Do You Always Lose Your Eyebrows and Eyelashes After Chemotherapy? What You Can Do!

Loss of eyebrows after chemotherapy - mediumWe pretty much expect to lose our hair during chemotherapy, but loss of eyebrows and eyelashes can be even more shocking and much harder to deal with for some people! When our hair falls out we can buy cute wigs, wear fun hats, learn creative ways to tie scarves, acquire funky earrings or even walk with our bald heads proudly held high! But what can we do when our eyebrows and lashes fall out? Somehow this loss alters our overall appearance much more and, let’s face it, as a cancer patient, what we really don’t want to look like is a “cancer patient”!

Does everyone lose their eyebrows and eyelashes?

Similarly to head hair loss, your chances of losing your brows and lashes largely depends on the type of chemotherapy you receive. However, generally speaking, loss of all your brows and lashes is less likely to occur than the loss of your head hair. Furthermore, there is a lot of person-to-person variability; some people lose all their brows and lashes while for others there is just thinning so that they appear more sparse. Eyebrow and/or eyelash loss can occur gradually or can occur within as short a period as a week. While the loss usually occurs after the loss of head hair, the time at which it starts can vary and can be delayed until a month or so after the final chemotherapy treatment ends.  Towards the end of my chemotherapy I had grown used to having no hair on my head. I was even starting to feel confident going without my wig and was appreciating the positive benefits of hair loss! Getting ready in the morning was a breeze. No more shaving my underarms or legs. Shampooing and blow-drying what? Waxing my bikini line…hmmmm, what bikini line? I was vaguely entertaining the hope that I might be the person for whom head hair grew back thick and luxuriant but body hair would remain persistently absent. Then, unfortunately, a month after chemo treatments ended my leg/underarm hair grew back and my lashes and eyebrows fell out…sigh! I grumpily started to compare myself to ET (bald, no eyebrows). No, I take that back, more like ET needing to shave his underarms! Fortunately, no one was tactless enough to agree with me when I made the comparison! However, while my longer eyebrow hairs were shedding pretty rapidly, I could already see small hairs growing underneath. Unlike your head hair where it takes at least an inch of hair growth to really notice a change, your lashes and brows don’t need to grow back much for you to notice a significant difference.  For me, while there were some weeks of little to no lashes and brows, it wasn’t long before I noticed some regrowth.

So is there anything you can do to reduce your chances of losing your brows and lashes? 

You can definitely minimize loss by treating them very gently.  I would certainly abandon waterproof mascara because it takes much more effort to remove than regular mascara and any rubbing will increase shedding. Treat your lashes/brows very gently and try not to rub or touch them.  No fiddling or patting them to see if they are still there!

If in spite of your best efforts you start to see shedding, what can you do?

Eyebrows are the easiest to deal with. If you still have some of your brows, or if you can see small hairs growing back so that the original brow shape is still discernable, then you just need to fill in your sparse hairs with a good brow powder.  I would definitely recommend this over an eyebrow pencil because it gives a much more natural look. Brow pencil might be ok if you are just filling in a few gaps in otherwise thick brows but it tends to look rather “drawn on” if you have lost a lot of brow. I like the Colorescience eyebrow powder we have in the LoveHopeThrive Store because it comes in a palette of three colors and you can experiment with different shades to see what looks most natural. Generally, it is best to go with a slightly lighter shade that you would normally use, especially if you have only a few brow hairs or none at all. Apply the powder lightly with a small brush, and if you have lost all your brows, using an older photo of yourself that shows where your brows were located can be an excellent reference to start with. It might take a bit of practice to draw them on but you really want to try to avoid a perpetually surprised, angry or quizzical look! For some, a brow stencil is a great option. It is a simple plastic template that you can position on the brow area and then use brow powder and brush to fill in the cutout area.  When using a brow stencil I would definitely recommend that you use a larger, fluffier brush than the smaller one that usually comes with the brow powder because the larger brush creates a softer, more natural look.

