- There are eight main eyebrow shapes to choose from, including classic brows, back-arched, straight, high-arch, angled, rounded, S-shaped, and ‘fox brow’ shapes.
- It’s recommended to avoid certain outdated brow shapes like too thin, too far apart, blocky, early-arched, and tadpole brows.
- Take your face shape into account when determining the perfect brow shape and thickness for you.
Trends for eyebrow shapes used to evolve in a very linear manner. Looking at photos of women throughout history, it’s very easy to trace how different brow shapes and styles changed over time.
Nowadays, things are not so linear. Different eyebrow shapes and trends are coming at us from every direction, with a lot of different looks being popular at once. One brow shape might be more dominant on Instagram, while another rules TikTok, and these are totally different from the eyebrow shapes that actresses and pop stars are sporting. There’s also an international influence, and brow shapes from one end of the globe can impact the brows on the other end.
This happens with makeup all the time, where different makeup looks and techniques are popular concurrently, but with something like eyebrow shapes, it can be a little more complicated.
Committing to an eyebrow trend can lead to permanent problems – just ask all of the women who tweezed their brows into skinny half circles in the ‘90s only to mourn their loss in the mid-2000s when thicker and more angular brows came back in fashion.
Below, we discuss the common eyebrow shapes that are in-style right now, as well as talk about a few outdated ones. We also explain how to alter your eyebrow shape to suit the shape of your face.
In this article:
- The Parts of the Brow
- The Main Eyebrow Shapes
- Outdated Eyebrow Shapes
- Best Eyebrow Shapes According to Face Shapes
- What About Eyebrow Symmetry?
The Parts of the Brow
In order to understand the different eyebrow shapes, it’s important that we first agree on terminology. Here are the common terms used to describe the different parts of the brow.
The arch is the highest point of the eyebrow. If the eyebrow was split into three parts, the arch would take up the center part of the eyebrows, although it’s usually a little closer to the outer end than to the front.
The front of the brow refers to where the eyebrow starts near the center of the face. The hairs at the front of the brow usually grow upwards. Where the front of the brow starts growing will impact how close the two eyebrows are to each other.
First/ Second/ Third Third
If the brow were split into three parts, the inner third would include the front of the brow as well as a few centimeters away from it. This is the section of the brow that is usually angled straight or on a slightly upward diagonal, and for most, it ends right before the arch. The arch usually takes up the second third, and the tail is at the final third.
The tail is the pointed end of the brow. It starts right where the curve of the arch starts descending, taking up the outer third of the brow.
The top line of the brow has a huge impact on its overall shape. It’s the part of the brow that’s further away from the eyes and comes in contact with the forehead.
The bottom part of the brows is directly above the eyes. It is where most people tend to concentrate their hair removal efforts. The lower the bottom of the brow, the more shaded the eyes will look.
The length of the brow refers to the distance from the front of the brow to the tail. The greater the distance, the longer the brows, and the shorter the distance, the shorter they are.
Brow thickness refers to the distance from the bottom of the brow to the top. The greater the distance, the thicker the brows, and the smaller the distance, the thinner they are.
Brow density refers to how much hair grows per square millimeter. Dense brows have more hair, while sparse brows have less hair.
The Main Eyebrow Shapes
In 99% of cases, the best eyebrow shape to choose is the one that you naturally have. You can rely on hair removal and brow filling products to tease out a cleaner, more even, and more groomed eyebrow, but ultimately, your best brow shape will be the one decided by your natural musculature and hair growth patterns.
When reading through this section, don’t try to determine which brow shape to force your eyebrows into, but instead consider which one they fall into naturally.
The Classic Brow Shape (i.e. The Golden Ratio)
This is the main brow shape that is taught to makeup artists and aestheticians, and the basic principles for creating or refining it are often transferable to other eyebrow shapes. It’s adaptable and will flatter almost everyone but is also a little old-school. Marilyn Monroe is a great example of a sharply arched version of the classic brows, while Kylie Jenner embodies the modern classic brow.
The classic brow shape consists of a slightly longer front third that is on an upward diagonal, an arch that starts a little after the middle of the brow, and a pointed tail.
Eyebrow shaping professionals of all sorts will use some sort of ruler, especially when first starting out, to figure out the three lines for the classic brow, which is sometimes referred to as “the Golden ratio.”
