VirginiaLynne is a 60s-something mom of 5 adults who seeks ways to stay healthy and look her best. She loves sharing her creative tips!
How to Color Grey Eyebrows
At 55, I was lucky my hair was not too grey. However, my eyebrows were a different matter—they were about 50% grey and made me feel old. Since my early 50s, I've been searching the cosmetic counter and the internet for the best way to cover up grey eyebrows. Over the past ten years, I've tried all of the following techniques.
My 5 Methods to Cover Grey Eyebrows
- Pluck your eyebrows: Plucking out the grey can work if you have plenty of eyebrows to lose. Try that when you first start seeing grey hairs. Keep it up until you don't have enough left after plucking.
- Use an eyebrow pencil or eye shadow: You can cover the grey with a pencil or shadow. Also, you can pluck all the hairs out and draw in eyebrows to look as dramatic as you want (this is less popular now than it was in the 1950s, but why not start a trend?)
- Use mascara: Several cosmetic products can cover up the grey (see below for my review of the best types). I keep more than one on hand, depending on how dramatic I want my eyebrows to be that day.
- Use root touch-up products: For a long time, my favorite technique was to use a temporary root touch-up product. It works great on eyebrows and covers for the full day unless you go swimming. I also like the attached brush because it helps groom my eyebrows better.
- Use permanent dye: As I got close to 60, I settled on this technique as my primary way of keeping my eyebrows dark. The dye lasts about 3-4 weeks.
1. Pluck Out the Grey
When I first saw grey hairs, I just plucked them out. The problem? I often plucked out dark ones too. That was frustrating and became impractical as I got older, and there simply weren't many dark hairs left! However, if you just have a few white ones, this is easy. Here are my tips:
- Use good tweezers: This technique worked better when I found very pointed tweezers that helped me grab just the hair I wanted to pluck.
- Pick out the worst offenders: Even though I am no longer plucking out most of the grey hairs, I find that it helps if I pluck out the white hairs that are very prominent and stand out. Or, maybe that just makes me feel better!
2. Eye Brow Pencil
When I had too many white hairs to pluck, my mother suggested using a soft eye shadow pencil.
- Eye shadow vs. eyebrow pencil: Of course, there are products called "eyebrow pencils," which you can also try. However, I find many of these tend to be aimed at coloring the skin behind the hairs. Using eye shadow pencil colors the hairs by coating them with an oily powder. It works a lot better than I expected.
- Eyeliner: For a really dramatic look, you can try a liquid eyeliner. That doesn't fit my style, but that might be a good technique, especially for a night out.
- Quick and easy: I have tried different brands but found that the NYX micro brow pencil works the very best. In fact, I found it sort of miraculous how it can make my white hairs disappear when you brush it across. Even though my eyebrow hairs are black, I used a medium brown, and it worked fine.
When I began getting even more white hairs after I turned 50, I was starting to get desperate. So I turned to another easy solution using something I already had in my make-up box—mascara.
This is a super easy fix since you probably already have mascara you can use. Also, it is easy to wash it off and try again if you don't like how it looks. To do it, just brush the mascara across the eyebrow before or after doing your lashes. If you use waterproof mascara, it does last when you are swimming, unlike the temporary dye.
The only problem is a tendency to smudge a bit on the skin around the eyebrow, especially if the mascara is new. Also, it does tend to get a bit clumpy if you have thick eyebrow hairs like I do. Even so, I used this method for about a year while hunting for something else. Moreover, I still use this often as a quick fix as I'm heading out the door or in-between dying my brows.
4. Root Touch-Up Products
I love this No Gray Quick Fix root touch-up product! After about five years of using other techniques, I finally found a temporary root color that comes in a mascara-like container. It is not labeled for eyebrows, but it works great. It also works great to touch up in between permanent dye jobs. Here are the advantages:
- Easy to use: This color can be brushed on just like mascara and lasts the whole day if you don't get it wet. If you wash your face or go swimming, it is gone, but if you don't get it wet, you'll have brows all day.
- Looks natural: The best part about this product is that it is much thinner than mascara, so your eyebrows look more natural. If I'm careful not to touch them when I wash my face, it will last overnight.
- Good for touch-ups: After I started using a permanent product, I still found that I need this to touch up and add a little fullness of color.
