Shaping eyebrows through the centuries

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Supermodel Cara Delevingne made ‘bold and bushy’ brows a trend in the 20th century

Supermodel Cara Delevingne made ‘bold
and bushy’ brows a trend in the 20th century

Some of today’s sought-after eyebrow trends include supermodel and actress Cara Delevingne’s bold and bushy pair, as well as Korea’s sleek and straight shaped lines. To achieve either of the two, women—young and grown-ups alike—generally make a visit to their trusted salons and undergo different techniques like tweezing, waxing, threading and yes, even tattooing. Their choice of process does not end there for they also go on to purchase various eyebrow products for day to day primping, comprised of pencils to powder. Together, all this work to keep eyebrows always on fleek.

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Yet while it appears that women have only become obsessed with shaping their eyebrows as of late, it is definitely not the case—grooming one’s facial hair, in fact, has been around since the ancient times.

According to Marie Claire’s “The History of Women and Their Eyebrows” (marieclaire.com, 2014), women of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome all had signature eyebrow shapes using make-up, or whatever served as natural cosmetics thousands and thousands of years ago.

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt—and perfect eyebrows

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt—and perfect eyebrows

Take for example Cleopatra who “arched and elongated [the]brows by painting on carbon and black oxide substances.” Apparently, the pharaoh and her Egyptian people practiced this as an homage to the god Horus, and in the belief that applying make-up gives supernatural powers.

And while Greek and Roman women have differences in beauty rituals—the former preferred purity while the latter chose luxury—both donned the unibrow, or elongated brows that almost connected at the tip of the nose’s bridge, making them look as one. Yes, such brows were considered beautiful then.

But came the Middle Ages when “modern” women of that period started “plucking their eyebrows heavily” reported Marie Claire. The standard became “skinny and barely-there.”

Fast forward to the 19th century, sleek and thin eyebrows continued its trend—only they came in different lengths and arches (“A History in Eyebrows: See the Most Popular Brow Shapes Through the Decades” by InStyle.com, 2015).

In the 1920s, brows were long and curved downwards with short tails, while in the 1930s, brows had a rounded upward bend. It was also during these decades that the first commercial eyebrow products hit the market.

But thanks to superstars Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, eyebrows took a different shape from the 1940s to the 1950s. Marie Claire wrote, “[They] all boasted lush, immaculately-shaped brows” that looked heavier with a prominent arch.

And from then on, eyebrow trends just like fashion took on a cycle. Sleek and defined brows ruled again from the 1960s and the 1970s, especially during the disco fever to emphasize full glittery eye makeup. Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer and Diana Ross were the famous singers who donned the look.

In the Philippines, Gretchen Barretto bears one of the most iconic pair of eyebrows

In the Philippines, Gretchen Barretto bears one of the most iconic pair of eyebrows

When the hippie movement happened, natural-looking eyebrows became hip once more. This continued well into the 1980s thanks to Madonna and Brook Shields who both preferred fuller brows. Locally, who would forget Gretchen Barretto’s iconic, dark brows?

But then the “tweeze fest,” as InStyle defined it, returned in the 1990s until the dawn of the 20th century. Charlie’s Angels Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu were just some of the famed names who championed thin brow trend even with different shapes.

Nowadays, while there are still those who aspire for trendy eyebrows, more women embrace shapes that are suited to their facial features. This is thanks to the Internet, which is fast spreading “eyebrow awareness” among modern women.

If not yet on board in this eyebrow revolution, start understanding brows more and more by looking up tutorials and product reviews posted by beauty brands and experts online.

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