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Help, I’m losing my eyebrows!

Published: 17 Oct 2018

Eyebrows have made a comeback in a big way – from years of being in the wilderness, only receiving an occasional pluck to tame more unruly hairs, they are back with a vengeance. These days they’re bold, big and beautiful – and in some extreme cases have been accused of walking into a room before their owner!

It’s not the first-time eyebrows have been front of stage in women’s beauty regimes. If you lived in the 20’s you’d no doubt have plucked your eyebrows within an inch of their life, leaving just the thinnest, neatest, barely there, line.  Some women shaved them off completely, drawing them back-in with a grease pencil to achieve the perfect brow of the day.

The 1940’s saw eyebrows become much softer, feminine. They still had a high arch but were more rounded and had a more natural thickness. By the 1950’s the thin eyebrows were long gone, and women opted for a fuller, more natural looking eyebrow. And this look pretty much persisted until the entrance of super model Cara Delevingne’s on to the celebrity circuit.  Her eyebrows will surely go on to signify the decade we are in now. It is thanks to Delevingne – or Her Eyebrowness, as she was named by Vogue – that women everywhere are embracing the brow. 

Eyelashes too are no shrinking violets – with many people courting a pair of falsies on a daily basis.  We’re not sure where the sudden craze for false eyelashes comes from but you simply need to log-on to YouTube or Instagram to find beauty guru’s and cosmetic lovers extolling the benefits of a beautiful lash.  So maybe they’re the culprits!

According to Bustle, an online women’s lifestyle media platform with a readership of 80 million, “Lashes are 2018's most popular beauty trend, lash brands are getting super creative and lash hashes are reigning supreme online.”

Pinterest recently rounded up their biggest trends in beauty, and lashes topped the list with a 152 percent increase in searches.

Brows & Lashes on Chemo

This is all well and good – but not so great if you’re about to undertake a course of chemo and the likelihood is you’ll lose both for a while.  Lashes and brows are an important feature to most people, particularly women. They frame the eyes and, as with all hair, can be central to a person's self-image and sense of self-esteem. But don’t despair – we have a few styling ideas you can try.

Brows

Fill in the gaps

If your brows are a bit patchy, then fill them in with an eye-brow cream gel.  You’ll find them on most beauty counters in a range of colors – but choose one with a brush so you can gently apply the cream in delicate stroke, building up to create a very natural look.

You could also use an eyebrow kit, which includes a wax and a shadow. The wax helps to fix the shadow. Put the wax on first and then the shadow, or you can mix the wax with the shadow and put both on together.

Eyebrow pencils are good if you have just lost some of your eyebrows or they have partly grown back. You can also use them to add depth to your eyebrows. First, color in the brow with your shadow. Then use the pencil to add a few strokes to look like hairs. Use a sharp eyebrow pencil so you can draw fine lines. This can look very natural but takes practice. It may help to practice doing it on your arm.

Stencil and pencil

If you’ve lost more than 50%, you can buy eyebrow stencil kits that contain a selection of eyebrow shapes. Before you start it’s important to plot the shape of your brow before you select your stencil – you want to make them look as natural as possible.

Pick a stencil out of the kit that closely resembles your natural eyebrow and place it over the dots you’ve already created. You can then use an eyebrow cream gel to fill in the stencil with tiny brush strokes. 

After you’ve built up your brow to how you want it it’s advisable to buy a product that will ensure the gel doesn’t smudge.  Some people use a lipstick sealer, such as Lipcote, to do the job.

Just waking around any cosmetic counter you’ll find a myriad of new products to try. We can’t test them all out, but if you’ve used one that works please post in to the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group – I’m sure the members will be pleased for any recommendations.

Microblading

This is a semi-permanent makeup that uses a hand tool with very fine blades. The needles implant delicate hair strokes using a medical grade pigment color. The pigment is implanted in the basal membrane which divides the Epidermis from the Dermis layer of the skin. These techniques are more superficial than tattooing, the color is impacted closer to the skins surface, which means the strokes appear and remain crisp and extremely fine. The end result is soft, flawless and natural brows to enhance natural features and overall appearance without the brows dominating their face.  

Lashes

Kid Glove Treatment

Even if you don't lose your eyelashes during chemo, you will likely find that they'll be very delicate. Those who do lose them will often find that the regrown lashes are fine, prone to breakage, or visibly sparse. To help minimize the loss of your lashes:

False Eyelashes

These are an option but check with your doctor before using them. There is always a risk of infection when using these products, and some people experienced an allergic reaction to the glue. You can buy them from most cosmetic counters – and they don’t need to be expensive.  But before putting them on, do a spot test with the glue on the inside of your arm to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

If you have not used false eyelashes before, they can be a little tricky. This is especially true if you have no real eyelashes on which to situate the false ones. In this case, you may want to speak with someone at the cosmetic counter who can give you tips or even apply them for you.

Growth promotion treatments

There are a number of over-the-counter eyelash serums, which are often marketed as conditioning treatments containing biotin that improves the hair’s health by strengthening keratin, the protein, that makes up hair.  However, there is little evidence to suggest it actually works.

Dermatologist Pamela A. Lowe says that, “There is no compelling evidence that biotin will increase lash growth. And because many supplements of biotin rarely get absorbed into one’s system efficiently—unless one is extremely deficient—it really doesn’t pay off to use it for this purpose.”
There is however a newer, topical treatment that may help. Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) is an FDA-approved product used to stimulate eyelash growth and darkening. It is applied topically to the base of the lashes each night. Results can vary and are typically seen after eight weeks of use.

As with the false eyelashes, you should check with your doctor or oncologist before use and always do a spot check on your arm. Insurance may cover the cost of Latisse but will most often require a pre-authorization letter or phone call from your doctor.

Beauty YouTubers

For some practical ‘how to’ advice check out YouTube – it’s awash with beauty YouTubers trying out new product and showing you how to use them. Here are a few we’ve found:

How to Draw the Perfect Eyebrows: Carly Severn’s Foolproof Tutorial

Full make-up tutorial for chemo patients – “Go-to” neutral look

Applying False Lashes to Bald Eyelids (Trichotillomania) | G Beauty

If you’ve tried any of these techniques, please share your experiences about what works and what doesn’t with thousands of supportive members in the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group. Or if you want to ask advice, simply request to join and post your question.