Eyebrows play a major role in framing your face and influencing how old you look. As we age, our eyebrows naturally thin out and lighten, which can make us appear older. Darker, fuller eyebrows tend to have a more youthful effect. However, going overboard with eyebrow makeup or treatments can backfire and add years to your look. Here’s a closer look at how eyebrow shade impacts perceived age.
How eyebrow color changes with age
Eyebrows naturally darken during puberty thanks to hormonal changes that increase pigment production. Most people reach their darkest, fullest eyebrow shade in their late teens to early 20s. After that, eyebrows gradually lighten and thin out over time:
- 20s to 30s: Eyebrows remain relatively full and dark, with minimal changes.
- 40s to 50s: Eyebrows may start greying and becoming patchier.
- 60s+: More significant thinning, greying, and fading of eyebrows.
Exact changes vary based on genetics, health, and other factors. But in general, lighter, sparser eyebrows are associated with an older appearance.
Why do darker eyebrows make you look younger?
Darker, fuller eyebrows tend to make people look younger for a few reasons:
- They frame the eyes and upper face, balancing facial features.
- They add color and definition around the eyes.
- They reflect the natural brow shade in youth and adolescence.
Dark eyebrows also create a stronger contrast between the brows, eyes, and skin. This level of definition tends to fall as eyebrows lighten with age. Properly filling and coloring the brows to a natural dark shade can help recapture a more youthful look.
Study: Perceptions of eyebrow shade and age
A 2020 study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology examined how eyebrow shade impacts perceived age. Researchers photographed faces with eyebrows digitally lightened or darkened. Study participants viewed the photos and estimated the women’s ages. Here are the key findings:
- Faces with darkened eyebrows were perceived as 2.3 years younger on average.
- Faces with lightened eyebrows were perceived as 4.7 years older.
- The aging effect of lighter brows held true across all age groups studied.
These results suggest going just one or two shades darker when filling eyebrows can take years off your appearance. But going too light has an even more aging effect.
Potential risks of very dark or thick eyebrows
Aim for a natural-looking brow shade that flatters you. But be wary of going overboard. Extra dark or thick eyebrows may:
- Look obviously fake and overdone.
- Weigh down the face with their heaviness.
- Create an unbalanced look with exaggerated arches.
Also avoid brow shades that clash with your natural hair color. For example, jet black brows paired with light brown hair tends to look jarring. Work with your natural canvas to enhance and define your brows in a believable way.
Tips for choosing flattering eyebrow shades
Here are some tips for selecting eyebrow products and colors that take years off your look:
- Go 1 to 2 shades darker than your natural brow color.
- Warm up gray or fading brows with a brow pencil, powder, or tint in a rich brown or taupe.
- Match cool brown or black hair with an ashier brow shade.
- For redheads, use browns with a reddish undertone.
- Avoid black unless it matches your current hair color.
Only fill brows in areas that are sparse. Don’t overload naturally full brows or create new shapes. The end result should blend seamlessly with your natural brow hair.
Are darker brows always better?
Darker brows tend to be more youthful for most people. But personal coloring and facial features also influence how brow shades affect your appearance. Consider these cases where going darker may not be optimal:
- Fair complexions: Black brows can overwhelm very fair skin, so stick to softer browns.
- Salt and pepper hair: Brows that match your natural mix of gray and dark hairs may be most fitting.
- Blondes: Too dark may look obviously fake on pale brows. Stay near your natural shade.
- Hooded eyes: Heavy brows can close off the eyes. A lighter hand prevents heaviness.
The best approach is to give your natural brows some definition while remaining tailored to your coloring and features.
Non-makeup ways to darken eyebrows
Cosmetic eyebrow products offer an easy way to go darker. But some women wish to avoid constant makeup touch-ups. Non-makeup options for boosting brow color include:
- Brow tinting: Semi-permanent vegetable dye to stain the hairs.
- Brow extensions: Keratin fibers bonded to natural brow hairs.
- Microblading: Semi-permanent tattooing to fill sparse areas.
- Brow transplantation: Hair follicles harvested from the scalp and implanted into the brows.
Consult a cosmetologist or esthetician for guidance choosing the right brow enhancement approach for your needs and desired outcome.
What’s the best eyebrow shape for a youthful look?
To keep your look fresh and youthful, avoid overtweezed, ultra-thin eyebrow shapes. The most youthful shapes include:
- Natural brows: Allow your brows to take their natural shape, just tidying stray hairs.
- Soft arches: Gentle, subtle arches lifted at the outer corners.
- Fuller brows: Thicker brows, but avoid anything too overgrown.
For a guide, examine photos from your teens and 20s to see your brows at their peak. Recreate that natural fullness while keeping brows groomed.
Do men also look younger with darker brows?
Yes, darker and fuller eyebrows also create a more youthful effect for men. As male brows naturally thin and lighten with age, filling in gaps and adding subtle color helps turn back the clock. The key is to avoid looking overly groomed or feminine. Target sparse areas and use short, hair-like strokes.
Fuller, darker eyebrows tend to make both women and men look younger by framing the eyes and adding color and definition. But restraint is key. Overdoing brow color, thickness, or shape can seem obvious and overwhelm your appearance. Work with your natural brow shape and coloration. Opt for brow shades 1 to 2 tones darker than your natural hair color. Fill any sparse areas for a complete, defined look. Avoid going overboard. Done right, your new brows can take years off your face!