As the adage goes, if the eyes are the window to the soul then the brows are surely the frame. There are quite a few different eyebrow shapes out there, and making the most of yours is the best way to compliment your features and kind of “complete” your face.
Like many people reading this guide, I am somebody who plucked their eyebrows into the thinnest of arches, not worlds away from a 1920s film star, back in the day. They are still quite sparse along the bottom, and I rely on the best brow gels daily to help me shape my eyebrows. Lesson duly learnt.
While we don’t tend to go quite so ham with the tweezers in 2023, that’s not to say that a little tidy or reshape can’t make the world of difference. According to Vanita Parti MBE, founder and CEO of Blink Brow Bar, working with your natural brow shape is the best way to keep maintenance to a minimum. However, "The shape must be right to balance your face—not everyone looks great with a high arch," she says. For all brows, Vanita recommends threading to create a defined shape in the first instance.
For the ultimate guide on the different eyebrow shapes, I asked two beauty industry icons—who between them have probably shaped thousands of pairs of brows during their careers—to break down the different eyebrow shapes and the tools recommended to keep them looking sharp and well-groomed.
The expert guide to eyebrow shapes
Sherrille Riley, Founder and CEO of Nails & Brows Mayfair and Beauty Edit Mayfair, notes that straight eyebrows particularly suit those with heart-shaped faces as it helps to balance the features. Vanita adds: "If you have a long face, a straight brow will suit you better with a few hairs removed [at] the arch to give you some height."
“Straight eyebrows require little maintenance as they tend to follow the natural shape of the brow,” says Sherrille. “Monthly tweezing and trimming would help to keep them in check."
“Rounded eyebrows have a soft, curved shape and require little maintenance besides regular trimming and tweezing," says Sherrille. "This shape suits people with square, heart-shaped or oval faces. This shape will add softness to their overall look.” For sparser brows, our experts recommend using pencil to fill in any gaps, while the hairs can be set in place with a clear gel.
“High-arched brows are high maintenance as they need regular shaping appointments—[just like a] pixie haircut,” says Sherrille. “Regular tweezing, trimming, threading and brow pencil are necessary for this shape to look on point. They [particularly] suit oval or longer face shapes as they add more definition to the upper face.”
Arched eyebrows can be quite softer, like Lupita Nyong'o's above, while Olivia Wilde is a great example of high-arched brows, which Vanita describes as "beautifully shaped and dramatic. [They are] thinner brows but balanced to add drama and lift cheekbones, which works very well to balance her soft heart-shaped face."
4. Thick and full
“[Thick and full brows] require almost no maintenance and suit all face shapes, and are a timeless look,” says Sherrille. “The big advantage of this natural look is the brow can be shaped to any particular shape as they are so full.”
Priyanka Chopra is a great celebrity example of full brows that are perfectly defined. "Bold brows that have retained their thickness with a defined arch place in exactly the right spot to lift the cheek bones and give definition," says Vanita. Cara Delevigne's iconic brows are another example of a brilliantly naturally full shape.
Bear with us and don't take the name of this brow shape too literally—the "S" is subtle. “S-shaped eyebrows tend to have a gentle wave or curve in them that needs careful shaping,” says Sherrille. “They particularly suit square or diamond-shaped faces as they often have angular feature [and] often need regular maintenance.”
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Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.
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