If you love fashion and have a bit of an avant-garde style, you might also be interested in bleaching your eyebrows. It’s not an inherently beautiful look, but it certainly draws attention. Bleached eyebrows look alien and ethereal, which also means that they’re very editorial.
A woman with bleached eyebrows is sure to be an object of fascination. It’s a choice that betrays artistic tastes and will best complement a unique, eccentric style. If that sounds like you, then get bleaching!
In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to bleach your eyebrows at home as safely as possible. Before that, however, we quickly discuss how the “trend” started and go over its pros and cons. We also cover other important details, like the safety of the process and how long it’ll last.
If you decide that you’re not ready to actually bleach your brows, we also included a fun section that explains how you can fake the look with makeup.
In this article:
- A Modern History of Eyebrow Bleaching
- Pros and Cons of Bleached Brows
- How to Bleach Your Brows
- Is Eyebrow Bleaching Safe?
- How to Fake Bleached Brows with Makeup
- How Long Do Bleached Brows Last?
A Modern History of Eyebrow Bleaching
In 2009, Pat McGrath made what would become a small but enduring mark on the fashion world when she first bleached the eyebrows of models on the Prada and Balenciaga runways.
The following year, she bleached Rooney Mara’s eyebrows for her incredible role in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” while Val Garland bleached Lady Gaga’s eyebrows for the music video for the song “Alejandro.”
From then onwards, nearly every Fashion Week included at least a few models (if not a few full shows) with bleached eyebrows. Because it’s such a bizarre look, it never caught on as a sweeping trend. Instead, it has popped up here and there, never going mainstream but also never becoming dated.
In more recent years, Maisie Williams, Kim Kardashian, and Lizzo have all experimented with bleached brows, and we’re sure they’re not the last celebrities to do so. Are you ready to join their cohort?
Pros and Cons of Bleached Brows
Are you still tempted to bleach your eyebrows but aren’t totally sure it’s for you? Here is a quick summary of the pros and cons to help you decide.
Keep in mind that some of those cons are risks that not everyone will experience and that they partially depend on your patience in following our instructions below.
- It looks really cool
- Bleaching your brows at home is very easy
- It’s reversible
- Bleached brows are easy to hide
- It’s not inherently flattering
- It’ll impede your ability to show emotions
- The process itself requires some skill to avoid side effects
- May damage the brow hairs
How to Bleach Your Brows
If we haven’t scared you away with those cons, here is how you can bleach your brows!
- Bleach powder like L’Oreal Quick Blue
- 10 or 20 Volume Developer like L’Oreal Oreor
- Alternatively, you can choose a face bleach kit, like the cream from Sally Hansen
- Plastic or ceramic mixing cup (you don’t need much, so an espresso cup will do)
- Vaseline or another thick barrier cream
- Clean mascara wand applicator
- Cotton swabs
- Cotton pads
- Cling wrap cut into a long strip that can cover both brows
- Purple shampoo
Step 1: Prep
- Start with very clean eyebrows. You can wash your entire face or just wipe down the area around your brows with micellar water. Make sure there is no makeup, moisturizers, or oily residue on your brows, as that will disrupt the bleaching process.
- Next, using a cotton swab, apply a thick layer of Vaseline along the perimeter of your brows and over your eyelids. This will prevent the bleach from getting on your skin and irritating it.
- Mix up your bleach in the cup. Add about ½ a teaspoon of the bleach powder and ½ a teaspoon of the developer. You don’t need much, but you want to use them in a one-to-one ratio.
- Use the clean mascara wand or a small synthetic brush to mix everything together until you achieve a thick cream consistency. If it’s too thin, the bleach may drip into your eyes, so thicker is better.
Step 2: Apply the Bleach
- With prep done, you can start applying the bleach to your brows. With one hand, hold a folded tissue over the eye you’ll be starting with as added protection against the bleach.
- Using the spoolie, brush the bleach mixture through the brow hairs. Apply it in a thick layer, and brush the spoolie back and forth through the brows to make sure that each strand is covered from all angles.
- If you can feel the bleach mixture stinging or hurting your skin at any point in the process, remove it immediately. If it just tingles a little, that’s okay, and you may proceed.
- Once one eyebrow is done, do the same to the other brow.
