Eyebrows and eyelashes – understanding hair loss and re-growth overview
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Let us help you to plan for any loss of eyebrow and eyelash hair by giving you an overview of what to expect, how to deal with it together with ideas for creating very realistic looking eyebrows and eyelashes.
Here you can find out why hair may fall out due to a side effect of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatments for cancer. Once you know how you may be affected, there is a host of ideas and products that will help to give you confidence to face treatment and maintain your individual sense of style and dignity.
Eyebrows and eyelashes – commonly asked Q&A
- Chemotherapy treatment – will my eyelashes and eyebrows fall out?
- Radiotherapy – will my eyebrows and lashes fall out?
- Scalp Cooling – will my eyebrows and lashes fall out?
- Is there anything I can do to prevent my eyelashes and eyebrows from falling out?
- I have heard that semi-permanent makeup may be an option but I need to have it before treatment starts, is that true?
- When will my eyelashes and eyebrows start to fall out?
- Can I remove my eyebrows and eyelashes before they fall out?
- Will wearing mascara or eyebrow make-up cause my eyelashes and eyebrows to fall out?
- When will I see new hair growth of my eyelashes and eyebrows?
- Make-up & other ideas for eyelashes and eyebrows
Chemotherapy treatment – will my eyelashes and eyebrows fall out?
If your chemotherapy treatment causes hair loss as a side effect of cancer treatment then it is more likely that you will experience partial or total loss of your eyebrows, lashes and other facial and body hair.
If your chemotherapy drug causes hair thinning you may also lose your brows and lashes. Hair falls out during chemotherapy due to a temporary disruption to the Hair growth cycle. Your eyebrows and lashes will normally start to re-grow once your chemotherapy treatment is complete. Some people notice hair starting to grow back during treatment.
We will look into this in our section Eyebrows and eyelashes – new hair growth.
As a general guide if you have been advised by your chemotherapy nurse to prepare for hair loss then you are best advised to assume that your brows and lashes will also fall out.
Whilst we do advise you to plan for loss of brows and lashes, it is fair to say that not everyone who loses their hair on their scalp will experiences total loss of eyebrows and lashes too. There isn’t really a technical explanation for this, but experience has shown us that some lashes and brows can remain intact.
If you are unsure whether your brand of chemotherapy drug cause hair loss talk to your chemotherapy nurse. They will be well informed on what the majority of people experience in the case of lashes and brows in relation to each individual brand. Read more about hair loss in our Chemotherapy guide.
Radiotherapy – will my eyebrows and eyelashes fall out?
Radiotherapy only causes hair loss around the area being treated. Therefore, only in the case that you are being treated around the head area would the brows be affected. If you are being treated in the head area please speak to your medical team. With this in mind, this section concentrates on advising people who are experiencing loss of facial hair due to chemotherapy treatment. However, if you are affected you may find the tips here helpful.
Understand more by reading our Radiotherapy guide.
Scalp Cooling – will my eyebrows and eyelashes fall out?
If you are having Scalp Cooling, this will only help to prevent hair loss on the scalp and so it is likely that your brows and lashes will fall out.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my eyelashes and eyebrows from falling out?
Unfortunately, at the time of writing there is no prevention treatment available to reduce or stop lashes and brows from falling out. The only known prevention of hair loss is Scalp cooling but this is for the scalp only.
I have heard that semi-permanent makeup may be an option but I need to have it before treatment starts, is that true?
You may be able to have semi-permanent makeup before treatments starts. You are best advised to seek the approval of your doctor before having any form of semi-permanent make up.
Most doctors and cancer nurses will not advise you to have any unnecessary procedure once your treatment has started. They are normally concerned about any infection or complication that may delay or postpone your cancer treatment.
With this in mind, having semi-permanent make up before you start your cancer treatment is not normally a problem. For more information take a look in our section all about semi-permanent make up options.
When will my eyelashes and eyebrows start to fall out?
The Hair growth cycle of eyebrows and lashes is less then the hair on your scalp. Many people who are having chemo find that hair loss on their scalp starts 10 to 14 days after their first treatment and so too can the lashes and brows.
