Tweezing your own brows is a lot like trimming your own bangs: It starts with a little shape up, and before you know it, you’ve taken off way too much. What’s more, just like your bangs, growing out your brows can be a slow and frustrating process. If your eyebrows are looking a little sparse or thinner than you’d like from over-plucking, but you’d rather not resort to more drastic (read: expensive) measures like permanent makeup, microblading, or even an eyebrow transplant, experts below share all the advice you need for growing out your natural brows and the best tips for making the ordeal a little less tedious.
But before we get into the good stuff, a refresher on the eyebrow growth cycle — because if you’re looking for a quick fix, now’s the time to manage your expectations. If you stop plucking, tweezing, waxing, trimming (you get the picture) and just wait it out, certified trichologist Martine Langsam says you could potentially see new growth in as early as six weeks, although the full brow won’t be completely regrown by that time. As Miami-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Annie Gonzalez of Riverchase Dermatology says, the typical eyebrow growth cycle goes through three phases (anagen, catagen, and telogen) and lasts about 12 to 15 weeks, which means you could be waiting a while.
One upside: You do have ways to encourage brow growth while you wait. If you want fluffier, fuller brows, be patient and follow the below steps to reach your fullest brow-growth potential.
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1. Leave Your Eyebrows Alone
In order for your brows to grow, you have to give them the chance to do so without interfering. Although it could be months before your brows are fully restored (that is, if you haven’t already caused too much damage to the follicle from years of excessive plucking), René de la Garza, celebrity brow artist and founder of Brow Down Studio, says you only need to grow out your brows and leave them alone for six to eight weeks before reshaping them. But a word of advice: See a pro when you finally do it. If sitting in front of a magnifying mirror is the reason you’re in this position in the first place, have your arches professionally groomed so you don’t accidentally overdo it again. “A specialist who has a full brow aesthetic will see your brows holistically and guide you to leave key areas, which you might have otherwise been tempted to tweeze,” explains Dani Kimiko Vincent, celebrity makeup artist, brow expert, and founder of Kimiko. “Sometimes a follicle is too damaged to grow back, but hairs often do return once those around them are strategically left alone.”
2. Shape Your Brows With Makeup, Not Tweezers
Whenever you feel tempted to pluck the stragglers and strays, de la Garza instead suggests applying concealer to hide them or a brow wax to smooth them down — even better if that brow wax contains conditioning ingredients to help strengthen the hairs while it styles them. Vincent also loves brow fillers to help incorporate stragglers with the core brow shape and recommends both a precision brow pencil and brow gel, such as Kimiko’s The Brow Sensei that not only lifts and holds the stray hairs in place but is also packed with peptides, plant-based extracts, and amino acids to promote stronger, fuller brow hairs. Whatever you use, de la Garza warns you to stay away from any super-hold products that require scrubbing at the end of the night. “These heavy-hold products typically pull out brow hairs,” de la Garza says — which would defeat the purpose, right?
3. Apply A Brow Or Lash Serum
“Brow growth serums are so helpful for sparse patches or thinning hair,” Vincent says. “With consistent daily use, they can boost growth of new hair, thicken, and even darken existing hair.” Some brow or lash serums (the prescription Latisse, for example), contain growth factors called prostaglandins and can actually stimulate hair growth, while prostaglandin-free serums use other ingredients, like peptides (to promote healthier hair), biotin (to support hair follicle activity), amino acids (to protect from breakage), and conditioning agents (to hydrate and strengthen). Even serums meant only for softening and conditioning could be helpful for growing healthy brows. “Just like the way you cleanse and moisturize your skin for a healthy complexion, the same holds true for your brows,” de la Garza says, adding that not moisturizing eyebrows is like washing your hair without conditioning it.
Although brow serums typically are safe for all skin types, Gonzalez stresses the importance of using hypoallergenic and ophthalmologist-approved products to avoid irritation to sensitive eyes and skin. The only downside to serums? They’re a commitment. Vincent says consistent, daily use is a must, and that your brows will return to their former state if you stop. But hey, once you see how much thicker, healthier, and fuller they look, you won’t mind adding one more step to your nightly routine.
4. Massage Your Eyebrows
Perhaps the most relaxing tip on this list, Langsam suggests increasing circulation on your eyebrow area through massage for one to two minutes. “You can use your fingers to gently massage your brows every day because that actually will help increase your blood flow,” Langsam says. Or, instead of your fingers, Vincent recommends using a soft toothbrush — one that’s dedicated to your eyebrows — one to two times a week. “I recommend regular, light exfoliation with a very soft toothbrush,” Vincent says, adding that one pass through each brow is plenty. “Use gentle, circular motions throughout the brow. The aim is to exfoliate the skin below brows and stimulate follicles while not pressing so hard as to disturb healthy hairs.”
5. Examine Your Diet
According to Gonzalez, deficiencies in biotin, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin A, or zinc can cause hair loss or slow cell growth and hinder the production of moisturizing sebum, which can affect hair loss. “What you do nutrition-wise is going to be more important than what you’re doing on the surface of your brows,” Langsam adds. “As much as it helps the hair on your head, it helps the hair on your eyebrows as well. All hair follicles require good nutrients.” If you do have any nutrient deficiencies, Gonzalez says taking supplements with antioxidants, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, could be effective, but always consult your doctor before making changes to your regimen.
6. See A Dermatologist For Professional Treatment
A visit with your doctor isn’t only helpful for asking about Latisse, but if over-plucking isn’t the reason for your current brows (or lack thereof), it would also be a good idea to see your doctor to find out what could be. The most effective way to stimulate your eyebrow growth varies depending on the culprit behind the hair thinning. In some cases, Gonzalez says eyebrow hair loss can be caused by hormonal changes, infection, a skin condition, or an overactive immune system, which is why seeing your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan is key. Gonzalez explains sometimes episodes of alopecia or eczema (which can slow down or stop hair growth) can come and go, but if you notice a persistent decrease in your eyebrow hair, seek an appointment with your dermatologist to identify the underlying cause so you can get your brows back to where you want them to be.
7. Take A Photo Of Your Brows For A Future Guide
Follow the above advice, be patient, and once you’ve achieved your optimal brow shape and fullness, Vincent suggests taking a close-up photo of each eyebrow for the future. The next time you feel the need to tweeze between appointments, you’ll be able to reference your guide to remind you which hairs should stay so you don’t have to go through all these steps again. If, by chance, you do happen to get carried away in a magnifying mirror one day, well, now you know exactly what to do to grow your eyebrows back.
Dr. Annie Gonzalez, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology
Martine Langsam, IAT, WTS, a certified trichologist
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