Eyebrow Mistakes That Make You Look Older

None of us are immune to eyebrow mistakes. After all, barring unforeseen circumstances, all of us will eventually experience the aging process and the troubles that come with it. And the process may begin earlier than you'd expect. "The majority of hormone changes start around age 30," Beverly Hills-based endocrinologist Eva Cwynar told Women's Health (via NBC News). At this time, the human growth hormone (HGH) begins to slow and causes a reduced turnover rate of our cells. "When we're 18, our growth hormone levels may be around 800. By 30, they've dropped to 150," the expert explained. "It's normal. It's just how we age."

From your 30s onward, it is indeed "normal" to experience skin changes — like wrinkles, cellulite, or brown spots —as well as changes to your hair. In addition to finding a few stray whiskers in places they don't belong, you may notice your hair thinning around your temples. Your brow hairs are also not immune to aging, Sejal Shah, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, confirmed to Self.

Just as you'll change up your skincare and makeup routines as you age, you'll want to make changes to your brows. According to the experts, these are the common eyebrow mistakes you should avoid making if you don't want to look older.

Years of plucking your eyebrows too thin will make you look older

Women commonly experience thinning eyebrows as they age, dermatologist Judith Hellman told Self. It's often the result of "too much tweezing or waxing earlier in life," she continued. "The trauma inflicted on hair follicles during waxing, tweezing, and threading can lead to permanent follicular damage," Sanusi Umar, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. U Hair and Skin Clinic in Los Angeles, Calif., further revealed to the publication. "Women who grew up in the height of the '90s overplucked, pencil-thin brow trend have begun to notice the difficulty in growing thicker eyebrows after years of this habit."

Although those skinny brows may have made us look youthful and trendy back then, sporting sparse brows decades later will only make you look older. But, even if you didn't succumb to the style back then, it's possible that you will still experience thinning brows during menopause. "Abrupt hormone changes can cause sudden hair loss (telogen effluvium)," Nanette Santoro, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor of reproductive endocrinology at the University of Colorado, explained. 

All hope for your brows is not lost, though. Santoro explained that the hair usually "recovers over about six months' time." 

Overdoing it with products is one eyebrow mistake that may make you look older

If you ruthlessly tweezed your eyebrows into itty bitty arches back in the '90s, don't worry — there's hope for you despite that eyebrow mistake. "There are so many options nowadays for bulking up the brows," Tonya Crooks, celebrity brow expert and founder of The BrowGal, told Byrdie. "There are restorative products that help to repair damaged eyebrows, as well as a variety of makeup products that create the illusion of thicker, fuller brows."

Sporting thin and sparse brows will add years to your face. If that's not the look you're going for, brow products may be the ticket. However, you should be careful to avoid a product that's too dark as that, too, can make you appear older. You'll also want to avoid over-defining your eyebrows. 

"The biggest mistake I see is people being too heavy handed with their eyebrow products," Megan Studabaker, a registered nurse and owner of Finespun Brow Design in Scottsdale, Ariz., opined to Self. "I recommend applying products in hair-like strokes, versus just filling in with powder because it often gets smeared and messy which isn't achieving the polished look you are going for."

Also, it's generally just a good idea to understand the perfect eyebrow shape for your face before setting out to "fix" them.

Lightening your brows is an eyebrow mistake that could make you look older

While you should be careful not to darken your brows too much as to avoid looking older, you also don't want to go too light, either. That'd also be an eyebrow mistake. According to a comprehensive study published in 2017, older women's eyebrows were found to stand out less than younger women's. As part of the study, researchers also presented participants with two pictures of the same woman — one photoshopped with a higher level of contrast in the lips and eyebrows and one with a lower level of contrast. Nearly 80 percent of the time, the participants rated the face with more contrast as younger and the one with less as older.

"The way we manipulated features in the photos was very similar to what you'd do with makeup, and I would be surprised if you couldn't get similar effects," Richard Russell, the study's co-author and associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, told Time. "We know that lips get less red with age and eyebrows get lighter, for instance, and those are both things that you could address with makeup, if you wanted."

Not filling in your eyebrows' tails is one eyebrow mistake that'll age you

If you have thinning eyebrows, applying brow gel for added contrast may not be enough to prevent your brows from aging you. Because brows also recede, the tails of your eyebrows may need some extra attention. "The tail of the brow is the part that sets off the arch, which makes eyes look youthful and sexy," Eliza Petrescu, brow expert and owner of Eliza's Eyes in New York City, explained to Prevention. "Without it, eyes seem droopy and tired."

To avoid that look, you shouldn't start with brow gel or powder. "If you have a hole, a gap, a scar, or if you need to literally extend a tail, pencil is the way to go," celebrity brow expert Joey Healy revealed to Man Repeller. "Powder is more enhancing," he also told the publication, "while pencil is more corrective."

After you've finished penciling in the tails of your brows, the rest is easy. You can now sweep some tinted brow gel — which Megan Studabaker, owner of Finespun Brow Design in Arizona, says is "relatively foolproof" (via Self) — over the entirety of your brows. 