The first line shows where the front of the brow should start. It should go from the outer part of the nostril straight up, passing above the end of the inner corner of the eye. By starting to fill the brows in at this line or by not tweezing past it, you can avoid having brows that are too far apart. These days, bushy brows are trendy, so many people choose to have their brows start before this line, so they’re a little closer together.
The second line is for the arch, and here different sources suggest slightly different methods for deciding where it should go. When I was in makeup school, the suggestion was to measure a straight line that starts at the end of the nostril and goes over the center of the pupil. Where the line ends should be the highest point of the arch or at least the point where the arch starts even if it’s not the highest point.
Other sources instead suggest using a vertical line that goes from the outer part of the iris straight up to the highest point of the arch, although the problem with this is that it’s very hard to keep any ruler truly vertically straight, so only having one point of reference (the iris) instead of two (the nostril and pupil) makes things difficult.
The final line helps determine where the brow should end. It goes from the end of the nostril to the outer end of the eye, and where it ends is where the brow should end. This is probably the only measurement that hasn’t changed much over the last 60 years.
Back-Arched Brow Shape
Over the last few years, the start point of the arch has moved slightly further back towards the tail, making the Back-Arched Brow even more popular than the Classic Brow. The arch is usually less high, and the brows seem a little less harsh while still preserving an angle. Jessica Alba has back-arched brows of medium thickness, while Cara Delevingne has thick back-arched eyebrows.
Anastasia Soare, the founder of the makeup brand Anastasia Beverly Hills, has her own version of the Golden Ratio that takes this into account and results in a shape that looks a little more pleasing to a modern eye.
The main difference in Soare’s Golden Ratio is that to measure where the arch should be, the line starts at the tip of the nose instead of the end of the nostril. It then goes over the center of the pupil to show the highest point of the arch. This results in an arch that is just a hint closer to the tail than the classic brow.
Note that if the arch starts too far back, especially if it’s coupled with an overly-long tail, it can end up making the face look sad and droopy.
Straight Brow Shape
Straight brows are having a moment right now, concurrently with other eyebrow shapes. The key detail with straight eyebrows is that they’re straight along the bottom line, with no discernable arch. The bottom line can be very straight or slightly curved without any sharpness. However, a slight peak can still exist along the top of the brow, which can add a bit of structure without taking away from the overall “straightness.”
Straight eyebrows tend to make the face look softer and more youthful. They are part of the secret of Natalie Portman’s beauty, and they are also a very prominent eyebrow shape in East Asian beauty.
However, it’s important to note that the lower straight brows sit above the eyes, the more they shadow them, which can make the eyes seem smaller.
High-Arch Brow Shape
A brow with a high arch is usually a variation on the classic brow, though it can also be a variation on a brow with a slight back arch. The higher the arch, the more dramatic the face will look. They tend to give off “don’t mess with me” vibes, which is the reason why every iconic Disney villainess has high arches. Tyra Banks’ fierce eyebrows are a gorgeous example of high arches.
For a high arch to be effective, it’s important that there be a dramatic rise or angle from the front of the brow to the top of the arch. Many women try to tweeze their brows from below to achieve that dramatic curve, but unfortunately, that’s not how true drama is achieved.
A high arch depends on having more hair along the top of the brow, not on having less hair at the bottom. In fact, the thickness of the brow at the arch should be about the same or just a hint thinner than the front.
Angled Arch Brow Shape
This is more of a subcategory of classic or back-arched brows, where the angles are sharper, and the lines are straighter. The front third of the brow and the tail are both straight, while the arch comes to a point like a triangle. The bottom and top usually match each other, though it’s also possible to have a compound brow where the top is sharp, and the bottom of the arch is a little straighter.
This is the kind of brow that comes off as more severe, though this also depends on how high the arch is and exactly how sharp the angles are.
Rounded Arch Brow Shape
On the opposite side from the angled arch, we have the rounded arch. In this brow shape, the front can be straighter or rounded, but what stands out is that the arch swoops up in a soft, round shape. It can be high or low, classic or back-arched, but no matter what, this brow shape has a lovely, softening effect on the face.
S-Shaped Brow Shape
This is a naturally occurring brow shape that is surprisingly charming, even though it sounds like it breaks all the rules. With S-shaped brows, there is a small dip after the front of the brow but before the arch, somewhere in the center of the first third of the brow.
Emilia Clarke has such eyebrows, and they help her be more expressive in her acting roles, although on the red carpet, her makeup artists often fill them in to make them look more traditionally shaped.
