Why Eyebrows Thin as You Age—and 3 New Ways to Spruce Them Up

Here, trendy techniques for making sparse brows appear fuller

Pop culture eras can be measured in eyebrows. The ’90s and 2000s were dominated by Pamela Anderson’s over-plucked lines. In the 2010s, model Cara Delevingne’s grown-out bushy brows became the grooming standard. Now, after entering a new decade (and trend cycle), high-profile brows are transforming yet again, with model Bella Hadid repping ultra-tiny arches and musician Doja Cat shaving hers off completely. Through each fad, eyebrows remain an inextricable part of our beauty routines—and an ongoing emblem of self-expression. This is why it can feel particularly disheartening when they start to dwindle over time.

“As we age, our hair follicles get weaker,” says Geeta Yadav, a dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology. Weaker follicles produce smaller and thinner hairs. Eyebrows are especially susceptible to thinning because of all the tugging, plucking and waxing they’re subjected to, which damages the follicles and can cause them to stop producing hair. This usually begins around perimenopause, which often starts in your 40s. But don’t assume dwindling arches are normal, says Yadav. They can also be a sign of autoimmune, autoinflammatory or hormonal conditions, so it’s important to take note of how your hair is disappearing and if there are any other changes happening alongside it.

FACT: Eyebrow sparseness can be caused by a number of factors, from autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata to hormonal conditions like thyroid disease. But brows can also thin out naturally due to age. 

Alopecia areata, for example, can impact eyebrows. The disease arises when the immune system attacks hair follicles, causing patchiness on areas like your scalp, arms and brows. Eyebrow sparseness can also be a sign of thyroid disease: The thyroid isn’t secreting the right amount of hormones, making the brows thinner. If you notice any irregularities, check in with a doctor.

When it comes to brows thinning naturally as you age though, there are ways to slow the process. To start, stay mindful of your skin’s sensitivities, don’t overdo your grooming and opt for shaping techniques that are less harmful to your skin. Beyond that, there are lots of treatments out there aimed at making fading brows look fuller.

Brow lamination

Like a perm for your arches, this buzzy technique has been hailed as a non-invasive way to spruce up your brows. The 45-minute treatment uses a chemical solution—usually containing thioglycolic acid, which breaks the bonds of the hair and allows them to be re-shaped—to brush follicles in a vertical direction, leaving them fluffy, full and slicked. It can last up to eight weeks, says Brittni Alexandra, an esthetician and owner of B. Beautiful studio in Toronto, who charges $140 for the service. Apart from keeping brows dry for two days after the appointment, there’s no heavy after-care required. But note: This distinct aesthetic of hoisted-up hair is not for everyone. “I call it the supermodel off-duty look,” says Alexandra. Before committing, she recommends trying the “soap brow” trend, brushing brows in an upward position and using pomade, gel or soap to hold them in place. If you do decide to get this treatment, keep in mind that it doesn’t create the look of hair on skin. So, if you have full-length brows that are sparse overall, lamination can make them look thicker. But it can’t bring back the tail-end of your arch.


Pricier but more permanent, microblading is a roughly one- to two-hour procedure that simulates individual hairs by scratching the surface level of the skin in fine strokes. This works for people who have lost their brows completely, due to causes like alopecia or chemotherapy, or for those who simply don’t feel like filling in their arches. “When it heals, it looks like real hair; you shouldn’t know the difference,” says Alexandra, who charges roughly $650 for the initial procedure and $200 for a touch-up a few weeks later. The healing process is quick, as long as you commit to the before- and after-care. Twenty-four hours before the appointment, steer clear of substances that can thin your blood (alcohol; coffee). And for 14 days after, don’t wear brow makeup, avoid chlorine or salt water and forgo heavy exercise—sweat pushes the colour out. Microblading lasts up to three years on its own, and much longer with the help of annual touch-ups, so maintaining your new bushy brows is a yearly financial commitment. The payout? Naturally full-looking brows at all times.

Ombré brows

A less invasive alternative to microblading, ombré shading adds depth to wispy brows by applying very fine pigment dots onto the skin. Unlike henna, which yields a similar initial result but turns patchy as it fades, ombré brows give the long-lasting look of skillfully applied makeup. The two-ish hour procedure is best for those wanting filled-in powdered brows, as opposed to natural hairs. Because it’s applying more pigment, ombré brows hold to the skin better than other semi-permanent procedures, and Alexandra charges roughly $700 for the treatment, plus $250 for touch-ups. With the same upkeep as microblading, they can last for over five years.

(Related: How Safe Is Permanent Makeup?)

thin eyebrows | Bh230802 Brow Tools FnlImage: Sarah Wright / Yes And Studio

6 of the best makeup products to emulate naturally full brows

Elf Wow Brow Tinted Gel 
Enriched with tinted hair-like fibres, this wax-gel hybrid brushes, shapes and thickens for a naturally filled-in finish. Available in five shades, it has an easy-to-use brush that volumizes brows.
$5, elfcosmetics.com

Benefit Cosmetics Fluff Up Brow Flexible Brow-Texturizing Wax
Get the lamination effect at home with this clear wax that slicks up your brows and holds them in place for 12 hours. Jojoba seed and shea butter keep them feeling moisturized instead of sticky.
$34, sephora.com

Just for Men 1-Day Beard & Brow
This temporary eyebrow dye, loved by aestheticians, comes ready to use. Brush into brows, let set for five minutes, and you’re off. The product comes with 30 single-day applications and is available in five shades that cover greys.
$18, walmart.ca

Twenty/Twenty Full Brows Tinted Gel 
Available in three shades, this gel covers grey hairs while creating thicker brows both instantly and over time. Void of harsh dyes, this ophthalmologist-developed formula supports hair growth long term and won’t cause eye irritation.
$26, trytwentytwenty.com

NYX Lift & Snatch! Tinted Brow Pen
Thanks to a fine-pointed micro-brush tip, this pen can be used to detail individual strokes for a natural result. Available in 10 shades, the smudge-free formula offers buildable pigment for adding volume or creating the look of hair on skin.
$16, nyxcosmetics.ca

Anastasia Beverly Hills DipBrow Waterproof Brow Pomade 
This waterproof, full-coverage creamy pomade is a cult classic for a reason. Use it to sculpt brows, shade in patches and transform thin arches into thick ones. Start sparingly—a little goes a long way.
$24, sephora.com

Next: What Are Henna Brows? 

Originally Published in Best Health Canada