The History and Evolution of Eyebrows

Looking back on popular makeup trends over the last century, one thing I’ve noticed is that eyebrow trends have (literally) had their ups and downs. Things like a bold red lip and long lashes have remained a staple in women’s beauty, but eyebrows have seen the greatest change over the years. It may seem like now, more than ever, we are obsessed with our brows (browsessed if you will), but in truth, women have been grooming their brows and shaping them since 3500 BC.

Ancient Egyptians heavily lined their eyes and darkened their eyebrows because it was believed that makeup gave you supernatural powers. (I don’t know about you, but I think they were on to something there.) (source)

Let’s examine the eyebrow trends of supernatural beauties over the last 100 years and take a peek at what the future of brows will look like as well:


The “Barely There” Brow of the 20’s and 30’s

clara bow - 1920s eyebrows

The ‘it-girl’ of the 1920’s was silent film star Clara Bow, who would set the trend for eyebrows during the 20’s and 30’s. Silent films were popular during this era so actors relied on their faces to convey emotion. Clara’s brows were a huge part of her career success and visual identity. They were pencil thin and extended past the outer corner of her eye, a look which women of that time duplicated for themselves. The skinny brow trend carried on into the 30’s, but instead of extending the tail, women opted for a more prominent arch instead. Iconic beauties like Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, and Billie Holiday were revered not only for their talent but also their enviable brow shape. (source)


The “Thick and Defined” Brow of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s


The Golden Age of Hollywood. Stars like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt, and Elizabeth Taylor began their rise to fame during these decades and solidified their status as classic beauties. This was due in part to their iconic brow shape, with Audrey’s being the most notable. As silent films faded into history, actresses chose a fuller, less severe looking brow. These thick brows were often paired with a high arch to give them a more defined look–Audrey’s might be the exception.

P.S. Did you know she used brow products, too? You can see where they are lined in the photo above. Q.E.D. Don’t ever give up hope! Your brows can always be fabulous.


The “Natural and Bushy” Brow of the 70’s and 80’s

70s brows

As the 70’s came into full swing, celebrities like Aretha Franklin and Lauren Hutton embraced the natural shape of their brows. For the first time this century it was popular for women to put down the tweezers and brow pencils and develop a less defined look. The natural look carried into the 80’s with Brooke Shields who, arguably, has the most iconic and enviable brows of this century. Brooke’s thick brows were often left un-groomed and un-plucked which enhanced her features and gave her a much more youthful look. (source). Sounds very similar to Cara Delevingne’s super-famous brow look today.


Brooke Shields


The “Overly Plucked” Skinny Brow of the 90’s

90s brows

The 90’s are what I like to refer to as the ‘dark age’ for eyebrows. As the grunge look became more and more popular, so did the overly plucked “skinny brow”–or what I (and many others) refer to as “sperm brows.” This was a stark contrast to the thick, natural looking brows of the 70’s and 80’s. Stars like Drew Barrymore and Kate Moss rocked this look on the red carpet many times and inspired women to follow suit and pluck their brows to oblivion (*cringe*). Oh, and who can forget Gwen Stefani’s brows?

This trend was popular during the 90’s and the first part of the 00’s. Many women are still recovering from the over-plucking obsession of this era, and if you’re one of them, we suggest incorporating a hair growth serum like Wink into your routine. It will nourish the hair and stimulate growth. There were a lot of awesome things about the 90’s, but eyebrows were definitely not one of them.


The “Instagram Brow” of Today

anastasia brows

The early 2000s were nothing to write home about, but brows went from tiny little sperm brows to slightly healthier thin brows, and kept plumping up all the way through 2010.  You can actually watch stars’ brows through the years, grow in about 1 extra line of hairs per 2 or 3 years. They do look younger, thinner and more youthful with every new line of brow hairs that grows in–just look.

Then things changed drastically around 2011.

Today, pull up Instagram on your smartphone, then go to any beauty influencer or makeup artist’s page and you will see what I mean. #AnastasiaBrows rule the interwebz. We’ve traded in our tweezers for brow gels, pencils, and pomades. Not only are thicker brows back in, but they are also much more defined. Probably not a good idea to rock this look on a #NoMakeup kind of day, but for a night out or the perfect selfie, it’s great.


The “Boy Brow” of Tomorrow

boy brows with sproutssprouts

Strap in: messy, boyish eyebrows are on the horizon. Supermodel Cara Delevingne has been rocking this look on the Chanel runway for a few years, but most of us mere mortals consider this feathered brow look unobtainable. In fact, with a combination of a good brow enhancer and proper products and technique–and honestly, a lot of trial and error–you CAN achieve a full, boyish brow, no matter what your current brow status is.

I, for one, haven’t plucked my brows in over 3 months and–together with WINK–have been able to achieve a fuller, messier brow than I ever thought possible. I’m so in love.

And hear, hear! For future reference, just let sprouts be sprouts.


Takeaways: Brows Throughout History

So, what have we learned? Trends come and go and the idea of what makes your eyebrows #OnFleek can change in a matter of years. My suggestion? Stick to what makes you comfortable and be your own kind of beautiful.

If you’re looking for a boost, we suggest (as always) to check out our organic lash and brow enhancing oil,
sproutsWINK. It’s packed full of essential fatty acids to feed your brows (and lashes!) exactly what they need.



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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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