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Eyebrow Trends Over the Last 100 Years Revealed

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

It’s always fascinating to see just how much of an impact the shape of your eyebrows can have on your overall appearance. Over the years, women have experimented with a wide variety of styles, with numerous looks falling in and out of fashion since the 1920s.

These days, the focus is very much on big, thick bushy brows that frame the face and draw attention to the eyes, a trend ignited by the one and only Cara Delevingne. But this hasn’t always been the case. Decade by decade, a different iconic look has emerged for eyebrows. Here’s how looks have evolved over the years.

Eyebrow Trends In The 1920s

The Roaring ‘20s were a whirlwind of change, not just in society but also in the realm of beauty and fashion. The decade was marked by the emergence of the flapper era, where young women sought to break free from the restrictive norms of the past. Flappers were seen as brash for their bobbed hair, short skirts, and their penchant for jazz music. Their rebellious spirit was mirrored in their beauty choices. Thin brows with a strong downward arch and an extended tail beyond the natural brow line became emblematic of this era. The aim was to emulate a dramatic, almost theatrical aesthetic, with strong pencilled brows, powdered makeup, and a generous application of rouge.

The rise of cinema during the 1920s further amplified these beauty trends. As Hollywood grew in influence, silver screen sirens like Clara Bow and Louise Brooks became the beauty icons of their time. Their on-screen appearances, with dark, dramatic makeup and distinct eyebrows, set the tone for beauty standards off-screen. Women across the world looked to these film stars for inspiration, seeking to replicate their glamorous looks. The cinema's black and white format necessitated exaggerated makeup for features to stand out, and this translated into real-world beauty trends. Eyebrows, in particular, were drawn on to be thin, dark, and dramatic, often extending beyond the natural brow line to create an elongated look.

Image of Clara Bow

The 1920s, with its blend of cultural rebellion and the allure of Hollywood, set the stage for a beauty revolution, with eyebrows at the forefront of this transformation.

Eyebrow Trends In The 1930s

The 1930s was a decade marked by contrasts. On one hand, the world grappled with the economic hardships of the Great Depression, which inevitably influenced beauty standards. With limited resources, many women had to be resourceful, often creating their own beauty products at home. Yet, even in these challenging times, the desire to look and feel beautiful persisted. Makeup became a means of escape, a way to inject a bit of glamour into everyday life amidst the gloom.

Brows during this period began to fill out slightly compared to the pencil-thin arches of the 1920s, though they remained relatively thin. The downward arch became less pronounced, giving way to a more rounded and slightly upward arch. This softer, more natural look was popularized by film stars of the era. Actresses like Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, and Bette Davis graced the silver screen with their distinct eyebrow styles, setting the tone for beauty aficionados everywhere.

Image of Greta Garbo

Makeup brands of the 1930s played a pivotal role in shaping and promoting these beauty standards. Companies like Coty, Elizabeth Arden, and Helena Rubinstein gained prominence, offering products that catered to the beauty ideals of the time. Their advertising campaigns, often featuring glamorous illustrations or endorsements from Hollywood stars, were influential in dictating beauty norms. These brands not only provided the tools for women to achieve the desired looks but also offered a sense of luxury and escapism during a decade defined by economic hardship.

The 1930s, with its blend of societal challenges and the allure of Hollywood glamour, saw a subtle evolution in beauty standards, with eyebrows reflecting the nuanced changes of the era.

Eyebrow Trends In The 1940s

The 1940s, deeply influenced by World War II, saw beauty adapting to wartime scarcities. As resources became limited, women innovated, using alternatives like beetroot for lip stains. Despite these challenges, the desire for glamour remained.

Eyebrows during this period took on a softer, more natural appearance, reflecting the era's balance between glamour and practicality. As many women supported the war effort in factories, beauty needed to be both polished and efficient.

Film stars like Lauren Bacall and Audrey Hepburn set beauty standards with their well-defined yet natural brows. Their elegance became a beacon of sophistication during these trying times. The 1940s showcased beauty's resilience, with brows symbolizing grace and adaptability.

