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Do dark eyebrows age you? – Eyebrow mistakes that make you look older

Have you ever been mistaken for being older than you really are? We’re guessing that hit you right in the ego—you may enjoy indulging in decidedly aunt activities, but you certainly don’t look like one! Rachael Bebe runs a Cosmetic tattoo salon in Melbourne.

In case the importance of eyebrows hasn’t been stressed enough, we’re here to tell you that your eyebrows may be adding years to your appearance. We heard rumblings about this sneaky source of aging and decided we simply must get to the bottom of this nasty rumour. So, we turned to Tonya Crooks and asked her to give us the lowdown on what eyebrows really do for your face.

Eyebrows are a facial feature that, until a few years ago, most of us gave little thought to – but now that’s all changed.

While eyebrow upkeep once involved simply plucking the odd strays out once a fortnight, now there are endless brow pencils, kits and hair removal methods to choose from.

In fact, the Guardian reported that the eyebrow product market is now up £6.5million, meaning that brows are most certainly big business.

However, while we know that a sculpted brow can help enhance your face, badly made-up eyebrows are a big issue. Indeed, get it wrong, and they can even make you look older than you are – something few of us would be happy with!

If you’re wondering why some people are adding years to your age, you might want to scrutinize your eyebrows. In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, darker brows were found to make a person look younger, since we seem to (subconsciously) associate defined contrasts in facial features with youth. That makes sense, considering eyebrows do tend to lighten with age.

There are still other things about your brows that you might want to look into, though. Thankfully, you can easily remedy your eyebrow issues with make-up. 

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How Much of a Difference Do Eyebrows Really Make?

Asking a brow expert if eyebrows really make a noticeable difference in a person’s face might be a little unnecessary, but we did it anyway. And, not surprisingly, she responded: “Absolutely 100% YES!” To illustrate her point, Crooks referenced a photo you have seen floating around the Internet. “A few weeks ago on Facebook, a friend shared a stunning picture of Anne Hathaway side-by-side with the same photo of Anne, minus the eyebrows. The difference is shocking,” Crooks says (and we agree). Crooks also added that a great, well-shaped brow gives a look of confidence and really balances the face.

“The tails start to recede, as do the fronts of your brows, which I lovingly call ‘sprouts’—they also recede as time goes on. They can get white or gray. Also, as the hair loses its colour, it can also lose its lubricating oils, making it coarser.

“Naturally, as you age, your brows generally get a little patchier. Also, the tail tends to drop, which can pull down the eye and make it look droopy. Unfortunately, this also happens in an asymmetrical way. Some people think it’s because of the side you sleep on, but the tail does drop. Everything goes in one direction, basically, and that is south. The quality of the hair also changes, and it suffers as time goes on.”

A new study finds that facial features, like lips and eyebrows, tend to stand out less as people get older. Because of that, the authors say, people perceive faces with more contrast as younger.

In the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers analyzed photographs of 763 makeup-free women with various skin tones between ages 20 and 80. A computer program analyzed the photos for facial contrast: a measure of how much the eyes, lips and eyebrows stand out due to differences in colour, lightness or darkness with the surrounding skin.

Younger women had more facial contrast, and older women had less. The difference mainly decreased in areas around the mouth and eyebrows as women got older.

We fill you in on some common eyebrow mistakes that you may be making when shaping and maintaining your brows. Plus, how to fix them, so you never end up with brow-don’ts ever again

Filling them in with too dark a shade

As is the case with so many make-up products, less is more when it comes to your eyebrows. Going dark and thick with your eyebrow filler will look harsh and heavy-handed.

Stick to short, feathery strokes when you apply any colour to your brows – this means you can build up very gradually, stepping away from the mirror to make sure you haven’t gone overboard.

When it comes to your eyebrows, sometimes less is more. Overdrawn brows that are too thick and dark can look too harsh and heavy-handed.

As a rule of thumb, always stick to short, feathery strokes so you can build up the colour in a gradual way. It is also a good practice to take a step back away from the mirror to make sure you haven’t gone overboard.

If you ruthlessly tweezed your eyebrows into itty bitty arches back in the ’90s, don’t worry — there’s hope for you despite that eyebrow mistake. “There are so many options nowadays for bulking up the brows,” Tonya Crooks, celebrity brow expert and founder of The BrowGal, told Byrdie. “There are restorative products that help to repair damaged eyebrows, as well as a variety of make-up products that create the illusion of thicker, fuller brows.”

Sporting thin and sparse brows will add years to your face. If that’s not the look you’re going for, brow products may be the ticket. However, you should be careful to avoid a product that’s too dark as that, too, can make you appear older. You’ll also want to prevent over-defining your eyebrows. 

“The biggest mistake I see is people being too heavy-handed with their eyebrow products,” Megan Studabaker, a registered nurse and owner of Finespun Brow Design in Scottsdale, Ariz., opined to Self. “I recommend applying products in hair-like strokes versus just filling in with powder because it often gets smeared and messy, which isn’t achieving the polished look you are going for.”

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Ignoring thinning brows

Just like your hair, eyebrows can thin with age, making you look older than you are.

