Given how popular retro fashion, decor and beauty continues to be, it was only a matter of time before bleached eyebrows made a comeback.
The bleached-brow look has been a staple of catwalk models for fashion brands such as Versace, Valentino, Alexander Wang and Richard Quinn . Thanks to Gen-Z, it’s now one of 2022’s most widespread beauty trends on social media.
Long before boy brows (think Kendall Jenner or Emma Watson), skinny brows, shaggy brows or microblading, bleached brows reigned supreme.
Some of the most popular ’90s It girls, like Linda Evangelista , Kate Moss and Madonna, have played around with the look more than once.
Hollywood make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin was so captivated by the look that he wrote a tutorial for it in his 1997 book Making Faces , sharing a step-by-step guide and deep-diving into why the trend was such a hit.
“A great way to change the look of the face, also by altering the brow, is to bleach them,” he explains. “A bleached brow will soften the expression, as opposed to dyeing them a darker colour, which can make them look stronger.”
Various celebrities have tried the look in recent years, some for special occasions, while others are making it a part of their aesthetic.
Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams has graced the red carpet more than once with bleached brows, and singer Lizzo unveiled a head to brow platinum look on Instagram last summer.
Most recently, Kendall Jenner attended the 2022 Met Gala in New York in a custom black Prada outfit – and sporting bleached eyebrows. It was a moment that truly made the look go viral.
Within minutes, hundreds of tutorials appeared on Instagram and TikTok, walking people through the bleaching process or showing how to fake it with make-up.
The actual practice involves a chemical procedure that will turn even the darkest eyebrows into something barely there.
It can either be done by a professional at a salon or by yourself from the comfort of your own home – but there are some factors to keep in mind before jumping on the bleach bandwagon.
Keep in mind that bleach is irritating to the skin. If you have open wounds, cuts, pimples, recent piercings or any type of skin inflammation in the area you intend to bleach, wait until those are healed or less likely to cause you discomfort.
If your skin tends to be reactive or sensitive to irritants, you may want to think twice before bleaching. Experts recommend patch-testing before doing the procedure if you have never bleached your hair before.
Simply apply a little bleach on a tiny area of your body – like your arm or leg – and wash it off after 10 minutes. If, after three days, you have not had any reaction, then you should be good to go.
Keep in mind that the process works best on virgin, healthy hair – that is, hair that has not already been dyed.
“Also, I wouldn’t recommend bleaching your eyebrows if you’ve had them laminated,” Rosie Sumstad, a hairstylist in the US state of Oregon, suggests. Brow lamination is when you perm your brows into a set, uniform shape. They stay that way for a period of time.
The bleaching process is simple, but it must be done correctly to achieve the desired results. It involves applying a mild, hydrogen-peroxide-based formula that will break the bonds of your hair’s natural pigment to make the strands look lighter. The longer you leave the product on your eyebrows, the lighter they’ll get, so reaching the exact shade you desire may involve some trial and error.
If you own the right kit, have all the necessary tools, and follow the instructions, you should be able to bleach your brows at home with no issue.
“It requires patience, a little discomfort, and most importantly, the correct prep and finishing,” says Lisa Aharon, a New York-based make-up artist, adding that the upkeep should be much easier to handle – provided it has gone right the first time.