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Many people are well aware of the nourishing benefits of oils, but it’s hard to tell when and how putting olive oil on your eyebrows became a trend.
Regardless, lots of people swear by the brow-boosting concoction. According to beauty bloggers and vloggers, olive oil is an ingredient that can encourage thicker and faster-growing brows.
But while olive oil is rich in a number of vitamins, there’s little science to back up its brow-related benefits.
Still, that hasn’t stopped people from trying it in their quest for luscious-looking brows. Some massage the heavy oil into their brows on a nightly basis, while others only leave it on for a couple of hours.
From safety tips to a step-by-step guide, read on for everything you need to know about this hairy trend.
Although there isn’t much science to prove that olive oil works wonders for eyebrows specifically, the oil does house several beneficial ingredients.
“Olive oil contains vitamins A and E, which help promote hair health and thickness,” explains board certified dermatologist Anna H. Chacon, MD.
You’ll also find a phenolic compound called oleuropein in olives. A 2015 study found it contributed to hair growth in mice.
However, it’s not clear whether olive oil could produce the same effect, and whether it would work in people as well as mice.
“I don’t think that applying olive oil to eyebrows to improve growth has been proven or is even scientifically sound,” notes Heather Downes, MD, board certified dermatologist and founder of Lake Forest Dermatology.
But many who’ve tried it say it’s resulted in fuller brows in a relatively short space of time. Some people have also discovered that olive oil keeps their eyebrows looking dark.
Dr. Chacon, who serves on the advisory board for Smart Style Today, says this color effect can indeed occur, enhancing the appearance of brows.
While olive oil is a successful technique in some people’s eyes, it’s important to remember that it’s not a proven way to combat thinning hair or sparse-looking brows.
It’s perfectly safe to put natural oils like olive oil on your brows, says Dr. Chacon. But there are a couple of things to remember.
Oil can “easily clog pores and lead to breakouts,” Dr. Chacon says, “especially in individuals with oily skin.”
So if you have acne-prone skin, you may want to limit your oil application or steer clear altogether.
Olive oil can also irritate some people’s skin, resulting in redness or sensitivity. If you experience any adverse effects, this technique isn’t the right one for you.
It’s worthwhile to do a patch test on your forearm or behind your ear 24 to 48 hours before brow application. That way, you can see how your skin reacts to the oil.
And it goes without saying: Make sure you don’t get oil in or around your eyes.
Follow these simple steps to see if the olive oil treatment works for your brows.
1. Exfoliate first
Getting rid of dead skin is vital for allowing skin care ingredients to absorb deeper and faster. Essentially, you’re giving the olive oil the best chance of working.
To exfoliate your brows, take a spoolie and brush the hairs upwards for a couple of minutes every night.
2. Pick the right olive oil
Some olive oils contain additives that may irritate your skin. For maximum effectiveness and a lower chance of reaction, stick to extra virgin olive oil. It’s the least processed form of olive oil available.
3. Combine with other brow-boosting ingredients
If you’re not fully convinced olive oil on its own will work for you, try mixing it with another hair-healthy ingredient: honey. Honey can offer an extra burst of nourishment.
You can even combine olive oil with other oils, such as argan, for even more hydration.
4. Massage into your brows
There are several different ways to apply olive oil to your brows.
First, decide whether you want to do it in the morning, the evening, or both. Most people try the technique once a day at night. Remember: A little goes a long way.
Grab a clean spoolie and gently brush a small amount of oil onto your brows. You can also pour a drop of oil onto your fingertips, massaging in for a few minutes.
Either leave the oil to soak in overnight and cleanse your face in the morning, or wash the oil off with your usual cleanser a couple of hours after application.
It can take weeks of daily use before you notice a difference, but some people have seen a change in as little as 2 weeks.
5. Don’t touch
To let the oil do its thing, avoid touching your brows. You should also try not to touch near or on your brows to reduce the chance of irritation.
As Dr. Chacon explains, “it is best to minimize trauma to the area, such as scratching or touching, and to limit epilation or hair removal.”
There’s no guaranteed way to encourage brow hair growth. But olive oil isn’t the only technique to try.
Other oils, like castor oil or coconut oil, can promote growth via a moisture boost.
Petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline, may help too. It creates a protective layer, hydrating hair follicles and potentially encouraging growth.
Specially formulated brow serums also exist. Try RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum (shop here) or Pronexa Lavish Lash Serum (shop here).
There’s even a topical medication called bimatoprost, or Latisse. “Latisse can be used off-label to improve eyebrow growth,” says Dr. Downes.
“One would apply one drop to each eyebrow daily for 4 months to achieve maximum growth of eyebrow hairs, and then decrease to three times per week to maintain those results.”
Home brow remedies may or may not work. The only way to find out is to give them a try.
Thankfully, olive oil is a pretty safe strategy to stick to. Just know that you’ll need to commit to weeks or even months of daily use before seeing a difference.
And remember: There’s always a chance that growth will never occur. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to see a dermatologist for professional brow advice.
Lauren Sharkey is a U.K.-based journalist and author specializing in women’s issues. When she isn’t trying to discover a way to banish migraines, she can be found uncovering the answers to your lurking health questions. She has also written a book profiling young female activists across the globe and is currently building a community of such resisters. Catch her on Twitter.