To disguise this, use a brow powder to fill patchy spots, focusing on bringing the fullness back to your brows.

For a permanent solution, there is microblading. This is similar to Eyeliner tattooing but involves the use of a very thin microblade pen for a natural-looking brow build-up that lasts up to three years.

If you cut into the natural arch of your brows, you might wind up with a choppy, uneven, unbalanced look. Rather than trimming the edges, brush the hair upwards and use a small pair of scissors made just for trimming the eyebrows to trim the brow hairs that stick out.

To help you gauge how long your brow hairs should be, hold a make-makeup brush handle or a comb with a pointed handle up to the highest point of your nostril, then follow it up to your brow. This is where your brow should begin. To find your arch, hold the handle and point it to the side of your nose, angling it, so it cuts through your pupil. Next, move the handle to the side of your nose and angle it to reach the outer corner of your eye to determine where your brow should end.

No, we didn’t forget that initial problem with light arches, making you look older. It’s an easy fix since there’s no shape altering involved. While you can take the professional route and get your brows tinted at the salon, a more affordable option is to use a brow crayon. Yes, it’s temporary, but you do your brows every day, anyway! Simply swipe it on to build up the colour according to the intensity you want.

Of course, not all of us are blessed with the perfect foundation for creating a strong set of eyebrows. Whether a tumultuous history with the tweezers is lurking in your past or your eyebrows are just naturally on the thinner side, there’s still hope. “There are so many options nowadays for bulking up the brows,” Crooks says. “There are restorative products that help to repair damaged eyebrows or, as well as a variety of make-makeup products that create the illusion of thicker, fuller brows.”  or Eyebrow tattoos.

Leaving your brows grey or white

It’s funny because it may just be true. Gray eyebrows — or white brows like those of the award-winning actor — aren’t just aging. “From afar, gray or white brows disappear completely, which makes your features look unbalanced,” Eliza Petrescu, brow expert and owner of Eliza’s Eyes in New York City, explained to Prevention. “Even if the hair on your head is silver or gray hair, I suggest dyeing brows light brown,” she continued. “It creates a frame for your eyes that sharpens your features for a more youthful look.”

In Stellan Skarsgård’s acceptance speech at the 2020 Golden Globes, the actor joked that his eyebrows had been holding him back in his career. “I should thank one person, and that is Milos Forman, [who] said to me a couple of years ago, ‘Stellan, I’ve seen so many films with you, but I never remember your face!’ And I realized it was because I don’t have any eyebrows. Nobody could tell if I’m angry or surprised,” Skarsgård said. “For this film [Chernobyl], Daniel Parker made a couple of eyebrows for me,” he said, finishing his thought by holding up his Golden Globe.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with going grey, but, unfortunately, for some of us, this means our eyebrows seem to fade to nothing, losing the definition they add to the face.

Book in for a brow tint at your local salon for a quick and easy way to combat those colourless hairs – it takes a matter of minutes, and the results are impressive.

In addition to your eyebrows thinning and receding as you age, celebrity brow expert Joey Healy explained to Coveteur that, just like the hairs on your head, brow hairs could turn “white or gray.” He continued, saying, “Also, as the hair loses its colour, it can also lose its lubricating oils, making it coarser.” Gray hair is, of course, indicative of aging, but it’s not just because of the colour or texture.

Brow expert Anastasia Soare, owner of Anastasia Beverly Hills Salon, told Prevention that — in addition to changing colour, thinning, and becoming coarser — your brows could also become “unruly” as you age. Unless you want to look older, letting your stray grays do their own thing is not advised and is, in fact, a significant eyebrow mistake. “Consider tinting the grey out of your brow, should it come in,” Healy suggested when speaking to Coveteur. “Also, get a good pair of scissors, like Joey Healy Precision Brow Scissor, to trim your brows for those long hairs.”

Letting brows go untamed

While some of us notice eyebrows thinning with age, for others, brow hairs can become longer and courser, making your eyelids look droopy, and your eyes appear smaller.

Either tweeze at home or visit a salon to get your eyebrows tamed into flattering arches.

If you cut into the natural arch of your brows, you might wind up with a choppy, uneven, unbalanced look. Rather than trimming the edges, brush the hair upwards and use a small pair of scissors made just for trimming the eyebrows to trim the brow hairs that stick out.

To help you gauge how long your brow hairs should be, hold a make-makeup brush handle or a comb with a pointed handle up to the highest point of your nostril, then follow it up to your brow. This is where your brow should begin. To find your arch, hold the handle and point it to the side of your nose, angling it, so it cuts through your pupil. Next, move the handle to the side of your nose and angle it to reach the outer corner of your eye to determine where your brow should end.

Have A Look At Rach’s Eyebrow feathering Services

“Routinely tweezing your eyebrows every day can lead to some serious overplucking,” Hibba Kapil, brow expert and founder of Hibba NYC, informed Glamour. That’s why she recommends shaping up your brows either every week or every other week. But, even if you’ve been careful not to over-pluck, you may eventually find that weekly or biweekly plucking has become too much for your aging brows to handle. “Naturally, as you age, your brows generally get a little patchier,” brow expert Joey Healy told Coveteur.

