Rules for shaping your eyebrows

There are some golden rules for figuring out where to start and end your eyebrows, and where the arch (if you are having one) should be. These rules involve holding up a ruler against your face and drawing imaginary lines between different places on your face. It works – except when it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, there isn’t a rule to tell us when it doesn’t work. Anyway, it is still helpful food for thought – as long as you allow your common sense to overturn any rule which definitely couldn’t work on your particular face.

Here are the rules and the lines

Rules differ from one expert to another. But here are some basic ones, based on this often-used image.

  1. You need a ruler or a long pencil, to make a straight line.
  2. Start. Finding the ideal place for your eyebrow to begin. Start from the corner of your nose/nostril. Hold the ruler straight up. Where it crosses or gets closest to your eyebrow, that is where your ideal eyebrow should begin. That is line A on the picture.
  3. End. Finding the ideal place for your eyebrow to end. Start with the ruler against the corner of your nose/nostril again. Hold the ruler so that it crosses the corner of your eye. Where it crosses or gets closest to your eyebrow, that is where your ideal eyebrow should end. That is line D on the picture.
  4. Arch. Finding the ideal place for the arch, if you are planning to have an arch in your new eyebrow shape. This time, look straight ahead. Hold the ruler straight up so that the edge is right over the outer edge of your iris (on your ear side). Where it crosses your eyebrow is where any arch should be. That is line B on the picture.
  5. Alternative arch. This one seems to me to be a bit of a cop-out. Hold the ruler up so that its edge passes across the very outer edge of your eyeball. See where it crosses your eyebrow. That is an alternative position for your arch – apparently, potentially more sophisticated. That is line C on the picture.

Alternative noses

Concentrating on the nose is generally the problem with that approach. Our noses vary hugely. Here is another diagram.

You will notice that this time the lines don’t start at the outside of the nostril. I need to add a few words on the structure of the nose at this point. The tip or end of your nose is the ‘ball’ of your nose. It may be bulbous, it may be thin. On either side of it are two ‘wings’ going over your nostrils to join the side of your face. When someone refers to nostrils flaring, it’s these wings they are referring to. You need to be clear about the dividing line between the ball and the wings for this method.

This time you make all your measurements from the edge of the ‘ball’ of your nose, excluding the wings. It means you are starting closer to the centre line of your face. This method of assessing the start point for your eyebrows is probably more appropriate for you if you have a broad nose, which would push your eyebrows wide apart if you followed the first method.

Using your tear duct

An alternative way of finding a good start point for your eyebrows is to forget all about your nose for this purpose, and instead do this. Take up your ruler again. Hold it straight up so that the edge is just in front of your eye’s tear duct (the part of your eye nearest your nose). Where the ruler crosses or gets closest to your eyebrow, that is where your eyebrow should begin.

This seems a lot more sensible to me. I can’t see any good reason for aligning eyebrows with our nostrils. it make much more sense to line them up so as to complement our eyes – the nearest and most important feature.

Those who advocate use of the eye as the basis for deciding on the eyebrow shape and position, also have a related recommendation for finding the most desirable end point for the eyebrow. You draw a line 45 degrees out from the outer corner of your eye. Where it crosses or gets closest to your eyebrow is where it should end. (Straight out, parallel to the floor, is 0 degrees. Straight up is 90 degrees. Half way between is 45 degrees.)

The arch and the eye

There are obvious problems with the ‘traditional’ method I outlined at the start, when it comes to deciding where the arch should be, because not every shape of eyebrow will have the arch in the same place.

There are also alternative rules for working out where the arch or angle should come in an arched eyebrow shape (or the highest point in a curved shape). For these rules, one thing is standard: you are ruling a line from the bottom of the nose through the pupil of the eye. But it’s not quite that simple. The positioning changes slightly, depending on the intended eyebrow shape. This is from

  1. If the eyebrow shape is going to be quite a low arch, then your line runs from the tip of the nose through the pupil of the eye.
  2. If it’s intended to be a medium arch, then the line should be drawn from the top of the nostril this time, but still  through the middle of the pupil.
  3. If the aim is to have a high arch, then you go from the top of the nostril through the far side pupil. But that doesn’t make sense to me.) Anyway, that’s the recommendation.

Several websites offered this advice on taking the measurements. “(Tip: right nostril for right eye, left nostril for left eye)”. I know these rules are a bit imprecise, but you would really be in trouble if you started and ended your eyebrows based on measurements taken from the wrong nostril. In fact, you would deserve to look ridiculous.


This is what I think:

  • There are no perfect results which can be achieved by lining everything up to another feature on the face, but I do think it is useful as a suggestion for you to think about.
  • It is more likely that lining up with the eye is better than lining up with the nostril (or whatever bit of the nose the varying methods propose.)
  • Other factors will dictate where your eyebrows should start, such as how wide-spaced or close-spaced your eyes are, and whether you want to counteract that effect or leave it alone.
  • What all the methods correctly emphasise is that your eyebrows should end some way beyond your eyes.
  • They also correctly emphasise that the arch should be further along the eyebrow than you may think – and so helping you avoid the awful effect some people achieve by placing the arch too close to the nose and making their eyebrows look like dead tadpoles.


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