Why Do We Have Eyebrows

Eyebrow: A brow is a thin, straight line of skin at the corner of the eye. Eyelids are tiny muscles located behind your eyes that control how much eyeliner you can make. Eyebrows may be present from birth or develop later in life. They’re usually found on both sides of the face and grow continuously throughout childhood and adolescence, then gradually decrease during adulthood.[1]

Why Do We Have Eyebrows?

The answer to this question is actually quite simple. Eyebrows are used to protect our eyes from harmful UV rays. When sunlight hits the surface of our skin, it causes the UVA (ultraviolet) radiation to damage the cornea. The result is blurred vision and sometimes even blindness.

However, when we look directly into the sun’s rays, our eyes naturally block out most of these damaging rays. However, if we keep looking away from the sun too long, some of those harmful rays will still reach our eyes. If they do so without being blocked by our eyelashes or other protective structures like glasses or sunscreen, then there is a risk that they could cause cancerous cells to grow in them. These cells would spread through the body and eventually lead to blindness.

Eyebrows help block these damaging rays by casting a shadow over the area around the eyes. Since the corners of the eyes are usually never covered by sunglasses or sunscreen, most of these UV rays hit the skin around the eyes and cause cancerous cells to form there. If we had no eyebrows at all, then it would be much more likely that we would develop eye cancer.

The other reason we have eyebrows is for appearance. Arguably, we do not need eyebrows to live or survive. We might do better without them if they weren’t prone to disease, but eyebrows make the world a much more aesthetically pleasing place.

Eyebrows have been used as a way to express emotions for thousands of years. Powerful people such as Alexander the Great and Charlemagne both had a thick patch above their eyes that would be painted when they wanted to make an impression upon their subjects.

Nowadays, the popularity of eyebrows wax and dye is greater than ever. You might have noticed that most women and some men fill in their eyebrows with a pencil or dye them a different color than their hair. This is because they believe that their face looks more appealing with eyebrows. Without eyebrows, people look unfinished and not as attractive.

Eyebrows also help to protect our eyes from dirt and falling objects. When something hits our forehead, it usually gets pushed towards our eyes. Eyebrows provide a protective barrier that channels this dirt or debris away from the eyes.

Eyebrow removal is painful and costly. It can lead to many skin problems and even blindness if proper protection isn’t used. This is why most doctors will not do it unless it is medically necessary.

Why Don’t We Feel It When We Pluck Our Eyebrows?

Let’s start with a simple answer and work our way up to a more complex answer.

The Simple Answer: The nerves that cause the pain of plucking your eyebrows are located in the skin, not anywhere inside our skull. When we pluck hairs, we are essentially ripping them out at the root. This can cause the skin around the root to become inflamed, which can also lead to pain.

This is why waxing is actually a better way to remove hair than tweezing or plucking. Plucking or tweezing pulls the hair at the root, causing inflammation around the root and pain. Waxing pulls off a thin layer of skin, but never actually touches the root of your hairs. This means that the root is never touched, and you don’t feel pain.

The Less Simple Answer: The Simple Answer isn’t totally accurate. There are actually a few different factors that can cause different people to experience pain from plucking their eyebrows.

Our Pain Threshold: Some people definitely have a higher pain tolerance than others. If you are among the population of people who feel no pain from plucking their eyebrows, then you may want to stay far away from surgery. You should also probably avoid anything that may cause pain, such as visiting the dentist or going to the gym.

For the rest of us that do feel pain when we pluck our eyebrows, this can be caused by a few different factors. Genetics definitely play a part. Some people have genes that do not cause them to feel as much pain as others. For some it simply doesn’t hurt at all. This can also manifest itself in other ways.

For example, some people can drink a lot without getting a hangover, while others will feel ill after one drink. Other people can withstand very high or low temperatures without discomfort. Whatever your genetic makeup is, it can determine how your body reacts to pain and other stimuli.

Plucking Can Cause Inflammation: Inflammation is the culprit here. When you pluck one eyebrow hair, the root of that hair becomes inflamed. The skin around it becomes red and puffy. The redness and puffiness will go away after a few days, but the skin will be left feeling tender for quite awhile.

The point where the root of the hair was pulled out will most likely be very tender for a few days to a week or so. During this time you should probably avoid plucking any other hairs. You may want to apply an ice pack to the area as well.

The Best Solution: The best way to pluck your eyebrows is to go slowly. Never pull hairs out in rapid succession in the same area. Always make sure the skin is not red or inflamed before you start plucking in that area again.

It can take quite awhile to shape your eyebrows, but it’s better than having a rash or tenderness in that area for an extended period.

A Word from Very Well

If you have any concerns about the pain you are feeling when plucking your eyebrows, it would be a good idea to speak with your doctor. There are many skin conditions that can cause pain, especially if a rash forms around the eyebrows. Acne is one possibility, and if this is the case it can be treated with over the counter medication. If this is not the cause of your pain, then there may be other medical issues present.

Sources & references used in this article:

The role of eyebrows in face recognition by J Sadr, I Jarudi, P Sinha – Perception, 2003 – journals.sagepub.com

Aesthetic analysis of the eyebrows. by JP Gunter, SD Antrobus – Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 1997 – europepmc.org

A role for eyebrows in regulating the visibility of eye gaze direction by R Watt, B Craven, S Quinn – Quarterly Journal of …, 2007 – journals.sagepub.com

Visual imagery and memory for appearance: Does Clark Gable or George C. Scott have bushier eyebrows? by D Reisberg, S Leak – … Journal of Psychology/Revue canadienne de …, 1987 – psycnet.apa.org

Sex discrimination: how do we tell the difference between male and female faces? by V Bruce, AM Burton, E Hanna, P Healey… – …, 1993 – journals.sagepub.com

Why do we have eyebrows? by 任民 – 校园英语, 2006 – cqvip.com

Pitch, eyebrows and the perception of focus by E Krahmer, Z Ruttkay, M Swerts… – Speech Prosody 2002 …, 2002 – isca-speech.org

Can your eyebrows tell me who you are? by F Juefei-Xu, M Savvides – 2011 5th International Conference on …, 2011 – ieeexplore.ieee.org