How to Improve Sparse Eyebrows, According to Experts
While wrinkles and age spots tend to get all the attention, experts say that your brows are worth considering when it comes to anti-aging efforts. The frenzy over bold brows goes beyond simply liking the way they look: Thick eyebrows are a sign of youth.
“As we get older, the natural aging process thins the hairs on our bodies,” says Tonya Crooks, a celebrity brow expert and founder of The BrowGal. Consequently, sparse eyebrows are a sign of that aspect of the aging process—just like the thinning of hair on your head. Thicker eyebrows can make you look more youthful. “Thicker, fuller brow brings not only youth to the face but a bit more intensity,” Crooks says.
We heard rumblings about this sneaky source of aging and decided we simply must get to the bottom of it. So, we turned to the experts and asked them to give us tips on how to improve thinning eyebrows. Asking a dermatologist and a brow expert if eyebrows really make a noticeable difference in a person’s face might be a little unnecessary, but we did it anyway.
“Eyebrows make a big difference in anchoring your facial shape. This is why we have trends—hello overplucked 90s brows—because the shape and texture of your eyebrow can have a dramatic effect on your appearance,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. Celebrity makeup artist Brett Freedman agrees. “Softer, fuller brows tend to look younger and give the face a more relaxed vibe. Thinner brows can throw off the facial balance and look pinched,” he explains.
Convinced of the benefits of a thick, bold brow? Keep reading for tips on how to fix thinning eyebrows.
Get a Diagnosis
According to Dr. Jennifer Chwalek, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology, there are a number of possible causes of thinning eyebrows. “Eyebrow thinning (or hypotrichosis) can have many causes,” she says. These include:
- Endocrinopathies (hormonal)
- Autoimmune-related hair loss (e.g., alopecia areata)
- Scarring forms of hair loss (e.g., frontal fibrosing scarring alopecia)
- External causes (such as over-tweezing/waxing/plucking or trichotillomania)
“It is important to have a correct diagnosis because that will determine how it should be treated and whether it will respond to the treatment,” says Chwalek.
Map Out Your Brows
“No matter what brow type or concerns you have, a strong brow begins with brow mapping,” says Benefit’s Global Brow Expert Jared Bailey. Here, Bailey explains the Benefit’s custom Brow Mapping technique:
- First, look for your brow’s starting point. Create an imaginary line that begins at the end of your nose and ends at your brow. “This helps slim your nose and balance your eyes,” he explains.
- Then, find your eyebrow’s height by creating a diagonal line from the outside of your nose to the center of your eye. “Say hello to your arch! A little definition here can lift your whole look,” he claims.
- Lastly, to figure out your brow length, Bailey says to begin by creating a mark where the brow ends. This can be done by making an imaginary diagonal line that starts at “the outside of your nose” and ends at “the outer corner of your eye.” He says that figuring out the brows’ length is necessary for creating facial proportion.
“After you’ve mapped, you can create the illusion of stronger, bolder brows by simply over-extending the ends of your brows and bringing the start of the brows closer together,” says Bailey.
If you have thinning brows, growing them out to their fullest potential will be a necessary, albeit tedious, step to getting that youthful bold look. Unfortunately, eyebrows can look messy and unkempt when you are going through the transition period from thin to thick eyebrows. But you can maintain a clean shape by using concealer. Bailey suggests using a full coverage concealer like Benefit’s Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer and gently pat it over the brow hairs that are still growing in. You should do this step before penciling in your eyebrows to create a clean canvas.
Pencil in the Brows
Penciling in your eyebrows can give you the look of full, bold eyebrows. “For enhancing sparse brows, a micro-lining pencil, like Benefit’s Precisely, My Brow Pencil is your best friend,” says Bailey.
When penciling in your eyebrows, you want thin strokes to mimic the look of real hair. “The ultra-fine tip [of Precisely, My Brow Pencil] creates hair-like strokes for natural-looking fullness. When filling in your brows, measure from the outer portion of the nose, across the center of the eye and that will show you where your brow is naturally the highest. Simply take your pencil and begin making a few strokes slightly above that natural hairline. Remember to leave space in between each stroke to create the illusion of real hair. Working above that hairline will add height to the arch,” Bailey says.
Bailey suggests making your eyebrows look three-dimensional by adding texture. “Try a fiber-based brow gel like Benefit’s Gimme Brow+ and begin by back-combing the product through your brow from the end to the start. This is just like teasing your hair and gives you a full base to work with. Then, moving in the opposite direction, define your arch by brushing your brow hairs upward from start to arch, and in the direction of your hair growth from arch to end.” Bailey says. Adding texture to your eyebrows prevent them from looking flat and drawn on.