Photo of Audrey Hepburn

Eyebrow Trends In The 1950s

The 1950s were a transformative period in the world of beauty and fashion. Icons like Marilyn Monroe defined the decade, with the blonde bombshell look taking centre stage. This was characterised by perfectly coiffed curls, bold red lipstick, and squarer brows with a strong shape and high arch. The brows were also notably darker, leading many women to pencil over their natural brows quite heavily.

Photo of Marilyn Monroe

The rise of the pin-up look played a significant role in shaping beauty standards of the 50s. Pin-up models, with their alluring poses and glamorous styles, graced posters, calendars, and magazines. This look, which was both sultry and sweet, became a major influence on everyday beauty. It was about celebrating femininity with a mix of innocence and allure. Brows were an essential part of this look, framing the face and complementing the winged eyeliner that became synonymous with the pin-up style.

Makeup brands of the era further solidified these trends. Companies like Revlon, Max Factor, and Estée Lauder became household names, introducing products that catered to the beauty ideals of the time. Their advertising campaigns, often featuring Hollywood stars and pin-up models, played a pivotal role in dictating beauty standards. These brands not only provided the tools for women to achieve the desired looks but also shaped the narrative around beauty, emphasizing the importance of a well-defined, arched brow.

Eyebrow Trends In The 1960s

The 1960s was a decade of contrasts in fashion and beauty. Early in the decade, the "British Invasion" brought with it the Mod trend, especially dominant in London. This was epitomized by figures like Twiggy, whose slender frame, bold eyelashes, and minimalist brows became iconic. The Mod fashion was characterized by geometric patterns, bold colors, and a penchant for monochrome, and this extended to beauty standards as well. Brows were slimmer, arched, and often accompanied by heavy eyeliner and pale lips to draw attention to the eyes.

Photo of Twiggy

However, as the decade progressed, there was a shift. The late 60s saw the rise of the hippie movement, which championed natural beauty, free expression, and a break from conventional norms. This bohemian style was in stark contrast to the well-defined, polished Mod look. Brows became less manicured, and makeup took on a more earthy, sun-kissed tone. The emphasis was on authenticity and embracing one's natural beauty.

The 1960s, therefore, presented a fascinating duality. On one hand, there was the structured, stylized Mod look, and on the other, the free-spirited, natural aesthetic of the hippie movement. Brows, as always, were a reflection of these broader cultural shifts, moving from the precision of the early 60s to the relaxed styles of the decade's end.

Eyebrow Trends In The 1970s

The 1970s blended cultural contrasts in beauty. The decade began with the continuation of the hippie ethos, emphasizing natural looks and authenticity. However, as disco's shimmering lights and beats took center stage, a shift towards glamour emerged. Makeup became vibrant, and brows more defined, with icons like Donna Summer setting the tone for disco glam.

Television, especially shows like "Charlie's Angels", influenced beauty standards. Farrah Fawcett's feathered hair and defined brows became emblematic of the era. This period of powerful female leads on screen resonated with the rising feminist movement, seeking to redefine women's societal roles. Beauty mirrored this, balancing the empowered disco look with the relaxed vibes from the late 60s, capturing the decade's essence of duality and change.

Photo of Farrah Fawcett

Eyebrow Trends In The 1980s

The 1980s was a decade of unapologetic boldness in fashion and beauty. Everything was larger than life, from voluminous hairstyles to vibrant makeup palettes. Eyebrows were no exception. The seriously bushy, untamed brow became the signature look, standing in stark contrast to the slender arches of previous decades.

Pop culture played a pivotal role in shaping these beauty standards. Icons like Brooke Shields, Whitney Houston, and Madonna not only dominated the music charts but also set the tone for beauty and fashion. Their appearances on the newly launched MTV, a revolutionary music television channel, amplified their influence. MTV brought music videos into the living rooms of millions, making these pop icons more accessible and influential than ever. Their distinctive looks, often characterized by bold brows, became aspirational for many.

Photo of Whitney Houston

The 80s wasn't just about embracing natural brows; it was about making a statement. The brows of this era, much like the decade itself, were fearless, unbridled, and unforgettable.

