Why Do We Have Eyebrows?

By Victoria Simpson on April 29 2020 in Science

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
  • Your eyebrows keep contaminants out of your eyes.
  • Without eyebrows, we may have evolved to have differently shaped faces.
  • Some people are born without eyebrows.

Whether you prefer yours bushy, tweezed, penciled in, or au-natural, your eyebrows are a natural part of you. You might often think of them as something you have to style or tame, and you may even go so far as to actually shave them off. Your eyebrows are there for a good reason, however, and your body needs them. In light of this, it could be a good idea to have them on hand or "on-forehead." So, what are your eyebrows for? Here are a few reasons why you have them. 


Sweat, rain, or dust, anyone? According to BBC.com, your eyebrows are there to protect your eyes, plain as that. For example, if and when you are traveling through the desert on a camel, your eyebrows help to keep that never-ending blowing sand from damaging your eyeballs. The same is true for any kind of airborne contaminant coming at your eyes

Liquids count, too. When you are engaged in a heavy activity that has your body producing large amounts of sweat, your eyebrows help to channel that salty liquid away from your eyes and onto the rest of your face, as they do with falling rain. Of course, with a lot of sweat, your eyebrows can become saturated and some sweat can actually end up in your eyes, causing them to sting. But your eyebrows do work to keep most of it out, and without them, you would likely feel a lot more of that salty-eyed pain.  

In fact, eyebrows are so important for keeping potential contaminants away from your eyes that, according to BBC.com, if we did not have them, we might have evolved to have differently shaped faces.

What would we look like? It is hard to say, but it is easy to imagine that we might have looked somewhat like a Star Wars character, complete with no hair and a really bumpy, lumpy forehead. 


Eyebrows distinguish us from other people and help us communicate with one another. Photo by AndriyKo Podilnyk on Unsplash 

Clear communication is important. Your eyebrows are not the next cellphone if you are hoping to communicate with a friend in another country, but when it comes to face-to-face interactions, they do play a key role. 

By raising your eyebrows up or scrunching them down, you help to communicate your feelings. Are you taken aback and dolefully surprised? Are you feeling angry and confused? Your eyebrows can tell the story. In addition to your tone of voice, your body language, and the words you use, your eyebrows can go a long way in helping to communicate your message. 


As Mentalfloss.com suggests, if you are trying to run about town undetected, you might think of shaving off your eyebrows, as opposed to wearing sunglasses. A study done in 2003 at MIT found that participants had a lot more trouble identifying Richard Nixon, and a whole list of other celebrities in photos when their eyebrows were photoshopped out. Something to think about! Your eyebrows are a key part of being human, and they help you stay safe, communicate with others, and have a look that is all you. 

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