I'm personally obsessed with eyebrows. Once I discovered how our eyebrows can make us look younger, enhance our eyes, and even help balance facial features—I was hooked!
But we've seen eyebrows go through quite a few trends haven't we?
They've been super thin, then back to thick, tamed, untamed, high arch, no arch, bold, light, you name it. We've seen it all.
Since I already told you that I have an obsession with eyebrows (because they're kind of like a secret gem in my book), I decided it was time do to an in-depth guide to help you choose the best eyebrow shape for your lovely face.
As you probably learned from my other epic guide The 5 Golden Metrics for Your True Eye Shape, using makeup to fit you personally is what I'm ALL ABOUT.
So today, I'm teaching you everything you need to know about eyebrows. Yep. This is another super detailed post.
Obviously there isn't going to be a one size fits all (I did just say it's about paying attention to your own unique features), but you can use laws of aesthetics to your advantage.
What's The Big Deal About Eyebrows?
I know it's hard not to jump on current brow fads, but you have to take a look at what's going to best compliment your face and eye shape.
How many times have you seen someone and thought, "Holy cow! Eyebrows!" Even if the brows were on-point, chances are you missed how pretty their eyes were. Or you missed their gorgeous smile.
You get what I'm saying? Eyebrows shouldn't be the focal point, your eyes should be! After all, they're gorgeous!
Of course, if you want people to only notice your painted-on-brow skills, then more power to you. But I want to teach you how to make the picture get noticed not just the frame.
And eyebrows are like the frames for a beautiful picture (aka your eyes).
Just like how a mismatched frame can detract from a masterpiece, the same is true for eyebrows.
So the point is: eyebrows help bring balance to your eyes and face. That's why they matter so much.
The Basics About Brows
Since brows are the frames to the eyes, paying attention to your eye shape when designing your eyebrows is a game changer.
A little bit of balance can go a long way. For example, rounder eyes can benefit from angled brow lines, which helps balance out the round appearance.
Small eyes can get lost under a large bushy brow, so a slim to medium sized brow might be a better fit. Are you picking up what I'm laying down? A little opposition creates balance.
And O.M.G., before I forget, I absolutely have to point out:
Eyebrows are more like sisters, not twins. Just meaning, it's rare that your eyebrows are ever going to look exactly the same.
But that's OK.
Let's all just accept that.
Clearly aesthetics are a bit of personal preference, but a safe bet is to follow what your brow naturally does. If you've been over-plucking that doesn't count as your brows natural pattern.
So let's dive into what makes great eyebrows: position, size, and shape of brows.
We're going to go through basic principles in each.
We'll start with the position of your eyebrows.
For eyebrow position there are basically 3 elements that you are looking at:
As a general guideline, you want the inner edge of the brow to start at a 90 degree angle from the inner corner of your eye. The arch of an eyebrow should be close to the outer corner of your iris, and the outer edge of the brow needs to end at a 45 degree angle from the outer corner of the eye.
Some people like to use the nose as a guide to achieve similar angles, but unless you have a perfectly proportioned nose it may skew the angles. Which is why I recommend using the feature that they are aligned with — the eyes.
The Inner Edge Of Your Eyebrow
The inner edge of the eyebrow should be at a 90 degree angle from the inner corner of your eye (Note: the model's head is tilted, so the pink lines pictured have to adjust for that).
Of course there are always going to be exceptions. Like a person with wide set eyes should bring the inner edge in a bit more, because that will give the illusion that the eyes are closer together. But when you have average set eyes, having your brows too close together will make you look like your eyes are also too close together.
The Transition Or The Arch Of Your Eyebrow
If you are going to have an arch then it should be pretty close to the outer edge of your iris. When you have an arch that comes before that point the result is a surprised-looking expression. So unless you want to be in a perpetual state of looking surprised, just make sure that the highest point (and also thinnest part) of the brow comes after that line.
You might've heard of an extended arch, which just means that it is a little further out. An extended arch can help elongate the eye area which is nice for longer faces.
The Outer Edge Of Your Eyebrow
You want the outer edge of your eyebrow to end at a 45 degree angle from the outer corner of your eye. When you let the brow go below that line, you may look like your eyes are more down-turned or if you have hooded eyes it will accentuate the hood.
