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Beauty Trends: Everything you wanted to know about eyebrow shaving

Why exactly are people shaving their eyebrows? The answers might surprise you.

Why are people shaving their eyebrows? Turns out it’s not a new practice.

I’m the last person to recommend following any viral beauty trend. At best they’re nonsensical, at worst, they can cause permanent damage (the infamous shot-glass-lip challenge anyone?) 

That said, I feel uniquely qualified to talk about a recent trend I’ve noticed picking up steam, eyebrow shaving. Considering I spent almost two years without eyebrows from my alopecia areata and I’m a hair transplant surgeon, this is one trend I thought I could weigh in with some medical and personal insight. 

And, oddly enough, the recent fad of eyebrow shaving isn’t exactly new. 

 

A history of brow shaving

Every now and then when I get the opportunity, I like to delve into the history of surgical and beauty trends. One of the first records we have of eyebrow shaving is in ancient Egypt, where eyebrows were removed as a sign of mourning when the household cat died (for the death of a dog, all body hair was shaved, including on the head).

Brows change over time. Ancient Egyptians shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning over the passing of their feline companions. 1920s flappers favoured thin, straight brows while the 1930-40s saw a more arched version. 

In medieval times, the act of shaving eyebrows shifted from religious practice to beauty. The forehead was considered one of a woman’s most beautiful features and, to emphasize the forehead, women began plucking hair from their hairline, eyebrows, and eyelashes to draw attention to this feature. 

During the 1920s (the birth of our modern film era), it became fashionable for women to wear their eyebrows very straight and thin, usually through extensive plucking – Clara Bow was a prime example. This is when we really start to see the first glimpse of star power, where women began emulating their favourite screen stars. 

A version of this severely thin, heavily tweezed brow continued into the 1930s and 1940s, but there was an arch – less of the straight line, more of a thin curve (Jean Harlow). We even saw a flashback of this trend in the 1990s (think Pamela Anderson). 

Fast forward to 2022/2023 and what we’re now seeing is some celebrities opting out of eyebrows entirely. 

 

What is the aesthetic reasoning and should you consider it? 


Before launching into the aesthetic reasons to remove the brow, I want to point out that there is a medical condition that can cause someone to shave their eyebrows. Trichotemnomania is an obsessive-compulsive disorder where an individual has the urge to remove, cut, or shave hair. It’s a psychological disorder that can be triggered by stress and is distinct from Trichotillomania (a mental health condition where you pull out your own hair). It’s something medical professionals need to keep in mind when someone presents with alopecia areata, particularly if you can still see part of the hair shaft present.

Shaving the tail end of a brow and making it appear straighter can give a lifted, fox-eye effect, and the tail can be added back artificially. 

But there are also aesthetic reasons why you might want to shave your eyebrows. It’s a fashion statement, and some people feel more confident leaving their house with no brows. Removing the tail of the brow can actually achieve a lifting effect. And if you like a fuller brow? The tail can be added back artificially with make-up or microblading to simulate a straighter brow, not unlike the fox eye look which we’ve talked about before. It’s a safer (and temporary) way compared to surgical interventions to achieve this trendy look, which I’m all for. 

 

Speaking of safety…

Safety first. It’s best to try this look with tools designed for use on delicate skin. Look for a single blade razor designed for eyebrows. 

If this is a look you want to try, a brow razor is preferred over a standard razor to achieve a clean shave – and shaving is your best bet. Threading, lasering, tweezing, and waxing can all cause permanent damage to the brow follicle and over time can lead to scarring and permanent hair loss. 

Single line blades are designed to be gentle and are often angled for safer use around the eyes. It’s also best to shave in the direction that the hair grows. Chances are you’ve heard that before, but it bears repeating. The skin around your eyes and brow is delicate so you need to be careful. Shaving cream? It’s optional – just don’t use anything with aromatics that could potentially irritate the eyes. 

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If I shave my brows, will they grow back?

Fun fact – back in 1999, a research group looked at this. They took 5 patients, shaved one of their brows and left the other alone, and compared the regrowth over 6 months. All patients had full brow regrowth. Now yes, this was practically a micro study, but the results support what most people experience after shaving their brows – they grow back. Though it’s really important to keep in mind that other health issues that come up can prevent hair growing back, including hormone imbalances, medications, inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. 

However, as you may have noticed, regrowth was not fast. If you shave your brows and don’t like the look, it will take 3-6 months to get them back. 

We’ve finished formulating an eyebrow and eyelash regrowth serum (2024 release) that can help with the regrowth process. Sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date. 

Also, the hair that grows back can be a different texture – it can grow back coarser. If your skin is sensitive, you can get a rash from shaving (razor burn) which can look bumpy and red and feel itchy, not a great look. 

 

What happens if they don’t grow back

If your eyebrows don’t grow back (or not as quickly as you’d like) you have options. You can 

wear it proudly (it is a trending fashion statement after all). You can also use make-up and microblading to mask some missing hairs until you can determine what underlying issues could be going on. You can also try growth serums and even minoxidil to try and get more regrowth. 

Latisse (bimatoprost), the eyelash growth medication, can also help though be aware it can cause fat loss around the eye. PRP (platelet rich plasma) and microneedling can also be tried and do work for some people. 

And if none of those work or you still aren’t happy with how your brows look? You can explore the option of eyebrow hair transplant surgery, like this fantastic patient did.  

 

What are the drawbacks? 

The first is that your eyebrows are functional. We use our eyebrows for communication, and you can lose some expressions when you remove the eyebrows. Eyebrows also prevent sweat, water, and debris from reaching our eyes (along with our eyelashes), so removing the eyebrows can lead to sensitivity and exposure. 

Should you try this one? As far as trends go, this one is relatively harmless. If you really want to see how it looks (and are willing to accept the long regrowth phase) there’s no reason not to. Speaking from personal experience? After having no eyebrows for almost 2 years, I’m really happy I have them back, so won’t be shaving mine anytime soon!

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Written by
Kristi Charish
Edited by
Dr. Gary Linkov
The content of this newsletter is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This content is not meant to provide any medical advice or treat any medical conditions. Patients must be evaluated by an appropriate healthcare provider on an individual basis and treatment must be tailored to meet that patient’s needs. Results and particular outcomes are not guaranteed.

 

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