Thick, fluffed-up, bushy brows are the ultimate status symbol in the beauty world, thanks to the likes of Zendaya and Dua Lipa. But whether you’re a victim of 90s overplucking, aka tadpole brows — ignore for a minute the fact that skinny brows are making a weird Y2K comeback — or are simply experiencing natural hair thinning with age, many of us need a helping hand when it comes to sprouting new hairs.
Enter eyebrow growth serums, the latest obsession among beauty buffs. Like lash serums, brow serums can encourage spurts of growth of hairs to help create the desired fluffed-up look. And with an explosion of new products on the market, including an upcoming launch from the likes of Augustinus Bader this month (who, by the way, is applying some serious science to the art of brow and lash regrowth with his patented trigger factor complex TFC8), we studied many an INCI to find the best eyebrow growth serums that actually work.
Why do we want fuller brows in the first place?
It’s true, a defined set of eyebrows really can help frame the face, says Harrods-based trichologist Ricardo Vila Nova, aka The Hair Whisperer. “Thicker eyebrows draw attention to the eyes and a nicely shaped brow can help harmonise the hair, even if it is thinner (or thinning).” A good set of brows can also add colour to the face, which we lose as we age, and lift features, especially if you have hooded eyes.
What happens to brows as we age?
The brow is made up of three parts: bulb, arch and tail, explains celebrity permanent make-up artist Sarah Fogg. “As we get older we lose our natural arch, but if we lift this slightly by brushing our brow hair in an upwards direction this will instantly lift your features.” So anything that makes brow hairs look denser and stronger will help.
Tails do tend to shorten with age, too, according to brow architect Diana Augustoni, who is based at Alex Eagle’s 180 Health Club. She says the single best thing you can do for your brows as you age is follow a “less is more” philosophy. So put the tweezers down completely (if you haven’t already). “There will absolutely be times when it’s frustrating, sometimes one brow grows in perfectly and the other seems to be far behind but eventually both catch up. Bear in mind, too, that our brows aren't meant to be perfect matches of each other. We are born with asymmetric brows." Regular tinting can help to create the illusion of more volume if the individual hairs seem to have thinned, though, she adds, that in fact the best thing about greying brows is that they can add texture. “Grey hair has a stronger texture and that can be helpful to create more volume in a brow.”
How long is the brow growth cycle and what are the different phases of growth?
Brow hairs grow in three to four month cycles, Diana explains, so bear this in mind when expecting results from your chosen serum. “The anagen phase, or first phase of hair growth, determines the length of the hair; the catagen phase, or second phase is where hair follicles start to grow towards the skin; and the third phase is the telogen phase, where hair follicles fall out to allow new hair to come through the hair follicle," she adds. "If we disrupt the telogen phase, we prevent or shorten the time for new growth.”
So, how can brow serums help?
Brow serums contain similar growth-enhancing ingredients to lash serums. Most usually contain a cocktail of peptides, or short chains of amino acids which feed the brow hairs and help to strengthen hair follicles; as well as botanical extracts and antioxidant-rich vitamins to nourish. Many also contain castor oil, which has traditionally been used to promote hair growth.
Some also contain growth agents called synthetic prostaglandins analogues, or PGAs, which have been clinically proven to boost lash and brow growth and are chemically similar to the medicine used to treat glaucoma, explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr Natalia Spierings. As with their lash counterparts, RevitaBrow and RapidBrow are among some of the most popular brow serums, largely because they undoubtedly do work, thanks in most part to this ingredient. There are pros and cons to the use of synthetic PGAs, including some potential side effects to be wary of — read our in-depth guide here. The main catch is that you do usually need to keep using them in order to continue to reap the benefits.
And while there may be a lack of scientific evidence to support castor oil as a hair growth agent, Diana does recommend it to some of her clients.“It can be nurturing and strengthening and so for some, that in itself can help them with growth. Brows ultimately just need a little TLC and patience.”
What’s the difference between lash and brow serums?
Comparing the INCI of the eyebrow and lash serums that do contain synthetic PGAs, Dr Natalia says that the active ingredients "appear to be the same in both the lash and brow serums, though the vehicles are slightly different.” In some cases, brow serums may be a slightly higher strength given the skin around the eye and lashline is more sensitive.
From our research, the main and most obvious difference is in the applicator, whereas lash serums typically come with a brush to paint on, most brow serums come with a lip gloss-like or mascara wand.
10 of the best eyebrow growth serums
Like its lash counterpart, this is without doubt one of the most popular eyebrow serums out there. Supercharged by the brand's Biopeptin complex, which contains a combination of peptides, lipids, biotin, and green tea extract rich in smoothing and moirturising panthenol, this also contains the synthetic PGA dechloro dihydroxy difluoro ethylcloprostenolamide. It's also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. The brand promises results in around two months, and points to results from a small independent study conducted which found more than 90 per cent of participants noticed a fuller-looking brow after using the serum over the course of eight weeks.