If it stops before that line, then it can make your eyes look smaller.
Eyebrow Size (& Color)
Next up is: size.
Eyebrow size is really made up of width, density, and color. So if you control those aspects you can take charge of the size your eyebrows appear to be.
If your eyebrows are thicker and cover a good portion of your skin (aka the width), then obviously they are going to appear larger. If they are also dark and full (aka heavy density) then they will appear even larger.
It's not to say that light colored eyebrows can't look large, but rather, more pigment draws attention in a bold way.
In my opinion, a "good" size is very subjective. So that means you get to decide on the size!
However, staying somewhere in the middle of the spectrum typically gives the best results.
Eyebrows that are too big may over-power your eyes, and eyebrows that are too small may leave your eyes/face looking odd. Either way, it will distract from your eye and move the focus to your eyebrow.
Like most things, it's about finding balance.
As a general guideline, the color of your brows should stay close in level (aka light/darkness) to the darkest visible color in your hair. I personally prefer about 1 shade darker. When you stray too far from this, again the focal point shifts from the eyes to the eyebrows.
We can see in Cara's picture above how lightening the eyebrow color and making it a tad smaller has opened her whole face and the focus is now on the eye itself. Even though, I'm sure most of us are use to Cara's signature thick brows, that's just an example of what the power of small changes to an eyebrow size can do.
How to adjust size
If you're eyebrows are thinner than you'd like them to be then you're looking at potentially using a darker eyebrow shade (and/or dye them darker) , & stop plucking (they may have to get a little fugly before things get better; or if they don't grow you can try something like Revitabrow & vitamins like biotin).
If your eyebrows are naturally dark and thick (and you'd prefer them to be a tad softer), you may be able to strategically remove some of the density by plucking (I'd let a professional do this), or you could dye them a lighter color. And of course, something as simple as reshaping them may be the only thing you actually need.
There are truthfully endless possibilities when it comes to eyebrow shapes. And there's no way that I would even be able to cover them all individually. So for sanity's sake, I've categorized them to fall into 3 basic categories.
Before I start to get into the details about shapes, I want to point out that the brow may have a rounded or squared inner edge in spite of whatever the overall shape is (see my drawing below).
Of course, if you use a rounded edge on a round shaped brow it will contribute to it looking even more round. Whereas, a squared inner edge, brings back some angularity—it may even make the brow look like it is slightly more arched.
Also, as a general guideline the bottom line of the brow dictates the overall shape.
So that's what we'll be referring to when categorizing shapes: the bottom line of the brow.
Alright, it's time to bring back what you just learned about position & size.
Within each shape category, eyebrow size (thick, medium, thin) & the position of the arch (high, medium, low) get to play their part. I know that might seem a little confusing right now, but don't worry I'll explain it and there are pictures!
Here are the 3 Categories of Eyebrow Shapes:
First up is round eyebrows. They will be about the same width all the way through, but they may have a very slight taper. They also technically have an arch (a high point), but the transition is super smooth, and there are no hard angles.
Round brows can soften features, and when combined with fullness they can look very youthful.
But when too thin, and when they don't follow the guidelines for position (90 degree inner angle & 45 degree outer angle), they can look like the McDonald's logo (eek!).
Here's what round eyebrows look like in terms of different sizes and arch position.
Who Should Probably Avoid The Round Eyebrow Shape?
Anyone with a round face shape, features, or eye shape. I would also warn people with prominent & hooded eye shapes to take caution as this shape may accentuate those characteristics.
Who Can Benefit From The Round Eyebrow Shape?
Anyone with a square face, square jaw, level 5 almond eyes, or angular features. The heart shaped face also does well with the added softness.
Among the celebs who tend to wear a rounder brow shape you'll find people like Keira Knightley, Megan Good, Eva Mendes, and Jourdan Dunn.
Yara Shahidi is a great example of a celebrity with a square face shape, almond eyes, who tends to wear a round brow. And the softness that a rounded brow brings is really complimenting her face! Yara sports a medium-thick, medium arch, round brow (in this picture).
Much like round eyebrows, straight brows tend to be about the same width all the way across. From the inner edge to the outer edge, the bottom line of the brow touches on the same imaginary line all the way across.
