Alopecia can affect different parts of the body, including the eyebrows and eyelashes. This can be partial or complete hair loss and it could happen gradually or over a short period. Some of the people we talked to had tried products and procedures to give the appearance of eyelashes and eyebrow hairs.
Although one or two people who had lost their eyebrows did not look at ways to cover up the hair loss, quite a few talked about using makeup to create eyebrows and getting their eyebrows tattooed on (semi-permanent makeup).
Partial loss of hair on the face could often be covered up by using makeup. As Meghan explained, “when I lost half of an eyebrow, being able to draw one in was great”. Even when there was complete hair loss, some found using makeup worked well because it allowed flexibility and they could change the shape of their eyebrows. Most people found that powder products were more effective and easier to apply than a pencil. Rosie preferred using makeup rather than opting to have her eyebrows tattooed on. Although eyebrow tattoos usually only last a couple of years, she was concerned that it may be permanent and not turn out how she wanted it to.
However, some people found that having to apply eyebrows with makeup every day was time consuming. A few people said they were worried about accidentally rubbing their eyebrows off when they went swimming or became sweaty. Beth now has her eyebrows tattooed, but remembers when she used to “draw them in” and they would “come off” when she was in the gym or fade slowly and need topping up.
Getting eyebrows tattooed on could feel daunting and some were not sure how ‘real’ it would look. However, most people we talked to had good experiences of getting their eyebrow tattoos done and were happy with the difference it made. While very few people talked about the cost involved, Krista thought it would be £250, which she said was too much, but a tattooist friend offered to do it for free.
The process of the tattooing could be painful, but many said they were glad they had it done because it was quicker and easier than using makeup to apply eyebrows every day. It could make a big difference to a person’s self-esteem and how they felt about their physical appearance. Krista says it was “amazing how much more confidence that brought back.” However, tattoos could fade and their colour could change so they usually needed to be “topped up”. Emma uses a henna pen to draw over her eyebrow tattoos since they have started to fade.
As well as changing a person’s physical appearance, not having eyelashes could be physically uncomfortable. Beth remembers waking up with her eyelids “swollen” quite often and having to just wait for them to return to normal. She found it difficult to explain to people why she didn’t have eyelashes.
False eyelashes could be used, but were not necessarily seen as a good solution. Rosie prefers to use makeup to give the impression of having eyelashes.