Use a Growth Serum
While penciling in your eyebrows can give them the illusion of looking fuller, you should also use a growth serum to grow actual eyebrow hair to get thicker brows. “The best way to promote brow growth is to add a topical product to your routine that includes ingredients known to promote healthy hair growth like keratin and soy proteins, such as Benefit’s nutrient-rich BROWVO! conditioning eyebrow primer. Make it a part of your nightly skin routine, applying it before bed so it works its magic while you sleep. The BROWVO! applicator tip is made up of small nodules that can be used to massage the brow area, encouraging blood flow and hair growth,” says Bailey.
Chwalek also suggests using growth serums like prescription Latisse or over-the-counter Rogain to thicken eyebrows. Latisse is usually prescribed for lash growth but can be used for eyebrows as well. Talk to your doctor first before using Latisse in any way other than prescribed.
Apply Some Oil
If you’re not partial to growth serums, Dr. Engelman recommends applying castor oil or olive oil on the brows to stimulate hair growth and the growth of strong hair follicles. She says castor oil is known to not only help thicken eyebrows but eyelashes as well. “[Meanwhile], olive oil can help strengthen the hairs. Hair loss due to hair follicles being weak will definitely support sparse brows. Also, by adding shine to the lashes, they appear fuller,” she adds.
You probably already have some olive oil can handy in your kitchen cabinet. Not sure which castor oil to try? Briogeo’s B. Well Organic 100% Castor Oil is a great starting point since it can nourish the scalp, hair, elbows, and cuticles as well.
When using castor oil, Dr. Engelman suggests applying it to the brows after cleansing your face.
Moisturize the Brows
Believe it or not, Dr. Engelman says moisturizing the eyebrows is just important as moisturizing the face. “We tend to moisturize our face but avoid our brows. Why should our brows miss out on the pampering! Keeping the skin hydrated will prevent hair loss and encourage growth,” she explains.
Put down those tweezers! Tweezing can actually permanently damage your hair follicles, meaning hair will not grow in those spots again. “One of the most important things you can do to prevent thin brows is to avoid over-tweezing or plucking. This can cause scarring over time if it is done aggressively which can’t be corrected. Once the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with a scar, you can’t regrow a hair from that follicle,” says Chwalek.
Bailey agrees: “The most common mistake people make when tweezing is removing the hair in the wrong direction,” says Bailey. “Each hair is connected to a tiny blood vessel (derma vessel) that keeps it healthy and allows it to grow back when the hair is removed. Once that vessel is ruptured, the hair never returns.”
If you are going to tweeze your eyebrows, do so correctly. “To tweeze properly, you must pull the skin tight with one finger and then tweeze the hair in the direction it is growing. Typically that direction is upward or toward the temple, rather than straight out.” Bailey shares. Need help? You can also get your eyebrows professionally tweezed to avoid any at-home errors.
Be Careful When Trimming
Considering using scissors instead of tweezers to style your brow hairs? Freedman advises treading lightly when it comes to trimming your brows. While there is no one way to trim your brows, some techniques are better than others. “Brush up and trim just above your brow line—not right along it sharply. You want the hair to retain a touch of [the] bend. This will give [the] ultimate girth and softness to your brows,” he explains.
Freedman ultimately advises to never trim into the brows but use a brow gel to smooth brow hairs instead.
Is it possible to thicken thin eyebrows?
Yes, it is possible to thicken your brows, depending on the reason why your brows are thin in the first place. It’s recommended that you see a doctor or dermatologist for a proper diagnosis first before trying any treatments. Natural ingredients like castor or olive oil have been proven to be effective for hair growth, or prescription Latisse is also an option.
How do I choose the right eyebrow shape for me?
First, you want to determine your face shape—square, heart, oval, diamond, or round. If you have a square face, go for slightly angled brows. Heart and diamond shapes look great with a more round look, while a little bit of an arch for oval shapes looks the best. A snatched high arch looks great on round-shaped faces.
What hormone causes thinning eyebrows?
As we age, our hormones fluctuate, causing not only our brows to thin, but our hair as well. Prostaglandin is the main hormone responsible for eyebrow loss, but studies have shown that Bimatoprost (aka Latisse), a compound made from fatty acids that can attach to prostaglandin receptors, can effectively treat thinning eyebrows.