Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All About Eyebrows!!

No one likes to lose their hair during chemotherapy.  It stinks.  But don't forget....it will come back!!!

Obviously it is traumatic to lose your hair.  Your hair is part of your identity and all of a sudden it is gone. Many of my patients say that they were prepared to lose the hair on their head.  They were dreading it, but they knew it would happen.   But most say that it was even more of a shock when they realized how different they looked when they lost their eyebrows.  They say that is the "neon sign" that announces to the world that they are getting chemotherapy.  It "outs them" as a cancer patient and makes them feel more self conscious out in public.

It  is true that with some of the great wigs, ball caps and scarves that they have now, you can mask the hair loss on your head, but when your brows and lashes take a temporary hiatus, the way it alters your appearance can be startling (even when you think you are prepared for it).

We have all seen a few senior citizens that have drawn an eyebrow on with a pencil with less than spectacular results.  Since I need a magnifying glass to put on mascara in the morning, who am I to talk???

There is also the Marlene Dietrich look.  This looks like someone drew a brow on with a felt tip pen.

Instead of using a skinny little pencil, another option to try (for a temporary fix) is an eyebrow stencil.

Basically you hold the stencil (see photo below) up to your brow line and fill in by brushing on brow powder.  After you are done you "set it" with something called brow wax to adhere it, so it doesn't flake off easily.  As my best friend Roberta likes to point out, I am lacking in fine motor skills, so I might find the stenciling process challenging.  But some of my best dressed patients assure me that once you get the hang of it, it gives them a real confidence boost.  Depending on the degree of skill, they can look really good!!!  Are they just as good as your own brows?  Okay, no.  But they are a good temporary fix until your own brows grow back.

Everyone online raves about the Anastasia brand that can be purchased at amazon.com, sephora etc.  It seems that there are different brands, but apparently the shape/arch of these are the most realistic.  The kit is kind of pricey at $38, but maybe this would be a nice gift to give if you are the friend of a cancer patient and don't know how to help.  A brow stencil kit, some gentle skin care products (Elizabeth Grady Sensitivity Protection Creme is AWESOME), a tube of Aquaphor and some soft chenille or cotton footies in a little basket will always be appreciated by a cancer patient.  Remember, no heavy smelling perfumes or scented lotions, as this can sometimes trigger nausea in patients undergoing chemo.  Also sometimes their taste and sense of smell is altered by the chemo and strong odors can really bother them.

Anyway...apparently this Anastasia (not the missing Romanov!!) is the Queen of brow waxing in Beverly Hills.  Here is the link. www.anastasiabeverlyhills.com

You can also find their products on Amazon. You can get stencil kits that have the brow stencils, instructions, brow powder and brow wax to seal it.

I first saw an eyebrow stencil kit at the DFCI Friends Boutique for $25 (which is pretty pricey) and got incensed that they were ripping off cancer patients.  So I bought one and then I headed to CVS and Walgreen's to see if I could duplicate the contents (aka rip off their idea!) for my patients.  Since then, a friend of mine (who is the world's greatest volunteer at DFCI) has informed me that all the proceeds from the DFCI Friends Boutique go back into patient programs so maybe I will cut them a little slack.

For about $15 total at Walgreen's you can buy the stencils and powder separately.  This brand is Ardell.
Honestly, I don't know if you can buy the brow wax separately but the main ingredient in the brow wax in the Anastasia kit lists it as "beeswax".  So  maybe a little swipe of Bert's Bee's will do it for you.  If you find one sold separately, let me know and I will post it here.


This lady is a little fond of looking at herself in the mirror, but she actually does a great job of showing you how to how to work the stencil in the tutorial below.  Good luck and send me photos of your brows when done!!!  Remember, your hair will come back!!!

If you are a cancer survivor and you master the eyebrow stenciling technique and you want to show the world (or basically me and a couple of my friends since I don't have any followers yet!!!), send me a video showing me how you do it.  If you are the first one to send it in, I will post it here and I will send you an Anastasia brow kit!

Hope this helps!!

UPDATE 2024: Since this post there has been great work on eyebrows with gels which seem to work better than some of the old powder brow stencil kits. 

www.thrivecosmetics.com  has:

 Instant Brow Fix™ Semi-Permanent Eyebrow Gel. Let me know if you have tried it and if it works!!


Love this idea of a brow "stamp" where you just blot on the color with a stencil, thus avoiding the powder mess.  I have just ordered one and will get back to you on how it works!


  1. This article is so well-written and such practical information! Love it!

  2. Fantastic information. Thanks!

  3. I been drawing my eyebrows in for years. After remission they never really grew back right. Real blotchy and patchy if I must say. I finally feel normal after getting microblading brows done. It took me a while to get away from the mirror since they looked so real. I had real hair lines! This is definitely another option for people who don't like to draw them on.