‘Fox Brow’ Brow Shape
The fox brow is a brow that instead of tapering downwards at the tail keeps going straight up or out from the arch. Fox brows are often a little shorter than more classic styles, and they give the illusion that the face is more lifted.
In some photos, Audrey Hepburn had this brow shape, though, for most films and red carpets, they were actually filled in to look more traditional. These days, Kendall Jenner is famous for having this eyebrow shape.
A variation on this brow shape has been very popular in Iran for the last decade or so, but it’s recently been popularized in the West where it has been dubbed “the fox brow,” where it pairs with “the fox eye” makeup look, which relies on a soft, angled cat eye to give the illusion that the eyes are more upturned and sultrier.
While fox brows are very trendy right now, there is no telling how long that will last, so if you’re tempted to remove the tail of your brow and redraw it into a “fox brow,” do yourself a favor and remove the hair with a razor rather than tweezers to avoid irreparable damage.
Outdated Eyebrow Shapes
When watching old movies, it’s sometimes difficult not to get distracted by the outdated eyebrow shapes the actors are rocking. For those of us who have lived through multiple, radically different eyebrow shape eras, sometimes those outdated brows are still stamped on our face! Thankfully, the brow trends these days have mostly moved away from shapes that are hard to undo, but here’s a reminder of what’s to be avoided.
The ‘90s were not a good decade for eyebrows. While eyebrows kept in both more angular and rounded shapes, what they all had in common during that decade is extreme thinness. Just look at old photos of the Spice Girls (especially Geri a.k.a. Ginger Spice) or Drew Barrymore (for whom it’s particularly tragic since her eyebrows were so gorgeous in the ‘80s!).
Overly thin brows don’t frame the face well, and they usually have an unbalanced effect that doesn’t flatter most features. Consider this a warning: many women who are now in their 30s, 40s, and 50s tweezed their brows to death in the ‘90s, and now they cannot grow the hair back. Don’t succumb to brow trends that rely on a lot of tweezing, waxing, or anything else that could be made permanent, lest you suffer the same fate.
We’re calling them ‘70s brows, but the more apt name might be “sperm brows.” I hate them even more than I hate the ‘90s brows! This is a brow style where the front third is the thickest part of the brow, with the tail and arch significantly thinner. If the front is also rounded, which was an unfortunate commonality, the result is eyebrows shaped a little bit like a tadpole or, yes, a sperm.
The late Sharon Tate’s eyebrows looked like this for some part of her career, but she was the only woman beautiful enough to pull them off.
Early arch is the more sinister cousin of the ‘70s brows. This is what happens when the arch starts way too early, usually in the front third of the brow. By following the Golden Ratio, this mistake can be avoided, since few people have a naturally early arch.
The early arch is usually paired with very thin or overly rounded brows, and it can look even worse if the front is significantly thicker than the early arch. Donna Summer sported such eyebrows in the ‘70s, though she was able to grow them out to a much fuller shape when trends changed in the ‘80s.
This is an eyebrow shape that started showing up with the advent of eyebrow tattoos, as it’s never a problem with regular eyebrow hair. Permanent makeup techs didn’t have a way to create color or shade variation when tattooing eyebrows, which resulted in a really straight and stark line of demarcation that didn’t resemble natural hair at all.
The worst part was usually the front, which simply looked like a block or solid square. This can also be a common issue when filling the brows in with pomade or powder, but at least then it’s not permanent.
Simply Too Far Apart
Having eyebrows that are too far apart is always to be avoided. It totally throws off the balance of the face, making the forehead and nose look bigger and causing the eyes to appear too far apart. People often end up over-tweezing in such a way out of the fear of having a unibrow, but I’d say having hair between your brows is preferred to too much space – just look at Frieda Kahlo or Sophia Hadjipanteli.
One of the best things about the Golden Ratio is that it helps restrain tweezer-happy people from removing too much hair from the front of their brows.
Best Eyebrow Shapes According to Face Shapes
The shape and thickness of your eyebrows can have a major impact on your face shape and overall features. Now that we’ve covered all of the major brow shapes, as well as brow errors, let’s talk about how you can make sure that your brows suit your face!
Determining the Right Thickness
Before getting into the different face shapes, let’s talk about how thick or thin your eyebrows should be, which has less to do with the shape of your face and more to do with the size of it and your features. The Golden Ratio already helps to determine the best length by using the eyes and nose as measuring points to guarantee that the brows are at a length that will flatter the features.
In general, the smaller your face and the more delicate your features, the thinner your brows should be, while the bigger your face and the more prominent your features are, the thicker they need to be.
