Eyebrow Tinting Guide: Everything You Need To Know About The Semipermanent Dye Job
Full, feathery eyebrows just frame the face in a certain way, no? This is why eyebrow services have exploded in popularity, ranging from a simple shape-and-tweeze to permanent pigment. It's now possible to wake up with perfectly groomed brows—without a stitch of makeup—and it's never been so easy.
But if you're unable to get up the gumption to go full brow tattoo, you're not alone. (Permanence can add pressure, and who knows what the new eyebrow trend will look like once a new decade rolls around?). Good news: Eyebrow tinting is a happy middle ground, perfect for those looking to enhance their arches for a time, no needles necessary. Here's everything you need to know about the brow dye job.
What is eyebrow tinting?
Eyebrow tinting is a semipermanent procedure where a licensed esthetician will use a brow dye to tint the delicate brow hairs. With tinting, you're just dyeing the hair itself—not the surrounding skin as you would during microblading or shading. The result? Darker, fuller, fluffier brows that last about four to six weeks.
For those with thin, sparse brows, eyebrow tinting can be a game-changer: "It maximizes your brow potential by making every hair count," says brow expert Joey Healy. Meaning, those light, baby hairs above your brows you never really knew existed finally show up to the party, making your arches full and fluffy. Alicia Halpin, esthetician and owner of Foundation Beauty & Esthetics, agrees: "Tinting the 'fluff' is what really gives the brows that bold look."
Who should do it?
If you're itching to up your brow game but aren't too fond of permanent procedures (like microblading and shading), consider brow tinting your new best friend. It offers a semipermanent look, so you won't have to spend ample time in the mirror with a brow pencil in hand, with none of the added pressure of a pigmented tattoo.
Those with sensitive skin can totally hop on the brow tinting bandwagon, Healy notes; just make sure to seek salons that use vegetable-based dyes. While not totally natural (even vegetable-based options contain some synthetic chemicals—the market still has some ways to go), they're usually less harsh on sensitive skin. Most salons will recommend a 24-hour patch test for you to try as well, either on your wrist or behind your ear, just in case you have a reaction to the dye.
How does it work?
After said patch test, you'll typically chat with your esthetician about a custom color before diving into the procedure. Then they'll take an oily, jelly balm to outline the perimeter of your brows (which helps keep the dye where you want it—on your hairs, not on your skin). After applying the dye, you'll wait a few minutes (around three to five, depending on the dye) before wiping it off. Et voilà: full, tinted arches of dreams.
Don't freak out if your brows look darker than you anticipated at first: "The brows will fade up to 60% within two days, once the tint that is on the skin washes off," says Halpin (some dye can make its way onto your skin, despite the outline—but the sebum in your skin is able to lift the pigment pretty quickly). The aftercare is pretty minimal; Healy only notes you shouldn't shower or sweat too much directly after the procedure, as you could potentially fade the fresh color.
Can you do it at home?
Here's the thing: There are at-home kits available for purchase (some DIY devotees even swear by men's beard dye for the perfect home-friendly eyebrow tint), but both Healy and Halpin recommend waiting it out until you can visit a professional. "We custom blend your color and make sure that it's perfect for you. It's unique," notes Healy, whereas the at-home tint kits typically come in just a few, limited shades. A dye innocently labeled "light brown" might tinge your brows way darker than you'd hoped—quite a shock for someone with fair hairs, for example, looking for a bit of natural definition.
In addition to the right color payoff, a professional knows the exact technique it takes to deliver the right results. "An important part of tinting the brows is mapping, where you outline the desired shape," Halpin explains. "Most at-home kits do not include this training, and without it you may be left with uneven brows." Think about it: Without proper mapping (aka, the oily balm outline we discussed above), you might accidentally dye those tiny vellus hairs on your forehead. The result? One brow that is distinguishably thicker and fuller than the other, for about four to six weeks. Not so cute.
Eyebrow procedures fall on a spectrum of sorts, with brow tinting on the more low-stakes side. Of course, there's no need to jump into tinting straight away, especially if you're brand-new to eyebrow services—just play with some tinted brow gels in the meantime to see if a tinged brow suits you.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.