An eyebrow is an area of short hairs above each eye that follows the shape of the lower margin of the brow ridges of some
mammal Mammals () are a group of vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all animal Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms in the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe ...
s. In humans, eyebrows serve two main functions: first,
communication Communication (from la, communicare, meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is usually defined as the transmission of information. The term may also refer to the message communicated through such transmissions or the field of inqu ...
facial expression A facial expression is one or more motions or positions of the muscles beneath the skin Skin is the layer of usually soft, flexible outer tissue covering the body of a vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all animal Animals are m ...
, and second, prevention of sweat, water, and other debris from falling down into the eye socket. It is common for people to modify their eyebrows by means of hair removal and makeup.


A number of theories have been proposed to explain the function of the eyebrow in humans. One approach suggests its main function is to prevent moisture (mostly sweat and rain) from flowing into the eye. Another theory holds that clearly visible eyebrows provided safety from predators when early hominid groups started sleeping on the ground. Recent research, however, suggests eyebrows in humans developed as a means of communication and that this is their primary function. Humans developed a smooth forehead with visible, hairy eyebrows capable of a wide range of movement. Such eyebrows can express a wide range of subtle emotions – including recognition and sympathy.

Cosmetic modification

Fashion in eyebrow shape has changed throughout the ages and eyebrows have always featured heavily in female fashion, often as part of cultural demands made on women about body hair. Cosmetic methods over the centuries have been developed to alter the appearance of eyebrows, by adding or removing hair, changing the color, or changing the position to meet the aesthetic ideal of the time, for example, by tinting the eyebrow with permanent dye, similar to hair colour, often in order to darken them. Eyebrow brushes, shaders, and pencils are often used to define the eyebrow or make it appear fuller. These can create an outline for the brows or mimic hairs where there are sparse areas. Brow gels are also used in creating a thicker brow; they allow for the hairs to be more textured, which gives the appearance of thicker, fuller brows. Lastly, brow powders or even eyeshadows are used for those who want a fuller and more natural look, by placing the brow powder or eyeshadow (closest to the natural hair colour) in areas where there is less hair. Several options exist for removing hair to achieve a thinner or smaller eyebrow, or to "correct" a unibrow, including manual and electronic tweezing, waxing, and threading. The most common method is to use tweezers to thin out and shape the eyebrow.
Waxing Waxing is the process of hair removal from the root by using a covering of a sticky substance, such as wax, to adhere to body hair, and then removing this covering and pulling out the hair from the follicle. New hair will not grow back in the p ...
is becoming more popular. Lastly, there is threading eyebrows, where a cotton thread is rolled over hair to pull it out. Small scissors are sometimes used to trim the eyebrows, either with another method of
hair removal Hair removal, also known as epilation or depilation, is the deliberate removal of body hair or head hair. Hair typically grows all over the human body and can vary in thickness and length across human populations. Hair can become more visible ...
or alone. All of these methods can be painful for some seconds or minutes due to the sensitivity of the area around the eye but, often, this pain decreases over time as the individual becomes used to it. In time, hair that has been plucked will stop growing back. Some people wax or shave off their eyebrows and leave them bare, stencil or draw them in with eye liner, or
tattoo A tattoo is a form of body modification made by inserting tattoo ink, dyes, and/or pigments A pigment is a colored material that is completely or nearly insoluble in water. In contrast, dyes are typically soluble, at least at some sta ...
them on. In Western societies, it has become more common for men to pluck part of their eyebrows. To create a fuller look, eyebrows can be cloned in an eyebrow transplant. Individual strands of the eyebrow are created to mimic a natural-looking eyebrow of the desired shape. The process of eyebrow transplant is quite similar to the process of hair transplant. In this process as well, follicles from an active area are transferred to the area where there are no hairs. Follicles are mostly taken from the back of the head because it is the best harvesting site when it comes to hairs. The follicles are then injected into the skin. The healing process after an eyebrow transplant is similar to the process of tattoo. In this process, patients may experience light bruising and crusting of the skin. People who have genetically thin eyebrows or who have over-tweezed are considered ideal for the transplant. An eyebrow lift is a
cosmetic surgery Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty involving the restoration, reconstruction or alteration of the human body. It can be divided into two main categories: reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery includes cranio ...
to raise the eyebrow, usually to create a more feminine or youthful appearance. It is not a new phenomenon, with the earliest description of brow lifting published in medical literature in 1919 by French surgeon Dr Raymond Passot. Brows can be affected during a face lift or an eye lift. In the 1970s, doctors started injecting patients' eyebrows with botox or similar toxins to paralyse the muscles temporarily to raise the eyebrow. Japanese women and men from the 8th century practiced '' hikimayu'': that is, shaving or plucking the eyebrow hair and painting smudge-like ones higher on the forehead or pencilled in thin ones in a different place. This practice is comparable to that in the
Elizabethan era The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period of the history of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the golden age The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology A ...
when high-status women would remove eyebrows altogether. Thin eyebrows, achieved by rigorous plucking, were again fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 21st century, tattooing became popular as a way to achieve and maintain an eyebrow shape, using a coil machine, rotary machine and linear machine. This process, also called cosmetic tattooing, microblading, or blade and shade brows, involves an eyebrow artist making small, precise cuts that mimic the look of hair. Shaving lines in eyebrows is another cosmetic alteration, popular among some younger people in the 1990s and 2000s.


File:Joan Crawford holding mask of herself.png, Joan Crawford sporting the pencil thin eyebrows that were typical of 1930s fashion. File:Black eyebrow.jpg, Eyebrows often thicken with
puberty Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain A brain is an organ that serves as the center of t ...
. File:Beauty Girl Surprise.jpg, Eyebrows can be used to convey emotion, such as surprise. File:Audrey Hepburn in Charade 4.jpg, One of Audrey Hepburn's trademarks was her thick eyebrows. File:Unibrow-2010-20-07.jpg, A young adult with hair between the eyebrows - a unibrow

See also

* Anti-eyebrow, a body piercing placed below the eyebrow * Eyebrow piercing, a body piercing done through the eyebrow * Eyebrow restoration, surgical procedure to change the look of one's eyebrows


External links

* * * * {{Use dmy dates, date=April 2017 Facial features