Beyond revealing the grooming habits (or lack thereof) of their owner, eyebrows also convey emotions and allow humans to communicate non-verbally. So next time you lock eyes with a beautiful woman only to be met with a furrow-browed response, don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s your unibrow.
What science says. A man’s eyebrows are a window into his soul—an argument that’s supported by a study conducted by an MIT behavioural neuroscientist. When test subjects were given altered images of recognisable faces and asked to identify the person in each photo, they could identify faces with missing eyes 60 percent of the time. But when the eyebrows were missing, the participants’ facial-recognition abilities dropped to 46 percent, proving that eyebrows are crucial for facial identity. Thus, it’s safe to say that you are your eyebrows.
Why they’re there. Think of your eyebrows as two furry gutters, protecting your eyes from dust, dandruff, rain, sweat and other moisture. They’re also ergonomically engineered—i.e., the hairs intercept this moisture, and the downward angle of your brows causes it to run off the side of your face, avoiding your eyeballs altogether.
What other guys make of them. “I cannot stand people who don’t have the self-awareness or care to pluck a unibrow, even one or two stray hairs will catch my attention and I’ll stare at it like an unpopped zit,” says John, a 28-year-old who swears that his shapely eyebrows have been lauded as beautiful by multiple people. “The exception is old men and young children, though I do fault the parents of a young child with a unibrow.”
What she makes of them. “We need to empower men to pluck their unibrows,” says 28-year-old Mel. “One time my ex asked to borrow my tweezers so he could do a little clean up, and I thought it was really cute! I was impressed that he was being proactive about it.”
How to tame them. There are roughly five options—plucking, waxing, threading, trimming and shaving. Plucking is for minor cleanup and to achieve natural looking brows. Waxing can be painful, but it’s the best way to eliminate the midsection of a unibrow, or any other rogue hairs that extend far beyond the general eyebrow region because it removes the hair from the follicle, which will lengthen the time it takes to grow back. Plus, it causes hair to thin over time. That said, waxing shouldn’t be used as a method to shape your brows—it’s too precise and will leave you looking too “done.”
Threading lasts as long as waxing and is about 10 times more painful—i.e., it’s primarily for masochists. The sadist, a.k.a. the threader, takes a piece of cotton or polyester thread, doubles it, twists it into a coil and grazes it along your brow line, ripping out your brow hairs, one by one.
Regular trims prevent caterpillar brows. They can be totally DIY, and basically only require a small comb and a pair of brow-shaping scissors or a handheld electric razor. Shaving without a comb as a buffer between the razor and eyebrow, however, is asking for trouble. DO. NOT. DO. THIS. Not only do you risk slipping and accidentally shaving off the entire brow, you’re also not removing the hair from its root. Which means it will grow back blunt instead of tapered and appear bushier than ever before. That’s only cool if you’re Frida Kahlo.
The bottom line? The winning brow combo is a wax, followed by a tweeze with a little trim. However, if you’re just a normal guy with normal eyebrows, a tweeze/trim combo is right for you.