woman using a brow spoolie brush to comb her eyebrows

The History of Eyebrow Makeup

In the ever-evolving world of beauty and cosmetics, few trends have stood the test of time quite like the art of eyebrow grooming and makeup. The history of eyebrow makeup is a fascinating journey that spans centuries, reflecting shifting ideals of beauty and societal norms. From ancient civilizations to the modern era, the quest for perfectly sculpted eyebrows has been a constant. Let's delve into the rich tapestry of eyebrow makeup history and explore how this beauty ritual has transformed over time.

Ancient Civilizations

The story of eyebrow makeup begins in ancient civilizations, where elaborate grooming rituals were seen as markers of status and beauty. In ancient Egypt, for instance, both men and women adorned their eyebrows with kohl, a mixture of soot and other natural ingredients, to emphasize their eyes and highlight their facial expressions. Similarly, ancient Greeks also valued well-defined eyebrows, using a mixture of crushed minerals to enhance their brows.

model brushing brows with spoolie brush

The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages witnessed a shift in beauty ideals, with a more subdued approach to makeup. Pale skin and a high forehead were considered fashionable, leading to the practice of removing eyebrow hair to achieve a more pronounced forehead. Women often used a variety of concoctions, including vinegar and cat dung, to remove unwanted hair, contributing to a distinctive look that reflected the prevailing standards of beauty.

Renaissance and the Elizabethan Era

The Renaissance marked a return to a more natural aesthetic, and women sought to enhance their features without completely eradicating their eyebrows. During the Elizabethan era, pale complexions were still in vogue, but women began using subtle brow powders made from crushed berries or herbs to add definition to their eyebrows. The emphasis was on delicacy and refinement, with softer, more natural arches coming back into fashion.

The Roaring Twenties

The 1920s brought about a dramatic shift in beauty standards, as the flapper culture embraced bold, expressive looks. Women began to redefine their eyebrows with a pencil, creating a more defined and rounded shape. Hollywood starlets like Clara Bow and Louise Brooks popularized this trend, influencing women around the world to adopt a bolder and more stylized approach to eyebrow makeup.

black and white photo showing hair and makeup of 1920s style

Mid-20th Century

In the mid-20th century, the glamorous icons of Hollywood's golden era, such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, continued to shape beauty ideals. Thin, arched eyebrows became the epitome of elegance, with many women emulating these iconic stars. The use of eyebrow pencils and powders became widespread, allowing for greater precision in shaping and defining the brows.

clean faced model looking surprised

Late 20th Century to Present

The latter part of the 20th century witnessed a departure from the ultra-thin brows of previous decades. The 1980s saw the rise of bold, expressive brows, with celebrities like Brooke Shields championing a more natural and full look. In the 1990s and early 2000s, plucking gave way to waxing and threading, providing individuals with more control over their eyebrow shapes.

In recent years, the beauty industry has embraced diversity, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to eyebrow makeup. The "eyebrow revolution" has given rise to various trends, including the popularity of bold, bushy brows and the meticulous art of microblading, where semi-permanent pigment is tattooed onto the skin to create a fuller, more defined look.

technician mapping out microblading with white pencil

The history of eyebrow makeup is a testament to the ever-changing landscape of beauty standards and the creative ways in which individuals express themselves. From ancient civilizations to contemporary times, eyebrows have been a canvas for self-expression, cultural identity, and societal trends. As we continue to celebrate the diversity of beauty, the story of eyebrow makeup serves as a reminder of the enduring quest for individuality and elegance.

Back to blog