A History in Eyebrows: See the Most Popular Brow Shapes Through the Decades
What a long, strange trip it's been: Though today's definition of perfect eyebrows is a thick set untouched by tweezers similar to Cara Delevingne's impeccable arches, things didn't always come so naturally in terms of brow trends.
Back in the 1920s, silver screen stars like Anna May Wong and Clara Bow wore theirs pencil-thin with a severe downward-curving tail, and every decade that followed saw its share of brow-raising trends that would come and grow in waves. Perhaps thanks to Audrey Hepburn's full set in the 1960s, arches began taking on a more natural appearance, until the '70s, when disco, shimmery shadow, and interesting brow shapes came on the scene.
We put together a retrospective look at the most-popular shapes by the decade, spanning from the 1920s to today. Click through our gallery to time-travel through the brow trends of years past!
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1920s: Anna May Wong
In the '20s, brows were worn uber thin, and the tails were given a downward curve like Anna May Wong's.
1920s: Clara Bow
Along with her defined Cupid's bow, women of the '20s mirrored the dramatic shape of Clara Bow's arches.
1930s: Merle Oberon
In the 1930s, stars like Merle Oberon ditched the sloped look of the previous decade for a rounded upward bend.
1930s: Billie Holiday
Women like Billie Holiday, whose red lip and floral hairpece were her trademark, filled their brows in with a darker hue to play up the bend.
1930s: Norma Shearer
Others, like Norma Shearer, grew their brows into a completely straight line, save for the down-turned tails on the far edges.
1940s: Marlene Dietrich
Dietrich's skinny set walked the line between the trends of the '30s and '40s, though her arch was less severe than those of the previous decade.
1940s: Joan Crawford
By contrast, Joan Crawford's heavier brows became her trademark look.
1950s: Lena Horne
Leaving the rounded curve in the '40s, the shape of choice in the '50s mirrored that of Lena Horne's, which had a pointed arch and shorter tail.
1950s: Marilyn Monroe
In the era of the bombshell, women in the '50s followed Marilyn's lead with bold red lips, lush lashes, and angled arches.
1950s: Elizabeth Taylor
If you've got 'em, flaunt 'em! Elizabeth Taylor played up her already-ample brows with a generous amount of matte shadow.
1950s: Eartha Kitt
Kitt's graphic arch followed the aesthetic of the decade, and added a slightly sensual feline vibe to her look.
1960s: Audrey Hepburn
The Hepburn effect, sparked by the star's thick, natural set, inspired the women of the '60s to fill in their own with well-placed strokes of the brow pencil.
1960s: Nina Simone
Like Hepburn, Nina Simone also wore her brows full, but with a rounded, emphasized arch.
With graphic eye makeup and lengthy lashes the focus of the look, those who followed the mod trend like Twiggy kept their brows groomed into an arch, but opted for thin, rounded tails to complement the statement liner.
1970s: Donna Summer
Chalk it up to the sparkly disco feeling that took over the nation, but in the '70s, a thin, curved brow like Donna Summer's allowed the shimmery eye shadow to extend even further.
1970s: Diana Ross
The sharp arch of Diana Ross's eyebrows gave her lengthy lashes an even longer appearance.
1970s: Pam Grier
Pam Grier's brows followed a more natural shape, but stayed in line with the thinner trend of the decade.
1970s: Aretha Franklin
Talk about feeling like a natural woman! Franklin's expertly groomed set seemed to be untouched by the tweezers, perfectly framing her purple eye shadow.
1980s: Brooke Shields
Thanks to stars like Brooke Shields, who flawlessly worked a full set, the women of the '80s got their grow on, with ample brows completing any good power-dressing ensemble.
1980s: Whitney Houston
Celebrities like Whitney Houston set the trend of brushing the individual hairs upwards for an exaggerated look.
Following in the footsteps of her Madgesty, many women left out the tweezers entirely, allowing their arches to completely grow in.
1980s: Grace Jones
The fashion-forward crowd, including supermodel Grace Jones, emulated the look of a real-life Patrick Nagel painting by opting for graphic brows with a severe upward slant.
1990s: Kate Moss
In contrast to the overgrown look of the previous decade, the '90s saw an abundance in pencil-thin brows, a la Kate Moss.
1990s: Mariah Carey
Not unlike the skilled vocalist herself, Carey's curved brows hit all the right notes in terms of the mid-90s trends.
1990s: Sherilyn Fenn
In addition to "Who killed Laura Palmer?" another question we had while watching the '90s-era cult TV show Twin Peaks was "Who does Audrey Horne's brows?" thanks to Sherilyn Fenn's trademark arches.
1990s: Tyra Banks
No brow powder here! Banks's light natural set was groomed into a narrow silhouette.
1990s: Drew Barrymore
The grunge era also saw some interesting shapes, similar to Drew Barrymore's skinny, ultra-dark arches.
2000s: Cameron Diaz
Recovering from the tweeze-fest that was the '90s, eyebrow shapes remained thin, but followed a more natural path like Cameron Diaz's.
2000s: Victoria Beckham
Instead of lining the beginning portion of the brow with the bridge of the nose, stars like Victoria Beckham had their arches start along the outer area of the nostril.
2000s: Mandy Moore
With frosty, early aughts shadow as the hottest trend of the moment, light brows like Mandy Moore's provided a subtle frame for the sparkly effect.
2010s: Kim Kardashian
Perhaps in an attempt to keep up with the Kardashians, or our natural hair growth cycle, the 2010s were marked by a more natural shape with a vibe that suggested bigger was better, at least in terms of our brows.
2010s: Cara Delevingne
The supermodel (and her ample arches) inspired us to step away from the tweezers and embrace a fuller brow shape.