Brows Through The Years

August 10, 2017

Tako Phanoraj

Fashion trends come and go so do the beauty fads.  It is not uncommon for people to modify their eyebrows to keep up with the latest trends by means of hair removal, adding hair and makeup. So, let’s take a trip back in time to explore how the beauty of eyebrows phased in and phased out.


Ancient times

In Ancient Egypt eyeliner was a big focal point as homage to the Egyptian God Horus, so heavily lined eyes had to equal heavily lined eyebrows as well. They darkened, arched and elongated their eyebrows with carbon and black oxide substances to make their eye look cohesive.

In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome natural beauty was revered at the time. The unibrow was to signify purity with it being unkept and au natural. If women were not blessed with the unibrow they would glue on animal hairs to make their brows appear unified or rub incense or soot to darken  and unite them as well.

Elizabethan era

No brows are good brows, Queen Elizabeth the first was the literal “it” girl back then; every girl and woman wanted to be her. If she dyed her hair, they would dye their hair. If she wore wigs, they would wear wigs, too. If she plucked her eyebrows, then they would, too. Raising their natural hairline and plucking the eyebrow hairs completely off would make their foreheads appear longer and higher signifying aristocracy.



The roaring twenties. All the ladies wanted just to be like the beautiful and mysterious silent screen sirens like Clara Bow and Anna May Wong in all the films. Their overplucking eyebrows were drawn on thin via a dark straight line and extended downwards this would make their faces more expressive to perform their art in silent films. Actions speak louder than words and in this case, the brows do.


Actress Anna May Wong




Even in the era of the great depression, from the twenties, the heavily tweezed trend will still follow on through to the thirties but with a different style. The eyebrow would be drawn with a more rounded curvature of a high arch line just like Jean Harlow and songstress Billie Holiday.



Actress Jean Harlow



By this time, brows were grown out more naturally.  They were groomed and slightly arched to achieve a less severe and softer feminine look with the likes of Lauren Bacall and Grace Kelly. They were darkened but only ever so slightly.



Actress Lauren Bacall



It all depended on who you liked and admired at the time as the film industry was booming so there were a flurry of actress making their mark in Hollywood so the eyebrow trend here varied but they all had one thing in common, they were meticulously and beautifully presented. High Diva Arches like Marylin Monroe’s or bold raven ones like Elizabeth Taylor’s.



Actress: Elizabeth Taylor



For the swinging sixties, you have two sides of the spectrum. For the mature aged home makers of the household they will hold onto the classic brow and opt for a long thick slightly angled set like Audrey Hepburn or first lady at the time Jackie Onassis. But, if you were a teen during this time and were experimenting with POP culture, mod fashion and were slightly rebellious you would look up to style icons Edie Sedgwick and Twiggy. Edie’s brows were thicker than Twiggy’s but as long as they were elongated, curved and neat then that was a young person’s eyebrow goal.



Actress and Muse Edie Sedgwick



Disco Inferno or Hippy Hippy shake, no matter what phase it was the brow here was either arched or rounded but grown in their natural state but remained thin but not unnaturally thin. Like Farrah Fawcett, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross.


Singer Diana Ross


As the fashion was loud and outrageous so were your eyebrows. Big, bushy, bold and unruly eyebrows were represented by brat pack member Demi Moore, model/actress Brooke Shields, rising stars Madonna and Whitney Houston.




No matter what, the Thin Brow always came back. Unlike the old silent films however, instead of overplucking until you were bald, you would pluck your hairs so thin it would form a line of natural hair and filling them in to appear darker. There was still a prominent arch but still thin. Just think Pamela Anderson, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani and Shirley Manson.


Actress Pamela Anderson


Everyone was slowly growing out their brows, but growing them not too thin and not too bushy either but quite angled and extremely groomed. Eyebrows in the naughty noughties were slender but not darkened. Some examples of this would-be Destiny’s Child and Hilary Duff.


Destiny’s Child. Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.



Bush is good, English model Cara Delevinge and Australian model Bambi Northwood-Blyth brought back the bushy yet tamed brow trend and made it look wildly fierce yet sophisticated. This is considered their trademark look like previous US model turned Actress Brooke Shields. However, if you were not genetically blessed with thick luscious eyebrows like these two models you can give the illusion of a full brow by drawing them on by taking inspiration with the now dubbed Instagram brow or “the fade” brow. Love it or hate it, the Instagram brow has influenced cosmetic companies to come up with more exciting and new innovative eyebrow products. Besides from using your trusty brow pencil or brow powder, there have been new eyebrow products created to offer long lasting formulas in the form of creamy pomades in pots or angled twist up crayons.

Katherine Langford



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