How about eyelashes? Some people just use a light coat of regular mascara to give some definition while they still have lashes. If your lashes are completely gone you can draw a thin line of soft eye pencil where your lashes were, but you will need to experiment to get a natural look.  Definitely try to keep make-up out of your eyes and replace mascara and eye pencil much more frequently than usual in order to avoid anything that could cause infection. Some people use false lashes and hypoallergenic adhesive. But again be careful, it is a good idea to ask your oncology nurse/doctor what they recommend.

What can you do to encourage regrowth after chemotherapy is over?

The good news is that most people do regrow their lashes and brows after treatment. While mine did grow back, they weren’t quite as thick as they had been before. I grew impatient after a while so I tried quite a few different products to encourage growth. I will share my experience but caution that this isn’t much of trial when you have a sample size of one – me! Nor am I endorsing or promoting any particular products, just sharing my own experience.  If anyone has tried these or other products, please comment so that we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.  The first product I tried on my lashes was Enormous Lash – this did cause some growth, I would give it 2 stars out of 5.  However, it wasn’t quite the growth I was hoping for so I purchased some Latisse and used on both my lashes and brows. I would definitely give this product 5 stars out of 5 for hair growth but decided against using it long-term – it tended to irritate my eyes so they looked red a lot of the time. Additionally, in some people, like me, it can cause darkening of the skin where it is applied. This can look kind of cool, sort of like subtle purple eyeliner above the upper lashes. However, after a while I noticed the darkening below my lower lashes also, even though I hadn’t applied the Latisse to this area, and it was starting to give me an owlish appearance. The good news is that the shading around my eyes eventually went away but the bad news is that so did my ultra long lashes – you need to keep using the Latisse if you want to keep those thick lashes. Then I tried Smart Lash. Unfortunately, I would give this product 0 stars as my lashes actually fell out while using it! At first I thought that perhaps I just needed to use it longer but after 4 weeks I grew tired of the lash loss and stopped using it. Another product I tried, Talika Lipocils, also earns 2 stars out of 5 for both lash and brow growth as it definitely gave some improvement. Rapid Lash XL was probably my favorite of the products. I would give it 3 out of 5 stars for lash and brow growth and for me at least it was non-irritating.  For those of you interested in a home-remedy, coconut oil made my eyebrows grow. I applied this to my face at night for a while when I was looking for a good, natural night-time treatment for dry skin and was fascinated to discover that my eyebrows grew thicker while I was using it. I do not know the ingredients of any of the above products, so, as always, check with your oncology nurse/doctor about any new products before you use them.

Once my lashes had grown back in, I found that Jane Iredale’s PureLash Conditioner followed by her PureLash Mascara were great at maximizing my lashes. I also really liked Physician’s Formula’s Eye Booster: 2 in 1 Boosting Eyeliner & Serum and felt that this also helped my lashes grow longer. It is an eyeliner so be careful that it doesn’t look too hard. I got around this by using a soft eyeliner pencil first and smudging the line and then following with a very thin line of the eyeliner. These together with the conditioner and mascara really help my lashes and eyes look great!

For persistent brow and lash loss, there is always the option of permanent make-up i.e. tattooing brows and eyeliner. Please make sure that you choose an experienced practitioner who specializes in natural results and ask to see before and after photographs or else meet first-hand a client who has had that type of permanent make-up application so that you can decide if this is for you.

Is it true that eyelashes/brows sometimes fall out a second time?

I don’t think this is the case for most people. However, it did happen to me and I have heard about this happening to other people, too. I suspect that this is more likely to happen if all your eyelashes/brows fall out within a short period of time as opposed to happening gradually. Perhaps this synchronizes your hair growth cycle so that the new hairs reach the end of their cycle and shed at the same time. However, before you get too alarmed, the second shedding, which in my case occurred about 3 months after the first, was significantly less. Also, the cycles of regrowth become unsynchronized as time goes by, so while I did get some shedding again 3 month later, it was barely noticeable.

