Until last year, my eyebrow routine required more products than my skincare one. I used a product to encourage growth, had special scissors to shape the bush which grew as a result, filled gaps with an eyebrow pencil, added shadow for depth, and finally gelled them in place after all that prep.
And then all of a sudden, I was a bit over it all and was beginning to get sick of eyebrow perfection and the proliferation of those perfectly drawn-on brows that sometimes didn’t even look like they were made of hair. This made me more determined to leave mine a little unruly and a little less obviously groomed.
I started to strip things back, and as a result, just used the growth product (I like my brows to have a lot of body), and a gel (an absolute necessity to arrange the spikes where I like them to be) on a day-to-day basis.
Then I saw bleached brows everywhere and, well, they looked refreshing. Clean. A counterpoint to laboured brows.
I decided to take the trend for a spin to see if I could pull it off.
Why are bleached brows a thing right now?
It seems I’m not the only one who felt like headline brows had had their day; fashion has collectively waved bye-bye to brows over the past year either by shaving them off completely, or bleaching as Amelia Gray, Bella Hadid, and Lizzo did.
Tiktok caught on quickly, and the hashtag #bleachedbrows currently has over 143 million views, while there are plenty of videos showing the results and even a filter so that people can try the look out virtually.
Do bleached brows suit everyone?
I think attitude is the key here. When I was sporting them and being enthusiastic/using my face to emote a lot, I looked like a cross between Winifred from Hocus Pocus and Elizabeth I.
When I posed, keeping my expression neutral and wearing a good amount of eye makeup, it looked quite editorial and cool.
There’s no skin or hair type or colour which ‘works’ or ‘doesn’t work’ with them, just whether you can channel the sort of intense cool bleached brows require from you (as it turns out, I couldn’t, and explained to everyone I encountered that I was trialling it for a feature, lest they imagined I thought I was pulling it off).
When did bleaching eyebrows first become popular?
This one goes way back to the middle ages, when brows were completely removed or dyed to emphasise the appearance of a high, wide forehead.
In the ‘90s, they returned and now – partially because of the ‘90s grunge resurgence and partially in response to the aforementioned extensive brow routines which characterised the 2010s – bleach is back.
How do I bleach my brows at home?
Ideally, you don’t; the eyes are so close to brows and you need a steady hand and to be very careful if doing it yourself. Head to a brow bar like Blink Brow Bar so a professional can dye them, or ask if your hairdresser offers the service.
If, like me, you feel pretty confident in your skills, make sure you start with clean brows and with moisturised skin surrounding brows to offset the effect of the bleach.
I used Jolen, which is the choice of most people online who are showing how they bleach their brows.
I’d recommend applying it with a spoolie to coat all hairs, then removing it at short intervals (I took it off every 5-8 minutes to check progress, and after a few passes, returned the next day to give my skin a break).
Is it safe to bleach my own brows?
Make sure you are careful around your eyes, and that you haven’t over-processed your hair to avoid it from snapping off: these are the two main tips to ensure your safety when bleaching your own eyebrows.
Bleach aside, you’ll need a good moisturiser around brows to help create a barrier from the bleach (I used Eucerin Aquaphor), too.
If your skin is red post-bleaching, use a good serum to help your barrier out. Mortar and Milk’s PHA Barrier Repair Serum, £85, Mortar and Milk, was my choice. It’s pricey, but really brilliant and worth the investment (a claim seconded by Eliza’s beauty editor Rebecca).
As long as you follow the instructions very carefully and have some protective products on hand, you should be safe. If you’re feeling anxious however, it’s best to go to a brow bar, as mentioned.
What makeup looks good with bleached brows?
Bleached brows look good with most makeup looks, though I would say eye makeup is essential, unless ‘Caspar the Friendly Ghost’ is your beauty icon.
If you’re ready to take the plunge with bleached brows and want some intense makeup inspiration, head over to Eliza’s NYE makeup round-up for some serious statement looks.