The Evolution of Eyebrows Over The Past Century

The Evolution of Eyebrows Over The Past Century I Mirra Skincare

On TikTok today, it seems like every week there’s a new beauty trend. Especially when it comes to makeup trends, it gets harder and harder to keep up. Specifically, eyebrow trends are here one minute and gone the next. Recently on the app, beauty enthusiasts have seen a switch from the feathery brow trend to the thin, plucked brows of the 1990s. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Pam and Tommy on Hulu inspired a new Pamela Anderson makeup filter on TikTok that edits thin eyebrows on whoever uses it. Whatever the reason for the change in trend may be, it has beauty enthusiasts talking about the evolution of eyebrows and eyebrow trends throughout the decades. And the best way to predict trends and where the evolution of eyebrows may go from here is to examine the evolution of eyebrows over the past century.


1. 1920s

2. 1930s

3. 1940s

4. 1950s

5. 1960s

6. 1970s

7. 1980s

8. 1990s

9. 2000s

10. 2010s

11. 2020s

Key Points

  • In decades as early as the 1920s and as late as the 2000s, thin, arched, and filled in brows were popular in order to draw more attention to the eye and makeup looks.
  • Decades such as the 1980s saw a call for thick, bushy, and grown-out brows as a rebellion from the thinly waxed eyebrows of the 1970s.
  • Today, most eyebrow trends call for fluffy brows that look brushed, feathery, and grown out as techniques and tools such as brow lamination, microblading, and brow gels grow in popularity.


Josephine Baker

Via Getty Images

In the 1920s when print and film became widely accessible, makeup started to become more accessible right alongside it (1). Heavy makeup uses for the purpose of showing up on screen translated into real life as people began carrying portable makeup and new makeup tools everywhere they went. It was the roaring ‘20s, after all, and drama and whimsy were emphasized. Suddenly, the concept of having specific styles of makeup, or makeup trends, became popularized. 

During this time, drama and emphasis were put on the eyebrow. A 1920s brow was known for:

  • A defined arch
  • Thin
  • Long tail that swept downwards to create the drooping effect
  • Rounded
  • Front of brow shaped straight along the face and arched down at the temple (2)
  • Penciled in


Edith Piaf

Via Getty Images

As the 1920s came to an end and the 1930s rolled around, the evolution of eyebrow trends changed slightly, but not much. While thin, drawn on, and rounded brows were still all the rage, brows took on a higher arch. Other than the arch being higher, the drawn-on arches also became more pointed, penciled in darker, sharper, and edgier.

The goal was to lift the face and make the eyebrows appear higher by drawing on the highest point of the arches directly over the pupil (1). The brows of the 1930s also called for plucking the brow bone to be bare and hairless while drawing on the thin, symmetrical arches. This helped give the illusion of higher eyebrows while creating more “eyelid” space to allow people to draw on their desired shape (3).


Rita Hayworth

Via Getty Images

After the over-plucking of the 1930s, the evolution of eyebrows called for a more natural and fuller approach. Brows started to be grown out again as trends called for a thicker brow, while still maintaining the slightly defined shape. To achieve this brow, the natural shape of the brows was followed instead of drawing on a completely new shape. Using a lighter hand with light pencil strokes, the trends of the 1940s strayed away from harsh, dark pencil lines.

During wartime, makeup had to be put on quickly and thus called for less drama. In the workforce, there was less chance to be bold, too. Instead, it was common for Vaseline to be used as a form of brow gel to keep the natural brow in place throughout the day and create a softer look (3).


Marilyn Monroe

Via Getty Images

In the 1950s, bold was back and more techniques for doing the brows began popping up. With icons like Marilyn Monroe setting the trends in the 1950s, brows continued to be natural, arched, and groomed but started to be filled in with eyeshadow for a fuller look. At this time, it was common for brows to have pointed arches and a square shape rather than rounded arches (4). Plus, the brow trends of the 1950s called for a shorter tail as opposed to the long tails of the 1920s (5). 



Via Getty Images

The evolution of eyebrows in the 1960s is reminiscent of today in the way that different brow trends were popping up at the same time. On one hand, icons like Audrey Hepburn were rocking thick, natural brows while icons across the pond such as Twiggy sported pencil-thin eyebrows to complement mod makeup trends. The pencil-thin brows made a resurgence during the ‘60s as fashion editorials in print wanted more focus on dramatic eye makeup trends of the time. However, there were slight differences from the thin eyebrows of the 1930s as the brows during the 1960s were defined by straighter arches and shorter tails (1). 

It was definitely a time for experimentation and figuring out what framed the face best. While some like Twiggy let their short, neat, and understated eyebrows take a backseat to their eye looks, others dove headfirst into the natural, full look and went heavy on the eyeshadow in their brows (4, 3).


