Brows(ing) Through the Ages – A History of Eyebrow Shaping!

I was sent this article about the history of eyebrow trends and shapes over the last century and found it fascinating so thought I might share it with you…

The Egyptians started it with Cleopatra’s signature cat-eyed make-up and thick, sculpted eyebrows and since then the art of decorating the ‘windows to the soul’ has spread like wildfire and become a beauty trend through the ages and all over the world.

Shaping, grooming, and constantly maintaining brows has become a necessary beauty practice. It-girls, actors, and models alike have been defined by their brows, for better or worse, for the past century.

1920s – The Thin & Droopy Brow

Brows in this era were typically pencil thin and straight, slightly slanting downwards and lining the eyes beyond the edge of the eye, giving a nostalgic, pensive look.


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1930s – The Thin Arch

Building on the 1920’s trend, women in this era were spotted flaunting thin, but extravagantly arched brows making more of a strong, powerful statement.

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1940s & 1950s – The Thick, Bold Arch

Dominated by glamour it-girls Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Marylin Monroe the 40s and 50s were all about bold, big statements. The arched brow was still on-trend but these ladies changed the game by adding fullness, definition and dark colour.

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1960s – The Subtle yet Defined Brow

Similar to the signature makeup that Twiggy often wore, brows in this period had to be strong enough to stand out without taking away from the overall look. Hence, a lot of plucking if not shaving of the inner brows was common. They were then filled in lightly with a coloured pencil to add in subtle definition.

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1970s – Au Naturel

The 70’s signed the slow-down of the brow rollercoaster and saw models like Lauren Hutton flaunt eyebrows in their natural shape.

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1980s – Go Big or Go Home

Probably the most iconic brows of a generation, Brooke Sheilds’ straight but full brows were typical of the 80s. Thick, dark and almost unruly brows mark the trend of this era.

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1990s – Pluck, Pluck, Pluck

With the 90s came an obsession with plucking, waxing and grooming eyebrows, creating a trend that lasted through the early 2000s. Many women are still fighting the aftermath of this process today, as thicker brows are back on trend now in the 2010s!

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Elizabeth Arden has partnered with the world-renowned Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute to develop the ultimate tool for women to get back on trend: PREVAGE® Clinical Lash + Brow Enhancing Serum (R695). This revolutionary new treatment is clinically proven to make brows (and lashes) appear longer, fuller and healthier in as little as two weeks.

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Apply once daily at bedtime to clean eye area. Using the applicator, apply one stroke of PREVAGE® Clinical Lash + Brow Enhancing Serum to the base of upper and lower lashes, from the inner to outer corner. Follow the same directions for brows, covering the entire eyebrow area. Continue using 3 – 4 times per week to maintain the desired look and condition of lashes and brows.

It’s important to remember that like hairstyles, brow styles should be suited to and shaped to an individual’s features and not to current style trends – Gillian Lentin, owner of BrowXpress in Johannesburg

Text & Images: Supplied by Elizabeth Arden

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for almost 7 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

3 Comments
  1. People who are getting their eyebrows tattooed on at the moment are going to be in a seriously bad position in a few years when fashion trends change.

    Great article though.

  2. that was a great article thank you but you just missed out important step from the early nineties about my mom and Lisa bringing back in creating that industry of perfecting eyebrow design…please check out Eliza petrescu at elizaseyes.com the actual pioneer of the modern day eyebrow.. She used to give her clients autograph like brook shields , Madonna, Natasha Richardson, j lo, Oprah..you name a name!!

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