If you have itchy, dry eyebrows, the possible reason for this may be dandruff. Yes, just like the one on the scalp – and yes, it is possible to get it on your brows.
So if you’ve just had your brows laminated or bleached and they suddenly seem to be flaky, the treatment might be the cause. But it also might just be a trigger.
If you’re looking to find out what causes this problem in the first place, how it relates to beauty treatments, and how to treat it – read on.
What Is Eyebrow Dandruff, Anyways?
As part of the natural cell turnover, skin cells are continually being replaced and shed. This usually goes unnoticed, however, if skin cells start to divide too quickly—which is what happens with dandruff—it may become noticeable.
The main symptoms of eyebrow dandruff are dry flaky eyebrows and itchy irritated skin.
But don’t confuse it with skin dryness! The skin’s moisture loss doesn’t result in redness under the eyebrows or accumulation of oil surrounding the brow hairs, and – unlike eyebrow dandruff – dry skin changes with the weather and responds to moisturizers.
What Causes Dry, Flaky Eyebrows?
Your brows may flake due to a number of different factors. Here are some eyebrow dandruff causes:
Sebum is an oil that keeps your skin hydrated and helps it perform other functions that keep your skin healthy. It’s produced in the glands found beneath the layers of your skin. When these glands start producing excess amounts of this oil, it can lead to dandruff.
Bacteria and Fungus
According to research, the bacterial species Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus are major factors in the formation of dandruff.
Also, a fungus that typically lives on our skin, Malassezia 1 occasionally irritates the skin, which results in itching and the growth of additional skin cells. Once these cells die, dandruff forms as the remains.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition 2 that causes scaly, itchy skin patches and stubborn dandruff. The cause is likely to be an inflammatory skin reaction to a type of yeast called Malassezia which lives on most people’s skin.
Image source: Instagram @alex.pmu.academy
Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin reaction brought on by an allergy or sensitivity to chemicals in cosmetic products.
A side effect of contact dermatitis is red, scaly skin rash, so if your eyebrows start flaking after applying a new product, an allergy might be to blame. Especially if you notice the symptoms go away once you stop using the product.
Eczema or Psoriasis
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis 3 , is a common skin condition that results in flaky, red skin patches all over the body. Although it might result in flaky eyebrows, that is not the sole symptom of this condition.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune illness 3.1 that results in thick skin patches that are irritating, itchy, and red. Your brows may become flaky and affected by psoriasis if you have it
Image source: Instagram @chaybrows
Eyebrow dandruff can appear as a consequence of certain beauty treatments as well. Any brow treatment that has a drying effect on the skin, like brow lamination or bleaching your brows, poses a risk for developing eyebrow dandruff.
These treatments are based upon applying harsh chemicals to your brows, which have the potential to dry skin under eyebrows, as well as brow hairs themselves.
Flaky Eyebrows After PMU
Getting flaky eyebrows after PMU treatments is completely normal.
Once the healing process starts it will look like dandruff, however, these flakes are just superficial color and dry skin being naturally removed from your eyebrows. This process is called scabbing.
Given that both cause itchy, flaky eyebrows, scabbing is often confused with eyebrow dandruff, but these two are not the same thing.
Flaky Eyebrows Due to Scabbing
Scabbing is your skin’s natural response to this trauma and a crucial part of its recovery. It usually starts approximately 3-4 days after the treatment and lasts around 7 days, after which your brows are going back to their normal, non-flaky selves.
Although the skin recovery journey is unique for everyone, if your brows don’t stop itching for a prolonged period of time there might be something wrong.
Image source: Instagram @archenvyacademy
Flaky Eyebrows Due to Dandruff
Dandruff, on the other hand, probably has an underlying issue caused by some skin condition. This means that clients suffering from eyebrow dandruff aren’t suitable candidates for eyebrow tattoos.
When it comes to cosmetic tattoos, healthy eyebrows are crucial. The skin must be able to absorb the ink for the PMU tattoo to take hold. Additionally, irritated brows might not be able to withstand a tattooing procedure as it can only exacerbate skin damage.
Eyebrow Dandruff Treatment
Despite not being the same as dandruff on the scalp, they have comparable causes and react to the same medications. Over-the-counter dandruff shampoos are the main way to treat eyebrow dandruff.
So when you decide to purchase one, look for a shampoo that has these active ingredients 4 :
- Selenium sulfide
- Pyrithione zinc
- Ketoconazole 1%
- Coal tar
- Tea tree oil
- Salicylic acid
Here are some suggestions:
If over-the-counter remedies don’t work, you’ll likely require prescription medications. Prescription-strength shampoos, such as antifungal, selenium sulfide, and steroid shampoos, shouldn’t be used for an extended period of time due to their potential adverse effects.
Sometimes rotating different treatments can give you the best results, so look into different eyebrow dandruff home remedies as well.
Eyebrow Dandruff Home Remedies
Some home remedies can help alleviate symptoms of dry flaky eyebrows due to their moisturizing and soothing properties. However, it’s important to test them out first as skin reactions are possible and you don’t want to make matters worse.
Here’s what ingredients to look for:
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a very popular ingredient in many skincare products as it contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat various skin conditions from acne to eczema – which means it can alleviate dry flaky skin and keep excess oil production under control simultaneously.
The potency of this ingredient is very strong so make sure you dilute the oil in a carrier such as almond oil, avocado oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil.
Apart from having anti-inflammatory properties, neem oil is antifungal which means it can effectively get rid of dandruff-causing fungi. So not will it help you get rid of dandruff, but it may prevent it from coming back as well.
