Two raised eyebrows can indicate surprise or interest.
One raised eyebrow can imply skepticism or intrigue.
A furrowed brow can exude anger, confusion or deep thought.
Not only are eyebrows crucial to framing the face and delivering expressions, but they also protect our eyes from debris!
Turns out there’s a long history behind eyebrow trends, which have been informed by cultural beliefs and values for centuries. From the dramatic painted brows of ancient Egypt to today’s full, natural brows, we’ll explore the evolution of brow styles, cosmetics, and how beauty products like zero waste brow gel are leading the way into the future.
Pivotal Eyebrow Trends Throughout the Centuries
Throughout history, eyebrow trends have embraced every form—natural and bushy, thin and barely there, bold, dark and streamlined. And they have often repeated themselves, as many trends do.
The significance of eyebrows was first documented during the reign of Queen Nefertiti. The ancient Egyptians used to paint on thick, bold brows to pay homage to Horus, the god of health and protection.
They used black oxide, carbon paint, and even kohl and mesdemet, which was believed to ward off infection and insects. Unfortunately, these were all derived from lead…yikes!
Ancient Rome and Greece
By contrast, the ancient Romans and Greeks believed natural, untouched brows reflected a woman’s purity and highlighted her natural features. Married women left their brows alone, while single women used black incense to darken theirs. Unibrows were believed to indicate intelligence, and were often painted on!
Queen Elizabeth I set the scene for the Middle Ages with dramatically thin brows. A high forehead was the most valued facial feature at the time, representing a woman’s beauty and elevated station.
Women heavily plucked their brows to elongate their foreheads. Overplucking and poisoning from lead-based products often resulted in skin irritation and hair loss.
1920s and 1930s
Fast forward a few centuries, when the silver screen and commercially available makeup had a major impact on eyebrow trends. Inspired by leading ladies like Clara Bow and Marlene Dietrich, women plucked or even shaved off their brows to pencil in long, fine brows with a dramatic arch and slope.
Fun fact: Women during this era often used Vaseline as brow gel to accentuate their most prized facial features!
1940s and 1950s
The impoverished years of World War II made women seek easily maintained styles, which led to more natural, medium-to-thick brows à la Rita Hayworth.
This look continued into the 1950s with the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. However, the post-war years saw darker, arched and perfectly shaped brows gain in popularity, often penciled in and paired with a bright red lip.
Frida Kahlo also made a statement during this time with her unibrow, which she wore proudly and featured prominently in her feminist self-portraits.
1960s and 1970s
From Woodstock to Studio 54, eyebrow trends reflected many of the cultural touchstones of the 1960s and 1970s. Some opted for high-arching, pencil-thin brows reminiscent of the 1920s, like Sophia Loren and Diana Ross. Others, like Farah Fawcett and Lauren Hutton, went au naturel with full brows entirely free of makeup. Audrey Hepburn was somewhere in the middle with her thick, straight brows.
Additionally, eyebrow waxing became regularly available in salons or via at-home kits.
1980s and 1990s
Throughout the 1980s and mid-1990s, fashion was all about going big—and eyebrows were no exception. Icons like Brooke Shields and Madonna sported big, bushy, fabulous brows to match their big hair, shoulder pads, and poofy sleeves and dresses.
2000s and 2010s
As we entered the second half of the 1990s and the minimalist, heroin-chic style took hold, superstars like Gwen Stefani, Drew Barrymore and Kate Moss rocked the infamous ultra-thin brows that took us into the new millennium. And many of us followed suit. *shudder*
Things started to turn around in the 2010s, as women put down the tweezers and allowed their brows to grow in naturally. Celebs like Kim Kardashian inspired flawlessly full Instagram brows. Treatments like microblading and products like pomades, balms, serums, and brow gel skyrocketed in popularity as people sought that perfectly groomed look while supporting regrowth.
Today: Healthy Brows and Clean Brow Gel
Today, the prominent trend seems to be naturally fluffy yet well-groomed brows that are easy to style and maintain, which means we’re seeing everything from flawlessly manicured to barely-touched brows. In this age of simple, clean beauty, it’s about finding a style that works for you.
Environmentally conscious shoppers are also calling for sustainable beauty products and processes. Many are opting for brow lamination treatments in salons, which typically use natural products. Others who prefer at-home grooming are using brow gel with clean ingredients.
Not only is Izzy’s Zero Waste Brow Gel sustainable, but it’s actually zero waste–and gives your brows natural definition and color that lasts all day. It’s cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and CarbonNeutral® thanks to our closed-loop manufacturing process and membership model for refills. And our naturally derived ingredients even promote healthy hair growth.
Wondering how to use brow gel? There’s really no wrong way to do it! Simply choose the best brow gel for your hair and skin tone, and apply an even layer directly onto your brows in short, upward strokes–fluffing, shaping and sculpting as desired.
Regardless of future eyebrow trends, we want to provide responsible makeup lovers like you with high-quality, zero waste options.
Brow down to sustainable luxury and shop our Zero Waste Brow Gel today!