Remember, don’t fiddle with your eyebrows/lashes, use powder on your brows to fill in the bare patches and know that ultimately they will grow again. Good luck! If you have any feedback, tips or products that worked for you, please don’t hesitate to post a comment; we would love to hear from you!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

christina w June 3, 2013 at 9:51 pm

so helpful thank you

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Orly January 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Thank you for this . very helpful I got so worried after my eyelashes fell out a second time but am now feeling much better

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Teresa March 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Thank you for your informative information on this topic. I just finished chemo last week, and I cannot wait to see my eyebrows and eyelashes start growing back. Yes, I’m excited for the hair on my head to grow too; but not having eyebrows and eyelashes is the hardest. I hate having to draw eyebrows on, and I feel like I use so much makeup just to try to get a normal appearance. I miss the days when I threw on a quick coat of mascara, a swipe of eyeliner, and ran out the door without a second thought.

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Kim March 20, 2014 at 3:19 am

This has been very helpful. I was told just today that the upcoming chemo treatment will definately cause all my hair to fall out. So, I am searching for any information at this time tha can help me prepare for the future.

Please put me on the mailing list. I will look forward to the positivness I felt when reading your article. It was the first time I felt like it was a communication from a real human being that has and is going through what I will be experiencing. Thank you so very much.

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Heather March 22, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Hi , never replied on a site before , but just wanted to let you know that I finished chemo 6 wks ago . I was told that I would definitely loose my hair ,but after using paxman cap I have only lost a section of hair towards the back of my head to date .wishing you all the best as you commence your treatment x

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Michelle May 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm

5 wks into radiation after finishing 6 months chemo, 8 wks ago. Hair fell out after first chemo, shaved balance left, has started to grow, first bit fluffy, now growing much thicker- some white some dark, eyebrows mostly fell out in middle of chemo, just starting yesterday to grow back, eyelashes had just a couple holding in there, but almost gone this week, will try warm flannel on them, heard you can get infections and blocked ducts, so hope the warmth will help growth. Eyeliners were a godsend to make you feel relatively normal. Wigs make you feel you fit in, not stand out, and the cancer foundation really do have some very natural looking ones, otherwise turbin caps with scarves can look fab. I am feeling fab now over that horrid chemo, radiation feels like a breeze. Clear head is wonderful. Keep your spirits up people u DO get for feel like a human being again, know I felt like it would never happen… But just do the hard yards, it’s worth it!!!!

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Janette July 17, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Just letting you know that it has been a year since my last chemo. I am now losing my eyelashes for the 4th time!!!!! They come back in fast so it is not awful…………….the first thing I notice is the thinning of my eyebrows and know that the lashes are next.

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helen July 18, 2014 at 2:29 am

Hi Janette, thanks for posting! Yes, it isn’t something that we are often told about, but it is true that for many people eyelashes and eyebrows go through more than one round of shedding. If you aren’t expecting it, it can be really alarming! Four rounds, wow, hopefully the shedding is getting less noticeable as the hair follicles become less synchonized over time. Hang in there and congratulations on being 1 year post-chemo!

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Sherry July 23, 2015 at 2:08 am

It has been 4 months since my last chemo and I noticed my eyebrows started falling out and followed by my eyelashes I felt panicked until I found this site I feel better hopefully it won’t be 4 times thanks for the relief.

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Vickie September 7, 2014 at 2:27 am

I was glad to find this site and read your comments. Thank you. I am 4 months after chemo and a little over a month after radiation. My hair is coming back. About an inch long now. My eyelashes and eyebrows were coming back but this morning I noticed my brows being more thin and the lashes I did have are gone. I now have missing spots again and short little ones. I was scared seeing this. After reading your posts I feel better knowing I am not alone and they will come back again.

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Crimson November 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Very helpful & informative. I am finished w/ chemo 2wks – I noticed the bottom lashes were pretty much gone before completion & the upper were thinner, but I thought that would be it. Now I see that the upper are almost nonexistent – it would have been nice to know that this would occur, but thankfully there are sites and people like this to help & guide you!!! The Drs are wonderful, but I guess they just can’t predict and prepare you for all the possibile side effects of chemo – each of us have our own special journey! I am now awaiting biopsy results after my lumpectomy & chemo, but before my RT – how can anything bad grow when it killed so many good cells?!?
Good luck to all of us!

