My eyebrows are one of my favorite features on my face, but they’re also the one I feel the most insecure about, because 20 years of psoriasis has left them patchy and thin.
Growing up, I took for granted how full and resilient my eyebrows were—they even managed to recover from the ’90s over-plucking trend. But when I was in high school, I started to develop flaky patches on my hairline and in my eyebrows. The flakes started to rip out my brow hairs, causing my brows to look patchy and uneven. My dermatologist diagnosed these issues as psoriasis, a condition that causes patches of thickened, dry, red, patchy skin. To help manage my symptoms, the derm gave me a topical cream to apply daily.
Although the cream helped keep my symptoms in check, psoriasis is a chronic condition, and I still experienced flares—especially in the winter. Self-conscious of the red patches down my forehead and along my eyebrows, I asked my hair stylist to give me long bangs à la Brigitte Bardot. While my bangs covered up my sparse brows, they obviously didn’t address the root issue.
1. Give eyebrow growth serums a shot.
I’ve tried several brow-growth serums and waited patiently for the results. In my experience, most are like snake oil—all talk and no growth. But personally, I feel like the serum from RevitaBrow Cosmetics Advanced Eyebrow Conditioner ($110, Dermstore) actually works for me.
I started using it after a period of three months when I didn’t touch my tweezers, allowing my brows to grow without any interruption. Now I use it after I wash my face every morning and night. I carefully apply the serum to my brows with the wand, always following the growth of the hair. This growth serum brought my fledgling brows back to life.
2. Fill your brows in with a tinted eyebrow gel.
In my quest to get fuller brows for my wedding, an eyebrow savior—an employee at Sephora—introduced me to the Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel ($22, Ulta). It gives me the appearance of thicker, bold brows, even when they are thin and uneven. Now I use this gel in my everyday look because it’s easy to apply and is long-lasting.
The gel comes with a brow wand, and the application is easy. I fill in my brows from the front to the arch of the brow, and then keep filling to the end. I also apply a light eyeshadow along my brow bone (under the brow) to make the brows look more defined. I’ve used other types of brow gels, but they tend to leave clumpy bits of the product or streaks in my brows.
3. Moisturize with facial oils.
When my psoriasis is flaring up, it causes flaky patches of skin and scabs on my brows. During these flare-ups, I try to avoid putting any kind of makeup on my eyebrows. Instead, I moisturize and nourish them with a facial oil, usually one containing avocado oil, like Skin Authority Beauty Infusion Quinoa & Avocado ($49, Pharmaca). I gently apply the oil into my brows at night with a Q-tip, and I wake up with smoother, moisturized skin.
I’ve also tried castor oil and jojoba oil, which work well, but I’ve been sticking with avocado oil recently. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that many oils can be comedogenic, SELF explained previously, so if you’re acne-prone, use facial oils with care. And some facial oils also contain other botanical extracts that can be irritating for people with sensitive skin.
4. Check in with a specialist.
Never underestimate the power of a knowledgeable, understanding professional. While living in the Bay Area, I became a loyal customer to theBalm cosmetics store in San Francisco. I went there every three months for an appointment with a brow specialist.
During my first appointment, the specialist spent time with me to better understand how I wanted my brows to look, and then carefully sculpted my brows with tweezers, giving them a well-defined arch, and applied a brow tint to make them look fuller. Learning more about my brows and how to work with them has helped me care for them on my own.
If you have access to an expert—whether that’s at a dedicated brow bar, another type of salon, or with a dermatologist—it’s worth checking with them for guidance on how to keep your eyebrows happy and full.