This research is oriented to reveal the history of eyebrows as a tool to identify people’s self-expression and explain how the eyebrow form can contribute to creating an image and mood a person wants. It will also discuss the Asian face reading myth, where eyebrows are a great source of human characteristics. These aspects, of course, are not the only regarding functions of eyebrows, if it is possible to call it so. They also protect one’s eyes as for their biological background. Yet, if people look into the eyes, first of all, eyebrows are the second thing a person notices, which makes it important to pay special attention to them.

Apparently, the history of eyebrows begins with the history of homo sapience. However, to understand it in the most coherent way, one needs to learn more about the nature of eyebrows. Basically, eyebrows are hairlines on the protruded part of the skull above the eye socket. They have various shape length and density, depending on one’s genetics. From the evolutionary point of view, eyebrows are there definitely not due to a lucky coincidence. They serve as eye protectors by helping to gather excessive moisture, like sweat or rain, as well as dirt that can make it difficult to see. This would be incompatible with survival for an ancient human being. They also serve as a special outer characteristic, which helps to discern one person from another due to their placement. Since eyebrows are above the eyes, they draw enough attention, both voluntarily and involuntarily. Eyebrows are a great tool to express emotions as well, and this function was preserved till our days. In this perspective, they are largely exploited even now, and it will definitely continue to be so.

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What one society found attractive, other society disgusted. This was the matter of trends and tastes, and those trends had been predisposed by various situations. The whole history of eyebrow managing dates back to thousands of years ago. According to Victoria Sharrow, people in ancient Egypt and Greece darkened their eyebrows, the latter even used false ones made of goat hair, both Babylonians and Celts dyed their eyebrows with various available paints. Later, in Roman Empire, women began to pluck their eyebrows to create a special form. In Byzantine, women shaped their eyebrows in the form of lines and drew black lines beneath them. The Middle Ages and Elizabethan era were the period of shaved eyebrows and hairline. The reason for that was hair loss due to toxic dyes women used to change their hair color and make their faces pale. This trend continued up to the middle of the 17th century, since women used ceruse to emphasize high forehead, which was a matter of style. Women used walnut oil to prevent hair growth, applying it not only to themselves, but to children too. However, like any trend, it became outdated, forcing all the fashionable people to use mouse skin and fur to make fake eyebrows. Not only western societies put much attention to eyebrows, the fact that emphasizes again their importance. In the Asian cultures, for example in Japan, people plucked their eyebrows and drew lines in various shapes above the natural hairline. They did it to make certain facial expressions.

All the above-mentioned facts about the history of eyebrows may seem very distant and not relevant today. However, a close look at eyebrow trends in the twentieth century shows that some trends of the ancient civilizations have been actual. The previous century’s technological advancement allows studying these trends on the examples of real people.

The history of ‘thin eyebrow trend’ dates back to the 1920s, when silent films occurred. Eyes were the major tool to express emotions, along with eyebrows that had to be thin in order to make their movement as more dynamic as possible. Greta Garbo, a famous actress of the 1930s, removed her eyebrows and drew a line resembling her eye socket. Marlene Dietrich penciled a very unnatural line above her hairline. While some women eliminated their eyebrows and drew lines, others left some hair, but, no matter what they did, the rule was clear – less hair is good. In 1938, Gone With the Wind with Vivien Leigh playing Scarlett O’Hara set the new trend for more natural hairline, thus making it thicker and more visible. Her right eyebrow was slightly raised, which was a sign of her foxy personality. These trends enjoyed great popularity among women due to the fame of star actresses.

As for men, apparently they did not remove their facial hair above their eyes, except for performers, of course. Charlie Chaplin used his eyebrows to achieve a comic effect. Groucho Marx used a black pensile to thicken his brows, for which he was renowned.

Not only stars influenced trends, but also various events, like WWII, when women had less time to manage their eyebrows, making them thicker and more natural. This led to the reverse interaction between common people and stars, forcing the latter to thicken their eyebrows and give them a more distinctive natural form. In the 1950s, style icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren set the trend for well-defined eyebrows, giving them a more feminine look.

In the sixties, people became obsessed with unusual things, their eyebrows suffered from various colors and adornments, which resulted in new shapes and forms in the 1970s. Luckily for naturalness supporters, natural shapes became popular at the end of the decade and in the 80s. Brooke Shields and Helena Bonham-Carter are prominent representatives of people, who set trends for simple, but thick eyebrows.

A significant, and, in my opinion, most important phase in the history of eyebrows was in the 1990s. When tools for grooming became available and new techniques for managing one’s eyebrows appeared, for instance, waxing; people realized that the best form for eyebrows was the one that went well with individual facial features. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Julianna Marguiles had perfectly shaped eyebrows admired by their fans and other people.


