Read this if you’re struggling with sparse brows.
Fact checked by Haley Mades
There’s certainly no shortage of talk about or solutions offered for hair loss on your head. But, what if you’re dealing with hair loss elsewhere, i.e. your brows? “Just like scalp hair loss, hair loss in the eyebrows can be caused by a variety of factors. It can be temporary or permanent, with underlying causes that range from medical conditions to lifestyle factors,” explains Isfahan Chambers-Harris, a certified trichologist and founder of Alodia Haircare. This includes, but isn’t limited to, things such as: alopecia areata, hormonal imbalances, over-plucking, nutritional deficiencies, underlying health conditions, and aging, she adds. When it comes to hair loss solutions, there’s arguably nothing more lauded than minoxidil, the only FDA-approved treatment that’s proven to *actually* cause new hair growth. So, if it works for the hair on your head, will it work equally as well for your arches? Here’s what you need to know.
What is Minoxidil?
You may know the ingredient better by the brand name, Rogaine, although these days many different brands use it. It’s an FDA-approved topical medication for hair loss or thinning, explains Craig Ziering, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and hair restoration specialist. Fun fact: It was originally developed as an oral medication for blood pressure, but was found to have the unexpected side effect of stimulating hair growth, adds Dr. Chambers-Harris. However, even though it's been used for decades, the exact mechanism of action is still not fully understood. “It is thought that because minoxidil is a vasodilator, it widens blood vessels and increases blood flow. When applied topically to the scalp, it may increase blood flow to the hair follicles, providing them with more nutrients and oxygen,” she explains.
Can You Use Minoxidil On Your Brows?
In a word, yes, though with a few important caveats, according to the experts we spoke with. “While minoxidil is not technically approved by the FDA for use on areas other than the scalp, with professional guidance it could be viable to use on brows,” says Dr. Ziering. The key term there is ‘professional guidance.’ Dr. Chambers-Harris also underscores the importance of consulting with your derm or doctor beforehand, so that he or she can both assess your particular hair loss situation and provide guidance on proper usage (it comes in various strengths and formulations).
What Kind of Results Can You Expect?
All that being said, “Both in practice and anecdotally, we know patients who use the product for their brows have improvements in hair density, time in the growth phase, and even follicle size,” says Dr. Ziering. Translation: It will work if you want both more and fuller brow hairs. But, again, it’s not quite that simple. As is the case with hair loss on the head, minoxidil will work best for hair loss that’s caused by hormonal issues, he adds. Consistency is also key. Minoxidil keeps your hair follicles in the anagen—AKA growth— phase longer, so that they don’t shed, but you have to use it daily, Dr. Ziering notes. Stop using it and you’ll stop seeing results. And, in related news, it will take some time to see those results once you start using the medication. It can take up to several month for results to show up on the scalp—and scalp hair grows at a relatively faster rate than brow hair, notes Dr. Chambers-Harris. Point being, don’t expect this to be an overnight miracle solution.
What are the Possible Side Effects of Using Minoxidil On Your Brows?
“Some of the potential side effects from using topical minoxidil are itchiness, scaly skin, irritation, or burning in the area of treatment,” says Dr. Ziering. That applies for both your scalp and brows, and makes it even more important to be extra precise and specific when it comes to how you apply minoxidil onto your arches. (FYI, it can also cause unwanted hair growth if it ends up on unintended spots, like your eyelids, he notes.) For those reasons, he suggests opting for a liquid or lotion formula that you can apply in a targeted and precise manner using a cotton swab or clean spoolie brush. Though again, check with a medical professional for more detailed instructions and specifics on the exact type of product to use and how to use it.
The Bottom Line
Under the right circumstances, minoxidil can be an effective treatment option if you want fuller, thicker brows. Just make sure to talk with your doctor before using it.
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