- A brush helps to shape: I also use the brush to just go over my brows and make them look good before heading out for my day.
Unfortunately, it isn't easy to find this product. I first found it at Walmart, but when I couldn't get it there anymore, I found it on Amazon. I've included the link so you can see what it looks like. Many reviews say it doesn't work well to cover roots, and I actually can't imagine using it for that since it tends to make the hairs thicker. However, it does work great on eyebrows. It lasts as long as any mascara, so it is a pretty good deal for about $6.00.
Note: It isn't labeled for facial use. I've found out that companies doing facial dye have trouble marketing it to consumers without having liability problems. (I suppose some people might slip and poke their eyes, and if that's you, then you shouldn't be trying to do this yourself anyway.)
6. Permanent Dye
After about a year of using root touch-ups, I finally decided to take the plunge and move to permanent dye after hearing from one of my students that this worked for her. While I still use the other techniques in between treatments, I now use permanent dye about once a month. I've been using permanent dye for over 10 years, and each kit lasts several years. In fact, I just bought this Refectocil Color Kit for the 3rd time. That's cheaper than mascara!
How Long Does It Take?
It actually takes only 5–10 minutes, and if you don't think it is dark enough or you missed some parts, you can do it again. Having just used my new kit, I'm realizing that fresh dye does last longer, so maybe I need to replace it more often than every 3 years, but I was still getting good coverage using the very last bit of dye! As I've gotten greyer, I've actually started leaving it on longer, up to an hour or so, because I like the fact that it dyes the skin slightly and makes my eyebrows look fuller. However, I have to say that the sight of me with eyebrow dye on is a bit frightening to my family!
How to Use Permanent Dye on Your Eyebrows
There are several types of permanent dyes, so you need to follow the directions of the one you buy, but most of them have you mix a thick dye solution with an activator before putting it on your brows. Here are the steps of the one I've been using:
- Wash your eyebrows with soap and water and dry them carefully.
- Mix up the dye and the oxidant in a bowl. I just do about a pea-sized ball of the dye and about the same amount of oxidant, which seems to work great.
- Use the brush included in the kit or a Q-tip to put the dye on each hair. I brush lightly back and forth to get both sides. Be careful not to touch your skin, though. I just brush above the root line. The instructions say to cover around the brow with Vaseline, and that might help, but I'm too lazy to do that and generally don't have a problem.
- Wait about five minutes, and then wash your brows with soap and water. That's it!
- Sometimes I still see some gray after finishing, and then I brush those again with more dye.
- If you get some dye on your skin, you can use stain remover (you have to buy this separately). Use a Q-tip soaked in the stain remover. I had stain remover leftover from my previous dye, and I use that. However, I should say that it smells suspiciously like diluted Clorox. Of course, you don't want to get Clorox in your eye, so be sure you don't soak the stain remover until it is dripping off; just a little bit works. It was actually a lot easier to do stain removal than I imagined, and I think that you probably can wash it off with soap and a little scrubbing too.
- Which color to choose? My eyebrow hairs are (were!) black, but I got the brown dye, and it looks fine. I decided brown might help me avoid making my eyebrows look too dark, and it does.
- Final Tip: I've started using the leftover dye on the brush to also color those pesky grey sideburns I have or other stray grey hairs at the back of my neck.
Have a Professional Dye Your Eyebrows
If you have your hair colored at a salon, they may do your eyebrows at the same time. Otherwise, you can easily do this yourself at home. Better yet, it is very cheap.
I've never had my brows done professionally, but I understand from my research that they do something pretty similar to what you can do at home. If you get your hair colored regularly, you might as well have them do your brows, too. However, I can't imagine going in for a treatment I can do at home in 5–10 minutes.
Gets rid of grey.
Sometimes it will remove non-grey hairs. Also, doesn't work well if you have too much grey, and can make eyebrows "spotty."
You already have this. Also, waterproof mascara lasts when swimming.
Tends to clump and be thick, can also smudge on skin.
Creates a dramatic look. You can change your eyebrow shape this way.
Pencils can be a bit sharp and irritating to skin, tends to color the skin and not the eyebrow hair.
Eye shadow pencil
It's easy to use and quick.
Can rub off, not as good if there is a lot of grey.
Temporary "root" cover up
It's easy, quick and simple. Also, this lasts all day and looks natural.
Have to re-apply daily or if it gets washed off. Not waterproof.
