Any kind of hair loss can be scary—especially if you don’t know what’s causing it or how to make it stop. But it can be especially concerning when it’s happening literally smack dab in the middle of your forehead. After all, you can hide a lot of things with concealer, but eyebrow hair loss is not one of them.
Here’s the good news: Eyebrow thinning is not uncommon, so don’t panic. It can be brought on by anything from underlying skin conditions and nutritional deficiencies to simply aging, over-grooming, or genetics.
When it comes to hair loss on our heads, we’ve come to know and love minoxidil (aka Rogaine). It may not be the sexiest product out there, but it definitely works hard to grow thicker, stronger hair. But would it work just as well on thinning eyebrows? Is it even safe to try?
The proven results of minoxidil on the scalp are tempting, so we spoke to board-certified dermatologists Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, and Morgan Rabach, MD, about using minoxidil for eyebrows. Read on for what they do and don’t recommend, and what you can expect if you want to try minoxidil anywhere but your scalp.
What Is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a prescription topical that helps regrow thinning hair. Hair growth has different phases—growth phase (anagen), regressing phase (catagen), resting phase (telogen), and exogen (shedding phase). “When the hair is in the anagen phase, the follicles grow thicker and stronger,” says Rabach. Minoxidil keeps your hair follicles in the anagen phase so that they don’t move into regression or shedding. “Minoxidil can also increase blood flow to the hair, making the environment healthier for growth,” she says, so while it doesn’t grow new hair, it does encourage natural growth. “Ultimately, it keeps the hair from falling out and also makes the hair in the area thicker, which helps to reduce the appearance of loss.”
How to Use Minoxidil for Eyebrows
Minoxidil is most commonly used on the scalp. Using minoxidil on your eyebrows is an off-label use, which means that the drug is not officially approved for use in that area. But many dermatologists say that, with professional direction, it can be very effective. “We recommend it often,” says Bhanusali. “It can work similarly to how it works on the scalp, but it’s important to minimize exposure to the surrounding skin and eyes.”
Rabach also recommends careful use on the eyebrows, starting at the 3 percent concentration and increasing to 5 percent if needed. “I would recommend applying the liquid form of minoxidil directly to the skin with a Q-tip before bed,” she says.
Benefits of Using Minoxidil for Eyebrows
While minoxidil for eyebrows may be an off-label use, if you’re struggling with eyebrow thinning or shedding, it wouldn’t be totally out of left field for your dermatologist to recommend giving it a shot (and again, very carefully).
The main benefit of using minoxidil on your eyebrows is that it’s truly the most effective option, and there aren’t many viable alternatives. “Unfortunately, not much else out there has been shown to work,” says Bhanusali. “Some people believe microneedling can help, but at-home versions tend not to penetrate deep enough and put patients at risk for infections.”
With careful, daily use of minoxidil on your eyebrows, you can expect to see results within four to eight weeks, says Rabach.
Minoxidil vs. Over-the-Counter Products
If you’re nervous about the off-label aspect, there are several over-the-counter products that might be worth trying first. Revela’s Brow Serum ($88) and RevitaLash’s RevitaBrow Eyebrow Conditioner ($110) are both over-the-counter products that target follicle health and can improve thinning brows. But for more serious cases, your dermatologist would likely prescribe minoxidil.
Potential Side Effects
Because minoxidil is not approved for use on your eyebrows, if you don’t use it carefully or as directed by a dermatologist, you may see some adverse side effects. “There’s always the possibility of getting it on a surrounding area,” says Bhanusali. You don’t just run the risk of getting it in your eyes (definitely the biggest concern); you also risk getting it on other areas of your face where you don’t want the hair to thicken.
Those with sensitive skin will also need to discuss the state of their skin with their dermatologist before jumping in. “It can cause irritation, dry skin, redness, peeling, and itching,” says Rabach.
The Final Takeaway
While minoxidil is only approved for use on the scalp, with the guidance of a dermatologist, it can help improve thinning eyebrows. While those just seeing the initial signs of shedding may want to experiment with some over-the-counter options, if you’re seeing dramatic shedding, minoxidil may be able to thicken your existing hair and prevent further loss within a few months. But the big takeaway? Only do this with the help of your dermatologist.