The History Of Brows

Brows are the must-have accessory of the moment, and they’ve never been so big.

The business of eyebrows is booming too; you can now tint, thread, and microblade your brows, or choose from HD treatments, billionaire brows, and even extensions.

Many see the trend for big brows as following from model Cara Delevigne’s success, bushy brows and all.

The bigger the better certainly hasn’t always been fashionable — there was a time when thick brows brought ridicule rather than praise.

Anyone who grew up in the ‘90s or early ‘00s will no doubt look back at photos of their teen self and cringe at the over-plucked, one-hair thick lines that they wore above their eyes. 

Throughout the decades, there’s actually been an awful lot of variation on what was considered the perfect brow.

From rounded arches to tapered ends, here’s a look at some of the eyebrow trends through the ages.


Brows were thin in the ’20s, and penciled in to stand out.

Shapes varied, from Clara Bow’s brows that curved down in an arc, to Anna May Wong’s straighter shape that only began to point downwards towards the ends.

Anna May Wong #annamaywong

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Clara Bow’s brows, along with Wong’s defined the era.

Here, we see Bow’s eyebrows following the shape of of her upper lid, giving the doleful look familiar to ’20s film stars.

Clara Bow💘 #clarabow

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In the ’30s, brows by and large remained thin.

Billie Holiday, Merle Oberon, and Norma Shearer shortened the length of their brows as compared to the previous decade and played around with shape, but kept things thin.

Katharine Hepburn too opted for a shortened brow, but a little on the thicker side.

There is definition and tapering to the tail, while the brow start in line with just inside the corner of the eye.


The ’40s were characterised by slightly thicker brows, with more experimentation on arch placement and thickness.

Ava Gardner was known for her dark face-defining brows.

Through her life, Gardner switched between a rounded shape and higher, more angular arches.


The 1950s saw a move towards bolder, more shaded brows.

Perhaps the two most iconic women of the decade, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, also had the most influential sets of eyebrows.

Monroe’s were not the focal point of her face, but they complemented her features perfectly and drew attention.

They were shorter than we’re used to these days, starting further away from the centre line of the face.

#marylinmonroe #fashion #fashionphotography #retro #glamour

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Hepburn surely has the most coveted and imitated brows in the history of brows.

Thick and shaped to perfection, they contrasted exquisitely with her petite and feline features.

Audrey Hepburn photographed by George Daniell, 1955 #AudreyHepburn #GeorgeDaniell

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Today, eyebrows range from perfectly sculpted, ombre shaded sets to the wild and bushy, but tend to err on the thicker side.

While our obsession with eyebrows products and treatments might be new, eyebrow trends certainly aren’t.

Polaroid P8317

Like this? Read about eyeliner trends here

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