Permanent eyebrow and lash dye
This lasts the longest and looks the most natural.
Doesn't last as long as hair color. Sometimes stains skin. Trickier to apply. May cost the most.
Pros and Cons to Permanent Dye
- Dying will last the longest, and you don't have to worry about water or whether you put your make-up on before you head out the door.
- If you dye your eyebrows and your hair, it doesn't cost anything more since you can probably use the same dye. I used my first dye kit for about 18 months, and my Reflectol kit has lasted even longer. The tutorial video below shows you how to do it. She uses "Just for Men," which basically works the same as the Reflectol but doesn't last quite as long in my experience. My kit came with an eyebrow brush that works great.
- The biggest disadvantage I've heard about is that you do tend to dye the skin, too—this is what kept me from trying this for so long. I could just picture two big black patches over my eyes! However, when I actually tried it, I found that it wasn't at all hard to keep the dye on the hairs. Also, if I did get the dye on my skin, it was easy to get off.
- The eyebrow dye doesn't last as long as a hair dye, probably because the eyebrow hairs are so short and any white "root" growing in shows up pretty easily. That means that if you have it done along with your hair, you may have to do some touching up in-between treatments using some of the other techniques. Or you could just touch up with a home dye kit. In fact, once you try it at home, I suspect you won't worry about having it done professionally.
Update on Turning 60
I'm getting a bit older, and my eyebrows are getting greyer. Still, I've been using the same Refectocil Permanent Dye kit now for almost three years, and I still have at least enough for another six months. One thing I did start doing differently over the past year is to leave the dye on a lot longer—about an hour or so. This actually does "dye" the skin behind my eyebrow hairs a bit which acts like a brow pencil to fill them in. Better yet, this seems to make it last a lot longer. However, while I do a treatment, it does make me look pretty scary to my family, and I once forgot to wash it off before leaving the house!
You might notice in the photo below that I've also been creative in finding ways to cover the grey in my long hair.
What Tips Can You Share?
Do you have another tip? Unfortunately, I'm probably not going to have my eyebrows turn back to black, so I'd love to hear if you have any other ideas. Leave a comment to share!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can eyebrows be dyed with men's mustache products?
Answer: I believe the men's mustache products probably also work for eyebrows. The reason I've chosen to use the product I've listed is that you don't have to mix any more than you need. My tube and bottle of active solution have lasted over 2 years.
Question: Do you think using "A Touch of Grey" will make eyebrows fall out?
Answer: I have had excellent success with Refectocil dye and have never tried "A Touch of Grey" so I can't say for sure, but I don't think eyebrows falling out would be a big problem unless you were sensitive to the dye. However, if you are concerned, I would have to say that I've had no problems with the Refectocil dye and the kit I have now is only 1/3 used and I've had it for 3 years, so in the end, it is pretty cheap.
Question: What eye shadow pencil are you using? I don’t like the skinny eyebrow pencil, but need to cover over the gray hairs and fill in the brow area also.
Answer: I've used a variety of eye shadow pencils. The key is to look for one that is soft and big, not hard and skinny. Most of the major brands in my grocery store carry these in the eye shadow section. Then you need to find one that matches your eyebrows. Although my brows are black, I find a dark brown works well.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 09, 2019:
Hi Debbie--thanks for adding your ideas! I think that using a different color on the grey is a great idea to make a more natural look.
Debbie Burke on October 09, 2019:
I had been getting my hair dyed at a salon for years. $$$ when I lost my job, I decided to do it myself. I have dark brown hair and my gray is primarily around my face. I chose a light auburn so the grays come out as highlights. Then I tried putting highlights all over my head by coating certain strands with conditioner before putting on the dye. The red doesn’t absorb completely, leaving the strands lighter. So I end up with a subtle red tint over the brown, lighter auburn highlights and bright highlights around my face where the gray is. Not describing well, but I’m always asked what salon I use.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on November 30, 2018:
That is interesting Devorah. However, my mother experienced a lot of loss of her eyebrow hairs later in life. So much so that when I tried to dye them, it looked like she had just a couple of blobs over her eyes rather than a line. So I think I'd be careful about anything which would stop hairs from growing.
