Tweezers History

Imagine trying to use a clamshell to do this. Thank goodness for science.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Hundreds of years ago, having perfectly groomed eyebrows probably wasn't the major concern of those who developed the first tweezer-like instruments. But many a beauty-conscious lady -- and gentleman too -- are glad there was an ancient need to use more precision in picking up and grabbing objects than human hands could provide.

Science

Why do we have tweezers in the first place? The answer has to do with science. (If you slept through your physics class or never took it in the first place, read on.) It takes a lot of force, or effort, for you to pluck a hair out of your head with just your fingers. A machine, in scientific terms, changes the amount of force required to do a task. Tweezers are actually a type of simple machine -- specifically, a lever -- which means they perform the task in just one movement. Not only does their small size make grabbing the hair easy, but the device itself facilitates the hair removal.

Early Use

There's no definitive history of the very first tweezers, but researchers who spend a lot of time studying this kind of thing have concluded that the first tweezers or forceps were used by blacksmiths to forge metal. Before people started making them out of metal strips, they likely used items that were naturally tweezer-shaped, like strips of bendable wood or even clamshells. Long before ladies (and some men) were tweezing their eyebrows, doctors were using tweezers to perform surgeries.

Current

Today, there are dozens of tweezer varieties. You might swear by one brand over another, but they all break down into a few basic categories, from super-pointy to blunt to angled. Tweezers with slanted tips are best for grabbing thicker hairs, while precise, needle-nosed varieties can help tweeze hairs that are thinner and harder to reach.

Tips

No matter what kind of tweezers you choose, gripping them near their points gives you the best control. Take a deep breath and quickly pull the hair out in the direction it grows. Just like pulling off a bandage, the faster you get it over with, the better. And beware of overtweezing, which makes it obvious you're doing some brow grooming. Natural brows are overtaking the pencil-thin look in trendiness these days, so embrace yours!

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