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April 30, 2007 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way to train yourself to raise one eyebrow? I've been trying lately but to no avail. Is it possible or is it just genetics?
posted by rileyray3000 to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my word, I really want to know this, too! Especially since I saw my 5 year old cousin can raise one (so cute!). I've been practicing my squeezing my right eye shut real tight and practicing raising the left one. I think I'm beginning to feel how to control the left one independently, so I'm going to keep practicing. I was able to get ear wiggling, so hopefully this is next.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:54 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

As a natural-born eyebrow hitcher, I'm inclined to think it's learnable; as someone who can't wiggle his ears to save his life, I'm not sure how one learns these things.

I can tell you this much: I can raise either one in isolation from the other; doing a both-eyes OMG eyebrow raise involves some other center-of-the-brow muscle action; and I can raise both side-groups while suppressing that center muscle section (though it feels idiotic).

So barring, as you say, genetics—I doubt, without anything empirical to back this up, that you are not wired to be able to trigger the individual muscle groups—you might consider focusing on something like one-sided lifts. I have the sensation of muscle action in the region of the top of the orbit to around the temple on each side when I'm hitching; you could get zenlike and try to make that part of your face move, perhaps.
posted by cortex at 3:01 PM on April 30, 2007

For as long as I can remember, I have been able to raise my right eyebrow easily. Around the time I was 7 or 8, I remember trying real hard 'practicing' with my other eyebrow. I could raise it, but had to learn to relax the other muscles wanting to raise the right one at the same time. I eventually learned this, and to this day (I'm 36) can still raise either eyebrow independantly.

I think you'd need to have the ability to raise one to learn to raise the other. The right one is still easier for me (I'm right handed), but if I concentrate even a little I can do the left one as well. But I can only speak for myself.

As I sit at my computer at work, I'm typing this and raising my eyebrows left and then right. Godspeed.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 3:05 PM on April 30, 2007

Purely anecdotal data point: eyebrow-raising did not come naturally to me at all, and yes, as a kid I spent hours in front of a mirror learning how to do it. I can raise my right eyebrow like a damn ninja now. Not, however, my left, since I guess I was awash in triumph/laziness after mastering the one.
posted by Skot at 3:06 PM on April 30, 2007

I taught myself to wiggle my ears one boring Sunday when I was 12 during a boring church service. I'm almost certain the same is often true for eyebrow raising.
posted by Carbolic at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2007

my girlfriend can smoothly and effortlessly raise a single eyebrow, as if it were merely drawn on and animated upward. She claims to have practiced this extensively, and I will post an update if she will divulge her secret.
posted by zachxman at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2007

I'm positive that, If you have the muscle mastery and awareness necessary to teach yourself to wiggle your ears, you can train yourself to cock an eyebrow. I taught myself to cock my eyebrows (independently) pretty young, but I taught myself other tricks (like wiggling ears or crossing only one eye) when I was older. Practice!

What helped me get started with the eyebrows was to hold one down, raise both, and feel what muscle group was feeling the resistance. Then, knowing that, working on that muscle group as independently of the others as possible.
posted by lekvar at 3:11 PM on April 30, 2007

I learned this after being infuriated that my father could do it. It really is as frustrating/sad as sitting in front of a mirror practising.
posted by patricio at 3:13 PM on April 30, 2007

I taught myself as a kid. I could raise both together, so I just held one down with my hand and pushed really hard. Eventually, I suppose my brain figured out what I was trying to do. So, yes, it is possible, Grasshopper.
posted by monkeymadness at 3:13 PM on April 30, 2007

I was going to suggest exactly what lekvar says -- hold one down to feel the muscle you need and just focus on moving one thing.
posted by patricio at 3:14 PM on April 30, 2007

I'm pretty sure it was inborn for me. I think I remember seeing Spock doing it and aping it without much thought. I can also do the eyebrow wave: left up, right up, left down, right down. I do remember learning to wiggle my ears though.
posted by chairface at 3:14 PM on April 30, 2007

Try this: raise both eyebrows at the same time like you're surprised. Then try LOWERING one independently, while straining to keep the other up. Sometimes pulling is easier than pushing, or vice versa, so it helps to try it backwards. I think this is how I learned to do it many years ago. Eventually you get a feel for which muscles do what, and it becomes second nature.

You might actually want to experiment with using your hand to hold one eyebrow in place and try to get it to "stick" -- your muscles might eventually feel the distinction and you'll get a sense of how to control them.

Incidentally, I can raise my right eyebrow independently, but not my left... So if you find one impossible, try the other.