Devorah Marks on November 29, 2018:
I have a"sprinkle" of grey hairs on my eyebrows have foundelectrolysis treatment to be effective in removing these Also the treatment gradually weakens the treated hair growth until it ceases growing Obviously this treatment would not be suitable for totally/almost all grey eyebrows I go every 5/6 weeks fort treatment Treatment involves applying electric urrent through a needle to individual hair root I am world's worst coward when it comes to pain- * I have never found this treatment to e off putting Also the strength of the current can be regulated "up" or "down" to met individual needs All practitioners have to be fully trained/qualified by Institute of Electrolysis
Ellen on November 16, 2017:
I understand believing that your eyebrows were black, but given your coloring, they never were really black. A lot of people with hair that looks black is actually a very, very dark brown, and you could only tell the difference if they were to put on black dye, and then you would see how artificial it looked. The only people who actually have black hair and eye brows seem to be some -- but not all, by any means -- Latinos, some Native Americans, Inuit, and Asians. Otherwise, I would say you just never had a truly black hair on your head. Or anywhere else. Just a color that in makeup is called "brownish black".
CeCe on September 04, 2017:
I use men's beard and mustache dye. It works perfectly but only lasts two weeks or so. Just use a little and put it on with a tooth pick.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 28, 2017:
Hi Kathybev! What a great idea to use sharpies. They come in a lot of colors and I bet they would last a while. Cheap too! I'm going to give that a try and add it to my list of ideas!
kathybev on August 28, 2017:
Black Sharpies have been working wonders for years. It's fun to color in those silver eyebrow hairs with a Sharpie and it lasts a few days. It's very quick and easy to do.
I starting using Sharpies when my hair started turning gray to just color those stray strands. After I began dying my hair, I used them to touch up between colorings. Finally, when I decided to grow out my gray hair, I used black, brown and silver Sharpies to blend my darkly dyed hair until it was fully gray. Silver Sharpies color over dark hair really well.
Now that I am seeing little silver hairs pop up in my brows, a quick swipe with a black Sharpie is all I need.
Jillian on August 18, 2017:
Thank you for tips
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on June 01, 2017:
Hi Linda! Thanks for the tip. That could be a good idea for other people with light eyebrows.
Linda on June 01, 2017:
I found this by mistake. I have dyed blond hair and blondish brown eyebrows. I use my liquid concealer make up lightly across my brow lashes for a quick fix.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on April 25, 2017:
Hi, Emily! I agree that waterproof mascara is the best once-a-day solution for me too. I tend to get lazy and not dye as often as I should and so I use the mascara to touch-up. One other nice part about the mascara is that it lets me brush my brows in the right direction and tends to keep them that way. However, my daughter gave me a "brow mascara" recently and I do like the fact that the brush is smaller and really does work better on my eyebrows. I need to add that brand to my review. I don't know of a gun metal mascara but I bet there is one out there because of the trend in new hair colors.
Emily on April 24, 2017:
My left eyebrow is turning gray at a rapid pace and my right has very little. My brows are black and I use a waterproof mascara in brown/black. I have tried the brow mascara but find they don't last all day like and eyelash mascara. I have been looking for a gun metal colour for mascara as my hair is naturally gray now and I wear that shade for eyeliner. It is a lighter shade then black. I took the plunge a few years ago and let my hair grow out and love it. I wished I had of done this years ago, but I am not liking the gray eyebrows.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on March 31, 2017:
Hi Vicki--I'd suggest that you might want to try using a light colored mascara. That will thicken them and also should keep them more in place. Good luck!
Vicki Spatz on March 31, 2017:
I have grey, very thin unruly (especially on the left brow). I have been using grandelashmd brow (light) I'm very pale. However I can't get the unruly ones to stay down. I want to go get them professionally done but I'm afraid of them looking like catipillers (spelling?)! I am 58 but even if I were younger I hate that weird look. What should I do?
