Is It Actually Safe To Glue Down Your Eyebrows? Here's What We Know

Eyebrow maintenance trends and techniques change quickly enough to make anyone's head spin trying to keep up. One minute, it seems that pencil-thin, minimalist '90s brows a la Kate Moss are the norm. The next minute, women everywhere are making a bold brow statement via microblading. One brow practice that has stood the test of time, but is reserved for more theatrical situations involves glue to get the job done. 

Gluing down eyebrows is often done in scenarios where someone wants to look completely different, but only temporarily. For example, drag queens, stage actors, and people who are simply going all in on their Halloween costumes might choose to glue their eyebrows down. This practice is known in professional circles as "brow blocking" and completely covers the brows. This lets the makeup artist create an entirely new shape and style to suit the look in question. 

While the results certainly can be astonishing, one has to wonder if applying glue to the skin (often on a repeated basis) is actually a healthy, safe practice. After all, many people have delicate, sensitive skin and glue isn't exactly the gentlest substance in the world.

Gluing eyebrows is only safe under these circumstances

There are about a zillion types of glue available on store shelves. While you certainly don't want to glue down brows with wood glue or cyanoacrylate glue (which you know better as "Super Glue"), there actually are eyebrow-safe options that can be bought pretty much anywhere. According to L'Oréal Paris, a washable glue stick — like those that every Kindergartner shows up with on the first day of school — will get the job done nicely. 

Ideally, they say to select a purple glue stick because it will dry clear. Although there are many other brands, Elmer's School Glue Sticks in Disappearing Purple are a mainstream favorite and are billed as non-toxic, acid-free, and washable. This means they're unlikely to cause problems unless you have a random allergy or sensitivity. There are also plenty of cosmetic-grade options on the market if you want to be a little bougie. As with anything applied to skin, discontinue use immediately if a rash, hives, or any other signs of contact dermatitis pop up, the Cleveland Clinic cautions. 

L'Oréal Paris suggests people avoid using liquid glue — even the Elmer's variety. This is more of a functionality recommendation, however, as the glue stick will actually glide on and hold the brows in place better than the liquid alternative.

How to maximize eyebrow gluing success

For eyebrow glue to effectively do its job, there needs to be a bit of work done on the front end. Probably the most important step in the entire process is to thoroughly wash the brows before starting, per L'Oréal Paris. This will remove any old makeup that might make the gluing process more difficult. 

Once the eyebrows are nice and clean, QC Makeup Academy says to use a spoolie (eyebrow brush) to comb the eyebrow hairs until they stand up. Next, going against the eyebrow growth pattern, start swiping the glue on. QC Makeup Academy says to do this liberally enough so that the purple color is evident. However, take care to limit the glue to the eyebrow area only as best you can. Then, the source says to comb the brows up and against the hair grain with the spoolie. Add a second glue layer, but this time, do it in the direction that the hair grows. 

Once the glue is dry makeup can be added to properly cover and create a new look. As this is a skill best perfected over time, follow along on a tutorial like How to Cover Your Eyebrows Using a Gluestick! until you become the eyebrow-blocking pro you are destined to be.