The Brow Mistake(s) Women Over 40 Make
I had a fascinating chat with brow guru Kristie Streicher (clients include Emily Blunt and Mandy Moore) on my recent trip with Mary Kay to Blackberry Farm. I’ve assumed for years that my thin(ning) brows were the result of DNA. So, I’ve become fairly adept at using a pencil to fill in sparse spots—and have come to (mostly) accept that anemic arches are just one of my lots in life. Turns out, this may be wrong.
Kristie walked me through what she calls her brow rehab program, as well as shared other surprising tips. Here, based on that conversation, are mistakes Kristie says many of us make—plus what we should be doing.
MISTAKE: You settle for being sparse “Many women over-plucked their brows in the '90s, then failed to let them grow back in properly. Today, they assume that their thinner brow shape is what nature—or aging—has given them. Wrong,” says Kristie. For most of us, the brows we attained emulating Kate Moss would grow back—if we just let them. The first step? Put away your tweezers for the next two months. (I've committed to doing this too.)
MISTAKE: You pull out strays as you see them “If you’re plucking on a daily, or even weekly, basis, you’re messing with your hair’s growth cycle,” explains Kristie. How? Every time you pluck a hair—even those wacky, random strays that appear on your eyelid or way up on your forehead—you cause inflammation in the skin around the plucked hair, explains Kristie. And this irritation sends a message to surrounding follicles to halt growth. Thus, even though the stray you plucked is way outside the lines of even a very full brow, the hairs nearby that were set to grow in where you do want them, just got a memo saying, “hey, hold off for a while.” A smarter strategy: To encourage healthy growth, Kristie says to take out the tweezers no more often than every six to eight weeks—then take off the strays all at once. That way, even if the surrounding hair follicles get that inflammatory message, it’s coming just every two months, rather than daily or weekly, so the hair has weeks (and weeks) to grow in. At last.*
MISTAKE You lose patience…and pluck “It can take up to two years to fully grow back over-tweezed brows,” says Kristie. Like using Retin-A, training for a marathon, or growing out bangs, patience and persistence are the name(s) of the game(s). You must be faithful to the no-sooner-than-six-weeks rule—or you’ll never get the results you desire. Kristie suggests even going so far as to put a brow appointment on your calendar (even if you shape your own brows), so you don’t lose track of that all-important, six-week mark. Kristie herself is also available, starting later this summer, for virtual appointments and brow rehab coaching. Check striiike.com in mid-to-late June for more information.
MISTAKE You never brush Even if you don’t use makeup to fill in your brows daily, everyone should use a spoolie brush (lots of brow pencils come with one) to comb your arches once a day. “I believe that regularly brushing your brows helps stimulate blood flow to hair follicles, promoting healthier growth,” says Kristie. She also believes the tiny bristles on a spoolie gently exfoliate the skin beneath your brows, removing flakes and preventing dead-skin-cell buildup, which can clog follicles and inhibit growth.
MISTAKE You rub when you remove Brushing is good, scrubbing is not. Like lashes, brow hairs are vulnerable to fall-out if treated with aggression. Kristie tells her clients to use an oil-based face cleanser because, “it dissolves even tenacious makeup, leaving you little reason to rub around the eyes,” she says.
To discover some of Kristie's favorite brow tools, check this out.
*Note: Kristie acknowledges that evidence for her brow-rehab strategy is largely anecdotal (albeit, based on almost twenty years of shaping women’s brows). However, I found a 2015 study conducted at the University of Southern California that supports what she’s seen, though they went so far as to suggest that plucking hairs from a small region (like, say, your brows) all at once, as Kristie recommends, may not only minimize growth-inhibition, it may even trigger growth. You can read a summary of the study here.