The History of the Eyebrow

by SPB

The eyebrow has taken on a few changes over the year. Some, you will have a hard time believing.

Introduction to the Eyebrow (Part One)

 The minute young women hit their teens, they begin to notice that their eyebrows do not match the brows that they are seeing in all of the beauty magazines. They don't even come close! That is the beginning of the love/hate relationship that goes on for pretty much their entire life. I don't know a woman on the planet who actually likes their brows! 

 I spent a little time this afternoon, tracing back this obsession with our brows and they seem to change from place to place on a regular basis and dramatic changes every hundred years or so. These days our brows change every few years but I guess that the times then were a little slower to catch up. Anyway, lets get started.

So from what I gather, it can be traced back to the Egyptians. Nefertiti, an Egyptian queen born 1300 years before Christ, seems to be the first woman to take such a huge interest in her brows. They were thick, very black and went clear to her nose.  That was the fashion it seems and everyone wanted to follow the queen! 

The Egyptians (a few years later), then  decided to meet the high expectations of the changing "beauty world", by simply shaving them off and starting from scratch. A thin line was perfection.

Then came the Greeks and the brows changed again. The unibrow became fashionable and if the natural brow did not meet naturally, women were allowed to paint it in. 

Roman women followed the same look as the Greek women but they loved cosmetics and they colored their hair (usually blonde) but darkened their brows as dark as they could possibly get them! Soot was a preferred darkening agent! That could get messy!  Part 2 will be continued lower on the page. :)

Eyebrow Plucking

the scary way ;)
Eyebrow Plucking

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Some Thoughts...

"Life is too short to spend hoping that the perfectly arched eyebrow or hottest new lip shade will mask an ugly heart."  Kevyn Aucoin 

I have to admit that as much time as I spend on my brows, Kevyn is right. Do brows really matter if you haven't time for others??

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Introduction to the Eyebrow (Part Two)


to be continued... 

*various parts of Europe chose their own style of "beauty" but for my research, I pretty much stayed with British beauty as this is were my ancestory can be traced back to. 

5th to 15th century. The brows changed a lot during these years and I don't think that many of us would have liked to have lived in that time period. Having to tidy our browline on a regular basis is bad enough but at the close of the 15th century, women were known to remove an inch or so of their hairline. Now that had to hurt. 

15th to 17th century... brows growing back in... those that would grow back in. After years of plucking, some simply refused.  What did manage to grow, were darkened. For these years, if you could grow brows, you simply left them alone. No plucking was necessary in the name of beauty.

18th century tweezing came back with a vengeance. And if they didn't like the outcome of their efforts, women began to glue on eyebrows. And just in case you are interested, their brows were made of mouse fur. 

19th century brows were to change yet again.  This time they were left untweezed and natural. 

20th century brows as you can imagine changed yet again.

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Gloria Swanson

Famous Brows of the Past

Gloria Swanson

As you can tell, brows from the 1920s were still relatively thin, but that was soon to change. As you can tell, Gloria's are a little thicker than what we have seen to date.

Anna Wong

Famous Brows of the Past

Spotlight on Anna Wong
You probably think that plucking hurts when you do it!! Anna plucked her brows until there was nothing left by a thin line and I do mean thin. She then took a grease pencil and darkeded the slash. I wonder how much maintenance that took??

Joan Crawford

Famous Brows of the Past

Joan Crawford

Joan's brows in this video look quite tame. I have seen them quite bushy in other photos. 

Louise Brooks

Famous Brows of the Past

spotlight on Louise Brooks

This was the era of my grandmother. I wonder if she copied this look?  Brows in those days were very thin and sloped downward!

Louise Brooks

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Updated: 02/07/2012, SPB
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WriterArtist on 12/12/2014

An interesting read - we truly spend half of our lives shaping the eyebrows.

catgypsy on 10/13/2011

Fascinating! I have to draw in my brows becuase they are so light and only half there! It drives me crazy...I'm just praying for the day when no eyebrows at all will be in fashion...haha!

sandyspider on 10/12/2011

Very interesting.

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