Eyebrow Trends In The 1990s

The 1990s oscillated between the raw edge of grunge and the polished allure of pop culture. Grunge brought a preference for natural, less defined brows early in the decade. However, by its midpoint, the ultra-skinny eyebrow, popularized by icons like Kate Moss, dominated. Overplucking became a trend, as many aimed for this sleek look.

Television, especially shows like "Friends", played a pivotal role in shaping beauty ideals. Jennifer Aniston's "Rachel" haircut and groomed brows set a beauty benchmark. Her style, combined with other pop culture influences, shifted the trend towards well-defined brows by the decade's end, showcasing the 90s' blend of authenticity and refined beauty.

Photo of Jennifer Aniston

Eyebrow Trends In The 2000s

The Noughties continued the trend of barely-there brows, with celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears leading the way. The early 2000s also saw brows with a pronounced arch, often achieved by overplucking the beginning and end, leaving a thicker middle section.

This decade marked a significant rise in the popularity of tweezing, with many women meticulously plucking away to achieve the desired thin brow look. The precision and control offered by tweezing made it a go-to method for many seeking the perfect arch and shape.

Photo of Christina Aguilera

Additionally, threading – an ancient hair removal technique originating from Asia – gained immense popularity in the West during this period. This precise method allowed for cleaner lines and shapes, further driving the trend of well-defined, slender eyebrows. Unfortunately, the emphasis on these hair removal techniques meant that overplucking remained a concern, with many learning about the potential permanent repercussions the hard way.

Eyebrow Trends In The 2010s

The 2010s witnessed the decline of the skinny brow, with supermodel Cara Delevingne ensuring that big, bushy brows returned to the limelight. This shift was not just a fashion statement but also a testament to the changing dynamics of how beauty trends were set and shared.

Photo of Cara Delevingne

This decade was profoundly shaped by the meteoric rise of Instagram as a dominant social media platform. Beauty influencers emerged as the new trendsetters, with makeup tutorials amassing millions of views. These tutorials, often detailed and comprehensive, showcased techniques to achieve the perfect brow, from filling and shaping to setting them in place. Brands responded by launching a plethora of eyebrow products, from pomades to powders, catering to the growing demand.

Influencers like Huda Kattan, James Charles, and Anastasia Beverly Hills became household names, not just for their makeup skills but also for their influence on beauty standards. The statement brow seemed here to stay, bolstered by techniques like microblading. The 'Instagram Brow' – a highly defined, gradient brow – became synonymous with the decade, reflecting the platform's profound influence on beauty norms.

Exploring the Latest Eyebrow Trends: A Glimpse into the Early 2020s

As we venture into the 2020s, the influence of social media platforms, especially TikTok, is undeniable. The platform has given rise to new beauty aesthetics, most notably the "e-girl" and "e-boy" looks, characterized by bold eyeliner, vibrant hair colors, and a playful mix of digital and real-world styles. Icons like Billie Eilish, with her avant-garde fashion and beauty choices, have become trendsetters for the younger generation.

YouTube and TikTok influencers have become the new beauty gurus, guiding millions on makeup and skincare routines. Their reach and impact are profound, often setting or amplifying beauty trends overnight. One such trend is the "fluffy brow", which emphasizes a fuller, more natural look, moving away from the overly sculpted brows of the past decade.

Alongside these trends, there's a growing emphasis on natural and sustainable beauty. Brands are focusing on eco-friendly products, and consumers are becoming more conscious of their choices, driven by a broader societal shift towards sustainability. The body positivity movement, championed by influencers across platforms, is also reshaping beauty standards, promoting acceptance and love for all body types and appearances.

In terms of eyebrow trends, semi-permanent makeup procedures like microshading and ombre powder brows are gaining popularity. These techniques offer a longer-lasting solution for those seeking defined yet natural-looking brows.

The 2020s, with its blend of digital influence and real-world trends, is shaping up to be a decade of diverse beauty expressions, with eyebrows continuing to be a focal point of innovation and style.

Conclusion on Eyebrow Trends Over The Last 100 Years

In conclusion, eyebrow trends, much like fashion, are cyclical. What's deemed stylish in one decade may be passé in the next, only to make a triumphant return years later. As we reflect on these trends, it's evident that eyebrows are not just a facial feature but a testament to the changing tides of beauty standards.

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