Harper’s Bazaar | What is Eyebrow Tinting, Anyway?

Article by: Audrey Noble
Published: February 1, 2019
Topics: Beauty, Brows, tinting

The journey to fuller brows doesn’t have to be so complicated. From our trusty brow pencils to brow-growing serums, we have plenty of options for crafting thicker brows right from our vanities. But if you’re looking for something with a little more staying power, another option you may not have considered is eyebrow tinting. We turned to dermatological surgeon Dr. Tiffany Libby and CEO and founder of Shobha Salon Shobha Tummala to gather everything you need to know about a semi-permanent brow dye job.

What Is Eyebrow Tinting?

Eyebrow tinting is the process of applying semi-permanent dye to enhance, shape, and define your brows. This can be done at salons, doctor’s offices, and even with at-home kits. “It gives the appearance of thicker, more youthful looking brows,” says Tummala. “We’re not making brows darker, we’re just matching your natural color.”

How Long Does It Take?

An average session takes only about 15 minutes. You’ll first consult with a specialist to discuss how full and natural you want your brows to look. Then the specialist will prep the area, cleaning the brows and applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly around them to prevent any accidental skin staining. The dye is then mixed and carefully applied, first in the direction of how your brow hairs grow and then a second layer is applied in the opposite direction. The dye is left on for a few minutes to attain optimal color, then any excess is removed with a damp paper towel. Don’t freak out if you see dye on the skin underneath your brows: Tummala says that will wash away after a day or two. It might be a good idea to schedule your first appointment on a Friday, so you can monitor the results over the weekend.

Who Is Eyebrow Tinting Best For?

Eyebrow tinting works on skin types, skin tones, and hair colors. If you’re trying to tint grey or white hair though, the process is a little trickier. “Make sure you go to someone that knows how to tint eyebrows well and does it often,” says Tummala. “Grey hair is more resistant and tends to be stubborn, so you might need to adjust the process a bit.”

How Soon Will You See Results?

You’ll want to avoid getting your brows wet for 12 hours after getting the treatment done and to clean around the area with gel or cream-based cleansers. “Your brows will stand out and look fuller right away,” says Tummala. “You can cut back on the multiple brow products in your beauty routine.” The tint lasts anywhere from three to six weeks. To maintain color, Tummala suggests coming in every four to six weeks for touch-ups. She also says to avoid exfoliating or use of any oil-based products in that area as it will cause the tint to fade faster. Libby recommends avoiding any products that might further irritate the thin eyebrow skin, such as retinoids and retinols. She says to apply a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor to the surrounding skin as a form of protection barrier between the dye and your skin.

How Safe is the Dye?

You should be aware of the fact that that eyebrow tinting dyes aren’t FDA-approved. According to Libby, there is no standard dye formulation and that are a variety of dyes out there being used, some of which contain preservatives that aren’t regulated. It is even illegal in California for any licensed professional or salon to carry and administer dye to a client. “The major risks with eyebrow tinting are allergic reactions and infections; the skin around the eye is thinner compared to skin on the rest of the body, and more susceptible to allergic reaction and irritation,” she says. “Some permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints/dyes may contain a chemical allergen called para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which can cause severe contact allergy and even blistering reactions.” Libby recommends doing a patch test to see if you’re allergic to the dye being used before fulling committing to a treatment. As with any beauty treatment, always do your homework. Ask around for referrals, and read reviews before booking an appointment.