From 1920 to Now: The Epic Evolution of Eyebrows

Updated 04/19/19

Full, natural-looking brows are such a sought-after look nowadays that a world where pencil-thin brows were en vogue seems like an impossibility. (Though we here at Team Byrdie, children of the '90s, have photographic proof of said brows… *shudder.*) Because we got a little too tweezer-happy as teens, it’s a miracle we were even able to grow back the arches we’ve come to know and love today. (Tonya Crooks’s Brow Enhancement Serum, $95, may have had something to do with that.)

The transition from plucking the life out of our brows to wanting them to be as full as we could humanly grow them is an interesting one—a transition that’s ebbed and flowed throughout history. For the past century, we’ve seen brows go from long and thin to arched, from bushy back to thin, and on and on. But to get an actual visual of these transitions, we rounded up the various brow trends from 1920 to now. Keep scrolling to see for yourself!

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1920s

In the roaring ’20s, a deep red lip and defined Cupid’s bow were often synonymous with pencil-thin eyebrows that women would draw past the outer corners of their eyes. Heavy makeup use surged during this decade because following WWII, makeup became user-friendlier, transferring from tubs and rolls of paper to portable compacts and lipstick tubes.

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1930s—1940s

While thin, drawn-on brows continued to be popular in the ’30s, women began to create much more of an arch, as seen on Jean Harlow and Billie Holliday. Once the ’40s rolled around, icons like Joan Crawford pioneered the look of a thicker brow yet still maintained that rounded arch.

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1950s

There’s no doubt that Marilyn Monroe was a trendsetter through and through. Along with her trademark curly blond hair and sultry red lips, the icon’s prominently arched, groomed brows influenced women of the decade to follow suit.

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1960s

Pronounced, sometimes filled-in brows were prominent in the ’60s, similar to the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. Today’s full brows echo the ample arches of this decade, don’t you think?

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1970s

During the disco era, bright, shimmering eye shadow and long lashes took center stage on the face, and thin, drastically arched brows allowed for such looks to be featured.

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1980s

Thick, natural, and ungroomed brows were the most sought-after look of the ’80s, with Brooke Shields pioneering the beauty movement. Madonna also famously sported dark, brushed-up brows during this decade. It’s safe to say wax and tweezer sales probably took a hit at the time.

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1990s—2000s

Ah, the ’90s. Women of this decade put brow grooming companies back in business with their pencil-thin brows à la Gwen Stefani and Drew Berrymore. Thin, over-tweezed brows carried over into the 2000s, until the brow baton (so to speak) was passed from Kate Moss to Cara Delevingne.

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Today

Today, women are all about their brows—the fuller, the better. If you weren’t blessed with a full set of arches, there are enough powders, waxes, and pencils on the market to fake a set like Emilia Clarke’s. Not sure which to use? Check out our foolproof eyebrow product guide.

Which brow style do you most identify with? Sound off below!

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