Woman applying fix gel to eyebrows


Let’s hear it for Holly’s mom. When Holly, our lovely reviews and community editor, was young and, like most of us, tweezer happy, her mom forbade her to pluck her eyebrows. Her dense, well-sculpted brows are now one of her best features. Mine on the other hand once inspired the term brow-beaten. It has taken awhile, but I have managed to pull off a brow turnaround. If you are thinking that it’s all too late for yours, keep scrolling to learn how to rehab your brows and stay on the wagon for good.

What the fleek!

Perfectly-groomed eyebrows have their own word: fleek. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, it was invented by a vlogger in 2014 and was nominated by the American Dialect Society the following year for Word of the Year in the "Most Likely to Succeed" category. If this makes you raise your brows (in whatever condition there are in) or roll your eyes, just know that the shape and condition of your arches obviously matter.

The evolution of brows

Decades of whip thin brows burnished with pencil have given way to the bold brow trend. Cara Delevingne is the supermodel who took to runways about four years ago with big, brooding brows, making people realize a little oomph simply looks better. 

Those endowed with a brow got to work. They dyed, brushed, trimmed (you’ll note the absence of tweezing) and encouraged a whole sub-industry of eyebrow artists. Upwards brushing even became a thing for a while — although that always made me think of Dennis Healey, the British politician known for his gravity-defying brows. All of this is fleek and it may be giving way to a new trend of natural, shapely brows.

Striving to be high brow

If you’re thinking it’s too late for your brows, then keep reading. Need a little push? Barely-there brows and the faked sweep of a pencil are not very appealing — both can actually have an aging effect, whereas a full brow makes you look younger. I once read somewhere that the secret to the evergreen, but oh-so-natural Meryl Streep is her brows.

Over-plucking and hormones can arrest brow growth, but this can be reversed. All hair — whether on the head and brows, the eyelashes or the unmentionables — grows in phases. There are three of them: anagen (the growth phase), catagen (the resting phase) and telogen (the shedding phase). The only thing that differs from, say, lash to head hair is how long the phases take. Eyebrows take up to 64 (give or take) days to come back fully — a blink of an eye compared to the years that head hair can take.

Regrow sparse eyebrows 

While 64 days is the normal growth cycle, what about those over-plucked follicles that seem never to return? This is where brow rehab comes in. Follicles are the growth engine for hair. Each individual hair is formed inside a hair bulb deep in a hair follicle. The follicle is a tiny yet powerful factory. The trick is to keep that engine clean and well-oiled, so to speak. A healthy follicle produces nice strong hair.

I have found two ingredients that work directly on the follicle, emu oil and copper peptides. Emu oil (yes, from the large, flightless bird) stimulates hair follicles and will even revive dormant ones. Copper peptides work on the follicle in two ways: They increase follicle cell proliferation and decrease programmed follicle cell death, which results in smaller follicles. In a study on rat hair, researchers noted an increase in follicle size.

With these ingredients, I created Truth Vitality Brow Empower ($39 in the shop). After regular application around every other day, I have grown hair where there were moth-eaten-like patches and, while they are not as dark as they were in my youth, they have gone from sandy to brown. Another trick is to raise the brow with an anti-aging treatment like ultrasound. Working carefully on the brow bone area, using upwards movements, you can get a subtle eye and brow lift.