Why is my eyebrow turning white?
April 18, 2010 8:31 AM   Subscribe

My left eyebrow has gone from brown to nearly half white in just under 5 months. Why?

I am a 33 year-old male in relatively good health. I have a full head of brown hair. I noticed a couple of white hairs in my left eyebrow almost 5 months ago and thought nothing of it. In the weeks following (and up until present) I was under an immense amount of stress (birth of first child, promotion at work with much greater responsibility, health concerns, etc.) Now almost half of the eyebrow is as white as the driven snow.
Can I attribute this premature whitening solely to life stress? Also, why is it only affecting one eyebrow and not the hair on my head? And is there a safe and effective way to colour it? It's really starting to bother me and affect my self-confidence.
posted by Tenacious.Me.Tokyo to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you using benzoyl or hydrogen peroxide with any regularity on your face?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2010

Some mineral deficiencies can cause loss of pigmentation of hair. Like copper deficiency, which can be caused by taking too much zinc, vitamin c and iron. Are you taking any supplements?
posted by stavrogin at 8:39 AM on April 18, 2010

Any number of factors that can lead to that symptom, but you have a few options when it comes to disguising it:

1) Preferably, make an appointment at a salon for eyebrow tinting. This is not a job for an amateur, as the chemicals used are not safe for eyes. This will also give you the best chance at an undetectable color match.

2) a) Buy a boxed drug store hair dye of the appropriate shade. b) Mix a very small amount of the included dye and developer -- about a tablespoon total -- and apply it VERY, VERY SPARINGLY with a clean mascara brush to the white hair. Do not use enough of the mixture that dripping will be a concern. c) Follow included instructions for recommended developing time, though you may want to add an additional 5 minutes for darker browns, as white hair is usually dye resistant. d) Once you are ready to remove the dye, wipe off as much as you can with dry tissues. e) Next, remove any remaining dye by wiping in an upward motion, with a very lightly damp wash cloth (to avoid getting any into the eyes.) f) Wash your entire face thoroughly.
posted by biggity at 9:10 AM on April 18, 2010

Do you sit beside the same window every day? Maybe it's sun-bleached.
posted by rokusan at 9:10 AM on April 18, 2010

I have a friend who suffered a minor blow to the head and went white in that spot only -- is that a possibility?

As for coloring, most salons in the US do offer brow tinting. I don't know if that would be as common in Japan (where your profile indicates you are) but this salon in Tokyo, at least, offers it for 3700 yen. There are also at-home kits available. I hope you're able to find something that works for you!
posted by kate blank at 9:11 AM on April 18, 2010

You could also find some waterproof mascara in the same color and that should work. Waterproof is less resistant to rubbing off and it easily washes off in the shower with soap and water.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:20 AM on April 18, 2010

are you ethnically japanese, or just born/living there? the odd shock of white hair seems to be much more prevalent in the asian genome. I went to elementary school with a boy who had big chunk of white hair, kind of near the back of his head, and in art school, there was this one girl who had a full-on streak, like 'Rogue' from the X-men. I think it's just one of those things...it's common enough that it seems to have a genetic origin, but rare enough that it's hard to trace through a family...my guess is it's kind of like a mole. semi-random. Does it look cool or punk-rock? i think i am jealous. ;)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:07 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You may want to make an appointment with a dermatologist to see if something else might be going on.
posted by 6:1 at 10:35 AM on April 18, 2010

The white streaks sexyrobot is talking about is called vitiligo. I had a friend with it and her symptoms were very much like yours, white area in her eyebrow which eventually spread up into her hair a little. Is the skin around the area lightened also? Vitiligo itself isn't necessarily a big deal but you'd need to see a doctor to be sure. And since you're showing a specific physical change with no obvious cause it's probably worth seeing a doctor anyway.
posted by shelleycat at 2:42 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

The other anachronism has a spot of white hair on his head - he stood up into what we called the 'death corner' of the garage. It gouged a chunk out of his scalp and after a few months the hair turned white. So have you injured that area at all?
posted by geek anachronism at 5:45 PM on April 18, 2010

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