1. Changes to your eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair
2. Semi-permanent makeup
3. When will my eyelashes and eyebrows grow back?
4. Look Good Feel Better workshops

1. Changes to your eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair

You may lose some or all of your body hair after starting chemotherapy, including eyebrows, eyelashes, nose hair, underarm and pubic hair, and chest hair for men. This can be a shock, especially if you’re not prepared for it.

Losing your eyelashes and eyebrows can be upsetting, especially if you’re not expecting it to happen.

Some people don’t lose their eyebrows or eyelashes, other people’s eyebrows may thin, and others lose them altogether.

Trinny London, in partnership with Breast Cancer Now, offer free 1-2-1 sessions with a trained makeup artist for people affected by breast cancer.

Boots, in partnership with Macmillan, offer trained beauty advisors who can give skincare and beauty advice for people having treatment for cancer.

You may find it useful to watch our video tutorials on makeup and beauty tips after breast cancer treatment.

Eyelashes

If you lose your eyelashes, your eyes may get sore easily. If your eyes become irritated ask your treatment team for some eye drops to help reduce the soreness.

You can use eyeliner to draw along the top of your eyelid to give the illusion of lashes. Choose eyeliner either the colour of your own lashes or a contrasting colour that goes with your skin tone.

If your eyes aren’t feeling sore or sensitive you may want to try false eyelashes. Some people can be allergic or sensitive to the adhesive used to keep the eyelashes in place. Check with your treatment team if you’re unsure.

False eyelashes come in many different styles, lengths and thicknesses. You could choose eyelashes that are similar to your own, or try ones that are completely different. Make-up counters in department stores are a good source of help, or try your local beauty salon.

Eyelash extensions (usually applied to your existing eyelashes in a salon) are not recommended.

Eyebrows

If you lose your eyebrows or they are thinner, you may be very conscious of how this changes the way you look. You can recreate a natural appearance by using eyebrow make-up in a shade that matches your original hair colour.

There are all kinds of eyebrow products available from the major cosmetic companies – from eyebrow shapers and finishers to pencils, pens and powders. There are also eyebrow kits.

Makeup counter staff in department stores will be able to give you a demonstration and advise you on the most suitable products for your skin type and colour.

 

how to recreate an eyebrow shape illustration1

how to recreate an eyebrow shape illustration2

How to re-create the natural eyebrow shape with makeup

Stick-on eyebrows

Stick-on eyebrows for people experiencing hair loss are available in a range of shades and shapes, and come in synthetic or human hair. You can find them at many cosmetic retailers and wig suppliers.

Stick-on eyebrows are developed for people who have hair loss for a range of reasons and not specifically for people experiencing hair loss from chemotherapy treatment.

Chemotherapy can cause skin changes and sensitivity so the adhesive may cause irritation. Test a small area of skin first (patch test) to check for any reactions.

2. Semi-permanent makeup

Some people have their eyebrow shape recreated with micropigmentation or microblading. Both micropigmentation and microblading are types of semi-permanent makeup.

Both use a tattooing technique where colour (pigment) is implanted into the skin. They are given in slightly different ways:

Micropigmentation

A machine is used to add small dots of colour to the skin, allowing colour to gradually build up.

This technique can be used to create eyeliner to give the illusion of eyelashes and to recreate eyebrows that have thinned or been lost.

Micropigmentation can also be used on the scalp where the hair has thinned.

The colour is implanted slightly deeper into the skin and this means it can last longer. How long it lasts depends on your skin type but usually it will last between two and three years.

Microblading

Microblading is done by hand and involves drawing precise hair strokes that recreate the look of natural eyebrows.

The colour is not implanted as deep into the skin as micropigmentation, which means it doesn’t last as long. How long it lasts depends on your skin type but usually it will last between one year and 18 months.

Things to consider

These treatments are not available on the NHS so you will have to pay privately.

As the results are semi-permanent, make sure you choose a reliable provider that has good recommendations. You may want to look for a provider that specialises in hair loss.

The provider should do a skin-sensitivity test (patch test), usually a minimum of 24 hours before having any semi-permanent makeup.

There is more information about semi-permanent makeup on the Cancer Hair Care and NHS websites.

If you are considering semi-permanent makeup it is best to check with your treatment team first.

3. When will my eyelashes and eyebrows grow back?

Eyebrows and eyelashes may grow back more quickly or more slowly than the hair on your head.

Eyelashes can be quite patchy when they start to grow back. They may take up to a year to grow back fully although they will usually grow back in about six months after treatment finishes.

Studies have also shown that applying the drug bimatoprost to the eyelids may improve the regrowth of eyelashes. You can talk to your GP, a trichologist or a dermatologist about whether this is an option.

Eyebrows will usually start to grow back after treatment finishes, but they may grow back thinner or patchier. They tend to grow back slower than head hair and in rare cases they don’t grow back at all. 

4. Look Good Feel Better workshops

Look Good Feel Better offers free hair care, skincare and make-up workshops to help women and men with the visible side effects of cancer treatment. This includes redefining the eye area for women who have lost their eyebrows and eyelashes.

The workshops are held online and throughout the UK in hospitals, cancer care centres and the community and cater for women and men of all skin tones.

Look Good Feel Better runs a workshop presented by Cancer Hair Care on hair loss, wig and scalp care, headwear, eyelashes, eyebrows and new growth.

Find out more about what to expect if you lose your hair and wigs, headscarves and other headwear

Last reviewed: February 2022
Next planned review begins 2024

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