How have eyebrows evolved?

February 3, 2020


         Long thin arches, thick brown stubs, translucent blonde. There are so many kinds of eyebrows and they seem to make or break a look depending on what is popular at that given time. And with the start of a new decade, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the past century’s trends. 

Let us take a little trip down the evolution of eyebrow fashion:

         In the 1910s, eyebrows weren’t as important as they are today. They would simply comb and shape. Some women would lighten, and some would darken, but in the age of being reserved and conservative anything too noticeable would be “…considered risqué- natural beauty was still considered the only virtuous option. Heavy makeup or tweezing was for actresses and prostitutes,” explained

         In the Roaring Twenties, women began to have more extreme beauty regimens, that included ultra-thin brows with very pointy ends. It was meant to give a sad and/or moody appearance, which was sought after. One can only guess that it made women more mysterious, which was appealing at that time.

         The woman of the 1930s decided they wanted to look more shocked than sad. Thus resulting in a super thin arched look. Personally, my mother always said “don’t over pluck your eyebrows or they won’t grow back,” so this look doesn’t quite appeal to me. 

Luckily women quickly switched up the surprised look in the 1940s when the men went off to World War II. Since women took over factory jobs, there was less of an importance for glamour. Thus resulting in a more natural, even “bushy” look kept in place with Vaseline. Remember, they didn’t have the fancy, overpriced brow gels that we have today. But don’t be led astray, these women still appreciated a little arch. 

In the 1950s, the age of film, make-up, beauty, and Marilyn Monroe was the new glamor. One could describe it as the time of cakey makeup. Though makeup changed, the naturally thick and arched eyebrows stayed popular. Many people, especially women with light or sparse looking eyebrows, began filling in theirs with eyebrow pencils to create the effect of fuller brows. 

The 1960s rolled around and the “filled in” look got a little out of hand. Everyone knows what happens when you put on too much mascara; your lashes look more like spider legs than hairs. Girls, in general, have experimented with eyebrow powder and turned the natural accessories of one’s face into caterpillars. And that is exactly what happened this decade. It was all about experimentation and heavy, dark makeup. 

With the horrors seen on women’s faces in the sixties, it’s no surprise that in the ‘70s thin eyebrows came back. Who would want to see the blobs of overly done brows any longer? This decade was back to thinner brows, still somewhat natural though, in order to show effortlessness. This lighter approach to makeup can be seen on the first year of Saturday Night Live which aired in 1975. 

The eighties hold a special place in many people’s hearts, just ask your parents. It was the time to be the most “extra.” And I mean that in every way.  Every woman wanted to have the poofiest hair, the largest shoulder pads, the most accessories and more. People like Madonna and Brooke Shields, according to, “embody the ‘extra’-ness of the decade… Thick, barely-groomed brows were the business in this decade.” While I find the overly plucked brows awful, I also believe no plucking to be a very interesting choice to make.  

It is entertaining how history tends to repeat itself. Again, in the 1990s we see the thin, penciled in eyebrows come back. Jennifer Lopez, aka JLo, was one of the queens of this look. The only difference from previously was that women filled them in with eyebrows less. Again, the overplucked look was “in,” luckily with a natural arch. 

The trend of small eyebrows remained popular in the 2000’s, but in a different way. Rather than changing the height of the brow, many opted to change the length. There’s a rule beauticians follow now when plucking eyebrows: they must ensure that the end in the center is aligned with the edge of your nose and the other end is in a diagonal line with the side of nose and eye. Yet, this rule was not known in the nineties resulting in over plucked brows that created a large gap between brows. 

Luckily, in the 2010’s people learned a way of styling brows that best fit the face. The controversial Kim Kardashian has one of the best examples of the term created for the best eyebrows, “on fleek.” This describes the best set of eyebrows.  Thick, healthy brows became in style and required much less work than the eyebrows from the 30’s. This is, personally, the best approach to eyebrows seeing as it is more pain free and much easier to maintain. 

One can’t predict what will be the eyebrow trend in the new decade, but I sure hope it will remain in the realm of what was popular in the 2010s. If you would like to learn the best way to pluck and style your eyebrows, in my opinion, follow this tutorial:


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