Are Soap Brows Damaging To Your Skin?

Eyebrows are one of the most outstanding features on your face. Not only do eyebrows help bring out the eyes, but they also frame your features and give your face character. When your eyebrow is smudged or drawn out of line, your whole look falls apart. New York Institute of Beauty puts it this way: "Beautifully-groomed eyebrows are a lesser known anti-aging secret. As one of the first things people notice when they look at you, no amount of makeup can atone for bad brows."

To prevent your brows from getting bushy and unkempt, regular maintenance is necessary. Shaving, threading, waxing, and tweezing are some common techniques that everyone can try at home to reshape their brows. Soap brows are also an affordable, easy-to-follow method for brow tending that has been garnering lots of traction lately. Involving a bar of soap and a spoolie, this method is able to give you fuller and more feathered brows, or so fans of this technique say. On TikTok, videos for "Soap brow" have grossed over 475.7 million views at the time of writing. However, since this technique involves using soap as a leave-in product to set brows in place, it raises the specter of breakouts around the brow line. Here are what experts have to say about this trend.

The history of soap brows

Before soap brows became a trend on social media, they had been the best-kept secret of makeup stylists and beauty gurus for years. Celebrity brow stylist Melanie Marris tells Town & Country Magazine: "Instead of using common eyebrow products, stylists began waxing up a spoolie with a bar of soap to shape and set brows in place. In fact, soap is perfect for achieving full, fluffy, brushed-up brows that a brow gel alone can't quite pull off." Once you've coated the bristles with damp soap, use the spoolie to press the product into your brows and brush away and upwards. For a finishing touch, run the spoolie across the outer side of the brow to tilt your hairs downward and refine your brow line.

The type of soap used in the process also determines the hold of the brows. For a soap that helps keep the brow hairs in place for long wear, go for one that contains glycerin, dermatologist Dr. Geeta Yadav tells Ipsy. Derived from animal or plant fats, glycerin acts as a natural humectant — a water-absorbing substance used to retain moisture in the skin and boost skin hydration. "After it's activated with a liquid like water, the soap coats your individual hairs and dries. The glycerin seals in moisture to create that glossy and fluffy look, while the sugar locks it in place," she explains. Plus, your soap should be transparent so that it doesn't leave any white residue in between the brow hairs.

Soap brows might not be good for the skin

Although brow soaps have won the seal of approval from makeup experts, dermatologists are concerned about the side effects of this insider trick on the skin. The reason being is that soaps can be drying while containing a host of compounds — like sodium lauryl sulfate — that irritate the skin when it isn't rinsed away with water, says dermatologist Sandra Lee (via Well+Good). Besides, repetitively letting soap sit on the skin for a long period of time increases the risk of irritant contact dermatitis (ICD), a condition that gives your skin a bad rash and blisters. Although glycerin is gentle and safe for all skin types, its viscosity can invite pollutants to your skin if you leave it on your skin for hours.

Another caveat to keep in mind is that the soap might melt from sweating and cascade into your eyes. When it does, it can sting your eyes or cause conjunctivitis — an inflammation of the lining of your eyes that causes the whites of your eyes to turn red, dermatologist Dr. Alok Vij tells Cleveland Clinic. "And in rare cases, you could have a more severe reaction, although it's unlikely to cause scarring or vision changes in your eyes," he says. Soap brows might give you well-groomed eyebrows rapidly and make a great addition to your emergency makeup kit, but it's safer to stick to products created exclusively for brows in the long run.