Good luck.
posted by Alabaster at 3:14 PM on April 30, 2007

I laughed so hard at this question at first because I've always been able to do this. I can not only wiggle each brow independantly (or together), but also flare each nostril and wiggle my ears, all at the same time or solo. It's pretty darn funny at a party I'm told.

I think like anything, its all practice. I think I practiced the eyebrow thing (because I'm a geek and wanted the quizzical Spock look when I was a kid) but the rest came naturally. I would suggest getting really relaxed, like a meditation and thinking about isolating the muscles in question and trying to move them independantly... and keep trying. You'll get it eventually.

A well timed eyebrow raise in conversation can be as devastating as a pretty girl's pout.
posted by elendil71 at 3:17 PM on April 30, 2007

I can raise both eyebrows together, and just my right eyebrow on its own, and have been able to do so for as long as I can remember. But I had to consciously teach myself to raise just my left eyebrow, and even now I can't do it without squinting my right eye.

Try raising both, and then frowning on one side.
posted by Solomon at 3:18 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I remember practicing this as a kid, but while the left eyebrow caught on pretty quick, I still can't seem to get it to work with the right eyebrow. I'm right handed, FWIW.
posted by dazed_one at 3:19 PM on April 30, 2007

I can raise my left, but not my right. For me, it's definitely a matter of pushing the non-raising one down, not just relaxing it and having it do nothing.
posted by juv3nal at 3:30 PM on April 30, 2007

I learned. You do have to push down the one and up on the other.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:35 PM on April 30, 2007

Purely anecdotal data point: eyebrow-raising did not come naturally to me at all, and yes, as a kid I spent hours in front of a mirror learning how to do it. I can raise my right eyebrow like a damn ninja now. Not, however, my left, since I guess I was awash in triumph/laziness after mastering the one.

I am apparently bizarro Skot, as my story is exactly the same except it's the left one I can raise and the right one is immovable. You can totally learn it! lekvar's advice is sound.
posted by lia at 3:44 PM on April 30, 2007

Upon further examination...

Try pushing both eyebrows down like you're scowling. Push them down hard but then try to pry one up while still pushing the other down. At first you will make some very strange faces, but you'll probably get it at least a little bit.

Once you get it a tiny bit, flex it up, down, up, down, as if you're exercising a muscle (you are, in reality) All the while you should have the other one clenched down. Once you strengthen the muscle a bit it will develop some independence from the other.

Since my last reply about 30 minutes ago I've already made some significant progress towards being able to raise my left eyebrow (all my life I've only been able to do my right). It's not as natural or smooth yet, but I can definitely do it.

The trick is to actually practice practice practice while you're doing other things -- reading, surfing the net, etc. It's like learning to throw a ball or ride a bike or something, once you get your muscles accustomed to it, it becomes second nature.
posted by Alabaster at 3:51 PM on April 30, 2007

I taught myself to raise one eyebrow when I was 10 or so. I just used my finger to hold down one eyebrow and then raised the other until my muscles got their coordination together. One was apparently enough since I remember wanting to be able to do either one, but stopped after learning to raise my left brow.
posted by rhizome at 3:58 PM on April 30, 2007

What Alabaster said (in the first post) and what Solomon said. Raise both, then -close one eye- and scrunch up that side of your face. Eventually you'll be able to do it with just the eye closed, and then without anything else moving at all... practice practice (do it in the car, or for more fun, on the metro!).
posted by anaelith at 4:07 PM on April 30, 2007

I can do my left eyebrow naturally, but could never get the hang of the right one.

Neuromuscular motor program learning consolidates after a sleep cycle. Don't give up if you can't get the hang of it in one day - try again the next day (and again and again...)!
posted by porpoise at 4:11 PM on April 30, 2007

I can only do my right one, and it came to me suddenly when I was around 15 years old. Before then I didn't know how, and I never practiced. I mean, I'd always wanted to be able to raise one eyebrow, but I never put any effort into it.

Nobody else in my immediate family can do it and they've all expressed a desire to be able to. I just looked in the mirror one time and raised my right eyebrow and thought "Hey! Yes!"
posted by crinklebat at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2007

after consultation with girlfriend, her method is the same as lekvar's, above. That and long hours of mirror-work.
posted by zachxman at 4:42 PM on April 30, 2007

I tought myself, when I was about 10 or 11, by standing in front of a mirror and raising both eyebrows while holding one down with my hand, until I could do it without the hand.

