Zheng Shusen of China holds the Guinness world record for the longest eyebrow hair. It was measured at 7.5 in. (19.1 cm) on January 6, 2016, in Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia, China. Zheng Shusen was 81 years at the time.
The famous Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. No one is sure why this is so, but there have been quite a few theories over the years. Some say that Leonardo da Vinci forgot to paint them on. A more likely reason could be that eyebrows weren’t considered as prominent a feature in those days. Contemporaries of Leonardo, like Michelangelo, also de-emphasized eyebrows in their paintings. A 2007 theory that has some traction is that Leonardo did indeed give Mona Lisa eyebrows but they’ve faded or been rubbed off over the years through aggressive cleaning methods.
As part of the legendary feud between the two actresses, Bette Davis said Joan Crawford’s eyebrows resembled “African caterpillars.”
Chinese face reading, also called physiognomy, is a traditional art based on the idea that facial features can give us clues about our character and fate. The eyebrows are considered to be ”保寿官” (bǎoshòu guān, the organ of longevity). The eyebrows can reveal information about a person’s potential fame, status, and interactions with siblings and friends. Each distinct eyebrow shape tells us something about the person who has it. For example, according to Chinese face reading, people with a unibrow are inflexible, nit-picking, perfectionistic, and idealistic. These folks have incredible perseverance, which can lead to great success in life.
The first known use of the word unibrow was in 1988, according to merriam-webster.com.
Do you have a unibrow? Blame your PAX3 gene, say researchers quoted in Time magazine. The unibrow is a recessive genetic trait.
In Tajikistan, men and women consider the unibrow to be beautiful. Women make a cosmetic from the usma herb to darken and fill in the space between their brows.
In medical-speak, synophrys refers to eyebrows that meet, forming a single line across the forehead–in other word, the unibrow.
In ancient Persia and Greece, women celebrated and enhanced the unibrow.
In 19th century Britain and Ireland, unibrows were thought to indicate character or luck. Most references to the unibrow from this period regarded it as a negative feature, but some described it as a positive or lucky sign. Here are a few sayings from this period that describe the unibrow:
- Trust not the man whose eyebrows meet, for in his heart you’ll find you’ll find deceit.
- If your eyebrows meet across your nose, you’ll never live to wear your wedding clothes.
Each eyebrow has an average of 250 hairs, but some people who’ve never plucked their brows can have up to 1100.
Here’s a factoid for you if you’ve ever wondered how your great-grandpa got his gnarly eyebrows. With age, eyebrow hairs change in texture and can grow longer. They may also turn gray at a different time than the hair on the scalp.
What is the purpose of eyebrows? Probably the original purpose was to keep sweat, rain, and foreign objects (such as dead skin) out of the eyes. (By expressing and revealing emotion, they also assist in nonverbal communications with other people.)
Are humans the only species with eyebrows? No, but we’re the only species with eyebrows next to hairless skin. This contrast makes the eyebrows easier for our fellow humans to see and interpret.
Approximately three million Americans experience brow hair thinning and loss.
An average person produces 590 miles of hair in his or her life. This figure includes scalp, body, and facial hair. Only a small percentage of the total is eyebrow hair.
Ever wonder why our eyebrows don’t grow long like the hair on our head? It’s because of the different length of the growing phase for the hair in these different places. The growing phase for eyebrows is two to three months, whereas the growing phase for scalp hair is two to six years.
Stress can make eyebrows grow slower or fall out altogether, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Eyebrows, just like the hair on your scalp, can have cowlicks.
Eyebrows aren’t 100% symmetrical. Reasons they’re sisters, not twins, include differences in facial muscle strength, hair growth pattern, and underlying bone structure. The side of your face you sleep on could also contribute to differences between the eyebrows.
Social and Psychological Facts
How important are eyebrows to recognizing individuals (facial identification)? It turns out that brows are likely more important than the eyes themselves in identifying someone’s face.
What can a person’s eyebrows tell us about that person? The eyebrows give clues about health, personal identity (through facial recognition), culture, gender/gender identity, age, and attention to grooming.
It’s been observed that villains on the big and small screen raise one eyebrow up and lower one down to communicate their evil intentions. Think about Jack Nicholson in The Shining and John Belushi’s samurai.
Newborn babies have a repertoire of certain facial expressions, and raised eyebrows are one of them. Newborns have a natural reflex to raise their eyebrows when their head is bent very low, and even blind babies have this response.
In modern America, when a woman returns a man’s stare with raised eyebrows, it can signal interest. Raised brows can signal other responses in America and Europe, where they can sometimes show disapproval or surprise. Context matters.
The eyebrow flash (an up-and-down motion of the eyebrows that lasts about a fifth of a second) is a sign of recognition and greeting in all primates.
The eyebrows–and the upper face in general–convey true human emotions more authentically than the lower half of the face. Upper face movements tend to be more automatic and involuntary, while people have a bit more control over the lower face and can more easily use it for deception or masking feelings.
Raising the eyebrows can signal either agreement or disagreement. It shows agreement in Borneo’s Dyak people and by among Samoans. But the Greeks use the eyebrow flash (simultaneously with a few other nonverbal cues) to show disagreement.
The eyebrow flash is a flirting behavior as documented by Eibl-Eibesfelt in at least a dozen cultures from Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. Males and females raise their eyebrows momentarily, enlarging the appearance of their eyes.
People tend to display eyebrow flashes more when they’re comfortable, so eyebrow flashes are consistent with people telling the truth. However, these kinds of signals tend to appear in clusters. We can’t rely on one signal, such as eyebrow flashes, in isolation to tell us whether someone is lying.