Bleached brows are having a moment. People are all over TikTok taking the process into their own hands, getting the frosty, edgy look at home. But remember that hair bleach is an intense chemical and using it incorrectly so close to your eyes can be dangerous. The process is so risky that in some states, it’s illegal for hairstylists to bleach brows.
“Currently, salons in California are not allowed to perform the procedure because of a law that bans the use of products unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration,” says Ashleigh Marie Rancilio, a hairstylist in Los Angeles. In New York State, stylists are only allowed to tint brows with demi-permanent dyes, making permanent dyes—which include bleaching—out of the question. And many brow studios don’t offer brow bleaching. So finding a professional to do it for you might not be possible, especially depending on where you live.
If you are truly committed to the look, you can bleach your brows at home—but you need to be very careful. Worst case scenario, you can get it in your eyes which can lead to blindness. On the less intense end of the spectrum, bleaching your brows can lead to weak and frail brows, and even loss of brow hairs.
“Eyebrow bleaching can cause potential weakening and thinning,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “People who have thick brows might not necessarily notice that impact, but, the same as doing any kind of chemical processing for your scalp hair, over time that can have an impact on the hairs. And in terms of brows, we don’t have as much reserve.”
Plus, the bleach can irritate your skin.
“A lot of the time, the bleaches can create a chemical reaction on the skin, which can lead to irritation,” says Dr. Garshick. Depending on your skin tone, that irritation can present as redness, lightening of the skin, or darkening of the skin. “In somebody who has darker skin, it can lead to basically a post-inflammatory hypo-pigmentation where the skin looks lighter than the normal skin color. It can also lead to a post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation where it’s darker than the normal skin color, but it can happen in any skin type”
Now that you’re briefed on what can go wrong, here’s how to bleach your brows, the right (and safe) way.
What to do before you bleach your brows
1. Get a facial hair bleach
Eyebrow bleaching “must be done with a solution that’s specifically formulated for the brows or you risk blindness,” says Rancilio. Plus, the bleach that’s sold for facial use isn’t as strong as the bleach you get for your head hairs, which can cut down any irritation. This Sally Hansen Creme Hair Bleach for Face ($8) uses hydrogen peroxide along with aloe to provide gentle lightening of facial hair. Plus, the formula is nice and thick to prevent and dripping.
2. Do a patch test
The last place you want an allergic reaction is your face. To cut down the chance of this happening, Dr. Garshick recommends doing a patch test, which is when you apply a small amount of product to an inconspicuous area and see if it causes a reaction. “It is always best to do a small patch test by applying a small amount to the inner arm to ensure no allergy to any of the ingredients in the bleach,” she says. “This is especially important if you have sensitive skin.” If you perform the test and see no irritation, you’re all set for the real deal.
How to bleach your brows at home safely
1. Protect the skin around your brows
It’s really difficult to apply the bleach without getting any on your surrounding skin. For that reason, Dr. Garshick says to apply a thick product to your skin to serve as a barrier. “It is important to use a skin protectant like Vaseline ($4) or Aquaphor ($10) prior to applying the treatment to minimize irritation to the surrounding skin,” she says. Apply a generous amount.
2. Mix and apply the bleach as directed
Read the instructions in your kit for mixing and application and follow them to a T. Now is not the time to go rogue and experiment. The last thing you want to do is fry off your brows.
3. Keep your brows conditioned
Since bleaching your brows weakens the hair fibers, you want to do what you can to keep them strong. Use a brow serum like The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash and Brow Serum ($15) to keep them healthy. This serum is made with four peptides, vitamin B5, and a combination of camellia sinensis leaf extract, larix europaea wood extract, and zinc chloride to promote thicker, fuller, and healthier brows.
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