Charlie's Angels

Via Getty Images

In the ‘70s, it was all about disco and vibrant, glamorous makeup. As a result, the thin brow took precedence over thick brows as people wanted to rock more exaggerated eye looks and put emphasis on their eye makeup rather than their brows. Thin, high arched brows helped frame the eyes while not taking away, or distracting, from the dramatic eyelashes, eyeliner, and shadow. It was more about the natural shape, not much filling in, and a thin arch (4). On the other hand, there was a smaller subculture during the hippie movement as body hair was embraced. While a majority was embracing their tweezers, others strayed away completely (6).


Brooke Shields

Via Getty Images

The 1980s were defined by natural, bushy eyebrows that emphasized boldness and natural beauty. With icons like Brooke Shields and Madonna sitting at the forefront of eyebrow trends during this time, they were known for rocking dark, full, and fluffy brows (1). Natural eyebrow hair growth was embraced and there was less emphasis on grooming the brows. It was all about being untamed, unruly, and bigger than ever. It was the 1980s – so think, teased, big hair, and large shoulder pads (7). The bigger and bolder the better.


Selena Quintanilla

Via Getty Images

When most people think of eyebrow trends, the one trend they usually can recall is the thin eyebrows of the 1990s. They defined the decade. After the natural eyebrow push of the 1980s, it only makes sense that trends took a complete 180 and returned to pencil-thin brows. Similarly to the 1930s, it was trendy to over-pluck the brow bone, leaving a naturally arched line of hair in its wake (3).

While some lightly filled their brows and followed their natural shapes, others played with the shapes of their arches and filled their brows in dark. As long as they were thin – they were in trend in the ‘90s. To this day, those who over-plucked in the 1990s are strong supporters of natural brows, regretting the overplucking and lack of hair growth now.


Paris Hilton

Via Getty Images

The thin and overplucked look of the 1990s held on for the 2000s, as brows continued to be skinny and pointed. There was a similar trend happening here in the 2000s as in the 1970s, as more emphasis was put on grungy, smoky eye makeup looks during this time, so brows got thinner as a way to draw more attention to the eye (4). The arches got more graphic, the front of the brows were plucked away to create more space between the eyes, and the use of an eyebrow pencil was all the rage (5, 7).


Lily Collins

Via Getty Images

The 2010s were all about being an Instagram baddie with well-defined, carved out, thick brows. There was an intense focus on grooming the brows into a perfect shape, and eyebrow stencils and dip-brow kits became popping up more and more as the perfectly sculpted brow grew in popularity. If you weren’t able to grow out your brows to shape them into the ideal brow, you likely turned to pomade and thin, angled makeup brushes to achieve your desired look (1). With celebrities like Cara Delevigne, Kim Kardashian, and Lily Collins to look up to, brows were emphasized in the makeup world, and the phrase “Eyebrows on fleek” was everywhere thanks to Vine star Peaches Monroee (8).



Via Instagram

Today, most eyebrow trends call for fluffy brows that look brushed, feathery, and grown out. With brow lamination, microblading, and brow gels growing in popularity, the thin eyebrows of the past have yet to make their official return. Straying away from the full-faces of glam from the 2010s, many trends nowadays call for light, natural makeup, or more focus on the eyes instead of the brows.

Plus, with all of the beauty influencers online now, more unique, creative, and dramatic brow trends are popping up all the time, such as brows decorated in rhinestones (thank you, Euphoria!), bleached brows, barbed wire brows, boxed and squiggly brows, colored-in brows with vibrant colors, and so much more (4). Like the 1960s, the 2020s seem to be a time for a mix of experimentation, creativity, and choosing the look that looks best on you.

Written by Selena Ponton


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  1. https://www.byrdie.com/brows-through-the-ages
  2. https://www.thelashlounge.com/blog/the-evolution-of-the-eyebrow-eyebrow-trends-over-time/
  3. https://www.more.com/beauty/makeup/100-years-eyebrow-evolution-visual-timeline/
  4. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/g19586274/eyebrow-trends-decades/
  5. https://www.instyle.com/beauty/eyes/history-eyebrows?slide=607ffa8e-8d06-428c-9e18-2eb4fc7376eb#607ffa8e-8d06-428c-9e18-2eb4fc7376eb
  6. https://www.rush.co.uk/blog/skin/eyebrow-trends-throughout-the-decades/39624
  7. https://www.vogue.com.au/beauty/trends/brows-through-the-ages-how-eyebrow-trends-have-changed-over-time/image-gallery/77d27d27ae52c1908ca46e2f754f0d94
  8. https://www.allure.com/story/history-of-brows


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