Eyebrow pencils

This blog post is from our My Ovacome forum and was originally written in November 2019.

Hair loss caused by chemotherapy often affects most if not all of the hair on your body, including your eyebrows and lashes. As well as the change that this can cause to your appearance, the brows and lashes also have a practical function of protecting the eye and are part of facial expressions. In this post, we’ll look at some aspects of managing thinning or loss of the brows and lashes and where you can get help and support with this.

Eyebrow shape and colour and false eyelashes have become much more of a focus for the fashion and beauty industries in recent years, so there are lots of options available if you want to disguise hair loss affecting these areas. For example, brows can be drawn on or filled in with a pencil, the hairs themselves can be emphasised with powder and there are false brows available that can be stuck on.

If you’re going to use makeup, it’s helpful to practise drawing your eyebrows before they start to fall out so that you can learn the techniques to recreate your natural colour and shape as closely as possible. You can find more information and a video about brow makeup here.

If you’ve already got a wig, you can also match your brow colour to your wig colour. Some branches of Boots have specialist Macmillan Beauty Advisors, who can help people manage changes to their appearance caused by cancer treatment. You can find out more about this service and find your nearest Advisor, on the Macmillan website.

Staff at make-up counters may also be able to offer you advice when you’re shopping for products. As we mentioned in a previous post, the charity Look Good Feel Better offers workshops and online tutorials in various aspects of managing changes to your appearance caused by cancer treatment including drawing on brows and lashes. Wig shops can also be a helpful source of information and advice.

To disguise lost or thinning eyelashes, you can use false eyelashes or makeup. False eyelashes can be attached to your eyelid, so even if you don’t have any lashes you can still use them. You can trim them to the right width (not length) yourself to fit your eye. Some sets are pre-glued, whereas others need separate adhesive. It’s advisable to do a patch test before using them for the first time, as your skin may be sensitive from the chemotherapy and could react to the adhesive. There are many different styles of lashes, from the relatively subtle to the very decorative. You can choose a style to suit your mood or activity. For more information on false lashes, visit the Cancer Hair Care website. You can also use makeup such as eyeliner, or mascara if you have some lashes and would like them to look fuller. You can find more information here and a video about using eye makeup to define your lashes at on the Cancer Research UK website and the Look Good Feel Better website.

Another option is to have semi-permanent makeup rather than reapplying makeup or false brows and lashes. For example, semi-permanent eyeliner can create the look of individual lashes. Doctors advise against having semi-permanent makeup applied during cancer treatment, so if you’re thinking of having it it’s best to check with your oncologist and do so before your treatment starts. Practitioners offering these procedures aren’t regulated, so it’s important to find a reputable provider, ask to see examples of their work and consider carefully before deciding whether to go ahead. You can find more information about semi-permanent makeup here.

If you have any tips on managing loss of brows and lashes that other members might find helpful, or would like to share your experience of it, please do leave a comment.

Below are some useful websites if you would like to read more about this:

Macmillan Cancer Support

Cancer Hair Care