Dark, light, bushy, smooth, arched, straight, eyebrows come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and both men and women alike groom them to enhance their overall appearance

As humans have evolved, our body and facial hair have diminished, however eyebrows and eyelashes have remained a core part of our features.

And while we wax, tweeze, and even dye them, do eyebrows play a more important role than just our foremost eye accessory? Researchers and ophthalmologists believe there is a biological, or functional reason we have hair above and around our eyes.

Protection

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) the curved, delicate hairs above our eyes are believed to channel unwanted moisture – sweat and rain in particular – away from the eye to help keep vision clear. “The shape and direction of the hairs make it easier for moisture to flow sideways around the eyes, along the side of the head. They also help to block out light and filter dust and dirt that may fall into the eyes.”

Emotion and communication

“Experts also believe that eyebrows play an important role in human communication and facial expression,” the AAO explains. “Eyebrows can exaggerate expressions such as happiness, surprise and anger.”

Facial recognition

A study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) behavioural neuroscientist Javid Sadr and his colleagues found that people had more trouble correctly identifying the faces of people they knew when they were presented with images of them missing their eyebrows. This led them to conclude that brows may be more important for facial recognition than eyes themselves.

Myth

The most common myth about eyebrows is that once you’ve over-plucked, your eyebrows won’t grow back. While excessive plucking, rubbing eyebrows from habit, or applying aggressive skincare treatments can cause eyebrows to fall out, for a healthy young adult the average time for tweezed hair to grow back is 56 days.

Colouring eyebrows

Never colour eyebrows with at-home box colour that’s designed for dying hair. The peroxide levels that at-home colour contains are just too intense for the brow and eye area and can actually burn the skin, cause the eye area to become red, and create a burning sensation in the eyes. It is important to only use dyes and tints specially designed for eyebrows.

Did you know?

  • The average lifespan of an eyebrow is four months, meaning the time it takes for each hair to fall out and new growth to fill in.
  • The average person has about 250 hairs per eyebrow
  • Eyebrows are the slowest growing hair on the human body
  • Brows help us signal emotions, but they’re also on autopilot. As the pitch of your voice rises, so do your eyebrows and vice versa

According to the book Amazing Face Reading by Mac Fuller, J.D., the type of eyebrow you have defines who you are. Curved eyebrows indicate someone who is people-oriented and needs real-world examples to understand a problem, while straight eyebrows imply that someone is more direct, factual, and logical, thriving on technical details. Angled eyebrows, Fuller says, show someone who likes to be right and strives to be mentally in-control, no matter the situation