Losing your eyebrows during chemo
When I first was diagnosed with cancer, I found myself utterly overwhelmed. My brain scampered like a street rat on smack, from ‘fuckity fuck I'm way too young to get cancer’, to ‘will this kill me?’ to ‘what on earth will I look like with no hair!’
My hair fear was slightly sedated after I went to a wig shop. I tried on loads of wigs, laughed a lot but most importantly found comfort in discovering that wigs can look super real! I went away with an action plan and the name of the wig I’d buy when the follicles did begin to fall.
However, the eyebrow fear was never tamed. I’m the first to admit I’m rubbish at makeup. All my knowledge came from a 1998 Dolly magazine and hasn’t been updated since. In fearful preparation, I spent hours studying the shape of my eyebrows, so that should I wake up bald from the nose up, I’d know how to replicate them with a pencil.
But good news amigos, things have changed since I was diagnosed and there are now loads of options that blew my socks off during my deep dive into the eyebrow world.
For those riding the C-train, I hope this gives you some comfort and peace of mind. If your eyebrows bid you farewell you can still look fucking fabulous.
Down to business – Eyebrow tattoos or microblading
For those wanting brows to stick around, cosmetic tattoos or microblading may be for you. Traditional cosmetic tattoos are much like other permanent tattoos, whilst microblading is less permanent and requires annual(ish) touch ups. It uses fine needles and natural pigments to get a more realistic result than traditional tattooing. You need to act fast though and get them done before or at the very start of treatment to avoid potential infection. Finding a good cosmetician is key so you can trust that you will end up with a lasting result that you love!
(Image from @feathercosmetic)
For the Non-committal – Temporary Tattoos
You know those fun little temporary tattoos that you would cut out and apply with a wet rag as a kid? Yeah! Well, some absolute genius came up with the idea of using the same method to use on bare brow bones! Before you all roll your eyes, check the tattoos out! They look sooo real, replicating the wispy follicles of hair for an oh-so-real finish. They last a few days too, so you don’t need to worry about morning touch ups when you’re half asleep!
And if you don’t believe us – check out @danigmakeup for video proof! She’s an alopecia warrior and has all sorts of eyebrow magic.
Henna or Brow Dye
Henna is a great natural alternative for anyone looking to steer clear of nasty chemicals and keep all toxins out of their system. It lasts about 7 days on the skin but will last longer if you don’t get them wet. Best to get a professional to help.
Wig it out – Eyebrow wigs
That’s right. You can use little stick-on wigs on your brow bones which make for a hyper-realistic finish. Cute! Don’t worry about filling and drawing, simply stick ‘em on and go!
Stencil it! - Eyebrow stamps
For those worried about nailing the shape of their brows without the natural guideline of full brow hairs, this is for you. Eyebrow stamps like these offer a range of brow shape stencils to hold against your skin and blot with a sponge applicator for a buildable finish. They come in a range of shades to suit your colouring too!
Colour in! – Eyebrow pencils
Whether you have been through chemo or not, I’m sure that like me a lot of you consider eyebrow pencils among your best friends. How to achieve a natural look when you might not have any hair to guide you? Start with a lighter shaded pencil and then go in with a fine, slightly darker one to create short strokes of hair for definition. Poni cosmetics do one that promotes hair growth too!
Colour in – powder
So I got lucky when it came to eyebrows and they never all fell out completely and I did everything in my power to keep them there. I stopped using face washers, trained myself not to rub my eyes and never stepped outside if the wind was stronger than 2 knots. They thinned out but it was enough for me to use as a base and ever-so-carefully fill in with some dark brown eyeshadow. I used MAC stuff and a small soft make-up brush.
Promote that growth - Bimatoprost and serums
If you’re new to chemo and hoping to do all you can to keep those brow and lash hairs clinging on, you can ask your GP for a prescription of Bimatoprost. Otherwise, there are plenty of lash and brow serums to help strengthen the follicle and stimulate growth. Check these out for starters.
Embrace and celebrate
My friend Georgie Swallow knows a thing or two about cancer. Like me, she’s had Hodgkin’s not once, but twice. She also knows a thing or two about body confidence and works tirelessly to champion body confidence amongst women. (FOLLOW THIS GIRL!)
I know every day won't be filled with energy and confidence, but some will, so on those days, get the diamontes out, embrace your wonderful body, your new shiny look and have some fun.
Contributors from my Bravery community!
Lisa from Featherhorse Interiors
Dora Kesarios Peppas
Some eyebrow experts that have come recommended
MISS DANIKA -Mount Pleasant New South Wales
Tailor Made Tattoo - Woolloongabba, Brisbane
La Brow - Melbourne
Made Brows - Macedon Ranges, VIC
Lady Me products
If you have any tips, tricks or recommendations - please leave a comment below.