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How important are eyebrows? If you're a man, they may not be very important at all. But for women eyebrows can feel like our crowning glory or our worst feature. Most of us long for nice, thick healthy eyebrows that we can pluck, wax and shape to best frame our eyes. Sometimes, though, we lose eyebrows---due to illness, overwaxing, overtweezing or age. Can we grow them back? What helps?
Each hair on your body grows out of a follicle and, to a large extent, it is the health of that follicle that determines the health of the hair. If hair is missing but the follicle is intact and healthy, hair can be regrown. On the other hand, if the follicle is shrinking or completely dead the chance of regrowing hair has historically been slim. In recent years, however, minoxidil has shown some success for sufferers of male-pattern baldness, a result of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) which clogs and shrinks hair follicles.
If eyebrows are overplucked or overtweezed too often or if one has lost eyebrow hair due to illness or chemotherapy the follicle may die. However, this is not usually the case. In most instances overly thinned eyebrows will regrow and fill in, it just takes time---a lot of time, since eyebrow hair is the slowest growing hair.
Some women are skilled at pencilling in the missing hair; some resort to having their eyebrows tattooed. Minoxidil, the active ingredient in brand name hair restorers, may come to the rescue, since current research is showing success in regrowing eyebrow hair even in damaged follicles. But the easiest, quickest solution is probably already in your pantry: many women are singing the praise of olive oil as a boost to eyebrow growth.
Unfortunately, scientific studies on this treatment are hard to find. The success is all word-of-mouth. But the good news is that it's safe. Massaging plain olive oil onto the eyebrow area each night before bed can surely do no harm provided you do not have a contact allergy to olives or olive oil. If you don't have olive oil, some people recommend petroleum jelly, rosemary oil, almond oil, tea tree oil or combinations of these. Professional products on the market also have these ingredients.
Hair, unfortunately, is easy to get rid of, but much harder to grow. Whenever possible, we need to be very careful not to overdo our hair removal. When we do find ourselves overplucked, overwaxed or overshaved, we should take the least drastic steps possible to correct the situation. Olive oil is getting good press as a safe effective remedy, so it is probably worth a try.
- Detail of Illustration by the Author