A straight brow, however, can have a medium or high angle (vs. an arch) which is relative to where the outside corner of the eyebrow falls.
Straight eyebrows have a nice balance to them, so more face shapes and eye shapes can sport this brow. However, straight brows don't "lift" the eye area (unless they have a high angle) so down-turned or droopy eyes beware.
This shape is also sometimes referred to as flat or boyfriend eyebrows. And since it's less sculpted than the other shapes it also can bring a youthfulness to the face (when paired correctly with your eyes and face shape).
Who Should Probably Avoid The Straight Eyebrow Shape?
Although it's a pretty flexible eyebrow shape, anyone with a wider face should probably avoid it. That means this isn't the best option for round, inverted triangle / heart, or diamond face shapes. And as already mentioned, any eye shape that needs a lift should also probably avoid.
Who Can Benefit From The Straight Eyebrow Shape?
Anyone with somewhat angular features, square or even, the oval face shape can pull it off. But longer faces will see the biggest benefit as it helps create the illusion of width.
You'll usually see celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Miranda Kerr, Sonoya Mizuno, Jennifer Lawerence, Zoe Kravitz, and Natalie Portman rockin' a straighter brow.
Pictured below is Jessica Alba with a medium-thickness, medium angle, straight brow. It compliments her square face and almond eyes giving her a more youthful appearance.
Angular eyebrows start from the inner edge with a straight line, meet the tail at a point just above the outer edge of the iris, and then the tail of the brow tapers down. This shape can lift, and open an eye area.
It also can bring some balance for rounder features, as well as height for wider faces.
They are commonly referred to as "arched eyebrows". But I chose to call them angular eyebrows, since round brows technically have an arch, and I wanted to be sure that no terminology confusion happens.
This eyebrow shape seems to be the most widely used. Understandably so, since it has five different types of arches in addition to the three sizes.
Who Should Probably Avoid The Angular Eyebrow Shape?
Since there are so many different types of angular brows a lot of people can wear it without too much trouble. If you have a squared face, hard angles are not what you need. Choose a softened arch instead (aka smooth transition like we see with a low arch). Additionally, longer face shapes need to be careful about medium, high arches, and hard angled brows—since this will contribute to the appearance of length.
Who Can Benefit From The Angular Eyebrow Shape?
Anyone with a round face, round jaw, rounder eyes, or round features because the angular brow tends to bring out and define bone structure. Since an oval face tends to be on the softer side it can pull off this brow. Also, the diamond face shape does well with an angular brow as the arch can help take away from the width at the cheeks.
There's a long list of celebrities with angular brows. You'll see these celebs among many others with some variation of an angular brow: Halle Berry, Dana Owners (Queen Latifah), Kim Kardashian, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sophie Turner, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, and Kaley Cuoco.
Jennifer Lopez pictured below takes advantage of a hard angle, low arch, medium-thickness, angular brow. It helps bring some length to her diamond face and draws your eye upwards which de-emphasis her strong jawline.
By paying attention to what face shape and eye shape you have, you'll see which brow will fit you best.
There's three things to consider when shaping an eyebrow: position, size, & shape (aka structure).
The position of a great brow relies heavily on three things: the inner edge (90 degree angle), the arch (starts just after the iris), and the outer edge (45 degree angle).
Of course there's always going to be a few exceptions. For example, people with wide-set eyes will want to let their inner edge come in more than a 90 degree angle. And smaller, close-set eyes or long face shapes may benefit from an elongated outer edge to help maximize width in that area.
Eyebrow size is controlled by width (the thinness or thickness), density (amount of hair per square inch), and color (keep closer to your darkest hair color present). Luckily, size is a bit of personal preference. I only caution people to be careful about going to thin or too thick because then the focus shifts from the eye to the eyebrow.
The shape (or structure) of an eyebrow is strongly controlled by the bottom line of the brow.
There's three categories of shapes: round, straight, and angular. Each has it's own set of benefits which can be utilized to create balance.
Are your eyebrows a good match for your eye and face shape?
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I am a professional makeup artist and licensed cosmetologist. I absolutely enjoy sharing hair and makeup tips to help you enhance your natural beauty. (Trust me, you're gorgeous.)