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Losing Your Eyebrows to Chemotherapy

What to Do If You Begin Losing Your Eyebrows to Chemotherapy


Updated April 17, 2014

As if losing the hair on your head wasn't the icing on the chemotherapy cake, how about losing your eyebrows? Many men and women find that their eyebrows fall victim to the wrath of chemotherapy - a small, but devastating side effect of treatment. Of course, not all people lose their eyebrows to chemotherapy. It varies based on what type of chemotherapy drug you are taking and the dosage. Lower dosages usually yield less severe side effects.

Why Am I Losing My Eyebrows?

Chemotherapy is considered to be systemic therapy, meaning it affects the whole body - not just where you have cancer. The cancer cells in your body have a very high mitotic rate - they multiply and divide at a very fast pace. Chemotherapy targets these high speed cells and destroys them or at the least slows down their division. Sounds like an excellent plan of action, but you also have cells in your body that are fast multipliers, like the lining of stomach and within hair follicles. What does chemo do to these cells? It mistakes them for cancer cells and treats them as such.

Hair loss on the head is much more common than the eyebrows. It is a side effect that can easily be remedied by wearing a wig or a scarf. When you are losing your eyebrows to chemotherapy, it becomes trickier to give the illusion of having eyebrows. It can be done, however, and many men and women are successful at doing so.

What To Do If You Are Losing Your Eyebrows

Unless you are a fan of the "barely there" eyebrow look donned by supermodels in the 90's, you will want to replicate having eyebrows. There are several ways to do this with price ranges to fit every budget.

First, put down the tweezers and skip your next eyebrow waxing at the salon. While it may be tempting to hastily finish Mother Nature's reaction to chemotherapy by plucking what is left and penciling in, you don't initially know how much you are going to lose. You may just lose a little or you may lose a lot. If you must tweeze, only do so to keep the natural shape of the brow or wax/pluck in between the brows.

When you first begin losing your eyebrows, your first course of action should be to pencil them in. Again, some people only experience thinning of the brow and penciling in perfectly disguises it. All you need is an eyebrow pencil or eyeshadow that matches your eyebrow color. Here's how to fill in thinning/sparse eyebrows.

For those who have completely lost their eyebrows to chemotherapy, you can pencil them in or you have other options. Penciling in is going to be the most simple and economical. With patience and the right teaching, they can look very natural. Eyebrow stencils are available from brands like Bobbi Brown, and can help you to draw the perfect brow.

You may want to consult a cosmetologist to help you get the hang of using an eyebrow stencil. It can be frustrating if you have no experience with drawing your eyebrows. Plus, having the help of an expert beats standing in front of the mirror for hours trying to get it just right.

Some men and women choose a more permanent approach to losing their eyebrows to chemotherapy by having them cosmetically tattooed. It is important to note that eyebrow loss is not permanent in most cases. They will grow back after you finish chemotherapy. Some people don't want to deal with the chore of having to pencil in their eyebrows everyday and choose this more drastic option. Before you head to a cometic tattoo artist, be sure to run it by your oncologist. There is a risk of infection with tattooing, and lowered white blood cell counts during chemotherapy put you at a higher risk.

If tattooing doesn't appeal to you, then eyebrow extensions may. This semi-permanent method is perfect for those who have sparse eyebrows and need to thicken them or add a little length. You can use your own hair for the extension or choose a color from sample swatches, which are glued, lasting about 14 days. Cost is about $185 for initial application and $45 every two weeks for touch-ups. See CompletelyBare.com for more information.

For a less expensive, less permanent way of creating a brow, try the Ready to Wear eyebrow extension set. Created by a former M.A.C. cosmetologist, this set uses a textured gel that is used daily and can be washed off. It can be found exclusively at HSN and the reviews appear to be hit or miss.
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