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on March 26, 2017:
I love this idea! I may give it a try.
another guy on March 23, 2017:
As a guy that has a full head of dark brown hair, but mostly grey eyebrows that make me look 10 years older, I took to using a simple magic marker to give me back my bold eyebrows! It works pretty well! A friend asked if I got a haircut, and I said no. He wanted to know why I looked younger, and I said: It's the eyebrows. Then he noticed! He has somewhat lighter hair so he started doing the same with a dark brown marker and he definitely looks at least 5 years younger. It's worth a try! Usually lasts a day or so. I just added it to my shower routine, bringing the marker and a decent pair of reading glasses in to the bathroom.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on May 18, 2016:
Thanks ms! The more ideas the better! The dye that I have linked in this hub is actually working even better than the dye I originally got. I generally actually leave it on (just a small brush on) until I take a shower. It lasts at least 3-4 weeks.
ms on May 18, 2016:
I have great eyebrows ((I think!) but prematurely grey. I use a waterproof eye brow (actually I'm using a lip pencil) found one that's a really natural auburn. Instead of spending money on the ones with gel, I fill a tiny bottle with hairspray, spritz just a little on my finger and dab on brows. Perfection and lasts and lasts. Dying them when I dye my hair goes away in a couple of days. Just FYI!
A guy on March 02, 2016:
Yah some guys don't like grey hair either. Roux Fancy Ful colour styling mousse . In a blue 6 oz. aerosol can. Washes out, but quick. Also covers mysterious grey patches that show up in your hair.
Besarien from South Florida on November 16, 2014:
I had never heard or thought of using nail polish on eye brow. I don't have grey yet but will keep it in mind for when it does show up. Great hub!
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 31, 2014:
Mary--I had not thought about men. This would have helped my dad since he had nice black hair but found his facial hair got grey early. Great tip!
Mary tirpack on October 31, 2014:
Use just for men for beards and mustach, it works better on the stubborn grey eyebrows
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on April 09, 2014:
Hi Jo--I actually had written the letters wrong (they had worn off the label). When I looked it up on Amazon, I realized the brand is NYX. I've put a link to the shade I use, but you can find other colors on Amazon too.
Jo on April 09, 2014:
Hi, thanks for the help with grey eyebrows! I can't find the NYT eyeshadow pencil anywhere. I also tried NYC and NYX. Can you help?
Amie Butchko from Warwick, NY on February 21, 2014:
GREAT hub with surprising info and a wonderful video. I will certainly benefit from your expertise!
Lori Colbo from United States on October 11, 2013:
Great topic Virginia. Your topics are versatile. I decided a three years ago to stop coloring my hair. I always hate the process. It's messy and time consuming whether you do it at home or in the parlor. I found myself going longer and longer between colorings simply because I hated doing it. As a 50 something my hair grew grayer. I found all of a sudden people saying, "Oh you highlighted your hair. It's so beautiful." Or "Oh, I love the shade of gray you're using." That clinched it. I am now a proud, gray haired woman. And with four boys and 13 grands, I earned every one of them.
The eyebrows are another matter altogether. They are about 75 to 80 % gray and with being a fair skinned woman, you can't see them except for the scanty dark ones. I have always hated plucking. It's too time consuming and frustrating because like you, I end up plucking out the colored ones. I am just not good at doing it and it takes me forever. Now there are just too many to pluck. My eyesight is too poor to see them anyway and if you put glasses on, well, just adds to the challenge. So I like your ideas.
Gabby Stevens on August 28, 2013:
Very interesting and helpful. I feel like I am always messing with my eyebrows and they look a different color everyday so this should for help me out!
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 28, 2013:
Isabel--thanks for telling your story. I have a couple of friends with that skin condition. I did not know that it can also affect hair. I am glad to hear that the salon dye works well. I may have to try that, especially in the summer. I found that when it was very hot and I was outside or in the pool a lot it was hard to keep up with my eyebrow color!
Isabel Hernandez on August 28, 2013:
Although I am only 18, I have a skin condition that takes away the pigment of my skin called vitiligo. In addition to the pigment, it makes my eyebrows, and a few eye lashes, white. Of course, being a teenager who is supposed to be in her prime, this condition makes putting on makeup a little more tedious than it used to be. Thankfully I have dark enough hair that I simply use black eye shadow and an eyebrow brush to cover it up. However, it usually leaves my skin colored and my left eyebrow darker than my right. I found the easiest solution for me is to go to the salon and get my eyebrow dyed. It takes a while but it lasts for a long time and when I notice it wearing off, I simply apply eye shadow. The problem stated above about it staining your skin is not really a problem, at least not for me. The lady doing my eyebrows usually has something to take it off the skin. Although she cannot take off most of it, the stained skin usually wears off in a day or two. Also, if you have a steady enough hand, you can simply use regular mascara and gently swipe your eyebrow!