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Reader Mail: Can I Lighten My Eyebrows?

By July 16, 2010

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eyebrow color
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Where would I be without my reader mail? What a great question this week!

Jen writes: My natural hair color is a mousy brown (with a few grays). I color my hair a caramel blond with highlights. Unfortunately, my eyebrows are still dark like my natural hair color. Is there a way to lighten my eyebrows a bit, or should I just leave them their natural color? Thanks!

This question actually makes me laugh, and I'll share with you a quite embarrassing story. Throughout beauty school we were taught to never, never lighten eyebrows and to only color eyebrows with color that is specifically formulated for eyebrows. There is obvious risk of hair color getting in the eye or causing a reaction to sensitive skin when used on brows. It is important to note that the color formulated for brows is only designed to deposit tone or color. Meaning, it does not have the ability to lighten, but it can make the brows deeper, brown, red, golden, or copper. Eyebrow specific color is very gentle and formulated to be used on the sensitive skin that surrounds the eye.

I wear my hair very blond, and at times I found the darkness of my own natural eyebrows to be annoying. So, one day (about a year ago) I decided I would lighten my brows. Just a bit. I applied the color and my eyebrows lightened just fine. I thought, "Well, this was easy. What was the big deal?"

One thing you need to know about hair is that every hair on your body is programmed grow and then to shed. Each hair has a predetermined length that it will grow, and then it falls out and is replaced by a new hair. Some hairs, like your eyebrows, eyelashes, arm hairs, and the like are quite short. These hairs tend to shed at a much more rapid pace than say, the hairs on your head. Of course, each person's hair growth and patterns can be unique, but the basic principal applies to everyone.

As you can imagine, the weeks passed and as time went by my newly blond eyebrows would naturally shed and be replaced by my natural, darker eyebrow hair. The problem was the replacement of hair is rather random, and in a matter of a few short weeks I had a very pok-a-dotted effect to my brows. To say it looked ridiculous was an understatement. My brows resembled a cheetah. This may have been when I discovered that I could wear a full, thick bang across my eyebrows. It seemed to camouflage the problem successfully. That is, until the wind blew. You live and learn, I guess.

The key to keeping your eyebrows looking great when they are darker than your hair color is to keep them groomed and neat in appearance. One option is to wear your eyebrows thinner, if that works for your face and eye shape. The less brows you have, the less you notice them (just don't get carried away). If thin brows don't work for you, you may find that just maintaining a nice brow shape will help you look more polished and the color of your brows will be far less noticeable.

Another great idea is to use an eyebrow kit (like this one from E.L.F.) or pencil in a color that is lighter than your natural hair color. You won't notice a dramatic lightening of your brows, but it will give you a slight change.

Remember, your brows should not necessarily match your hair. Most blonds look much more polished with eyebrows that are a little darker than their hair color. Blond eyebrows tend to disappear on the face.

I hope this helps, Jen. Thank you so much for the great question!

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