In all their invisible glory, bleached brows may be the most transformative beauty move you can make. For proof, look no further than last week’s Marc Jacobs fall 2022 show, where the entire cast of models—including Bella and Gigi Hadid—had their arches cancelled out to nearly unrecognisable effect.
“Bleached brows give a more futuristic effect to the face,” explains make-up artist Diane Kendal, who paired the erased brows with neutral complexions and hollowed gazes at Jacobs’s request to supply a “gothic element” to the beauty. The thing is, as otherworldly as they can be, bleached brows transcend the runway easier than you might think. From Kendall Jenner’s one-night only brow makeover for the Met Gala 2022 to Julia Fox’s recent delve into no-brow, graphic-winged-eyes territory, stars are making the case for grabbing a box of bleach and having a go at it. Never mind that with over 125 million views on TikTok, Gen Z is already all over the #BleachedBrows look.
Here, make-up artists Isamaya Ffrench and William Scott walk Vogue through the beauty of bleached brows and how to take the peroxide plunge safely at home no matter where you want to land on the mellow yellow to arctic white spectrum.
What’s the draw of bleached brows?
“You don’t realise the impact of brows on a face until you’ve gotten rid of them,” says Isamaya Ffrench. “Eyebrows express a lot of emotions and therefore articulate a lot from someone’s personality.” For the pro, who often blanches her own brows, it’s a provocative tool for shapeshifting. “Most of the time when I bleach someone’s brows for the first time, they don’t recognise themselves,” she continues. “It creates a blank canvas and I think most people like that little thrill of feeling like you can be a different person.”
What impact do bleached brows have on the face?
While your entire face will look different, it’s the eyes that will be the most radically altered. “Our brows give structure to our face by defining the lines of the bones underneath them and often, bleached brows makes one’s eyes look rounder or bigger because we’re allowed to see the full space it takes up without the perimeter of a brow,” explains make-up artist William Scott. “This look is a great way to see oneself in a new way because it can reveal aspects of our beauty that we can’t always see or emphasise with a full brow, like where one’s eye socket is deepest.”
How do bleached brows change the overall effect of makeup?
“From a make-up perspective, erasing eyebrows, whether that’s done with concealers or full bleach process, is a great way to open up the area around the eyes, which allows for much more freedom in terms of make-up possibilities,” explains Ffrench. “There’s no ‘frame’ to take into consideration so you can do pretty much any shape in any size you want and create something dramatic.” From drawing on entirely new brows (like a Y2K-era razor-thin arch, for example) to extending the shape of a graphic eye design to extreme effect, it opens up a whole new world.
How do you safely bleach brows at home?
Remember: To avoid damage or irritation, a bleaching agent must always be used safely and carefully per the instructions on the container. For the ultimate insurance while lightening brows, Ffrench recommends going to a professional or asking a friend who’s familiar with the process to do it for you the first time so that you can observe and ask questions.
Before starting, both Ffrench and Scott recommend using a skin protectant, like Vaseline or Aquaphor, to protect skin around the brows. “After mixing hair bleach powder with cream developer, take a mascara wand to coat hairs thoroughly from root to tip, using the leftover cream to cover the brows completely until you can’t see them anymore,” says Ffrench. “Cover with a little piece of film or aluminium so it doesn’t dry out. It’s normal if it feels warm and tingly, but if you feel like something isn’t right, wipe it off and rinse. Wait for about 10 minutes and check them every three minutes after that until the colour is completely gone.” To wash out the formula, Scott suggests using a shampoo and water to rinse the bleach and stop the chemical reaction.
“Allow your brows to dry completely to judge the colour and decide if you want to go over them with bleach again,” says Scott, who cautions that you should wait at least 20 minutes in between. “Don’t do more than two passes of bleach to your brows in one day. If after two passes your brows didn’t lighten enough, the bleach can probably stand to sit on your brows for a bit longer. I usually aim to bring the brow colour close to the skin tone as opposed to fully platinum on everyone, because no nude is universal.” If the hairs have unwanted orange or yellow tones, both pros advise applying a blue or purple toner for a few minutes to remove brassiness.
When you want to dye your brows back to the original colour, use a facial hair dye kit that is one shade lighter than your original brow. “Bleached brows will soak up colour quickly and go dark easily,” says Scott. But you may very well find with a dramatic new look and more room to play with your make-up, brow-less is more.
Bleach London Total Bleach Kit
Manic Panic Flash Lightning Hair Bleach Kit
Refectocil Bleaching Paste For Eyebrows
Isamaya Beauty Browlacq Brow Laminator
Aesthetica Pro Series Double Ended Eyebrow Brush & Spoolie
This story originally appeared on Vogue.com.