Dear Daniela: What Can I Do If My Eyebrows Have Been Tinted Too Dark?

photographed by Ana Larruy.
Dear Daniela,
I went for a standard brow shape and tint last week, and it turned into a nightmare. I asked for a light brown tint as I’m super blonde, but I ended up with REALLY dark brows and I’m mortified! I was too shocked to say anything so just scuttled home but now I’m miserable. How long am I stuck with them for? How can I lighten them a bit? I’ve tried bicarbonate of soda and shampoo (I read online that might work) but it just made the skin sore and flaky.
Jessy, 25
I want firstly to extend an apology to you on behalf of the entire beauty community. People always talk about a bad haircut being the most distressing salon experience, but I think this is up there, too. It’s easy for me to say, "You should have said something!" but in all honesty, I know the utter paralysis that misplaced manners bring about. I once allowed myself to be introduced to about eight people in turn by the wrong name because I felt it had gone too far to correct anybody, so yeah, I get it.
I called Suman Jalaf, who’s done my brows for the last two years, for some advice. She was sympathetic but said that if you can, it would be good to go back and speak to them. "You’re paying for the treatment after all, so it should be exactly how you want it," she advised. "The salon or technician should be more than willing to try and adjust what they have done so that you are happy with the final result. Most brow technicians will have a professional tint removal in their salons, and this will take away any immediate harshness, although it won’t completely remove it." Basically, if you go back, they might be able to take out the excess – and pull up whoever gave you the Sharpie effect.
As for next time, make sure you feel heard before you start. "When I have a client come in for tinting, I will always discuss with them their desired colour," continued Suman. "From years of experience, I can tell by looking at their hairs how the dye will take, which allows me to keep the pigment on for the exact right amount of time. Less is more, so if clients are at all wary, I will pop dye on for a short amount of time, remove and check, and if they want a bit darker, we will go again." This is the kind of consultation you should be having – if in doubt, maybe take some photos. We all do it when we get our hair coloured, so why not for having your brows coloured? 'Light brown' is a spectrum, after all.
If you’d rather deal with it at home, help is at hand. "First of all, don’t worry," said Suman. "Tinting is not as permanent or as scary as it first looks! A normal cleanser and a cotton pad actually works really well on removing any leftover dye as well as removing some excess dye from the eyebrow hairs. Really soak a cotton pad with cleanser and gently run it through your eyebrows. Repeat this morning and evening and the tint will fade at a faster rate. There are professional-strength products, but I wouldn’t recommend applying anything too harsh to the skin at home, especially around the eyes. Stick with cleansers, or even a bar of soap that foams, this will kickstart the natural fading!"
Not fast enough? Suman has a clever concealing tip: "You can pop some mineral makeup over your brows to take down the colour – either liquid or powder," she said. "You can also comb through a brow mascara in a lighter shade. This will break up the darkness of the dye." Maybe try something like bareMinerals Foundation or some pressed powder, then go over with some Glossier Boy Brow.
My best guess is that your technician left the tint on for too long. Even if she chose the right shade, she clearly failed to anticipate how quickly your brows would pick up the colour. If you do get your brows done again in future, make sure you tell them, "My brows take pigment very well and very fast", and get them to apply in stages, with you checking after every 30 seconds to a minute until you’re happy.
Remember – it’s only a few weeks!
Good luck,
Got a question for our resident beauty columnist Daniela Morosini? No problem, qualm or dilemma is too big, small or niche. Email, including your name and age for a chance to have your question answered. All letters to ‘Dear Daniela’ become the property of Refinery29 and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.

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