One eyebrow mistake is failing to define your arches, making you look older

Just as you should pay special attention to the tails of your eyebrows, it's not a bad idea to assess the state of your arches as you age. Unfortunately, doing nothing with your arches is an eyebrow mistake that's a sure-fire way to look older. This is especially true as you transition out of your 30s. "In your forties, it's more about the arch," celebrity brow expert Joey Healy explained to Coveteur. "Make sure you have a nice, defined arch placed two-thirds of the way out — never centered — and you might want to focus on using things like pencils versus powders because pencils can give you more definition, and you can create tighter perimeter linework." 

The way you define your arches should continue to change as you enter your 50s and beyond. "The older you get, the more arch you want," Healy further told the publication. "It opens your eyes and combats slacking of other facial muscles." Remember, good brows can go a long way — many celebs have transformed their whole look by changing their eyebrows, including the likes of Drew Barrymore and Lady Gaga.

Not grooming stray grays is a huge eyebrow mistake

In addition to your eyebrows thinning and receding as you age, celebrity brow expert Joey Healy explained to Coveteur that, just like the hairs on your head, brow hairs can turn "white or gray." He continued, saying, "Also, as the hair loses its color, it can also lose its lubricating oils, making it coarser." Gray hair is, of course, indicative of aging, but it's not just because of the color or texture.

Brow expert Anastasia Soare, owner of Anastasia Beverly Hills Salon, told Prevention that — in addition to changing color, thinning, and becoming coarser — your brows can also become "unruly" as you age. Unless you want to look older, letting your stray grays do their own thing is not advised and is, in fact, a significant eyebrow mistake. "Consider tinting the grey out of your brow, should it come in," Healy advised when speaking to Coveteur. "Also, get a good pair of scissors, like Joey Healy Precision Brow Scissor, to trim your brows for those long hairs."

Letting your eyebrows go full gray will make you look older

In Stellan Skarsgård's acceptance speech at the 2020 Golden Globes, the actor joked that his eyebrows had been holding him back in his career. "I should thank one person, and that is Milos Forman, [who] said to me a couple years ago, 'Stellan, I've seen so many films with you, but I never remember your face!' And I realized it was because I don't have any eyebrows. Nobody could tell if I'm angry or surprised," Skarsgård said. "For this film [Chernobyl], Daniel Parker made a couple of eyebrows for me," he said, finishing his thought by holding up his Golden Globe.

It's funny because it may just be true. Gray eyebrows — or white brows like those of the award-winning actor — aren't just aging. "From afar, gray or white brows disappear completely, which makes your features look unbalanced," Eliza Petrescu, brow expert and owner of Eliza's Eyes in New York City, explained to Prevention. "Even if the hair on your head is silver or gray hair, I suggest dyeing brows light brown," she continued. "It creates a frame for your eyes that sharpens your features for a more youthful look."

Curious about what causes your hair to change colors? Here's what's happening when your hair goes gray.

Letting your brows get overgrown is an eyebrow mistake that will make you look older

While some people may experience thinning eyebrows as they age, others may notice their brows becoming bushier. This is still a normal part of aging, but may not be all that fun to deal with. Kristie Streicher, eyebrow expert at Warren-Tricomi Salon in Los Angeles, Calif., explained to Prevention that having overgrown brows is an eyebrow mistake that can make the eyelid appear droopy and, thus, make the person sporting such brows appear older. So, what are you to do?

It's a good idea to keep those brows well-groomed. You can tweeze the stragglers and trim any coarse hairs that have grown too long. Using slant-tip tweezers can be helpful for removing overgrowth, but it's not necessarily easy. "This can be tricky, so I recommend going to a pro," Petrescu advised.

Once you get your brows how you want them, you should finish with brow gel. Even if your brows are naturally dark, you'll still want to opt for clear gel so you can keep those unruly brows in check throughout the day.

Plucking your eyebrows too frequently is a definite eyebrow mistake that'll age you

"Routinely tweezing your eyebrows every day can lead to some serious overplucking," Hibba Kapil, brow expert and founder of Hibba NYC, informed Glamour. That's why she recommends shaping up your brows either every week or every other week. But, even if you've been careful not to over-pluck, you may eventually find that weekly or biweekly plucking has become too much for your aging brows to handle. "Naturally, as you age, your brows generally get a little patchier," brow expert Joey Healy told Coveteur.

Although you can fill in patchy brows with makeup, it's a good idea to take a three-month break from tweezing altogether, according to celebrity brow expert Ramy Rafni. "No plucking at all, even hairs you think are not part of your brows, especially at the inner corners," he told AARP. "Take a good multivitamin plus biotin and zinc, and use a moisturizing protein serum designed to encourage hair growth."

The eyebrow mistake of skipping highlighter can make you look older

Science has proven that facial bones change as we get older. The angle of the bones beneath our eyebrows, in particular, decreases as we age. According to researchers, this may contribute to "crow's feet" wrinkles and droopy eyelids. Short of surgery, there's not much we can do about these changes to our faces. But we can work some magic with makeup and avoid making eyebrow mistakes.

You may think of using highlighter to accentuate your cheekbones, but highlighter should also have a prominent place in your brow routine, especially for middle-aged and older women. "For fifties [and on], start using highlighter under the brow," brow expert Joey Healy explained to Coveteur. "A matte cream highlighter like Joey Healy High Rise lifts the brow." While a lowered brow will give off the appearance of aging, highlighter can easily — and not at all invasively, might we add — camouflage a sunken brow. Yes, using highlighter is one of many makeup tricks that make you look younger.