Donna Kim-Brand
Brow Loss  Broohaha

One day, an artist friend offered to permanently dye my eyebrows to gain more definition (of my face, not just my brows).  I was flabbergasted…and resitent. After a lifetime of minimal make-up use or personal primping, I finally took the time to actually look in the mirror at myself and my eyebrows in particular.  Sure I had plucked stray hairs from time to time, but I had never done anything else with my brows. Well, other than once trying to use hair dye on them as I began regular use of coloring to cover my emerging head of gray hair.

My friend’s suggestion, which I graciously declined, did prompt me however to graze the makeup isles at my local pharmacy and pick up my very first eyebrow pencil. And, I’ll be jiggered, I have to admit it made both my face and brows come alive as my friend had predicted. It was like ‘the invisible woman’ made visible!

Remembering from high school art classes the astonishing instruction to place the eyes in the middle, half-way down the oval face outline, I took a look at images of people with and without eyebrows. The eyes are, indeed, in the mid third of a face shape, framed at the top by eyebrows which give the illusion they are at the top of the face. How strange we never seem to notice this. We take note when someone has super-bushy eyebrows (a la the comedian Groucho Marx) or when someone has been overly liberal with the eyebrow pencil. Faces without eyebrows, or with faintly visible eyebrow hair, also cause us to look twice at a person, even though we may not immediately recognize why. That’s why loss of eyebrow hair can be shocking when it happens to you or someone you know.

So let’s look at what can cause eyebrows to thin out or disappear, and when. Most people begin to experience eyebrow loss in their 30’s and 40’s, then it stabilizes until older age. Those most affected are those who were regular eyebrow tweezers throughout their lives.

Eyebrow loss is known in some circles as ‘superciliary madarosis’, where madarosis means ‘baldness’. Everything from normal aging, poor nutrition, allergies, hormones, skins disorders, medications or a range of medical conditions can cause loss of hair on one or both of your brows. Worst case scenarios might be late-stage syphilis or a type of leprosy called Hansen’s Disease, though these are rare. As with all other issues of hair loss, the underlying cause very often determines the most effective type of treatment or solution. Unless hair follicles are damaged, most hairs on the eyebrows do grow back once the cause of loss has been treated or rectified.

·        Overplucking– this may seem obvious, but overplucking of brows is a main cause of eyebrow hair loss. This happens when hair is regularly plucked from the root, which takes longer to grow back. Eventually, over time, regrowth may not occur at all.

·        Normal aging– for women especially, a drop in estrogen can lead to hair loss. Seek nutritional support to assist healthy estrogen metabolism and decrease inflammation. Men can also lose eyebrow hair as they age, but it tends to be less noticeable since they usually have more hair to start with.

·        Nutritional deficiency– up your intake of Vitamins A, B, D, E, iron and L-lysine to strengthen your hair and follicles.

·        Alopecia Areata– a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles causing hair loss and inflammation. Corticosteroid injections at the site of hair loss in your brows can restore growth, but often in a different texture or color of hair than you used to sport.

·        Telogen Affluvium– this is a temporary condition triggered by certain health conditions, medications or stress, whereby hair falls out quickly.  As for the stress component, research shows that stress causes attacks on the follicle nerve cells that alter the hair growth cycle, and it’s also the case that people under stress may pull out their own hair.

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