3 experts school us on what to do when you’re having arch problems—and how to get them back.
My non-beauty-obsessed sister has this theory: Whenever her life is in shambles, her eyebrows follow suit. At first, I figured she was completely full of it—I believe I uttered the word ~drama~ and then brushed her off—that is, until I noticed my own arches looking significantly sparser than usual after enduring a rocky (read: shit-show) break-up last September. Karma? Or was my sister right?
Needless to say, I’ve concluded that my brow game was definitely suffering due to stress—which kind of, sort of, totally makes sense if you think about it. Women lose hair on their heads during periods of emotional turmoil all.the.time. Thus, it makes sense that the same thing can happen to our brow hairs, too. But even beyond stress, there are still a slew of ways we can (and do) damage those oh-so-precious caterpillars—over-tweezing, a bad wax job, subconsciously pulling them out (again, stress), etcetera, etcetera.
The point? Unless you hit the genetic jackpot and have been rocking Cara Delevingne brows since birth (and have managed to keep your picking fingers away from them), then chances are you’ve experienced one (or more) of the aforementioned brow faux-pas. So, to set us all on the right track to re-growth, we asked three brow bosses—Bob Scott, Kristie Streicher and Elke Von Freudenberg—to spill their secrets for getting them back. Herein, a bona fide boot camp for your brows.
— Stage One —
“This is the most difficult of the stages, and once you get through this, the next will seem easier. In this phase you will notice a small, sporadic amount of hair growth closer to your eyelid, rather than the brow line. Trust the process that when this new hair is left alone and not tweezed, it will then start to grow closer to the brow line. Tweezing can be a habitual pleasure for most of us, so breaking the habit isn’t that easy. I encourage clients to use a low-oil, powdery pencil to lightly shade in the areas that are sparse. Defining the brow shape will also draw attention to the brow and the random stragglers growing underneath will seem less apparent. You can also use concealer to cover the outgrowth, which will look less unkempt, and get you through the next few growth cycles.” — Kristie Streicher
“The first step to re-growing your brow is accepting exactly that: you must let it grow. Put your tweezers away, never wax, and wait to schedule that threading appointment. I always explain to my clients that our skin is an organ and one of its functions is growing hair. It’s also the first organ our body will put on the back burner when it notices its efforts aren't being realized. Basically, our skin will temporarily give up on growing the hairs we repeatedly pluck. Waxing is the worst of these methods because it irritates and damages all of the skin around the brow, whereas tweezing only disrupts the individual follicle. So you've got to allow your skin to get comfortable and repair those follicles. There are ways to speed this up: You can use a growth serum, or restorative treatment, to stimulate the follicle.” — Bob Scott
“Circulation is key in getting hairs to grow faster. Just like we would brush our hair 100 strokes back in the day, circulation stimulates the hair follicle, getting them to grow quicker. The best part is that they will grow where it's stimulated. I developed my brow scrub for that simple reason and we see great results in 2-3 weeks. The scrub also uses coconut oil, which has proven to promote healthy hair growth and improves the condition of damaged hair. As far as growth goes, I've heard some clients say they've seen growth from castor oil applied nightly, as well as Viviscal—though I've also been told that this can cause an allergic reaction in some.” — Elke Von Freudenberg
— Stage Two —
“After [around] a month of growth you may feel like you’re ready for shaping, but really you’re not. You want to wait the full six weeks because you want to sync your tweezing with your hair’s growth cycle; that way, you’re always removing the same hairs. Tweezing too often leads to inconsistent brows and makes overall shaping trickier—you might find yourself plucking a new hair that popped up and is essential for the structure of your fullest brow. Keeping the six-week pace keeps shaping easy and predictable.” — BS
“After three or four weeks, I would then go to a professional and have them remove any excess hair that has nothing to do with the brow. This way it looks a little neater, and it will feel like growth is improving because you are not looking at a messy brow. You really only need hair growth right around the eyebrow. And two or three more rows is a lot. Think of a row growing above the brows as well. Because these hairs are thicker, they also grow back faster.” — EVF
“After you’ve refrained from another eight weeks of no tweezing and you’ve reached the end of the sixteenth week, you’ll find the hair beginning to grow a bit closer to the brow bone, but still not quite on the eyebrow line. Once these hairs are left alone to grow, the hairs hiding dormant closer to the brow line will begin to grow. Sometimes there may be a distinct line between your previous shape and where the hair is growing. Trust me, this will fill in. You may also notice some of the hairs not growing in the ‘right direction’ or sticking straight out. This is caused from years of tweezing or waxing. Typically, it will eventually grow in the right direction and lay down flush with the rest of the hairs, provided it’s left alone to grow during this stage. At the end of the sixteenth week, I strategically tweeze the hairs closest to the eyelid or lash line (furthest from the brow bone). The gentle stimulation of tweezing close, but not too close, to the brow line can promote growth along the actual brow line.” — KS
— Stage Three —
“Typically at 4-6 months, you will see that your eyebrows are finally filling in the places where you actually need them. These places are commonly under the arch or at the beginning (or end) of brows. The new hair growth will be short and may still grow in at different angles or in the wrong direction. But over time, the new hair WILL grow in the correct direction. It can take up to 12 months for EVERY hair on the brow area to fill in, so please be patient. The idea is to always keep a rather large buffer between what needs tweezing and your potential shape. You are now in the midst of training your eyebrows!” — KS
“At six weeks you'll see new growth, some hairs fine, some thick. You can tint your brows to bring out all these fine hairs so that they add to the structure of your brow. Tinting also adds color to the length of the thicker hairs that may not be completely deep from root to tip, making it easier to use that length to your advantage: you can brush and gel these hairs into place to cover holes (I like the Marc Jacobs clear brow gel for its glob-free brush). Note that tinting doesn't automatically mean darkening one’s brows: I mix custom colors for each client to match their color, or make slight adjustments to the brows. If you are unsure about tinting, you can use a tinted brow gel. My favorite tinted brow gel is Grande Naturals Brow Fill in dark. The formula is super versatile and works for the majority of hair shades, and has fibers in it so it coats each hair, thickens and lengthens, but remains natural looking.” — BS
“It can take up to 6-8 months if not longer to see the whole eyebrow grown back. Grow in the brows and keep any growth that you see as they come in row by row. Take off any excess that is far from the brow and you'll soon see a better brow growing back. I see great results with this method in about 3-5 months where the brow has grown back completely using this method. Be careful going to a salon that always removes the stray hairs. Most estheticians are taught to create a very clean line with the shape to give you a perfect eyebrow, but if you're trying to grow them back, this is only setting you back. Leave as many strays around the brows as possible so they have a chance to grow back in. It's like trying to grow your hair out and you keep getting a haircut, not a trim. You'll never get there.” — EVF