Brow trends that defined the decades: The evolution of the eyebrow

From over-tweezed to block-shaped, the eyebrows have seen it all...
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The eyebrows have long been considered a face’s crowning glory. Their expressive nature can tell a story without speaking a single word… And their close proximity to the ‘windows to the soul’ gives them an important framing role in and of itself. 

In the world of beauty, the brows can be considered impermanent – in shape, that is. They’ve stuck with us through thick and thin (literally) where their aesthetic existence continues to be redefined throughout history. 

From the Elizabethan shaved-off brow, to the tail end of the silent film era’s pencil-thin crescents, the hair-covered ridges have been through it all. Particularly in recent years, it seems as if the ‘common brow shape’ has gone through several iterations.

WATCH: Amy Jean Privée Collection launches in Sephora. Article continues after video.

It all started in the 90’s, where over-tweezing forced many into serious brow recuperation. Moving through the years, they’ve gone through just about every salon process – including trimming, waxing, threading, bleaching, darkening, shaving, and chemically straightening – in efforts to attain ‘the perfect brow’.

As history has told us, however, the impermanence of the brow means there is no one perfect brow shape. As modes for physical and emotional expression, the possibilities a brow presents are endless.

Here, we run through the 21st Century evolution of the brow, where social media slowly took over our beauty consciousness.

To guide us through this ‘brow journey’, we consulted none other than celebrity brow stylist, Amy Jean – known for her work with Kylie and Danni Minogue, Delta Goodrem, and Rita Ora. Alongside her impressive clientele, the artist also perfects brows through her brand Amy Jean Privée Collection

Angelina Jolie was a figurehead of the over-tweezed brow. (Credit: Getty)

90’s tweezed brow

What it looked like: Brow victims of the 90’s will be all too familiar with this ultra-skinny brow style. Characterised by its over-tweezed, thin appearance, Amy Jean described this shape as having a ‘tadpole’ effect, “where the bulb of the brow was much more prominent compared to the tail”.

Who wore it: Angelina Jolie, Naomi Campbell, Gwen Stefani, and Pamela Anderson.

Amy Jean’s thoughts: “It definitely seems to be making a comeback. As an artist, I love to follow what suits the shape of each individual face. Some may suit a skinny brow, but I always disfavour going to any extremes when it comes to brow grooming.”

Amy Jean Brows Two In One Tweezers (Credit: Sephora)

Amy Jean Brows Two In One Tweezers, $40 at Sephora | SHOP NOW

Ah, the 2000’s frosty highlight… (Credit: Getty)

Y2K brow

What it looked like: The 2000’s allowed brow aficionados to let their hair down (slightly). The manicured, skinny shape was often complemented by a frosty brow bone highlight à la Paris Hilton.

Who wore it: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Ashley Tisdale, and Brandy.

Amy Jean’s thoughts: “We have seen an increase in this trend again accompanied by Y2k fashion, particularly on TikTok. Trends move much faster now and following the natural brow shape always looks best.”

Cara Delevingne birthed the bushy brow frenzy. (Credit: Getty)

Outgrown bushy brow

What it looked like: Say ‘goodbye’ to brow maintenance, the bushy brow era called for untamed eyebrows in all their glory. Steering away from definition, rogue, flyaway hairs were left untouched.

Who wore it: Cara Delevingne (of course), Taylor Hill, Ashley Benson, Zendaya, and Lily Collins.

Amy Jean’s thoughts: “I think bushy and unruly brows suit those who like a natural look and can be tidied ever so slightly with light grooming.”

2016 marked the popularity of the ‘Instagram brow’. (Credit: Getty)

Instagram glam brow

What it looked like: Instagram beauty influencers reigned supreme in this brow era. Almost always achieved with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow Pomade, the Instagram brow was thick, block-shaped, and dark. Thick arches were carved out with concealer to highlight the area even further.

Who wore it: Kylie Jenner + every beauty influencer.

Amy Jean’s thoughts: “It’s about preferences. Some clients and beauty lovers still prefer this look. At our Amy Jean salons, we prefer a more natural approach with tint and tattooing. However, brow makeup is a fantastic way to play with the brow look for a temporary effect. “

Amy Jean Brows Pomade Pencil (Credit: Sephora)

Amy Jean Brows Pomade Pencil, $48 at Sephora | SHOP NOW

Fluffy brows are back! (Credit: Instagram)

Laminated/Soap Brows

What it looks like: In cyclical fashion, the fluffy brow came back in fashion in 2020 (limited access to regular brow appointments may have affected this…). The manicured sister of the bushy brow, soap brows are characterised by their lifted, feathery appearance. Unlike the use of a regular brow gel, soap brows require a thicker product for ultimate lift. What started as glycerin soap, led to the development of lifting brow waxes, pomades and, of course, brow lamination.

Who wore it: Starting as a sky-high lifted style, the fluffy/laminated brow has become more toned down over the years. Everyone from Simone Ashley, to Miranda Kerr, to Rihanna has been rocking the look.

Amy Jean’s thoughts: “We love ‘soap brows’ and feathery, lifted arches are here to stay. We have our latest product innovation launching soon, which is a brow soap and applicator paddle, formulated with elastin building proteins for extra stretch.”

Amy Jean Brows Lamination Brow Gel (Credit: Sephora)

Amy Jean Brows Lamination Brow Gel, $44 at Sephora | SHOP NOW

Where to next?

As we all know, brow shapes are never stagnant. Whether it be the latest social media craze or straight off the runway, history can suggest a dominant brow shape will rule each decade.

Amy Jean predicts, “As an extension of the full and fluffy brow trend, I think we are all starting to embrace our natural shape more, but make small enhancements through treatments and products, rather than making drastic changes.”

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