“The eyebrows frame the face.”
We hear this statement from make up artists and beauty bloggers all the time. 2017 was the year of the “eyebrows on fleek” trend that saw a drastic change in the way eyebrows appeared on the faces of women all over social media. YouTube was flooded with tutorials on the not-so-simple technique that would help girls achieve this fashionable look and thus, the eyebrow element of make-up took on a life of its own. We can now find complete eyebrow kits in the cosmetics section of stores, whereas eyebrow makeup used to be as basic as drawing one thin line above the eyelid with what would now be classified simply as a lip liner.
The makeup industry can seem quite aggressive to someone who hasn’t taken the time to keep up with it. There’s a brush for everything now. Several brushes for each part of the face, in fact. The eyebrows are no exception to this. But why? Who determines what the eyebrows should look like? If the eyebrows “shape” the face, then why do we keep changing the frame?
Looking back to the early 1900s, when the eyebrow trend wasn’t as bold or technical as we know it to be, we can see that the main influencers of this trend were performers. Whether it was ballerinas and actresses in the theatre or the dancers and gymnists in the circus, women admired what performers looked like. The same way that performers constantly have everyone’s attention today, they were also always looked at back then. Men were mesmerised by them and women wanted to be them. So women would emulate their style, from head to toe. This is how performers throughout history, have been able to dictate the general aesthetic of society. When we open instagram and see Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce wearing Burberry, best believe, Burberry sales go up and we suddenly see that same beige pattern on millions of girls on instagram.
People who are good at getting attention become an instant influence. People gravitate towards them and even begin to adopt their aesthetic. Social media has birthed a new type of celebrity, solely based on this principle. “Influencers” are the new celebrities, and they are the ones dictating the trends in beauty and fashion. The new makeup trends are enforced by them.
Here is a timeline of the eyebrow trend as it has evolved over this past century.
1920s – 1940s
The thin, rounded, drooping arches.
1950s – 1970s
Full, arched and brushed.
1980s – 2000
Full, natural brow.
2000 – 2009
Skinny, waxed, pencil-thin arches.
2010 – 2015
The Natural, Trimmed & Manicured Brow
2016 – Today
The Instagram Brow
The Bleached Brow
The Bold, “Messy” Brow
Trends are ever-changing and the aesthetic is constantly evolving. We look at some past trends and laugh at them but we also seem to circle back to some older trends. What will eyebrows look like next year, or ten years from now? Will we return to some older aesthetics? Will they get thinner, thicker, rounder, sharper?
Which eyebrow style do you subscribe to? And which trend do you think should make a comeback?
by Zani Tsabedze