If you’re reading this, there’s a solid chance the worst thing in the (first) world has happened: you’ve overtweezed your brows. You’ve probably looked long and hard into the mirror, feeling a bit like a naked mole rat and half-heartedly hoping that an overwhelming sense of self-hatred might make them grow faster. Instead, they remain patchy and pencil-thin, making you go slightly insane as you wonder if you should shave the remaining hairs off and replace them with Sharpie-brows.
Don’t panic, and please don’t touch your Sharpie.
In the early ‘00s there was no such thing as too much tweezing; for whatever reason, women took the “less is more” approach and plucked away until nothing but two tiny parentheses were left above our eyes. Now, with the explosion of thick-browed beauties like Lily Collins and Cara Delevingne, those of us who spent hours waxing, tweezing, and threading our eyebrows bare are experiencing the mental struggle of learning to love our natural look.
About two months ago, I finally hit my limit when I tweezed my brows down to practically nothing. I had been tweezing them myself since college, when I decided I didn’t want to pay for waxes. Slowly, little by little, year by year, my brows were becoming thinner until this happened:
When I saw the final product of Tweezefest 2015, I realized there was only one thing to do: Quit plucking completely. I had no other choice.
So, I did. I read articles on how to help the growth process, I mentally beat myself up, and I stared at my mirror in dismay far too much. It hasn’t been a fun journey, but my brows are almost 100% back to normal, and here’s how it happened.
Step One: Don’t panic.
It’s highly unlikely that you permanently damaged your hair follicles. Your brows will grow back. I repeat: They. Will. Grow. Back.
For me, it only took around six weeks before I felt that they were normal once more. They may be thin, pitiful little stripes for now, but eventually they will blossom into something spectacular. The two tips I found to be most helpful during this process were a) brushing the brows gently once or twice per day to stimulate hair follicles, and b) rubbing petroleum jelly on my brow bone every night before bed, which helped the hairs become stronger and softer (I’ve always had trouble with my brows being very wiry and brittle). These two tricks put together seemed to help in my regrowth process; a lot of articles I read on the subject cautioned that the growth could potentially take months or years to be complete, and mine was finished in less than a month and a half.
Step Two: Put down the tweezers.
Seriously, just step away. Don’t worry about what your brows look like during the first, fragile few weeks. Put away your super-extra-magnifying mirror, try not to go near harsh lighting, and forgo selfies. Put all your energy into other beauty routines, including the brushing and petroleum jelly coating tricks. It might be hard to stop plucking—OK, it will be hard, trust me—but you can do it. After two weeks, I had many moments of wanting tweezers more than I wanted better brows. If you find yourself staring at your face for too long, despising the tiny dark prickles of incoming hair, look away. It will be worth it in the end. I promise.
Step Three: OK, pluck that unibrow.
Despite my advice on step two, it’s OK to tweeze in places that are waaaay outside of your brow range. Sometimes I feel like my eyebrows practically grow from the middle of my forehead down to my eyelids, and at the end of week two I started noticing incoming hairs that I wasn’t going to ever want. This included my unibrow hairs (although I did allow them to grow back partially between my eyes, as they were plucked too far apart). Allowing myself to pluck stray hairs helped my burning desire to tweeze, and it made my incoming brows much shapelier.
Step Four: Assemble the makeup forces.
Once your brows start growing back to ‘halfway decent,’ as I like to call the stage I hit around the end of the first month, you can start filling them in. Between Days 21 and 27 I rushed to my nearest drugstore and bought Revlon Brow Fantasy, which saved my life for the small sum of $7.99. The little tool is both a brow-filling pencil and a tinted gel in one. I think the Day 27 picture looks a lot more normal; it was at this stage and because of the tinted gel that I finally stopped feeling self-conscious in public, thinking people assumed I was overdue for a wax.
After a little over a month, my eyebrows were back to the shape I wanted, albeit still a tad bit patchy. This picture is me sans gel, so you can see the growth from Day 1 in all its untouched glory. Revlon’s pencil/gel helps work wonders, but all in all the petroleum jelly and brow-brushing still helped my real eyebrows grow back in relatively quickly. I’m much happier with these than with my Day 1 pinstripes.
And voila! Here are my brows today, with a little help from Revlon to even out some stubborn patchiness. Once they have completely grown back in, I’m going to surrender my hair removal to the waxing/threading professionals. For now, I’m happy with the growth process and with my useful new tool—buy tinted gel, everyone—and I am much more confident with my natural brows.
In the end, as usual, what matters most is how you feel about yourself. If you like thin brows, GO FOR IT! I personally felt like I looked ridiculous, but some girls feel much more comfortable without the extra hair. That’s great! If you are dreading regrowth, however, just know you’re not alone, and that the process will go by much faster than you think and it will be so worth it.
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