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Well-groomed eyebrows can make a woman look years younger. A beautifully shaped arch can give your face a lift, showcase your eyes, and impart instant sophistication.
But not every woman is blessed with naturally beautiful brows – and after 50, we may not be working with the same brows we had when we were 30 or 40. The fact is, problem eyebrows are a real source of frustration among many members of the Vibrant Nation community:
“For some reason my eyebrows have thinned out to the point they are almost nonexistent.”
“My thinning eyebrows are really bothering me. I also have white, wiry brows that crop up now and then. Help!”
“I have been waxing my eyebrows forever, but I better stop because they are getting thinner by the minute.”
In her new Vibrant Nation Beauty Guide Great Hair After 50, author Lois Joy Johnson identifies one common cause of less than flattering brows: “Trendy plucking during our high school or college years often resulted in skinny lines and exaggerated comma or tadpole shapes that never quite grew back – and that now make your entire face look dated.”
VN blogger Susan Tolles points out that simple aging can be a big factor, as well: “When I was younger, I had thick, dark eyebrows. There was even a time when I almost had a ‘uni-brow’ and had to constantly pluck to keep from looking like the young Brooke Shields. What the heck happened? No more thick brows, and I seldom have to tweeze. I even have to color them now to give them definition.”
Fortunately, vibrant women over 50 who want to look and feel their best don’t have to settle for unkempt, shapeless brows, tweezed-too-thin brows, drawn-on brows, or gray brows. Below are eight smart brow fixes from beauty expert Lois Joy Johnson and other VN members that can help you achieve the beautiful, flattering brows you want.
Smart solutions for problem brows
1. Rule out or treat any related medical causes of thinning brows.
Sparse brows after 50 may be a symptom of an underlying health issue. In the VN Beauty Guide Great Hair After 50, author Lois Joy Johnson quotes New York City dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt who says that “sparse brows or half-brows with missing tails are often a sign of thyroid issues.” So if your eyebrows are thinning, the first thing you’ll want to do is have your endocrinologist check for a medical reason for the hair loss.
VN member MUM is a case in point. Five years ago, at age 57, MUM discovered that she had hypothyroid (slow thyroid). “I am now on medication and my eyebrows have come back to life – so much so that I need to pluck them regularly! My advice [to women with thinning eyebrows] go to the doctor and get your TSH levels checked.”
VN blogger Dr. Dorree Lynn adds, “Start with a blood test to check your hormone levels first, then see what other type of professional may help you.” Prescription medications are only one option. “Sometimes, a good nutritionist can prescribe supplements that help. Diet and exercise have also been known to help as well.”
2. Consider Botox for drooping brows.
Cosmetic procedures like Botox are not for everyone, but for some women whose brows have begun to droop over time, they can be a good solution. Lois Joy Johnson says that “Botox injections can help lift a saggy brow that may be dragging your eyes down and create a more open look.”
3. When it comes to permanent makeup (eyebrow tattoos), the right technician makes all the difference.
VN members have varying opinions on permanent makeup as a solution for thinning brows. VN member EnergizerSnobabe advises, “Resist eyebrow tattooing. As you age, your skin will sag, and your tattooed eyebrows will go every which way! [But] if you really want to do something permanent, find a permanent makeup artist with lots of brow experience (look at her portfolio of ‘before and after’ pictures). She can go much lighter so the effect isn’t as dramatic and obvious – then if your face changes, you’re not stuck with squiggly brows.”
VN member Molson had her eyebrows tattooed ten years ago to minimize a scar in her eyebrows, and likes the results. “My eyebrows still look great, but I am thinking of having them re-touched. Once you have them done, you don’t have to think about doing anything to them except keeping track of the white hairs. For best results, look for a person who does reconstructive make up, instead of just permanent make-up.”
VN member Zblair agrees that the right aesthetician makes all the difference. “I had my brows tattooed with ink that resembled my hair color and was also good with my skin. The aesthetician used very tiny strokes and it really looked like brows. Three months after my initial work I went in for a touch up and they lasted close to three years. That same aesthetician did a lot of permanent makeup for stroke victims and also did ‘tats’ of nipples on the redone breasts of women who had had mastectomies. She was amazing!”
