Eyebrows throughout the decades: Are you ready for the return of this 90s brow trend?

Eyebrows throughout the decades: Are you ready for the return of this 90s eyebrow trend?

The 90s were dominated by the pencil-thin eyebrow trend but as soon as the 2010s hit, and Cara Delevinge’s career took off – the thick, bushy eyebrow came back and it went on to become the defining beauty trend of an entire decade. But now in the 2020s, what eyebrow trend will rule this decade?

There have been whispers of the pencil-thin brow coming back, and although we have no concrete proof, we have this year, seen some 90s eyebrow trends reappear. In the graveyard of 90s beauty trends, the shaved-in eyebrow slit was long ago laid to rest. But thanks to the Miu Miu Spring/summer 2021 show, we’ve seen its resurrection. 

But are we really ready to say goodbye to big, bold brows? 

Winter 2020, the bigger and bushier the brow, the better. There is a chance this might have something to do with the social distancing, lockdown life we’ve been living. But what we know for certain is this season wild is in over groomed big brows. 

The 10s or the first ten years of the 20th century saw eyebrows gain new visibility in popular culture and with that, it became a booming billion-dollar business. New brow advances include eyebrow transplants and micro-blading, a kind of tattooing where tiny strokes of ink are added to resemble hairs, a treatment that lasts up to three years.

We’re looking back on eyebrow trends throughout the decades and predicting what the 2020s might have in store for beauty. 

1920’s – The Rise of Hollywood And Arching Brows

In the early 1920s, the film industry was booming in Hollywood, and it gave rise to the ‘movie star’. Hollywood helped to create the look that would define the decade, though post-war prosperity and innovations within the cosmetic industry also played a part in influencing beauty trends during the time. Hollywood star and the original ‘It Girl’ Clara Bow rocked the look – cupid’s bow lips, dark eye makeup and thin, downward-arching brows.

Clara Bow 1920s
The rise of Hollywood defined beauty trends in the 1920s

1930’s – Less almond-shaped and more rounded

The 1930s saw eyebrows become less almond-shaped and more rounded with an upwards arch. Over this decade, makeup became more affordable and the pencilled-on look remained the look for wealthy and poor women, who were shaving and plucking their brows into near extinction and then drawing them back on.

By the 1930s, eyebrows had become less almond-shaped and more rounded with an upwards arch. As makeup became more affordable, the pencilled-on look remained in vogue, as women – rich and poor – were shaving and plucking their natural brows into near or total extinction (then drawing them back on again). Hollywood icon Marlene Dietrich reportedly shaved off her eyebrows and drew them back on – in a perfect rounded arch – just above where they naturally grew.

Marlene Dietrich 1930s
Marlene Dietrich 1930s

1940’s – Natural-looking brows

During WW2, brows became fuller and a lot more natural-looking. They still remained very shaped but were definitely thicker, creating a softer look.

Katherine Kepburn 1940s
Katherine Hepburn sporting a fuller brow

1950’s – Marilyn Monroe and the ‘bombshell’ look

The 1950s were dominated by Marilyn Monroe and her ‘bombshell’ look – red lips, blonde curls and dramatic brows. The look of perfectly groomed brows with a high arch and a squared-out shape. Darker brows were in fashion during the 50s, so women tended to pencil over their natural brows too.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe and The Rise of the Bombshell

1960’s – Thin brows return but no one cares

A decade after Monroe’s rise, thin brows found their way back and were treated as a kind of an afterthought for many young women; the 60s were all about bold eye makeup instead. Brows were neat and understated. Twiggy’s rounded arches work to offset – not compete with – her graphic eye makeup here.

A side note – there were a few exceptions to the rule. Audrey Hepburn continued to embrace her natural brows well into the 60s and Sophia Loren had a unique approach to her brows. She would shave them completely off and then draw them back on, applying short, thread-thin strokes to make her brows appear natural.

Twiggy 1960s
Twiggy’s rounded arches

1970’s – The Brow divide

The 70s had two clear teams when it came to brows. You were either ultra-thin or naturally full. The former came with the birth of disco; brows were preened and plucked into a high arch. On the other side, the rise of the hippie movement led some women to throw away the tweezers and ditch brow grooming altogether.

Donna Summers
Donna Summers: team Disco thin-brows

1980’s – Carterpillar brows

The 80s marked the decade in which everything got bigger and bolder; hairstyles and shoulder pads were just the start. Hollywood’s A-list celebrities started sporting “caterpillar” brows – which were a bushier look. One star who really rocked the look was actress Brooke Shields, with her natural-looking brows she became a beauty icon of the decade.


Brooke Shields 1980s
Actress Brooke Shields 1980s beauty icon

1990’s – Kate Moss and Vogue

As soon as the 90’s hit, the bushy brow died once again. The thin, low-arched eyebrows graced the pages of Vogue once again as Kate Moss kicked off her supermodel career. An entire generation of women followed the supermodel trend and plucked their eyebrows to death.

Kate Moss 1990s
Razor-thin eyebrows defined the 90s thanks to Kate Moss and the rise of the 90s supermodel

2000’s – Thin brows continue

Super-thin brows stuck around for another decade, but the noughties saw the arch raised to become almost angular in shape. Towards the end of the decade, however, a more natural, thicker brow started to become popular again.

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie 2000s
Noughties reality TV stars Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie were both fans of the thin-brow

2010’s – Cara Delevigne

For brow-trends, the 2010s belong entirely to Cara Delevinge. Her modelling career kicked off around 2012, and her thick, groomed brows ushered in the bold brow trend. Delevinge inspired the masses to grow back their brows, or learn how to use brow pencils and powders.

Cara Delevinge
The 2010s belong to Cara Delevinge

What’s in store for 2020?

Only time will tell if thin brows become popular over the 2020s. According to a Vogue article, there is a high chance thin-brows may return at some point over the decade and after seeing the return of the eyebrow slits, anything is possible. But for now, winter 2020 will see folks sporting big, bushy brows and we dig it!


If you want to find out how to get the winter brow look, watch celebrity makeup artist Joanne Morgan’s guide here.



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