In today’s beauty trends, it’s all about the brow.
Modern eyebrows can take on many designs, but according to Vogue, the popular style of the moment is a dark, full and noticeable one. While various eyebrow beauty ideals have existed for thousands of years, never before has the hair on top of a person’s eyes been something of such intense focus.
Shanna Robins has been a stylist at Carousel Beauty Salon for a year but said she has been working with hair and makeup most of her life. In the past five years, she said she’s noticed an explosion in the makeup industry.
“When I used to go to Wal-Mart in high school, there used to be about five kinds of mascara and a few kinds of eyeliner. Now, they make 24 different colors for eyeliner,” Robins said. “It’s because of people like Jaclyn Hill, people who make a living doing makeup on YouTube.”
Robins said social media websites like YouTube and Instagram have encouraged people to imitate the looks they see in online tutorials and in popular creative media. Robins said this heightened focus on makeup has carried eyebrow augmentation into mainstream.
There are two reasons that people present themselves in a particular physical way in public, according to Meredith Redlin, South Dakota State sociology professor.
“There’s the ‘presentation-of-self’ reason for presentation, where we present ourselves in the way that we feel in a given day,” Redlin said. “But then there’s the ‘performativity’ reason, where we brand ourselves to make a statement and convince people that we’re respectable.”
Redlin said people augment their eyebrows for both reasons, as a “presentation-of-self,” as well as “performativity.” She said facial makeup like eyebrow maintenance is something that’s gendered, that over the years, women have become expected to do.
“I’ve never done anything with makeup or my eyebrows,” said fifth-year health education major Tom Peitz. “I think men sort of expect women to do things like that, like eyebrow makeup. Guys don’t because we’re more masculine and things like that just aren’t really considered masculine I guess.”
Women have shaped eyebrows to get a desired color, shape and arc to fit with the popular beauty standards of the time. Vogue covered historical brow trends in a recent issue in June.
Historians confirmed Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans enhanced their eyebrows using paints, incense and other materials available at the time.
As time progressed and modern American culture took shape, it was movie actresses and pop culture icons that set different eyebrow trends when they defied norms.
The 1980s saw both an emergence of second-wave feminism and the rise of “the natural brow,” an uncut, unmodified set of eyebrows. This was sharply contrasted by the popularity of “the minimalist” look, a lean and sharp-looking brow.
Vogue has called what many fashion magazines refer to as today’s eyebrow trend “The Superhero.” This is considered a full and bold brow with areas absent of hair filled in with a dark shaded pencil. Actress Cara Delevingne is often credited with bringing this look about.
Despite this trend, many people still experiment with other eyebrow looks. Sophomore interdisciplinary studies major Willow Cowherd said there are dozens of ways to do eyebrows.
Cowherd began makeup styling her freshman year of high school and continued working with makeup at SDSU with the Theatre Department. So far she has assisted with six different theatre productions.
“There are different eyebrow styles for everyone’s face structure,” Cowherd said. “The biggest changes that people make to their eyebrows are changes to how thick they are, the length, darkness and how high your arch is.”
The most common tools used to make these changes are tweezers to maintain brow shape, a brow pencil to shade and add color and a spoolie brush to even out hair. Willow said the spoolie brush, a soft bristled wand, is often the most important asset for eyebrow maintenance as it allows the user to fan out eyebrows and blend shades.
Most eyebrows grow back after a few weeks. Robins said people typically get their eyebrows done at the same time they get their hair done. A majority of these salon clients are women, but Robins said the salon clientele is increasing in males as beauty trends change.
Above all, it is important for everyone styling their eyebrows to “own their own look.”
“It’s important that people know that they don’t have to do anything with their body for other people,” Cowherd said. “Some people like different looks than you, and you shouldn’t shame them for that ever.”