The hard truth: hair loss isn’t confined to the scalp. Your eyebrows — the ones you might have spent the late 90s or early 2000s generously plucking — can also experience thinning over the years.
“Naturally, as we age, our brows get thinner,” says celebrity dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D. “Eyebrows usually become sparse because the volume of nutrients reaching the roots of the hair goes down, which eventually affects their nourishment.” Over-plucking can also cause repeat trauma to the hair follicle, which it ultimately won’t be able to recover from.
And there are other medical issues, which can be a symptom of a bigger problem. Alissia Zenhausern, N.M.D., a naturopathic doctor at NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, says, “Thinning brows can largely be the result of nutrient deficiencies: vitamin A, Zinc, Biotin (vitamin B7), vitamin C, Iron, vitamins E, B12 and D, and Omega-3 fatty acids … It can also be the result of hormonal imbalance (too much testosterone or DHT, which is thought to cause hair follicles to miniaturize), chronic stress, autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata, anemia and thyroid issues.”
As luck would have it, there are brow serums flooding the market, all of which claim to restore your brows to their former glory. But do they really work?
And, more importantly, what exactly do the ingredients do? Experts break down exactly what to look for in your brow serum.
How to Treat Thinning Brows
The first call of action is to stop plucking them, then let them grow naturally for about three-four months, which is the standard growth cycle of eyebrow hair. You might also invest in a brow serum. Just note, popular brow serums are not regulated by the FDA, and there are no FDA-approved eyebrow growth treatments available. Instead, you may want to reach for a natural serum — it is important to always err on the side of caution when applying something around the eyes.
These are the most common ingredients — including natural options — that you might find in a brow serum:
Castor oil: The very popular ingredient, which is extracted from castor beans, is touted as a great stimulant for hair growth. “I have used it with patients with scalp hair loss, as well as after chemotherapy treatment,” Zenhausern says. “It is rich in ricinoleic acid, a specific type of fatty acid that helps fight inflammation. When applied to the brows or other hair follicles, the castor oil helps reduce inflammation, which can promote hair growth, as well as protect from continual hair loss.”
Ricinoleic acid: an unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid and a hydroxy acid. It is known to fight inflammation and it is purported to enhance the health of the hair follicles and protect against hair loss by helping to improve circulation, which in turn results in more nutrition to the hair follicles and less breakage. “It stimulates longer, fuller lashes,” adds Jaliman.
Red clover and mung bean: these natural ingredients help inhibit the production of DHT, and contain key nutrients like proteins, B vitamins, zinc and iron, that help fight inflammation and common cause of hair loss.
Biotin: This B vitamin is often recommended for hair health, in general, since a biotin deficiency can lead to hair thinning in the first place. “Biotin is important for energy production and known to improve hair health,” says Jaliman.
Peptides: Several peptides, like copper peptide GHK-Cu, have been shown to stimulate hair growth by increasing the follicle size of the hair to give it a more thick and full appearance. “Peptides help keep the skin cells of the lashes healthy,” says Jaliman. Peptides prevent follicle death and increase follicle size due to angiogenic properties, meaning peptides help improve circulation at the capillary level.
Keratin: Hair is made up of a type of this protein. “Keratin is made from amino acids, which are created as a result of the reaction of cell enzymes and biotin,” says Jaliman. “Keratin is the protein which strengthens hair.”
Hyaluronic acid: Besides giving you firmer, more hydrated skin, hyaluronic acid also provides hydration and elasticity that foments good hair growth by helping to increase the strand diameter, giving it a plumper appearance. “Ingredients like hyaluronic acid are good for conditioning the hair, so they look their best, and to support the health of the hair follicle,” says Shamara Bondaroff, esthetician and founder of SB Skin in New York City.
Panthenol: It is a form of vitamin B5, used as a moisturizer and can help hydrate and smooth hair from the outside. It can also help thicken and add body to hair. “It can give an instant boost to brows while waiting for real regrowth to happen,” says Bondaroff.
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