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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Now watch a video on different methods of eyebrow filling and styling.