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Do eyebrow growth serums actually work?

Experts weigh in on the best solutions for sparse eyebrows and how they work.
Woman putting something on her brow
Kara Birnbaum for NBC News

No matter what your ideal brow shape is, getting the look you desire is easier when you have enough hair there to groom. And while a pencil can certainly be used to define brows, having to rely on makeup isn’t for everyone. That’s where brow growth serum comes in. A number of formulas on the market say they may help condition brows, prevent breakage and even lead to potential hair growth.

SKIP AHEAD Best brow growth serums | How to shop for brow growth serums | How often should I use a brow growth serum?

Wondering what causes sparse brows? Genetics play a major role: if you weren’t born with many hair follicles in the first place, no topical or oral solution will create follicles where they did not previously exist, said Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Genetics aside, some people may have lost eyebrow hair because they have “over-plucked, have an autoimmune disease, eat a poor diet, have experienced hormonal changes, or have inflammation of the skin,” said Jaliman. Fortunately, there are solutions for these environmental or situational changes to your eyebrow hair.

Typically, dermatologists like Jaliman and New York City-based Dr. Michele Green treat patients looking to encourage eyebrow growth with Latisse, a prescription-only topical solution that’s marketed for eyelash growth, but works on eyebrows as well. Latisse “has been shown in clinical studies to make eyelashes grow longer, thicker and darker,” said dermatologist Dr. Hadley King.

If you’re not ready for a trip to the dermatologist for a prescription, you may want to consider a brow serum. After all, when eyebrow hair is conditioned, it’s less likely to break and your brows will look healthier overall. While a few of the experts we spoke with reported skepticism about the efficacy of over-the-counter brow growth serums, others noted positive results from patients — such as hydration and thickening.

The best brow growth serums

While some of the dermatologists we spoke to had reservations about fully endorsing the efficacy of brow growth serums for growth, they did recommend several options with ingredients that have conditioning aspects or that they have seen their patients achieve success with.

Vegamour GRO Brow serum

Green said a lot of her patients like Vegamour’s GRO Brow serum. Vegamour is formulated with plant-based nutrients like acetyl tetrapeptide-3 and red clover extract, both of which have been shown to be helpful for hair growth, said King. For example, in one clinical trial of 30 people who used acetyl tetrapeptide-3 for 60 days, as King mentioned, 94% saw an increase in the density and volume of their brows.

RevitaLash RevitaBrow Advanced Eyebrow Conditioner

Jaliman and King both recommended this option from RevitaLash, another vegan option, which is formulated with the brand’s proprietary BioPetin complex, a blend of the peptides biotin and green tea, to help condition and strengthen brows and give eyebrow hair an overall healthier appearance. It’s also formulated with calendula, a humectant that the brand says helps brows retain moisture. The serum has a 4.3-star average rating from 4,042 reviews on Amazon.

RapidLash RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum

Jaliman and King also both recommended this option from RapidLash, which is formulated with “octapeptide-2, copper tripeptide-1 and sh-polypeptide-1, all of which have been shown in studies to be potentially helpful for hair growth,” said King. In addition to peptides, RapidBrow uses panthenol (or Vitamin B5) to help nourish and condition the hair and improve the overall appearance of your brows, says RapidLash. The serum has a 4.2-star average rating from 1,501 reviews on Amazon.

Babe Original Brow Amplifying Serum

King recommended this serum from cosmetic brand Babe Original, which is formulated with nourishing emollients like castor oil and hyaluronic acid, which can help hydrate and thicken the appearance of brows.

Maya Chia Power Fol Multi-Correctional Eyelash/ Eyebrow Serum

This option from Maya Chia, recommended by King, relies on peptides to stimulate hair growth. It’s also formulated with panthenol, also known as vitamin B5, which the brand says helps to nourish the hair. This option can be used on both eyelashes and brows—it even has a dual-ended applicator making it easy to switch between applying to both areas.

Joey Healy Renovation Serum

Another King recommendation, this paraben-free serum from Joey Healey contains peptides to stimulate hair growth, and hyaluronic acid to nourish and hydrate brow hairs. It also contains hydrolyzed wheat protein, which the brand says can add volume.

How to shop for a brow growth serum

Again, experts we spoke to expressed some skepticism that brow growth serums can seriously boost hair growth. However, they agreed that if they have the right ingredients, they can help improve the condition of the hair that’s already there and even help to create an environment that encourages new growth. Like any cosmetic product, ingredients are key: “a smart consumer is someone who looks at the labels,” said Jaliman. Below are a few ingredients you'll likely come across in your search and some notes on their efficacy, plus some tips on what ingredients to avoid.

Ingredients for growth

Peptides: Jaliman and Green both noted that peptides and amino acids are stimulants that can promote hair growth.

Biotin: Many brow growth serums contain biotin, a B vitamin that is commonly taken orally to help with hair and nail growth, rather than topically, like in a brow serum. The experts we spoke to said that while biotin is a safe ingredient and won’t hurt, using it topically may not help, either. In King’s words, “I don't think there is any data to support the efficacy of topical biotin.”

Ingredients for follicle conditioning

Hyaluronic acid: a popular skin-care ingredient, hyaluronic acid is a humectant that can help hydrate and thicken the appearance of the hair and coats the follicles, but won’t promote growth, said Green. It can “help to condition the brows and help prevent breakage, but that's not the same thing as growth,” King added.

Castor oil: Similar to hyaluronic acid, castor oil “can provide some conditioning that improves the flexibility of the hair fiber,” said King, but “there are no studies that show castor oil directly causes hair growth.”

Argan oil, jojoba oil and vitamin E and D: The dermatologists we spoke to agreed that these ingredients are safe and effective and will help eyebrow health, but will not promote hair growth.

Which ingredients should you avoid?

As for what to avoid, Jaliman cautioned against using any brow growth serums with synthetic prostaglandins, as they often have side effects like irritation. Consider skipping if you see one of the following, impossible-to-pronounce ingredients: Isopropyl cloprostenate, Isopropanol Phenyl-hydroxyl-pentene Dihydroxy-cyclopentyl-heptenate, Dechloro Dihydroxy Difluoro Ethylcloprostenolamide and Trifluoromethyl Dechloro Ethylprostenolamide.

Can I put Rogaine on my eyebrows?

The active ingredient in most shampoos for thinning hair and products like Rogaine is minoxidil, which essentially widens the blood cells, allowing “more oxygen, blood and nutrients to reach the follicles,” said King. Given that it’s the most proven treatment for hair loss in men and women, it would seem like a strong candidate for eyebrow growth, but the dermatologists we spoke to advised us to proceed with caution. “Side effects from applying Rogaine to the eyebrow area include burning, dryness, itchiness, redness and scaling,” said King. Plus, added Green, you could grow hair where you don’t want it.

How often should I use a brow growth serum?

Jaliman recommended using a brow growth serum every night to see results. “You don’t really want to use them during the day when you’re applying makeup,” she said. As you’re getting ready for bed, apply the serum as the last step in your evening skincare routine and let it completely dry, so you’re not wiping it away on your pillow when you lay down. “Once you have your desired brows, you can cut usage back to three times a week,” she noted.

Just know that to maintain the results, “you do have to be religious about continuing to use it.” If you stop using the serum once you are happy with the results, your brows will go back to how they were before.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Dr. Michele Green is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City who specializes in cosmetic dermatology. She has also offered her guidance in Select’s guide to the best shampoos and treatments for thinning hair.

Dr. Hadley King is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. She has also offered her guidance in Select’s guides to the best drugstore shampoos and razor burn treatments.

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