Are women recently favouring a more masculine eyebrow?

Posted on the 24 January 2013 at 13:13

According to a newly published study in the Clinical Plastic Surgery Journal, the arched brow is becoming a thing of the past. It appears analysers at the University of Southern California examined the brows of models and women in fashion magazines from 1946 onward and found an interesting trend: not only have eyebrows gotten progressively fuller, but the peak of them has moved further from the nose; in other words, women are taking on a more masculine look.

Few facial features are as powerful as the eyebrows. They can express wide-ranging and subtle emotions, even when the rest of the face is neutral. Elevated, they suggest surprise, lowered, they indicate fatigue, and puckered, they signal anger. This analysis provided objective evidence that the ideal youthful brow peak has migrated laterally over time to lie at the lateral canthus and has repercussions regarding endoscopic brow lift and aesthetic forehead surgery.

Mark Soldin, a spokesperson for the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, agrees with the findings and explains it this way:

“Upward curvature of the eyebrows was considered to be an attractive feminine feature in the past. We are finding that more and more women are looking for a flatter, straighter, more masculine look. I think it has to do with the increasing equality of the sexes. Women are subconsciously favouring a masculine brow.”

However, famed doctor Arnold Klein feels the results are nonsense and said on LinkedIn that “the medial aspect of the eyebrow should begin at a point defined by a straight line drawn from the lateral nose upward. The eyebrow should maximally arch at a point defined by a line drawn from the lateral nose through the pupil. The eyebrow should end at a point defined by a line drawn from the lateral nose through the lateral aspect of the eyeball”. He recommends not to let Botox change the face aesthetic.

Famous Female Eyebrows

Closer analysis of the paper methodology shows that microfilm versions of fashion magazines printed between 1946 and 2011 were examined for full-frontal photographs of models or actresses taken in the Frankfort plane. This position was considered important because even a relatively minimal head turn or tilt will change the apparent eyebrow characteristics. Images were excluded if eyes were closed, squinting, or there was any visible forehead rhytids. Appropriate photographs were broken into 7 blocks of time for analysis: 1946-1955, 1956-1965, 1966-1970 (the hippie era), 1971-1980, 1981-1990, 1991-2000, and 2001-2011. A line was drawn between the lateral canthus (LC) to set a true horizontal. This line usually crossed the inferior pupil. A digital caliper was then used to draw a line 90° perpendicular to this up to the eyebrow peak. The position of the brow peak in relation to the palpebral fissure was recorded as falling at one of 4 locations. The brow take-off angle between the true horizontal and this vector was measured using a digital caliper. Finally, the height of the brow above the LC was calculated in millimetres.

The authors surmise that this is, in part, a response to the increasing parity between men and women in the workplace. With the eyebrow shape alone less able to convey femininity, the fullness or luminance of the female brow may become increasingly important. They predict that in the future, adding volume to the upper lid–brow complex with injectable fillers, autologous fat, or fat transposition will augment and possibly supplant many of the traditional open and endoscopic brow-lift procedures.

Personally, I cannot say that I have seen any evidence of any change in the female brow. Women with long faces should have lower and straighter eyebrows to prevent adding to the impression of an already long face. For square faces, typically heralded by a broad, angular jawline, the brow peak should be very gradual and the lateral brow segment should point more inferiorly, which softens the otherwise angular face. With me the jury remains out....

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