It took two or three sessions, IIRC.
posted by pompomtom at 4:43 PM on April 30, 2007

Here's a technique that might help. Place the four fingers on your forehead above the eyebrow. Push your eyebrow up with your fingers. Focus on the muscles being used in your head as the eyebrow goes up. Try to move those muscles as fingers move. The focus on those muscles. Practice. Good Luck.
posted by bhdad at 5:30 PM on April 30, 2007

Yeah, you can do this.

Essentially, it's being able to independently move the one eyebrow up, while moving the other down slightly, just move than to keep it in place. Right now, you move both eyebrows with the same "thought"; by training the muscle you can move the muscles independently.

Just grab your eyebrows with your hands, manually moving one up while holding the other eyebrow in place, while concentrating on making the eyebrows move without manual intervention, just with the muscles of your forehead. After a month or so, you'll train and isolate the muscles that are required to raise your eyebrow.

This is how I learned, as a kid, to wink, and eventually to close my eyes independently of each other (useful for reading books cover-to-cover in one sitting).
posted by orthogonality at 5:49 PM on April 30, 2007

When I was a child, I taught myself exactly the same way monkeymadness did.
posted by iguanapolitico at 6:00 PM on April 30, 2007

I can with the right, not the left. I learned by imitating Mr. Spock. Now my secret is out.
posted by DarkForest at 6:17 PM on April 30, 2007

I think it's in the genes. People who have "taught themselves" always had the ability and simply never knew it. I've tried to do this, and I can raise one full eyebrow, but to raise just the very edge of one brow is an impossibility for me.

Then again, I can roll my tongue, touch my nose with my tongue, my wrist is double-jointed, and I can flex my pecs at will (even though I don't even have a lot of muscle there). All of these things I was simply born with. I just wasn't born with the eyebrow thing. Dammit.
posted by zardoz at 6:54 PM on April 30, 2007

I taught myself how to raise one eyebrow, left by the way. Every night while waiting to fall asleep I would practice. As everyone else has said, holding one down with my hand.

I use a different set of muscles to raise the one brow. Usually when raising both, the muscles used are centered on your forehead. When raising one, concentrate on pulling the outer arch toward your temple.

Good luck! I can make a dog tuck his tail between his legs with just one lift of the brow.
posted by JujuB at 8:15 PM on April 30, 2007

Can do the left, not the right. For some reason, thinking of Roger Moore helped me out.
posted by John Shaft at 8:46 PM on April 30, 2007

A long time ago Sam told me that if he could raise one eyebrow he would do it all the time. I let it pass as one of those things, but it stuck with me somehow, and came back after a couple of years. So I looked in the mirror, expecting that if I really tried I could learn to raise one eyebrow, and impress Sam.

The thing is, as soon as I tried it, it was so easy that I knew I must have been doing it all along without realizing it and that’s what he was getting at to start with.

Now we hate each other. But I don’t know if that has anything to do with eyebrows.
posted by Huplescat at 9:01 PM on April 30, 2007

This is hilarious. I also tought myself at around 10 years old using the same method as all the rest.
posted by the jam at 10:12 PM on April 30, 2007

It's learned.

Funny story: In 9th grade, I had a history teacher that loved horrible jokes. And pretty much the only way to get an A in her class was to laugh at every one of them. She was an old battleaxe of a teacher, built like the WWII-era steel desk she sat at, and everyone called her 'Large Marge' behind her back.

When she told a joke and you were supposed to get with the laughing, she would raise her right eyebrow three times in quick succession. I started spending about an hour a day in front of the bathroom mirror learning to raise my eyebrows so that I could imitate her. It took me maybe a month, but to this day I have the most mobile eyebrows you've ever seen. I can also wiggle my ears and ... get ready for t3h gross: my scalp. (Those were failed attempts to move my eyebrows...)
posted by SpecialK at 4:30 AM on May 1, 2007

Thanks a lot. While reading this thread my face started moving of its own volition. I thought myself incapable of wiggling my ears, raising one eyebrow or flaring my nostrils. Now I CAN'T STOP!

So yes, you can teach yourself, by reading this thread after working 28 hours straight writing boring code.
posted by Dataphage at 12:24 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Follow up- I have been practicing every day since this thread was posted, and I am getting better! My left eyebrow is beginning to move on its own. I think soon I will have the eyebrow raise down! Yay!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:36 AM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

go go go!

I still can't do the eyebrow raise, but I did teach myself to gleek as a kid.
posted by Espoo2 at 7:34 PM on May 15, 2007

Once I get REALLY good, I'm going to try to post a follow-up video. Stay tuned.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:25 PM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

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