This is a great moisturizer with calming effects that can help with itching and speed up the healing process. Almond oil can also lessen oil buildup and assist in restoring regular levels of oil secretion. This way it prevents sebum overproduction from causing dandruff in the future.
Aloe Vera Gel
This ingredient is known for its healing properties so it helps soothe itching and inflammation. But it also has moisture-retaining properties that hydrate dry skin and help with flakiness. So aloe vera’s antimicrobial properties can also help reduce dandruff symptoms.
Coconut oil can be used to reduce some dandruff symptoms, namely dryness. The hydrating properties of coconut oil can help nourish the skin and consequently reduce itchiness.
Apple Cider Vinegar
The gently acidic qualities can assist in reducing scaling by maintaining the normal pH level of your skin. They can also eliminate bacteria, lowering the risk of infection.
When applying it to the skin, make sure you’ve diluted the ACV first.
How Do I Stop the Dandruff on My Eyebrows?
If not caused by something temporary like an irritating product or harsh treatment, eyebrow dandruff might even be a life-long recurring condition.
Although annoying to deal with, at least it’s easy to treat. There are plenty of treatments available to get the condition under control.
Here are a few tips to help you manage dry flaky eyebrows:
- Wash your skin with a gentle cleanser as they’re less likely to irritate your skin.
- Moisturize often, especially if you have dry skin.
- Be careful which products you use as some may contain harsh ingredients that can cause irritation and redness.
- Avoid washing your face with hot water as it can dry out your skin even more.
The most important thing though is finding what the underlying cause is and treating that condition. And, although not ideal, you can always hide a flare-up with a light layer of non-comedogenic makeup until the treatment starts working.
How to Prevent Eyebrow Dandruff?
Once you’ve discovered what is the cause, you can find a way to avoid it. Some of the triggers might be cold weather and dry environments, irritating products (even an allergic reaction to some), or an oil buildup (the yeast feeds on oil).
If you notice that you are prone to eyebrow dandruff, here’s some advice that may be helpful for preventing it:
- Wash your eyebrows regularly.
- Exfoliate dry skin gently. Just make sure not to overdo it as that can further damage the skin barrier and worsen the situation.
- Keep the skin under your eyebrows moisturized.
- Don’t pick on the area if it starts getting flaky. It can lead to an infection.
Track all the potential irritants and avoid using them. Harsh chemicals, fragrances, and parabens are common skin irritants.
- If you’re suffering from eczema or psoriasis, avoid triggering a flare-up. Consult your doctor about how to can manage the issue.
Complications Caused by Eyebrow Dandruff
When it comes to eyebrow dandruff, there could be some complications if the problem is ignored.
Eyebrow dandruff may be accompanied by infections, rashes, irritation, or inflammation. So you shouldn’t wait for things to progress as this condition is easily manageable if the right steps are taken before things get serious.
When To Consult A Doctor About Eyebrow Dandruff?
If any of the following occurs, you need to consult a doctor right away:
- If the eyebrow dandruff persists, even after the treatment with the use of anti-dandruff products.
- The itch has worsened or is now intolerable.
- The area appears red and swollen.
- You have rashes all over your body or are feverish.
Can Dandruff Cause Hair Loss in Eyebrows?
Many people think that dandruff might cause hair loss. But what can actually cause hair loss is the side effects of dandruff like scratching and scarring.
Constant scratching that comes along with dandruff can lead to your hair follicles becoming damaged. Or, if there’s a particularly bad reaction, it may even lead to scarring.
Brow hair loss may happen as a result of an underlying issue like eczema, which is also one of eyebrow dandruff causes.
Can Eyebrow Dandruff Cause Acne?
Dandruff is a sign that the skin is dehydrated, which then signals the sebaceous gland beneath your skin to start producing more oil to make up for the lack of moisture.
Because your skin starts producing more sebum than necessary, the skin’s pores become clogged by it (as well as dead skin cells from the skin flaking), which causes acne breakouts.
Furthermore, acne-causing bacteria transfer by touch so you can spread it all over your face as the dandruff flakes land on your face in places like your nose, cheeks, chin, and so on.
And unlike other types of acne, dandruff-related acne will continue returning until the issue of dandruff is resolved.
Image source: Freepik
When looking at eyebrow dandruff through the lens of beauty procedures, there are a few causes that can result in such a problem.
It can either be caused by something temporary – like a beauty treatment that uses harsh chemicals, as a reaction to them, or from products that dry out the skin.
But eyebrow dandruff can also develop due to different skin conditions. Some of these, like contact dermatitis for example, may be caused by the treatment itself.
Others, like eczema or psoriasis, are chronic and have nothing to do with a beauty treatment, other than being triggered by it if it’s done on skin that isn’t suitable to the requirements.
All in all, eyebrow dandruff can be caused by many things and it can be recurring so it’s crucial you figure out the cause and treat it in a timely manner.
Cover image source: Freepik
- Thayikkannu, Ambujavalli Balakrishnan et al. “Malassezia-Can it be Ignored?.” Indian journal of dermatology vol. 60,4 (2015): 332-9. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.160475
- Berk, Thomas, and Noah Scheinfeld. “Seborrheic dermatitis.” P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management vol. 35,6 (2010): 348-52.
- Trüeb, Ralph M et al. “Scalp Condition Impacts Hair Growth and Retention via Oxidative Stress.” International journal of trichology vol. 10,6 (2018): 262-270. doi:10.4103/ijt.ijt_57_18
- Ranganathan, S., and T. Mukhopadhyay. “Dandruff: the most commercially exploited skin disease.” Indian journal of dermatology 55.2 (2010): 130.