The majority of people find that brows and lashes come out gradually from this time and others notice that their lashes and brows take longer to fall out. Some people experience thinning of lashes and brows, and a small proportion of people report not experiencing any loss of eyebrow or lash hair.
Some people who are on combined regimes where two different types of chemotherapy drug are used (for example FEC-T) may find that their lashes and brow hairs fall out in the second part of the regime. Your cancer nurse can further advise you.
Can I remove my eyebrows and eyelashes before they fall out?
We don’t advise completely removing your eyebrows unless there is a specific reason to do so. This is because the hairs that create your eyebrow may not fall out. If you are having semi-permanent make up and need to remove hair your technician will advise you.
However, if you are someone who normally shapes their brow using a clipper, tweezing or having your eyebrows threaded then that will not normally affect how the new brows grow back. You can carry on with your normal regime if you wish.
Some people, when they lost just half of their eyebrow, decided to remove the remaining hairs as it looked strange to have half a brow. We will give you lots of tips in our make-up section of how to re-create eyebrows.
We never recommend using a razor to completely shave the brow as the eyebrow area is very sensitive and any cuts may cause a problem.
We don’t advise removing eyelashes other than gently easing out a hair that is already falling. The eye area is very sensitive and it could cause infection and problems to remove the eyelashes before they fall.
It is okay to gently ease out a lash when you feel it is falling out, for example, when taking off eye make-up.
Will wearing mascara or eyebrow make-up cause my eyelashes and eyebrows to fall out?
We are often asked if wearing make-up can cause the hair on eyebrows or lashes to fall out. It’s really important to know that when the hairs fall out they do so as a side effect to chemotherapy and not because you are wearing make up and pulling them out e.g. with a mascara wand.
This hair that may come out when you apply make-up or may just fall out at another time is likely to come out sooner or later. With this in mind wearing mascara or eyebrow make-up is not going to cause the hair to fall out – the cause is the chemotherapy treatment.
Many people try new make-up techniques to create brows, accentuate their eyes or give false eyelashes a try.
When will I see new hair growth of my eyelashes and eyebrows?
The vast majority of people see new hairs starting to re-grow after chemotherapy treatment has finished. Some people find that the hair on their scalp grows back quicker then their brow and lash hairs. Take a look at the Hair growth cycle for more information.
The majority find their eye and brow hairs grow slower then their scalp hair. This means that it can take some time to see the lashes and brows re-form. This is normal. The initial new hair growth may be a finer texture then before and will normally take some time to re-establish.
Some people find that lashes and brows start to grow back and even fall again during the cycle of chemotherapy treatment. In particular, when people are having combined chemotherapy regimes. This is normal and in our experience, does not effect the new hair growth.
It would not be unusual for it to take three to six months for the brow and lash hair to re-establish normal growth. The colour and texture may be different to before but you can tint your brows and lashes, use make-up and try growth products if you like.
Can I tint my eyebrows/lashes during chemotherapy treatment?
We recommend the following:
Chemotherapy treatments that cause hair loss:
Prior to treatment – Colouring hair, brows and lashes, prior to treatment is usually okay as long as you carry out a skin sensitivity test.
During treatment – Due to the possibility of heightened skin sensitivity during chemotherapy, it is not generally recommended to use permanent hair colours on the scalp, brows or lashes. Additionally, if you are having a chemotherapy that causes hair to fall out, the follicle can be extra sensitive.
However, a number of people have told us that they didn’t lose their eyebrows or lashes until some time into their treatment and did decide to go ahead and tint their brows or lashes. If this is a choice you make, we recommend that you ensure you carry out the manufacturer’s sensitivity test prior to colouring and avoid colouring if hair starts to fall, or you have any skin sensitivities.
Treatments that do not cause hair loss:
If your type of cancer treatment doesn’t cause hair loss then, as long as you have no scalp or hair issues and you carry out a sensitivity test, there is no reason why you can’t colour your hair, brows and lashes, if you choose to. Many women continue to colour their hair whilst having various treatments for cancer.
In our section Make-up & other ideas for eyebrows and lashes you will find in-depth helpful ideas and guidance.
Next planned review: February 2021