Skinny brows are essentially the low-rise jeans of beauty—just when you think the fad has made its last resurgence, it comes roaring back again. After years of embracing big, bold brows, skinny brows have snuck up on us once again.
“Over the past few years of the pandemic and shelter-in-place, a lot of people let their brows grow wild, or used it as an opportunity to ‘reset’ their shape, because salons and spas had limited capacity or various other reasons,” says Jared Bailey, Benefit Cosmetics Global Brow Expert. “However, as we’ve returned back to in-person life over the last year we've shed our shelter-in-place looks and with it, have returned to grooming in a big way. At the same time, the 90’s are back in fashion, which in turn is dictating lots of fashion and beauty trends, including your brows.”
Like so many other trends, Bella Hadid is leading the resurgence of skinny brows. “[She is] the one who is ushering in this Y2K queen thing happening on social media, and one of the things that we are seeing on fashion and runways,” says Joey Healy, Celebrity Eyebrow Specialist.
However, the skinny brows of today aren’t the thin brows sported by our favorite 90’s icons. “We’ve learned a lot since then,” Bailey says. “Most importantly, we’ve learned that brows bring balance and proportion to your face and eyes. Today's thin brow still has density and texture. Even though the shape has slimmed in width, filling them in is key as brows remain an important anchor while blocking out the proportions of the face.”
Debating if you should try the trend? The good news is you can do so without plucking a single hair. Here’s everything you need to know about how to fake skinny eyebrows.
Are Skinny Brows Right for You?
We hate to break it to you, but we’ll let Healy be blunt: “They do not work for every face shape,” he says. “The positives are that they can add some lift to the eye area by making a higher arch. It tends to be better for people with darker brows because if your brows are lighter or blonder, they kind of disappear.” He cautions that skinny brows are not great for fuller, rounder faces because they don’t balance out the face. Also, people who have stronger features (i.e. prominent noses, larger lips) aren’t the best candidate for skinny brows because they’ll be out of scale.
However, Bailey believes that no matter your face shape, there is a version of “thin” that will work for your brows. “What's important to remember is, whether thick or thin, brows should always be custom built for your individual face,” he says. He believes the trick is using Benefit’s brow mapping technique to help identify a shape that’s going to bring balance and proportion to the face and eyes.
To do so, first grab a brow pencil and start by finding where your brow should begin by following a straight line up from the dimple of your nose to the front of the brow and make a mark. This is your start and will help slim your nose and balance your eyes. Next, find where your brow is naturally at its highest by measuring from the outer edge of the nose across the center of the eye and make a mark. This is where your arch is, aka the particular point that’s going to help open up the eye area. Finally, mark where your brow should end by following a diagonal line from the outside of your nose to the outer corner of your eye. This will show you where your brow should end.
“Following these three measurements helps keep your brows in the right proportion with the rest of your face and features,” Bailey says. “After you make the points, connect them by lightly sketching from point to point. Any hair that falls outside of the shape can be removed. The hair that falls inside the shape is what stays.”
Why Fake Skinny Brows Are Better Than the Real Deal
Take it from geriatric millennials who overplucked in the 90s: You don’t want to make their same mistake. “If you overpluck your brows, they can really struggle to come back,” Healy says. “Sometimes they come back sparse and patchy or not at all. Seeing brows in the studio every day, especially people in their mid-30s+, they’re still struggling to regrow their brows that they overplucked 20 years ago when they were more impressionable in high school and following that skinny brow trend. It’s important to note that this trend isn’t new, but something that has resurfaced over time. But damaging the hair follicles is a reason not to do it.”
It's also crucial to remember that trends cycle in and out all the time, so you don’t want to do permanent damage that will prevent you from embracing fuller brows again down the road. “We want to make sure we can modify our looks based on what we’re feeling at the time,” Healy says. “Our brows do get thin and patchy as we age, so we don’t want to rush that process further ahead. We want to make sure that we’re protecting our brows and taking good care of the hair.”
Think of faking skinny brows as a stress-free, commitment-free way to try the look. “While I’m always in FULL support (pun intended) of embracing any brow shape that you truly love, test driving the look via makeup can save you from six to eight weeks of regret if you decide thin frames are not for you,” Bailey says. “Trying a completely new brow style is like trying on a new style of shoes from a brand you’ve never worn before. The fit may not be what you were hoping for, which is why trying them on in person is so important.”
How to Fake Skinny Brows
Bailey breaks down how to fake skinny eyebrows:
Step 1: Brush your brows in the direction you want them to be styled. For thinner brows, this is typically over and out towards the temple.
Step 2: Take a thin micro liner, like Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil ($25), and use that to make tiny flicks in areas where the hair is thin or less dense. Keep these strokes sharp and deliberate. The thin brow is opposite of a wispy feathered brow. You want it to be very contained.
Step 3: Next, use a high-coverage, matte concealer like Benefit Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer ($24), in the same shade as your skin tone and gently pat it over the hairs that fall outside the desired new shape. If you have really dark hair this could take more than one pass.
Step 4: Once you’ve successfully “glam-o-flauged” those hairs, set the final look with an invisible brow gel like Benefit 24-Hour Brow Setter ($24). This will act like a topcoat to your brows and lock on the entire look without fear of it smudging or budging.
Another method has also gone viral on TikTok thanks to user @cutcreaser. In her video, she recommends using a clear gel to brush the top of your brows downwards, and the bottom upwards, and then pinching them along the middle. Then, use a brow pen to add depth, pat on some translucent powder, and go in with the pen again. Clean up the bottom with some bright concealer and you're g2g.
What if I’m Scared of Skinny Brows?
Don’t feel you need to try the trend. “As a brow expert and running a brow studio and seeing hundreds of clients a week come through our doors, people are not asking for skinny brows when they come in, so I think this is a trend that’s more about faking it rather than doing it for real,” Healy says. “Never feel pressure with trends—the real facets of beauty are good skin, good brows, good hair, good teeth. These are the kinds of foundations that we want to stick to. We don’t want to be swayed by trends, and we certainly don’t need to feel the pressure. It’s not fashion, it’s beauty, and there are consequences.”