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Eyes chris.jpg
An unmodified male eyebrow and eye
Latin supercilium
MeSH Eyebrows

The eyebrow is an area of thick, delicate hairs above the eye that follows the shape of the lower margin of the brow ridges. Their main function is to protect the eye, but they are also important to human communication and facial expression.[1] It is not uncommon for people to modify their eyebrows by means of hair addition or removal, make up, or piercings.





The main function of the eyebrow is to prevent moisture, mostly salty sweat and rain, from flowing into the eye. The typical curved shape of the eyebrow (with a slant on the side) and the direction in which eyebrow hairs are pointed, make sure that moisture has a tendency to flow sideways around the eyes, along the side of the head and along the nose. The slightly protruding brow ridges of modern humans could also still play a supporting role in this process, in this way it helps them make expressions.[citation needed] Together with the brow ridges, the eyebrows also shade the eyes from sunlight. Eyebrows also prevent debris such as dandruff and other small objects from falling into the eyes, as well as providing a more sensitive sense for detecting objects being near the eye, like small insects.


Eyebrows also have an important facilitative function in communication, strengthening expressions, such as surprise or anger. Many makeup artists view eyebrows as a major feature in defining the face. The eyebrows shape the human face and give definition to one's eyes and forehead. Depending on the shape of the eyebrows, it sometimes can cause what is known as a false facial expression (such as a person's eyebrows shaped to seem as if the person was angry, but really isn't).


In a study published by MIT, where subjects were asked to identify celebrities with either their eyes or their eyebrows digitally edited out, the subjects were able to recognize the celebrity 46% of the time with their eyebrows edited out, compared to 60% of the time with their eyes edited out. The findings indicate the importance of eyebrows in providing cues to an individual's identity.[2]

Eyebrow modification

A modified female's eyebrow that has been waxed

Eyebrows are a major facial feature. Several cosmetic methods have been developed to enhance the look of one's eyebrows, whether the goal is to add or remove hair, change the color, or change the position of the eyebrow.

Several options exist for removing hair in order to achieve a thinner or smaller eyebrow, or to "correct" a unibrow, including tweezing, waxing, threading and electronic tweezer. The most common method is to use tweezers to thin out and shape the eyebrow.[3] Waxing is also becoming more popular in recent times.[4] Lastly, there is the option of threading eyebrows, wherein a cotton thread is rolled over hair to pull it out.[5] Small scissors are sometimes used to trim the eyebrows, either along with another method of hair removal 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 the sensation. After a certain period of time, hair that has been plucked will stop growing back.[6] There are some who completely wax or shave off their entire eyebrows, then, either leave them bare, stencil or draw them in with eye liner, or tattoo them on. In the era of the metrosexual, it has become more common for men to pluck their eyebrows to appear more youthful and attractive, as well.

To create a fuller look, eyebrows can be cloned in an eyebrow transplant, wherein individual strands of the eyebrow are mimicked to create a natural looking eyebrow of the desired shape. Eyebrow brushes and shaders are also used to further define the eyebrow. A fairly recent trend in eyebrow modification is in the form of eyebrow tinting, in which permanent dye, similar to that of hair color is used on the eyebrow, often to darken them.

An eyebrow lift, a cosmetic surgery to raise the eyebrow, usually in order to create a more feminine or youthful appearance, is a new phenomenon.[7] They can be affected during a face lift or an eye lift. More recently, doctors inject patients' eyebrows with botox or similar toxins to temporarily raise the eyebrow.[8]


See also

  • Anti-eyebrow, a body piercing placed below the eyebrow
  • Eyebrow piercing, a body piercing done through the eyebrow
  • Trichotillomania, a disorder where sufferers have an impulse to pull out body hair, including eyebrows
  • Unibrow, the presence of abundant hair between the eyebrows
  • Eyebrow restoration, surgical procedure to change the look of one's eyebrows


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