4. Protect the brows you have.
VN member 2melifeisgood takes extra care when shampooing her hair. Even when getting her hair cut, she says, “I gently remind the shampoo person to be care of not washing away my brows. Got to have a sense of humor about the aging process!” VN member centralsports adds, “My beauty consultant warned me about sleeping on my side – we will lose our outer brows because of this.”
5. Recreate brows from scratch with makeup.
Former beauty and fashion director of More magazine Lois Joy Johnson shares the following tips in her Vibrant Nation Beauty Guide, Great Hair After 50:
- In general, a medium, full brow with a gentle arch and extended elongated shape is youthful and attractive on most women.
- When you create a new brow with makeup, allow time for your eye to adjust to seeing your face with more brow definition.
- Don’t aim for symmetry since one brow is always higher or fuller or arched differently.
- Brow powders make filling in bald areas and creating a natural-looking shape where hairs are missing easier. You can use a brush-on brow powder applied to a waxy balm base (they often come in kits together), using a firm, flat-tip, angled brow brush to feather in hairs.
- You can also try a powder pencil for a similar and faster effect.
- Brush any brow makeup pencils or powders through with a spiral brush to soften and blend the makeup for a more natural look.
- I recommend Lancôme Le Crayon Poudre Powder Pencil for Brows, Dior Powder Brow Pencil, and Clarins Pro Palette Eyebrow Kit, which has powder filler, wax, and brushes in one mirrored compact.
6. Try eyebrow regrowth serum (Lumigan/Latisse).
VN member Wellheld says, “For the past three weeks I’ve been using Lumigan, the glaucoma treatment that as a side effect makes hair grow. (As a beauty treatment it’s marketed under a different name.) They say use the product for four weeks before you expect to see a result, but I am convinced I can see a difference in both my eyelashes and brows already. I use one drop for both both eyes and lashes, so the 3 ml bottle should last ages. I apply it using a very fine eyeliner brush, as if I was applying eyeliner. It’s not cheap but it seems to be working.”
VN member Ageless Elaine says, “Off label use of Latisse often works. It sure works for me. Please note: Latisse is a prescription drug. See a physician to get the prescription and make sure you understand how to use it properly and do not have any contraindications in your medical history. Result: longer, fuller lashes – and eyebrows!”
VN member Kiki12 is a fan of Latisse as well: “I have been using Latisse for the last two months, and I am truly amazed by the performance. I have always had very thin eyelashes and the last couple years thinning eyebrows at the ends. I had my thyroid checked and it is 3 which is still normal. So I started using Latisse. It is about $100 but you get a $20 rebate from Latisse and they also send rebates to your email for refills if you sign up. I put it on my eyebrows which are growing longer and thicker by the day. After you achieve full growth you can apply it less like twice a week and maintain results. I am sold on this product. I have not had any adverse effects.”
7. Control long, wiry brows.
In her Vibrant Nation Beauty Guide, Great Hair After 50 Lois Joy Johnson says, “Lots of women find their brow texture becomes increasingly coarse and unruly with age. Here’s my advice for trimming and managing long, wiry brows:
- First, brush them straight up with your spiral brush, and using a straight, small scissor (not a curved manicure one), trim the long hair excess to follow the upper brow line.
- Next, Brush them down and then do the same along the bottom line of the brow.
- Finally, use a brow gel to control these wild hairs and hold them in line. I like Revlon Brow Styling Gel – it comes in clear and works alone or right over brow pencils or powder fillers.”
8. How to handle gray eyebrows
“Don’t do gray brows even if your hair is gray,” is Lois Joy Johnson’s advice. “You need the extra definition and eye-framing shape.” Here are Lois’ brow coloring tips from Great Hair After 50:
- When it comes to brows and hair color, resist the urge to match.
- Brows after 50 should be softer in tone – never too blonde because they disappear and never too dark because they can give the face a severe look. Redheads can go brown – never dye them red!
- When choosing a color, you may want to go a shade lighter at first to compensate until you get the hang of it.
- A tinted brow gel is the best way to blend in gray brows and groom wiry coarse hairs up for a fresher, more open eye.
- I recommend Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel ($21), which comes in blonde, caramel, brunette, espresso, and granite.