Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Eyebrow Denial

The hair on my head fell out first, followed by the hair under my arms and on my legs.  Even my nose hair fell out. 

But my eyebrows have hung on.  Or at least, so I have told myself.  Okay, they might not be quite so full but not that anyone would notice, right?

Then the other day I was chatting with the ladies in my hospital exercise class, some of whom have finished chemo and are now sporting short, grey hair on their heads.  We were discussing the loss of eyebrows and one of them looked at me sympathetically.

"Yes," she said.  "I used make up when I was like you.  Otherwise you just look ill, don't you?"

When I got home I had a proper look in the mirror and realised that I have been in Eyebrow Denial.  The poor things are looking patchy at best.  And it's true: thinning eyebrows do make you look sick.
So what to do?

If I'd thought about it before starting treatment, I could have gone down the tattoo route.  But it's not advised for people with dodgy white blood cell counts as it can risk infection (thank goodness, I'm far too much of a wimp to let a needle anywhere in the vicinity of my eyebrows anyway.)  There are also eyebrow extensions - i.e. stick-on eyebrows.  Hmmm, I usually take off my wig with a sigh of relief as soon as I get home.  I'm not sure I want to be sticking hair on my face.

So that leaves make-up.  Eyebrow stencils are, apparently, a must for people who have no eyebrows left, but you can do some pretty effective filling in when they are merely patchy.

One good tip is to use a photo to remind yourself what they used to look like so you can recreate the look (don't depress yourself by digging out a pic from the days of well groomed locks - choose a Bad Hair Day Photo where your hair looked greasy and lank so you can comfort yourself with how much lusher your hair will be when it finally grows back).

Then take an eyeliner pencil in a shade lighter than your natural colour.  Don't use black or you will look as if you are preparing for Halloween.

Put the pencil alongside your nose and put a dot where it meets the brow.  Then rotate it at the corner of the nose, over your cheek and eye and put a dot at the far corner.  Now you know how long it should be.  Fill in with short, feathery strokes in the direction of growth.

Finally brush over some powder in the same colour as your existing eyebrows to blend in the lines so they don't look too harsh.

Now take another look in the mirror.  There is a good chance that your eyebrows will now look weird.  This is where your old photo comes in: take a good look at that and I'll bet that your eyebrows looked pretty weird then too.  After all, having a curve of hair above the eye just IS weird and the only reason we don't notice is because no-one ever actually looks at eyebrows (unless they are super hairy, join in the middle or are chemo-absent).  So don't worry, so long as you have done a reasonably passable job, no-one is going to look at your make-up eyebrows long enough to notice they aren't real.

Except of course, for your fellow chemo-sufferers.  And we'll probably just ask for tips.

So now I spend a few extra minutes in the bathroom in the morning painting in my eyebrows.  I can't complain about that - just think about all the time that I save by not washing my hair and shaving my legs!  The question now is: will my eyelashes make it?


  1. I hope your lashes make it! I had a couple on each side that lingered til the very end. They weren't much, but they made all the difference in the world to me. Maybe I was in eyelash denial!

  2. Had a good look and...they're definitely looking rather sparse *sigh*. Oh well, hope yours have grown back, Judet!