Like our hair color, our brows are our own unique shade—and while we’re all about embracing our individual beauty, we also love finding small ways to shake up our looks and express ourselves. You may love your natural brows, but you might not always want to keep them that way.
Whether you’re switching things up to match a new hairstyle or you think there’s a better fit for your skin tone, there are several ways to change or enhance your natural brow shade. Brow products are a staple in our makeup kits for a quick fix, but if you find yourselves shading your brows regularly, you can also swap brow powders and pencils for a longer-lasting solution: brow tinting. The process, as you might imagine, involves using brow dye to lighten or darken the actual color of your brow hairs. The result is relatively temporary, lasting shorter than microblading, but far longer than any brow pencil or brow gel.
Considering your first eyebrow tint? Continue reading below to find out everything you need to know about eyebrow tinting, complete with expert advice from licensed esthetician Ali Tobia, LE.
About the Expert:
There are a lot of benefits to tinting your brows: it’s temporary, relatively inexpensive, and most importantly, very effective. However, it may not be for everyone. “There are definitely some risks with brow tinting,” says Tobia, who adds, “for the most part, the biggest risk is often the tint itself.” And although there are countless salons and spas around the country that perform brow tints, they are not FDA-approved.
“No color additives are approved by FDA for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows,” reads the FDA’s website. “Permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries.” In fact, professional lash and brow tints are technically banned in California, where salons cannot legally use products that have not been approved by the regulatory agency.
In the remaining 49 states, there are ways to minimize risks. To start, ask your brow technician what kind of tint they’re using before your treatment. “You should always use semi-permanent dye, not permanent,” says Tobia, who adds that “most dyes are semi-permanent.” Tobia also recommends doing a patch test 24 hours before your treatment, both “to make sure that the dye is suitable for your skin and hair, and that you do not have any sort of inflammation or reaction from the tinting agent.
Some skin types may react more to brow tint dyes than others, so “if you have extremely sensitive skin and are prone to reaction from chemicals and dyes on your skin, you should definitely avoid brow tinting,” says Tobia. Likewise, you should avoid it if you’re using a topical medication, or have any open wounds or sores in the area. Another thing to keep in mind is the actual location of your eyebrows. “Applying anything near your eyes comes with some risk,” says Tobia. But don’t worry: “Your brows are far enough from your eyes that it can be safe if the dye has the proper consistency and is correctly applied, with tons of attention paid to making sure the dye does not run down toward your eyes,” Tobia explains.
One of the best things about brow tinting is how long-lasting it is; not too short, not too long—Goldilocks would approve. “Under normal circumstances, a brow tint will typically last from 4-6 weeks, but as with most dyes, your mileage may vary,” says Tobia. If you think you need a touch-up before that time period is up, consider relying on your go-to brow products to supplement to avoid the risk of overprocessing or irritation.
To maintain your look longer, Tobia recommends avoiding directly cleansing your brows for at least 12 hours (preferably 24) after you get them tinted. After that, it’s best to avoid any harsh skincare products on the area. “One of the things that will shorten the lifespan of your brow tint is the use of aggressive cleansers near your brows, especially those that include acids, such as AHAs including glycolic acid and lactic acid,” says Tobia. “Similar to washing your hair too often after getting it dyed, your tint will rinse out with frequent cleansing.”
As with any beauty treatment, it depends on the city you’re in, and the salon or spa you go to. Tobia adds that the product your brow specialist uses will factor in as well. However, expect the general price range can be anywhere from $45 to $85.
Although it’s best to seek a professional for the highest-quality products, application, and best color match, you can tint your own brows in a pinch. However, “DIY brow tinting should not be taken lightly,” says Tobia. “You need to be super careful to apply the dye properly and to make sure it doesn’t run down into your eyes.”
For the best at-home results, Tobia recommends using a men’s mustache and beard dye, which, she says, “is formulated very similarly to brow tint.” Rather than using the applicator that comes in the box, “I like to use an angled eye brush to apply the dye instead,” Tobia advises. Her other pro tips? “Before you apply the tint, brush out your brows with a spoolie brush to help them receive the dye more effectively.” She also recommends applying a layer of petroleum jelly around the brows, both to “help avoid tinting beyond your brows themselves, as well as to prevent having the dye run toward your eye from the surrounding brow area.”
Why not just opt for something more permanent, like microblading, you ask? Microblading, which involves tattooing tiny, hair-like strokes across the brow line, is a one-and-done deal, but it has its pros and cons, too. “Microblading is permanent. Like, permanent-permanent,” says Tobia. “If you end up not liking the shape, or if eyebrow trends evolve, as they tend to do, you may be stuck with brows that you can’t do anything to modify.” Brow tinting requires more upkeep, but provides much more flexibility. “Tinting gives your brows an effective refresh while still letting you change things up over time,” says Tobia. Bonus: no needles in sight.
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