Study suggests the link between eyelash length and attractiveness has both an evolutionary and cultural basis

An experiment published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences suggests that the most attractive eyelash length is about one-third of the width of the eye. Interestingly, participants ranked the most attractive eyelash length differently for male and females faces, suggesting the interference of a cultural gender norm.

Since ancient times, people have engaged in eyelash-enhancing practices as a way of modifying their attractiveness. While some researchers have suggested that eyelashes are perceived as more attractive the longer they are, long eyelashes can also signal disease, such as immunodeficiency. From an evolutionary perspective, the ideal eyelash length to signal healthiness and, therefore, attractiveness should be somewhere in between long and short. …

In other words, both faces with very long eyelashes and those with very short eyelashes were rated as less attractive. This finding is consistent with the evolutionary perspective, given that both very long and very short eyelashes can signal disorder or disease.

However, subjects’ preferred eyelash length differed when rating male and female faces, suggesting the phenomenon has more than just a biological basis. Specifically, female faces were rated the least attractive when eyelashes were very short or nonexistent, whereas male faces were rated the least attractive when eyelashes were very long. In other words, participants preferred slightly longer eyelashes on women and shorter on men, suggesting that gender norms played an interfering role.

By Beth Ellwood,

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