Eyebrow & Eyelash Hair
The eyes get a lot of attention. Eyebrow and eyelash appearance is a major factor in eye aesthetic. While drug store solutions like regular mascara, false eyelashes, and skincare lash serums can be helpful, working with a cosmetic surgeon can provide more permanent and effective enhancements.
Published: January 27, 2021
Last updated: March 25, 2021
Given how little of it there is, eyebrows and eyelash hair get a lot of attention. Thousands of mascaras claim to enhance volume, fullness, plumpness, etc. False lashes are meticulously applied and then painstakingly removed by women everyday. Threading, plucking, contouring, and drawing on the eyebrows can morph into a ritualistic occurrence. Makeup routines with eye makeup, eyelash curlers, and lash serums can turn some of us into makeup junkies.
Lack of eyebrow hair and poor eyebrow shape can be a source of frustration for men and women. Additionally, lack of eyelash length, volume, and fullness can detract from overall aesthetic. Fortunately, when the drug store options just don’t cut it or you're tired of spending way too much time in front of your mirror, a plastic surgeon can offer a myriad of invasive and noninvasive options to enhance your appearance.
What is the biological purpose of the eyebrows and eyelashes?
Now for a quick recap of the eye socket (periorbital) anatomy. The upper eye socket is composed of the frontal skull bone, and the brow is defined by the superciliary arch. The nose side of the orbit contains two small lacrimal bones, and the bottom of the orbit is composed of the maxilla (upper jaw) and zygomatic bone.
The eyebrow sits on the brow ridge formed by the superciliary arch. The upper eyelid and lower eyelid meet at the lateral (ear side) and medial (nose side) canthi. The caruncle is the red mound near the nose that secretes oils and sweat. The hair roots for the eye lashes sit on the edges of the upper eyelid and lower eyelid.
The eyebrow functions to trap debris and sweat before it enters the eye. It also can filter sunlight. The eyelashes protect the eye from particles, and secrete a lubricating substance for the lids and eyeball (from the glands of Zeis and the glands of Moll). The lashes additionally act as mini sensors to let us know when something foreign is too close to our eye and this causes us to reflexively close our lids. (1,2)
What causes differences in the size, shape, and length of eyebrows and eyelashes?
People weren’t kidding when they told your younger self to stop over plucking those brows. Like our scalp hair, repeated trauma from plucking, threading, and waxing can lead to permanent follicle damage that contributes to eyebrow scarcity. Additionally, genetics plays an important role in determining brow shape and fullness. Some individuals can be predisposed to a unibrow appearance. Medical conditions (especially thyroid disorders) can cause abnormalities of eyebrow volume and distribution.
Eyelashes are also mostly controlled by genetics. We’ve all seen the men blessed by the powers that be with long, lush lashes. For the rest of us, the volume, length, and distribution of our eyelashes may not be as divinely inspired. Medical conditions, like those affecting hair follicle health, can impact eyelash growth as can certain medications.
What are the main cosmetic concerns related to eyebrows and eyelashes?
Shape, fullness, and volume all contribute to the overall appearance of the eyebrows and eyelashes. Below is a breakdown of the subcategories of lash and brow concerns:
- Sparse Eyebrows: A sparse eyebrow can be defined as a lack of fullness and/or optimal follicle distribution along the lash line leading to a scarce appearance.
- Eyebrow Shape: Shape is mostly determined by hair follicle distribution along the lash line and can also be impacted by follicle length.
- Eyelash Length: The lash length is controlled by the hair follicles along the lash line.
- Eyelash Volume: Volume is controlled by the amount of hair follicles along the lash line. More follicles equal more volume.
- Sparse Eyelashes: A sparse lash appearance can be a combination of lack of adequate hair follicles and poor distribution of follicles across the lash line.
Who may wish to enhance the appearance of their eyelashes and eyebrows?
Both men and women of any age can notice inadequate or undesirable eyelash and eyebrow appearance. Some individuals may be born with unsatisfactory brow and lash volume, shape, and fullness. Those who have over treated their brows may notice diminishing growth over time due to follicle damage. Some medications may be contributing to poor growth. If underlying medical illness has been ruled out, many candidates can consider an enhancement procedure.
How can someone improve the appearance of their eyebrows and eyelashes?
For those ready to experience the benefits of a professional treatment, both invasive and non invasive procedures exist to enhance eyebrow and eyelash fullness, shape, volume, and distribution. Microblading, Hair Transplant, hair removal, and eyelash enhancement can all provide significant results. Below is a general overview of the available interventions.
For Sparse Eyebrows:
Both surgical and non surgical options exist. A surgical Hair Transplant, like Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Strip Harvesting via Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS) or Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), utilize reimplanted hair follicles to promote new hair growth via an Eyebrow Transplant. Microblading is less invasive and involves pigmenting the skin to alter aesthetic.
For Eyebrow Shape:
For Eyelash Length:
For Eyelash Volume:
For Sparse Eyelashes:
For a comprehensive look at all the treatment options outlined above, check out our guide to Eyebrow & Eyelash Restoration Solutions.
Our natural brows and natural lashes are under a lot of scrutiny daily. Every good makeup artist keeps eye makeup, eyelash curlers, fake eyelashes, and regular mascara in their kit. Of course, these solutions also mean plenty of cotton buds and makeup remover. Hair loss in the brows, thin lashes, and poor lash length can detract from eye shape and overall facial appearance. Maybe it’s time to give yourself a break and save time, money, and your sanity by pursuing a professional brow and lash enhancement procedure.
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- MJ Elder Anatomy and Physiology of Eyelash Follicles: Relevance to Lash Ablation Procedures PubMed.gov; 1997-03-01
- Bhupendra C. Patel; Michael J. Lopez; Zachary P. Joos. Anatomy, Head and Neck, Eyelash PubMed.gov; 2020-07-27
- American Academy of Dermatology Association Hair Loss: Tips for Managing aad.org
- Mayo Clinic Staff Hair Loss Symptoms and Causes MayoClinic.org