Some are blessed with full eyebrows and some have had to find more enterprising ways to get the a specific look. No matter the hand of cards you’ve been dealt, much like the hair on your head, you need to baby it a little to keep it as thick and healthy as possible.
Despite our best efforts, it's not totally uncommon to notice your eyebrows thinning out. In fact, dermatologist Anar Mikailov, MD, FAAD, estimates that in a typical week at his office, about 15 percent of patients have thinning eyebrows.
Over-plucking or Grooming
When you spend time in front of a mirror—especially a magnified one—it’s easy to overthink every last hair. It only takes one mis-pluck to throw the balance off, and before you know it, you’re over-correcting your arches until there's barely anything left.
It’s happened to all of us, and one aggressive pluck session won’t break the eyebrow bank. But doing it too often could cause long-term thinning. “It’s repeated trauma that can ultimately cause the root of your hair follicle to stop functioning properly,” says Mikailov. “Ultimately the stem cells that create new hair stop regenerating.”
If your brows are suffering from over-grooming, the first step in rehab is easy: put down the tweezers. Let your eyebrows grow back the best they can and stop attacking every errant hair if you know you won’t be able to help going hunting for more. “Be gentle and kind to your eyebrows,” says Mikailov. “Minimize the number of products you use on your hair, be gentle with washing, and minimize sun burns.”
If you still have some thin patches or the regrowth just isn’t happening, there’s still hope. Dermatologist-prescribed Latisse and Rogaine can both help fill out-over plucked brows. Mikailov also recommends Folliflo by Cell Accel Eyelash and Brow Enhancing Serum, an over-the-counter serum that is formulated with castor oil and panax ginseng to help stimulate hair growth naturally.
Underlying Skin Conditions
Those with eczema or psoriasis will likely not be surprised to hear this—these chronic skin conditions can also cause hair thinning on your scalp and eyebrows. If you do have one of these conditions, you’ve likely already noticed it in the form of itchy rashes. If you don’t think you do—but you’re experiencing itchy, inflamed, flaky skin under and around your brows—it might be worth having a dermatologist look at it. Any scratching or rubbing you're doing might cause hair to fall out.
Once you nail down what's causing the skin irritation, stopping brow hair loss is all about targeting the condition. “I always look to see if there is any underlying skin condition affecting the eyebrows, surrounding skin, and also scalp,” says dermatologist Robin Blum. “I also use a handheld device called a dermatoscope to get a better visualization of the hair follicles and surrounding skin. If there is inflammation in the area of hair thinning, that can be treated with either topical, intralesional, or oral steroids,” says dermatologist Robin Blum.
Hormonal disorders like hyper- and hypo-thyroidism or androgenetic alopecia can also cause eyebrow thinning. While these conditions mostly surface in middle age, it can also be genetic, and not everyone is the same. “The most important thing I do when someone comes to me for eyebrow thinning is to take an in depth medical assessment of the thinning,” says Blum. “I take a full medical history and ask about family history as well.”
In this case, early detection is best. “Treatment can be difficult, so addressing it early is recommended,” says dermatologist Cheshana Kindred, MD, FAAD. “This is one of the few cases in which treating the underlying condition does not automatically reverse thinning eyebrows.” Once you’ve addressed your health (which should always be your first priority), a hair growth treatment like Latisse could help to regrow lost brow volume.
It can be frustrating to learn about all the ways stress can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies. Unfortunately, hair loss is another unexpected side effect of being overworked or not spending enough time on mental health and mindfulness.
When you’re stressed out or upset, your body produces a stress hormone called cortisol. While very helpful for giving us the adrenaline boost we might need to outrun a predator like a bear or tiger, it can cause some non-essential functions like hair growth to kick into “rest mode.” While you can’t get rid of cortisol (nor would you want to), you can learn to manage it. “If the cause of your eyebrow thinning is stress or picking, it’s best to seek out stress management therapy,” suggests Blum.
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