However, it’s always better to err on the side of having thicker brows, especially these days when delicate features with bold brows allow so many models to stand out.
Eyebrow Shapes for Oval Face
Oval is probably the most common face shape for women. The face is slightly longer than it is wide, with a rounded jaw and forehead and a bit of cheekbone.
Those with oval faces have a lot of room to experiment with softer, more rounded brows as well as with more arched and angular brows. This is because oval faces are already quite balanced. Different brow styles can create different effects, but in ways that are still flattering.
Eyebrow Shapes for Round Face
A round face is about as wide as it is long, with softer features. For those with round faces, the right brow shape can help add a hint of sharpness to the face, though it’s important not to overdo it. A slightly higher and more angular arch is a fantastic choice, and a fox brow or a combination of a fox brow with a back-arched brow can be super flattering.
With a round face, it’s very important not to let the tail of the brow get too long since this can pull the face downwards in a way that emphasizes its roundness. Additionally, it’s better to keep the brows at medium thickness since thin brows will disappear, while thick ones might be a little overwhelming.
Eyebrow Shapes for Square Face
A square face is also as wide as it is long, much like a round face, but the key difference is that the features are a little sharper and more angular – especially the jawline, though also the cheekbones and the perimeter of the forehead.
Those with square face shapes often opt for eyebrow shapes that will soften their features, with arches that are slightly more rounded or that peak at the top but stay fuller at the bottom. However, it’s still important to keep an arch in the brow in order to help lengthen the face. Once again, a medium thickness is best for the brow. If you’d like inspiration, look at Olivia Wilde, who has gorgeous, classic brows with a soft arch that perfectly matches her square face.
Eyebrow Shapes for Rectangular Face
A rectangular face has the same straight lines and sharp angles as a square face, but it’s a little longer than it is wide, more like an oval. Because of that, the brows should still be kept softer, and it’s important to avoid very sharp angles or overly straight lines.
However, since a rectangular face is a little longer, there is more room to play with the height of the arch. Both straighter brows and slightly arched brows can look great. As for the size, brows can be either medium or thick, depending on your preference.
Eyebrow Shapes for Diamond Face
Diamond-shaped faces are angular with sharp, high cheekbones, a small forehead, and a narrow and pointed chin. Because a diamond face is already so sharp, it’s better to keep the eyebrows looking softer with slightly rounded shapes instead of very sharp or angled ones.
Because those with a diamond face have a slightly smaller forehead, it’s also best to avoid overly arched or high eyebrow shapes. Straight, slightly rounded, and back-arched brows tend to be the most flattering.
Those with diamond faces can get away with thin brows since their face tends to be a little smaller, but medium thickness is probably a safer choice.
Eyebrow Shapes for Heart Face
A heart-shaped face has the same narrow jawline, pointy chin, and high cheekbones as a diamond face, but with a larger forehead. As a result, those with heart-shaped faces need a bit of an arch to balance out the forehead, but it shouldn’t be too round or too angular. A classic arch is sometimes too high, so a back-arched brow might be the better choice. Brows with medium thickness tend to be the most flattering.
What About Eyebrow Symmetry?
You may have heard the old phrase, “eyebrows should be sisters, not twins.” It might be a cliché, but it’s still 100% true. The sad fact is that very few people have totally symmetrical faces, although, to be honest, I’m not sure total facial symmetry would be a good thing.
On close examination, even the two most celebrated sets of eyebrows in the world right now, belonging to Bella Hadid and Cara Delevingne, aren’t symmetrical. Hadid’s left brow is slightly more angular than her right one, while Delevingne’s left arch is slightly higher and further towards the tail than her right one. This doesn’t take away from either woman’s beauty.
The most important thing is that your eyebrows be balanced in relation to the rest of your features, which means that if one eye is slightly higher (which is extremely common and usually imperceptible for anyone but you), it’s better to have both eyebrows be an equal distance above the eyes rather than to have them sitting on the same horizontal line, which would lead to one eye looking more shadowed than the other.
When shaping your eyebrows, check symmetry not with a mirror held close to the face, but with a larger mirror that shows you the entire picture. As you tweeze or fill in your brows, check them in the far away mirror every so often to see both how they compare to each other and how they impact the overall balance of your face, and I guarantee the result will be much more pleasing. Your face will seem more symmetrical than it would if you turned your brows into twins.
Photos via @ashmeredith_, @priscilla_fhern, Instagram