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Shannon April 30, 2015 at 10:56 am

Thank you so much for the time and efforts you put into your site. I am just finishing Chemo #2 and it is everything awful I was told it would be. My hair fell out day 15 of my 1st treatment w/all my body hair w/ the exception of my lashes and brows. I’m on day 11 of treatment 2 and my lashes are itchy. Everything I’m feeling about it – is written in your post. Not feeling alone is probably the single most important part I have found so important. I mean knowing other women that have walk this journey before you are there – turning the lights on as they go so the path is not so dark. The unknown is revealed! Thank you again for such a great and informative read. Thank you to all that posted their experience. Its 3:00am and I’m wide awake with itchy eye lashes and know I’m not feeling so afraid of what’s next….who cares it’ll grow back and I’m gonna live! And now I feel like there are some things I can do about it, Blessengs to everyone!

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helen April 30, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Hi Shannon, hang in there! You have a lot of people rooting for you. Thank you for what you wrote, your comment “women that have walk this journey before you are there – turning the lights on as they go so the path is not so dark” was so beautifully put and sums up what we all feel about our sisters out there. Keep us posted, we will be praying for you.

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Sheri May 12, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Thank you SO VERY MUCH for this post! I’m almost five months out of chemo and 2 out of radiation and am experiencing thinning of my eyebrows and lashes. I’m clinging to the fact that they’re still there, even if they’re thinning a bit (especially since losing my eyebrows was the hardest part of the hair loss for me). It was absolutely wonderful to read something that was so incredibly helpful! I read this yesterday afternoon, ran to my local Sephora store in the evening and sat down with someone there to learn how to apply the powder and today I feel so much more confident!! It means a lot to have resources to let you know that what you’re experiencing is normal and there are “fixes” for these things. Thank you!

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Pat June 7, 2015 at 4:36 am

I am two months out from chemo and just finished 16 sessions of radiation this week. I lost my hair beginning the 12th day after first chemo session so had it cut and shaved. Just this week noticed I have nearly lost all my eyebrows. I had already lost some of my eyelashes during chemo treatment. It is wonderful to read the comments and to know this is very common. The tips about caring for hair, brows, and lashes is very helpful. Thank you!

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Sally December 2, 2015 at 9:16 am

Hi, I am a 10 year breast cancer survivor. I lost my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. Hair is now long, blond and beautiful. I have to fill in eyebrows but have not had much luck with eyelashes. I wear fake lashes sometimes and people think they are mine. Best wishes to everyone.

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Anna February 16, 2016 at 12:33 am

Thank you so much for the insight and tips. I finished chemo about a month and a half ago but my eyebrows have just started to fall out. I had sparse brows before and during chemo, but they are almost nonexistent. I hate it. I appreciate you sharing which products worked for you. I have been using Biotin since I finished chemo and it has been helping my head hair and hair everywhere else grow in like crazy. The head hair I appreciate, the other places, not so much lol. Thank you!

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Sally March 14, 2016 at 12:28 am

Thank you for this information. I swear it was like reading about myself!
I am experiencing Brow and eyelash loss for the second time, 4+ months after chemo. It’s quite upsetting. I’ve also been using a growth serum which I think has ‘encouraged’ the shedding. I’ll stop using it now.

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Sylvia April 13, 2016 at 4:04 am

Thank you for your post!

I was so worried because I didn’t loose my eyebrows or eyelashes during chemo. However, I finished chemo 2/19/16 and my lashes are almost completely gone and eyesbrows too. I never imagined it would happen after I was done with chemo, much less months afterward!

God bless you and everyone who is going through or gone through cancer treatment. May God give grant you remission and healthy prosperous long life!

P/S: my Younique fiber lash mascara works very well in creating longer thicker lashes if you want to improve on what you have. I love it.

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DIANA December 5, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Hi everybody, I’m due to start chemo next week, Dec. 12th, for triple negative breast cancer. It will begin with a session every 21 days for about 5 sessions. I have been told it’s awful but would like to know step by step what happens, does it hurt, does diarrhea always happen, etc. etc. Anybody help? Thanks tons for this post, very enlightening…

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helen December 6, 2016 at 4:09 am

Hi Diana, we will be praying and thinking about you! I would be happy to chat if you want to email me directly – helen@lovehopethrive.com
With Love, Helen

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