Although you can fill in patchy brows with make-makeup, it’s a good idea to take a three-month break from tweezing altogether, according to celebrity brow expert Ramy Rafni. “No plucking at all, even hairs you think are not part of your brows, especially at the inner corners,” he told AARP. “Take a good multivitamin plus biotin and zinc, and use a moisturizing protein serum designed to encourage hair growth.”

Tadpole-shaped brows – or any other slightly scary silhouettes – can leave you looking permanently surprised, and distract attention from your eyes.

If you need to grow eyebrow hairs back or thicken what you already have, serums such as Nouveau Lash & Brow Conditioning Serum can really help by conditioning the follicles.

Once you have a good, natural base to start with, it’s best to go and visit a professional for advice on which shape and method would suit your brows best.

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Droopy brows

A brow that points down in the direction of your earlobes can cause the face to look saggy and make you look unhappy. To fix this problem, define the ends of your eyebrows first with short, feathery hair-like strokes that start from the base of your brow. Then, fill in the rest of the shape with an eyebrow powder (for a more natural finish) – working backwards towards the bridge of the nose.

When done right, arched eyebrows frame your face and help make your eyes look bigger. Make the arches too angular and pointed, and you’ll appear stern and severe.

For a flattering fix, try straight brows. A look popularized by Korean women, non-existent arches give your features a youthful, doll-like stance. (Think of the brows you were born with before you wielded a pair of tweezers on them.) Use concealer to cover your arches, then with a brow pencil, draw a straight line above and under your brows, then lightly fill them in. Set your brows with brow gel.

Just as you should pay special attention to the tails of your eyebrows, it’s not a bad idea to assess the state of your arches as you age. Unfortunately, doing nothing with your arches is an eyebrow mistake that’s a sure-fire way to look older. This is especially true as you transition out of your 30s. “In your forties, it’s more about the arch,” celebrity brow expert Joey Healy explained to Coveteur. “Make sure you have a nice, defined arch placed two-thirds of the way out — never centred — and you might want to focus on using things like pencils versus powders because pencils can give you more definition, and you can create tighter perimeter linework.” 

The way you define your arches should continue to change as you enter your 50s and beyond. “The older you get, the more arch you want,” Healy further told the publication. “It opens your eyes and combats slacking of other facial muscles.” Remember, good brows can go a long way — many celebs have transformed their whole look by changing their eyebrows, including the likes of Drew Barrymore and Lady Gaga.

Not filling in your eyebrows’ tails is one eyebrow mistake that’ll age you.

If you have thinning eyebrows, applying brow gel for added contrast may not be enough to prevent your brows from aging you. Because brows also recede, the tails of your eyebrows may need some extra attention. “The tail of the brow is the part that sets off the arch, which makes eyes look youthful and sexy,” Eliza Petrescu, brow expert and owner of Eliza’s Eyes in New York City, explained to Prevention. “Without it, eyes seem droopy and tired.”

To avoid that look, you shouldn’t start with brow gel or powder. “If you have a hole, a gap, a scar, or if you need to extend a tail literally, a pencil is a way to go,” celebrity brow expert Joey Healy revealed to Man Repeller. “Powder is more enhancing,” he also told the publication, “while the pencil is more corrective.”

Bald spots are a sure sign of aging. You may be flaunting a nicely groomed pair of brows, only to realize that it’s not as dense as you want it to be.

Avoid worsening the situation by being extra gentle as you fill in your brows. Your best bet is a brow powder that you can lightly dab onto the bare patches. Don’t press too hard, so you don’t risk pulling off any strands.

Your brows do not complement your hair colour

To create a cohesive look, your eyebrows and hair must work together. If you have jet-black hair, you wouldn’t want to have bleached blonde eyebrows, for instance.

That said, you don’t want your brows and hair to match precisely either because it will look unnatural. Consider buying a brow product that is a shade or two lighter than your hair colour. That way, it seems more natural and less harsh.

What are your recommendations for shaping your brows as you age and helping them complement your changing bone structure?

“The older you get, the more arch you want. It opens your eyes and combats slacking of other facial muscles. Also, as you get older, you want more definition in your brows. Definition can often be defined as a little bit richer, darker, more distinct. Just like blush can help enliven the vitality of an older face, your brows can give you definition as you tend to get a little more washed out. Also, transition your brow-filling colours to ashier tones as you get older, because they tend to look a little bit more natural.” Over 80 percent of the time, participants said that the high contrast face looked younger than the low contrast face.

Anyone who’s ever filtered a selfie on Instagram won’t be surprised by this effect of contrast. But the findings may also help explain why people often use make-makeup to look younger.

The study didn’t involve make-up, so the authors cannot say for sure that darkening features cosmetically would have the same anti-aging results as demonstrated in the study. “But the way we manipulated features in the photos was very similar to what you’d do with make-makeup, and I would be surprised if you couldn’t get similar effects,” says co-author Richard Russell, associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College. “We know that lips get less red with age and eyebrows to get lighter, for instance, and those are both things that you could address with make-up if you wanted.”


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