- Finally, with your brows covered, apply the cling film over both of them. This will trap heat to speed up the processing time. It will also prevent the bleach from dripping or making a mess.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, check on your brows to see how they’re doing. If you’re happy with how light they are, you can remove the bleach, although chances are they’ll need another 10-15 minutes before they’re ready for clean-up.
- Never leave the bleach on your brows for longer than 25 minutes, or else you may end up causing damage to your brows or skin.
Step 3: Wipe It off
- Once enough time passes, remove the cling film from your brows.
- Then, with a dry tissue, wipe off most of the bleach carefully.
- With that thick layer gone, do a second clean-up with a damp cotton pad to remove any bleach remnants or residue.
- Voila, your brows should now be perfectly light and blonde!
- If your bleached brows are looking a little orange or yellow, you can apply some purple shampoo to neutralize the color. Apply the purple shampoo with a clean mascara wand, and leave it in it for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Wipe off the shampoo with a damp cotton pad, and admire your new, perfectly platinum brows!
- If you find that your brows aren’t light enough, wait a few days, and then repeat this entire process.
Aftercare for Bleached Eyebrows
Now that your eyebrows are bleached, you may want to give them a bit of TLC to keep them strong and clear.
- Keep your eyebrows moisturized with your go-to hair serum, oil, or even just your favorite face moisturizer.
- Avoid aggressively scrubbing your brows when washing your face.
- Apply a thick layer of sunscreen if you’ll be out in the sun with your bleached brows.
- If any brassiness creeps back, do another treatment with a purple shampoo.
Is Eyebrow Bleaching Safe?
The short answer to this question, to be frank, is no. Bleaching, in general, comes with some risks and potential side effects, and those become a lot more serious when you’re dealing with hair that grows so close to the eye.
Because of that, you should be fully aware of the risks and potential side effects before you decide to bleach your eyebrows.
- Bleaching will weaken your brow hairs.
- Leaving the bleach in the brows for too long will damage the hair or the skin below.
- Bleach may irritate the skin beneath your brows. If you feel any pain or stinging while bleaching your eyebrows, just wipe the entire thing off with cold water, wait for the irritation to subside, and try our method for “faking it” instead.
- If you bleach eyebrows that have already been tinted, you can end up with strange colors.
- Bleach fumes may sting the eyes.
- If any of the bleach actually gets into your eyes, it can cause burns and severe long-term eye issues. If this happens, rinse your eyes with lukewarm water or saline right away, and then head directly to the ER.
How to Fake Bleached Brows with Makeup
If you really want to try the bleached eyebrow look, but you’re not willing to risk the side effects, then we have some good news: you can fake it!
This is a great method to try to see how you’ll look with bleached eyebrows before taking the more long-lasting route of bleaching.
- A full-coverage concealer
- Beige eyeshadow
- Clean mascara wands
- A thin angle brush
- A small eyeshadow or pencil brush
- Setting spray
- Cotton swabs
If you have very dark brow hairs, you might want to use an orange concealer or cream eyeshadow first to color-correct and neutralize your brows.
How to Do It
- To start, load up your clean mascara wand with some of the concealer. Use the wand to brush the concealer through your brows to hide your natural color. Make sure to brush the brows in the direction you like, as you would with a brow gel.
- Next, dip your angle brush into the concealer and spot-conceal closer to the roots or any other hairs that are still visible.
- Give the concealer a few moments to set.
- Finally, correct the color and lock everything into place by stippling the eyeshadow over your brows with the small eyeshadow brush.
- Finish off the rest of your makeup and set everything into place with a setting spray.
How Long Do Bleached Brows Last?
We think bleached eyebrows are at the top of the list of beauty treatments that you don’t want to have permanent effects. The good news is that bleached brows are, indeed, not permanent.
The bleach itself is permanent, of course, but your brows will naturally grow out and shed the old hairs, which means that eventually, they’ll go back to normal all on their own.
After two weeks or so, your roots will start to grow out, just like with the hair on your head. This means that if you decide you want to keep your eyebrows bleached, you’ll need to touch them up after those two weeks. For new hairs to completely grow out and replace the bleached eyebrow hairs, the process takes longer – up to 4 months.
However, if you do get tired of your bleached eyebrows, you can always tint them back to their original color, or you can color them in with a pigmented brow gel.
Photos via @beautsoup, Vogue, Instagram