount of the product you’ve chosen and leave it on your skin (ideally your arm) for 10 minutes to see if you have an allergic reaction. If it’s all systems go, you’re safe to proceed to the prepping portion.
Kinjo suggests first washing your face and drying it thoroughly, as you want to ensure there’s no product on your brows. Important note: Make sure it’s a fairly quick cleanse, because bleaching your eyebrows after a long shower or bath will create sensitivity on the skin since your pores are open, she adds.
As for the type of cleanser, consider going for something a little extra soothing — ideally without a cream or oil base since those can interfere with the effectiveness of the bleach, says Aharon. Her pick? The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Cleansing Gel, which has skin-calming ingredients like calendula and aloe.
2. Apply The Bleach
This part will vary depending on the eyebrow bleaching kit you opt for, so make sure to carefully read the directions. Both Aharon and Kinjo point to the tried-and-true classic (and drugstore-friendly) Jolen Creme Bleach as a solid option. With whatever product you decide to use, though, you’ll generally follow a common set of steps. “Mix up your product according to the instructions and apply [it] with the applicator included or a spoolie brush, [which is] like a clean, disposable mascara wand,” says Aharon. “It will help to coat the hairs from all sides.”
When mixing, remember that the consistency should feel like a paste, advises Kinjo. “Nothing watery [because] you want the product to stay in place and not run down your face and into your eyes.” Be sure to apply a thick amount in all directions so that you get all sides of the hairs, including the roots, she adds.
Then, you can start a timer for 10 minutes and do one brow at a time, or do the other eyebrow quickly and add a minute or two, Kinjo says. “Essentially, you want your brows to be the same bleached color and not one lighter that the other.”
When the timer goes off, remove the product with a paper towel. If you want to go lighter, Kinjo suggests repeating the process for another five to 10 minutes. “But if it starts burning, remove and wash it off immediately,” she warns.
When you’re satisfied with your brow color, wash the product off with cold water, says Aharon. “When removing the bleach, get as much as you can off with the spatula, and then use a cool, damp towel — one you don’t care about — to remove the rest. It will help to calm the skin underneath and tighten the pores for less irritation and inflammation.”
Make sure to apply your regular skin care around the area afterward, she adds. “Though it is a good idea to use a moisturizer geared toward sensitive skin. I love Epicuren Soothe Dermal Repair Balm.”
3. Maintain Your Newly-Bleached Brows
“Since brows are hairs and [they do] grow, there will be roots to tend to,” says Kinjo. She points to tinted brow gels like Kosas Air Brow Tinted or Glossier Boy Brow as good options to maintain them — but only initially. “Once the brows can’t be covered by brow products, you have to bleach them again,” she adds. Unless, of course, you’re over your bleached eyebrows, in which case you can let nature run its course. Easy peasy.