Another of the most popular brow serums (though significantly more purse-friendly) RapidBrow is powered by its Hexatein 2 complex, a blend of keratin, biotin, panthenol, sweet almond extract, apple fruit cell extract and polypeptides. The formula contains the synthetic PGA isopropyl cloprostenate and in a similar eight-week clinical trial, 93 per cent of participants said they experienced fuller-looking brows. Rather than a wand, the RapidBrow applicator is a nimble mascara-like brush.
One for both your lashes and brows, Professor Augustinus Bader, who counts the likes of Victoria Beckham among his celebrity fans, just dropped an eyebrow and lash growth serum (available from 19 September). It's the priciest on this list, perhaps unsurprisingly as it contains his patented TFC8 technology upon which his entire luxury skincare line is based — face creams fly off the shelves for north of £200. This trigger factor complex as it is also known, works with the body's renewal mechanisms to address the underlying cause of diminishing lashes and thinning brows. With amino acids, vitamins and botanical extracts rich in phytosterols, such as roselle and safflower extract; the formula is designed to boost circulation at the root, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and revitalise follicles to encourage new growth.
Available from 19 September
If you prefer mostly natural ingredients over synthetic, French brand Typology harnesses the power of natural active ingredients like pea peptides (amino acids which are rich in lysine) to stimulate the lash and brow cells to naturally increase their density - and it's another serum you can use on both lashes and brows. The vegan-friendly formula contains castor oil to nourish and strengthen hair follicles at the root, as well as biotinyl-GHK and panthenol to stimulate collagen and laminin synthesis (the molecules which are responsible for the bulb anchor). The purse-friendly serum has racked up some stellar five-star reviews from fans who are hooked.
UKlash is so confident its eyebrow growth serum works - the brand says you can expect fuller, more defined-looking brows within just 25 days of use - that if you haven’t achieved an improvement after 12 weeks of use, you’ll get your money back. The vegan formula contains a blend of vitamins, peptides and botanical extracts, including three amino acid peptides, camellia sinensis leaf extract from tea plants, as well as the synthetic PGA isopropyl cloprostenate.
Vegamour, famous for its thickening shampoo (reportedly Nicole Kidman's "favourite" for thinning hair), landed in the UK earlier this year. Its Gro Brow Serum (formerly vegaBROW) contains a naturally-derived formula which draws on vegan phyto-actives, like mung bean, which contain hair-enriching minerals such as zinc, selenium, silica, iron and vitamins A, B, C, B7 (biotin) and K; as well as red clover, which is rich in isoflavones and has potent antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. The brand says you can expect visible results in four to eight weeks.
The cheapest brow serum on this list, The Ordinary released its vegan lash and brow serum earlier this year seeing a gap in the market for an affordable product that supports regrowth. The peptide-rich formula contains four different complexes, caffeine and botanical extracts, including camellia sinensis leaf. According to the brand, you can expect visibly fuller-looking brows after eight weeks of application.
Already famous for her game-changing Brow Freeze, which essentially freezes your perfectly fluffed up brows in position to make them look like they've just been laminated, makeup brand Anastasia Beverly Hills recently dropped its conditioning vegan eyebrow serum with a brow-boosting peptide complex formulated with red clover extract, Korean red ginseng, panthenol, biotin and conditioning castor oil. Results from a 12-week independent study found that more than 80 per cent of respondents noticed fuller brows and 98 per cent reported more nourished and hydrated brow hairs.
Elizabeth Arden's Prevage lash and brow serum is one of the pricier products on this list, so expectations will naturally be high - but in clinical trials it was shown to improve lashes at least in as little as two weeks of daily use, according to the brand. Infused with a triple peptide complex, vitamins A, C and E, this is a deeply conditioning brow treatment with a brush applicator to paint on to hairs.
Best combined tint and brow growth serum: By Sarah Brows Wow Brow, £39
Celebrity permanent make-up artist and cosmetic tattooist Sarah Fogg launched her eponymous line of products Brows by Sarah at the beginning of 2022, drawing on her five years of experience running her own salon. Wow Brow is a three-in-one tinted product that instantly sculpts the look of brows, while promoting regrowth with nourishing ingredients like kigelia and hydroxyproline to support collagen production, Japanese konjac root extract for added moisture, and beech tree bud extract to boost skin elasticity around the brow. Choose from the darker espresso shade or mocha which is more suited to fairer hair, both are vegan and cruelty-free.
XLash is the brand behind Scandinavia’s best-selling lash serum, which has amassed more than 10,000 5-star customer reviews. Its brow product XBrow contains a similar vegan formula, supercharged with a biotin peptide, green tea and hydrolysed wheat protein to strengthen hairs. It’s both oil and PGA-free and comes with a nimble mascara-like wand.