This year is Allure's 30th Anniversary, and we're celebrating by looking back at iconic moments in beauty from the past three decades. You can read more articles like this one here.
Crazy, curvy, wavy… brows. (This is not a remix of Megan Thee Stallion's latest hit.) These adjectives are just a few of the (many) words you could use to describe how eyebrows have evolved over the past three decades. They've been bold, bushy, and barely — and even bleached on occasion.
Year after year, they have been through all kinds of ups and downs. The ‘90s were the time of the tweezer, until "brow groomers" came onto the scene toward the end of the decade to shape things up. Then came piercings and pencils and powders and pomades. By the 2010s, eyebrows were "on fleek" and considered the best accessory across the runways. Just Google the brows at Rodarte. It’s evident eyebrows have a lot to say — including about the decade you're living in.
And while some moments have been inexcusably eyebrow-raising (forgive us — we had to), they have always been a canvas of communication and expression. Even today in the ongoing age of mask-wearing, our eyes remain the windows to our soul and brows are the framework of our face. Here, a look back at the history of our archways.
Photographed by Hannah Khymych. Hair: Evanie Frausto. Makeup: Ayami Nishimura. Models: Goldie at Crawford Models and Taylor Isabelle at BiCoastal Mgmt.
Early 1990s: Kevyn Aucoin's tweezers have a very long reach. "We decided together that everyone needed to look like Carole Lombard and have really skinny eyebrows," recalls designer Isaac Mizrahi years later in a documentary about the legendary makeup artist. "And the next thing I knew, [Aucoin] was plucking everybody's eyebrows." When he tweezed Cindy Crawford's into oblivion, "it was a real crisis for Cindy's career. And then literally overnight, somehow it just changed and she started getting more bookings. And then everyone started tweezing their eyebrows."
1996: The Spice Girls' "Wannabe" makes a whole lot of us wanna get eyebrow piercings when Mel B's single hoop takes them from punk to pop.
1998: Madonna and Oprah credit their full, balanced arches to L.A. brow groomer Anastasia Soare (who, not coincidentally, studied architecture in her native Romania). Related: "Brow groomer" is now a profession.
2012: Model Cara Delevingne leads the "power brow" trend with her dark, straight-across brows. She later tells Allure the best thing you can do for brows is, “Nothing. Let them be free!”
2014: Peaches Monroee says "eyebrows on fleek" in a six-second Vine from a car and those three words go viral. While Vine no longer exists, 4.8 million #browsonfleek Instagram posts live on.
2015: Glossier launches Boy Brow – a spoolie-delivered pomade for a "fluffed-up" effect, inspired by "old-timey men's mustache wax and hairstyling products," Glossier founder Emily Weiss tells Allure. In 2020, reportedly, one tube sells every 23 seconds.
2020: Brows are a beauty bright spot with the rest of our face covered by a mask. And whether you embellish them with a hot-pink brow mascara, a taupe powder, or nothing at all, they are in a position of power for communicating with the world.
A version of this story originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.
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