Eyebrows through the ages have always provided a great insight into the fashion and beauty trends of their day. In some times, eyebrows were among the boldest statements of beauty and the history of eyebrows encompasses interesting things to learn about cosmetics and female grooming in general. We have many ways of fashioning eyebrows today, but they have all featured at some point previously in eyebrows through the ages.
1. Ancient Egypt
As seen on the bust of Nefertiti, in Ancient Egypt women used to wear makeup around the eyes, and their brows were arched, elongated and darkened using mineral-based powders. This makeup was an homage to Horus (God of War, Vengeance and Protection) and was believed to ward off disease and evil spirits. One of the most interesting things about eyebrows in Ancient Egypt is that, if a cat died in a household, all inhabitants had to shave their brows as a sign of mourning. If a dog died, everybody would shave from head to toes.
The ways women wore their eyebrows in Sumer is also very interesting. Like the Egyptians, Sumerian women loved to emphasize their brows, making them thick and arching them down in the center. They used a thick blend of lampblack and galena dissolved in animal fat to achieve their desired look.
3. Ancient Greece
As opposed to Ancient Egypt, where women (at least those of high birth) were quite independent, in Ancient Greece, they were rather seen as chattels. Married ladies and their daughters did not use any makeup at all, since the Greeks had a sort of obsession with female purity. Only courtesans used to paint their faces. No matter the social class, however, it seems that unibrows (monobrow) were highly appreciated back then.
4. Ancient Rome
The women of Ancient Rome had much more power and freedom than Greek females. The famous poets and writers back then used their works to comment on the beauty practices of the Roman ladies and even offer guidelines. Just like in Greece, the unibrow was highly praised, being seen as a sign of intelligence. One of the most interesting things about eyebrows in ancient Rome is that they used false brows made of died goat hair and fixed on the face with tree resin. It must have been fun taking them off!
5. The Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, domed foreheads were in high demand, and thus women heavily plucked their eyebrows and lashes (even removing them altogether) to make their forehead stand out. In the 15th century, inspired by Queen Elizabeth's famous reddish blonde, many ladies started to die their brows and hair in a similar shade.
6. The Victorian Era
If you are wondering about the ways women wore their eyebrows in the Victorian Era, know that obvious makeup was frowned upon and seen as something only a prostitute would wear. This is why the ladies of high birth would leave their brows untamed and rather bushy.
7. The 1920s
Inspired by silent movie starlets such as Clara Bow, women of the '20s used to wear their brows straight and extremely thin, which lent them a pensive, dramatic look. They used Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to make their eyebrows shine and add emphasis and, for the first time in history, they had commercially-made cosmetic products available. This was also the first era when regular ladies started modeling themselves after entertainers and celebrities – which still continues to this day.
8. The 1930s
Ladies of the '30s continued to wear thin, dark, shiny and extensively plucked eyebrows. However, rather than the straight lines, they started to wear high, rounded arches that they often extended to the temple. Famous actresses of the time, like Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow, defined the era's beauty trends, wearing curved brows for more drama.
9. The 1940s
With the '40s came a softer, thicker look, with movie starlets like Grace Kelly and Lauren Bacall wearing heavy brows and prominent arches. The classic Hollywood red carpet looks of today were inspired by the trends of this era.
10. The 1950s
The '50s were clearly defined by Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and darling Audrey Hepburn. They wore thick, dark eyebrows and often penciled them in for a bolder look. Except for Audrey Hepburn (and those inspired by her), who was famous for her straight, natural-looking brows, women of the '50s kept the arched shapes of the '40s, but used a stronger, more pronounced effect, to make the eyebrows the defining feature of the face.
11. The 1960s
One of the interesting things about eyebrows in the '60s that stands out the most is the trend started by Sophia Loren. Her famous styling technique implied shaving the brows off completely, and then painstakingly drawing them back on with super-short, meticulous strokes. This technique would secure a striking, yet natural-looking effect. Besides this trend, Audrey Hepburn's straight, natural style remained popular throughout the '60s as well.
12. The 1970s
The '70s were marked by a handful of trends in terms of the ways women wore their eyebrows. First of all, there was the all-natural look promoted by – you guessed right – the hippie movement. A more natural style was also popularized by famous actresses of the day, like Lauren Hutton and Ali MacGraw, who did groom their brows, but used less plucking for a subtler style. On the other hand, disco enthusiasts used to wear rather thin lines, with pronounced arches.
13. The 1980s
We all know Brooke Shields' signature eyebrows – they are undoubtedly some of the most famous eyebrows through the ages. This was the trend back in the '80s, with even Madonna jumping on the bandwagon. Thick, ungroomed brows were huge (both figuratively and literally), and the untidy look, if it didn't come naturally, was even imitated using powders and pencils.
14. The 1990s
If you came of age around these times you must remember the over-tweezed, super-thin eyebrows sported by Pamela Anderson and Drew Barrymore. Of course, this was not the only trend. This era had brows of all shapes and sizes, but extensive tweezing seemed to be what most of them had in common.
15. The Present Day
Among all the interesting things about eyebrows nowadays, we have to notice the peculiar way history repeats itself. Super-thin lines are out and we, again, favor thick, lush brows with natural arches. Fortunately, we don't have to "bond" with our tweezers too much nowadays – but don't throw yours away, as you see how drastically trends change throughout the years.
How have you worn your eyebrows through the years? Do you ever look at style icons for inspiration or have you simply found the “look” you’re happy with. Come on ladies, let’s hear from you in a kind of straw poll of which style of brows is most popular with AWS readers.