The nineties have definitely influenced trends today and how people approach fashion. Most believe that style is more important, and it must be individual. This caused men and women to personalize trends, which do exist with Cara Delevingne as an outstanding representative of dark thick eyebrow trend.

As for personalization, it is obvious today that people tend to highlight their individuality. Eyebrows are a perfect tool to do that, however, women, who decide to alter their brow form, do not know how to use those multiple tools available on the market. This lack of expertise leads to unnatural, asymmetrical eyebrows, resulting in weird facial expressions. The two hairlines above one’s eyes play a major role in emphatic communication, and any amateur alterations can lead to confusion in interactions with people.

Since the major role of facial expressions is to conduct certain emphatic information, much attention should be paid to eyebrow managing. Not always people understand it, which leads to miscommunication. When it happens with men, it is especially noticeable. The reason for such prominence given to facial expression is the Darwinian idea that what people express with their faces is the manifestation of their inner state. This concept should be considered and studied in order to realize, which expressions can be categorized as negative and positive. The raised eyebrows are always a signal that a person is ready to listen and is interested in a conversation. The frowning brows can express any negative emotion, as well as such emphatic reactions as misunderstanding or confusion. The latter can be achieved by using eyebrows alone. If the corners of the eyebrows are raised too high, the face can look surprised or indignant.

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If the brows are raised in the middle of the face, then the person looks nice or kind, as well as offended. There are numerous variations as for the emotional aspect, but, in any case, a certain form of eyebrows can express certain emotions, and even traits of character.

There is a neurological basis for such reflexive communication between facial expression and emotions. Therefore, it is not a personal issue, but a trend common for all human beings. The interpretation of the facial expression for pain or happiness is no longer a matter of culture or psychology. Eyebrows have their share in communication.

If the interpretation for emotions is not a problem for any human being, except it is very specific, a different type of interpreting can occur. Apart from emotions, some cultures tend to judge a person by his or her eyebrow form. It is especially relevant to Asian face reading myth, which is based on the size, color, shape and quality of certain facial features.

The science of face reading appeared ages ago in China, when scholars and doctors started to observe people, who were successful and had high status. They noticed that their appearance had some common features and began to take notes, which they collected and compiled in a scholarly art of face reading, which became a recognized profession. Even the Emperor had personal face readers, who helped him in his policy and personal life.

The reason why this myth is called Asian is because it became widespread not only in China, but also in Korea and Japan, as literacy expanded throughout Asia. It became an integral part of culture in the region.

In the late 1930s, people were recruited and categorized to various positions by face readers . Thirty years later, along with other myths and pseudo sciences, face reading revived. It was widespread in the Western societies, and more research has been carried out since then. Indeed, not everyone accepted the ideas of face reading, however, regardless of opinions, it is of some value to psychologists and physiologists. Here are some concepts gathered by Boye De Mente, who compiled them by various categories. The category of our interest is eyebrows.

Bushy, dark eyebrows with long hairs are a sign of success in romance and career. Usually people with strongly visible brows have the willpower and energy, as well as enough ambition. They tend to live a long life, and people who are more than eighty have dark eyebrows since they turn grey not rapidly. Bushy eyebrows are also a sign of health; such people are not subjected to illnesses and, therefore, live longer.

“Unloving Wife” eyebrows have those women, who enjoyed great love from their parents and were not restricted by anything in their lives. They have beautifully shaped eyebrows, long and thin, but reasonably. These women know what they want and achieve it. However, they are a poor choice for men as wives, since they are inclined to cheat.

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“Poverty” eyebrows are called so not for economic reasons. Such eyebrows mean the poverty of the soul. Owners of short bushy eyebrows were not loved in childhood, both by their parents and mates. Their surrounding rejected them, and they try to compensate this by having numerous lovers. They also tend to be very aggressive; some of them are criminals. In my opinion, such approach is not correct, since the eyebrow form is affected by genetics, not by society.

“Late Bloomer” eyebrows are close to each other not far from eyes. People with such eyebrows do not have money and usually are not very successful. That is why they are advised to get married only in their thirties, when they have a stable income. If they have an M-shaped hairline, they have artistic inclinations.

“Seducer” eyebrows are basically thin. Men with such eyebrows were not accepted by their family and know how to manipulate women. They are cowards, but are very smart and intelligent. Women with such eyebrows are manipulated by men and are afraid to express themselves. This is the reason why they use pencils to thicken their eyebrows.

“Pleasure Seeker” eyebrows are crescent-shaped and are very feminine. Women with such brows are emotional and seek pleasure in emphatic attitude towards them and others.

Therefore, the history of eyebrows’ grooming is very rich and significant in every culture. Before the scientific method, people relied upon their own observations and developed first concept about interrelations between the facial expression, communication and individual characteristics. With all the knowledge existing, people start to apply it to create the image they want on the purpose of conducting a social message and expressing themselves.

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