Some cancer treatments may cause your eyelashes and eyebrows to become thinner or fall out completely. But remember that eyebrows and eyelashes usually grow back.
Your eyelashes and eyebrows may fall out later than the hair on your head. Sometimes this happens more gradually during treatment or after treatment has finished.
Your specialist nurse can tell you if this is likely. It depends on the drugs and the dose you have.
Losing your eyebrows and eyelashes can change your appearance. This can be upsetting, but they usually grow back. There are things you can do to help disguise these changes.
Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors can help you with the techniques described here.
We have more information about hair loss that you may find useful.
You can redraw eyebrows with an eyebrow pencil that is slightly lighter than your normal hair colour. Another natural-looking way to redraw the eyebrows is by applying eyeshadow powder with a make-up brush.
Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors can show you how to redraw your eyebrows, as it can be daunting to try this at first if you are not used to it.
Creating natural-looking eyebrows
There are different ways you can create natural-looking eyebrows:
- Practise drawing on your eyebrows before your treatment begins. This way you can get used to following the shape and arch of your brow.
- Take a close-up photo of yourself before treatment. This will help you remember the position of your eyebrows and what they looked like.
- Try drawing a dot of colour above the outer and inner corners of each eye, and a dot where you think you will create an arch. The arch is normally at its highest point where you hold the pencil at the bottom of the nose. It should line up through the middle of the iris of the eye (coloured circle around the pupil). You can make a mark on the eyebrow and use this as a guide.This way, you can then check for symmetry before you start drawing.
Step 1: Redrawing eyebrows
- Use your brow bone and your eyes to identify where your brows should be. Place the brow pencil alongside your nose and skirt the outer corner of your eye at a 45 degree angle. This shows where a natural brow would start and finish.
Step 2: Redrawing eyebrows
- Use a lighter pencil than your normal hair colour. Draw from the centre of the brow line outward, using light, feathery strokes. Plenty of tiny strokes with the pencil will look more realistic than a single line.
Step 3: Redrawing eyebrows
- Create a brow that is thicker-looking at the inner end (nearest to the nose) and thinner at the outer edge.
- Light pressure is all that you need. Comb through the colour with an eyebrow wand to give a more natural appearance.
- Check for symmetry when you move on to your other eye. Remember though that no two brows are identical. Just make them look more or less the same.
Some people choose to have permanent or temporary tattooing to create new eyebrows. This should not be done during treatment.
Managing long and thick eyebrows
Some targeted therapy drugs may make your eyebrows grow long and thick. If this happens, you can carefully trim them.
There are different make-up tips you can try if your eyelashes become thinner or fall out completely.
- Use a soft eyeliner and smudger to define your eyes and create the illusion of eyelashes. You can use a dark eyeshadow instead of eyeliner to create a softer line.
- Lift the skin at your eyebrow when applying the make-up (see the illustration below). This will tighten your skin and make the pencil easier to apply.
Step 1: Creating eyelashes
- Use soft strokes along the eyelash line by applying a smudger to soften the line and push colour further into the lashes.
- Apply the make-up lightly to make your eyelashes well-defined and natural-looking.
Step 2: Creating eyelashes
- Use a gentle, teasing action when applying mascara. A wand with short bristles may be easier to use on short and sparse eyelashes.
- If you want to wear false eyelashes, check with your cancer nurse specialist or cancer team first. The glue may irritate sensitive skin.
Tips for looking after your eyelashes
- Do not use eyelash curlers. They can damage fragile eyelashes.
- Try not to rub your eyes to help prevent you losing eyelashes.
- When you are removing eye make-up, hold a cotton pad soaked in eye make-up remover to your eye. Keep it there for a couple of seconds before gently wiping away. This stops you pulling too much on your lashes.
- Avoid waterproof mascara. It can be harder to remove. If your eyes are sensitive, try using mascara that dissolves in warm water.
Long or ingrowing eyelashes
Some targeted therapy drugs can cause your eyelashes to grow very long or grow inwards. This can irritate your eyes. You may need to have your eyelashes trimmed by a nurse. Do not try to do this yourself. You should get advice from your cancer nurse or doctor.