Wednesday, June 25, 2014

In Retrospect: The Evolution of the Female Eyebrow

[As published on HERE]
A few days ago, while casually scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I was suddenly confronted by a photo of an acquaintance. Her horrifying brows, which looked like they had been haphazardly filled in with black pencil, shocked me to the core. I was literally left gaping open-mouthed that the atrociousness that were her eyebrows.
Kind of like this.
As a woman who doesn’t have much brow hair, I could not stress this enough: the eyebrows make or break your look. Sorry for the pent-up frustration about Malaysian girls and their poorly-drawn brows, but I can’t take it anymore.
So in place of an angsty rant, let’s take a look back at the evolution of female eyebrows, and hopefully everyone will be inspired to make tomorrow a better day by filling in thy brows correctly!

1920s – the perpetually depressed brow
Icons: Louise Brooks, Clara Bow
During the era of silent films, eyebrows were thinly tweezed and extended way beyond the browbone, with the tail facing downwards. This made the women look depressed beyond consolation. Even when they smiled, they still looked sad.

1930s – the cynically amused brow
Icons: Greta Garbo, Mae West
The women of the time took things a bit too far by shaving off their eyebrows, and penciling them in ultra-curved thin lines. Some even applied petroleum jelly or olive oil to the browbone for a shiny look. What for, we have no idea.

1940s – the highly-arched brow
Icons: Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman
A decade later, eyebrows progressed slightly towards the thicker end, but the arch was extremely angled. They were also darker and fuller. Even though they were quite harsh, the overall outcome was still sexier than the eyebrows of the 1930s.

1950s – the super angular brow
Icons: Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor
The post-war era saw a boom in the number of iconic actresses that remain famous to this day, including Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and Grace Kelly. Brows were extremely angular, with finely tapered tails and a pronounced arch. They were strong yet feminine.

1960s – the curved bombshell brow
Icons: Edie Sedgwick, Jane Birkin
Women began to embrace their feminine side as fashion became more daring. The shape of their eyebrows gravitated towards a rounded shape that hugged the browbone closely, giving them an open, innocent expression that belied their inner spirits.

1970s – the au naturel brow
Icons: Charlie’s Angels, Joni Mitchell
Then came the reign of the hippies. Flower power was all the rage, and a softer, more natural look was preferred, inspired by the women from Charlie’s Angels and also Joni Mitchell. The bare-faced look was in, and makeup was kept as minimal as possible, with lightly-shaded natural brows.

1980s – the short, bushy brow
Icons: Brooke Shields, Madonna
You could say that the brows of the 1980s were the ‘ancestors’ of today’s bushy brow look. Short, bushy and thick, brows were filled in neatly, but stray hairs were allowed to grow naturally. These brows made women look younger and more vibrant.

1990s – the thin, groomed brow
Icons: Linda Evangelista, Jennifer Aniston
The recognition of supermodels in the 90s brought forth the thin brows that were tweezed or waxed to ‘perfection’ with nary a stray hair in sight. Penciled in with a high, curved arch, it was important for a lady to maintain well-groomed brows at all times.

2000s – the natural-look brow
Icons: Halle Berry, JLo
Eyebrows of the millennium followed one’s natural shape. Stray hairs along the top and bottom of the brows were tweezed, keeping to the shape as much as possible. The key was to maintain a brow shape that suited the face, and what better way than to stick to what one was born with.

Now – the expressive thick brow
Icons: Cara Delevingne, Lily Collins
With the rise of a new breed of young and hip stars, the trends are changing even as we speak. Gone are the days of thinly-tweezed brows, and in their place thick, defined and expressive brows that speak volumes even without any makeup on. Don’t have naturally bushy brows? Not to worry, fake them with brow pencil/wax, followed by brow powder to set.

Want more? Read our previous articles about eyebrows here and here.


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