Sometime in 1997, before my freshman year of high school, I stole a pair of tweezers from my Mother’s makeup drawer, sat in front of a mirror with a photo of Kate Moss, and went to town on my brows. By the time I finished, I’d taken them well in from the bridge of my nose, and sculpted – well it can only be described as a sperm like shape – high above my natural brow bone. My Mother noticed immediately, but like the belly button ring and ‘tramp stamp’ that would follow, she simply shrugged and said, “you’ll regret that one day.” Oh how right she was.
Years later, when full brows came back into fashion, I began attempting to grow mine out again. I had read not to pluck one single hair on your eye lids for a year, as it could disrupt the growing cycle. I did as instructed, but a year later I had about ten new hairs to show for it. I then turned to natural elixirs, and when that didn’t work I moved into eyebrow regrowth serum. Friends, it was a journey, but I’m happy to report with a combination of serums and Glossier products, I now have full-ish brows.
So imagine my horror when I’m thumbing through a Vogue recently and there is Iris Law (her father 90’s heartthrob Jude), with pencil thin brows. I think I audibly gasped. This had to be a one off, right? A few days later I see a photo of Bella Hadid with two thin lines above her eyes. Then low and behold, Rhianna was on the cover of British Vogue and hers were razor thin. Look, I’m all for fashion trends coming and going, but please don’t let this be one of them.
Throughout history brows have been shaped, dyed, plucked and powdered in a number of different ways. In fact, during the Roaring Twenties a thin brow was all the rage. Maybe there is something about post-pandemic life that makes us want to rip hair off our faces? I don’t know. But I’m curious if Marlene Dietrich struggled with growing her brows back in once Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn’s caterpillars appeared on the silver screen?
I reached out to two experts in the field to get their take on the new skinny brow trend.
Kristie Streicher, of Hollywood’s favorite eyebrow studio STRIIIKE says, “Sometimes after prolonged periods of plucking/waxing/threading, the hair does not grow back. I have even seen hair follicles permanently damaged leaving a scar- like appearance from over depilation. I have also seen quite a few brows (in the thousands) grow back.” The problem of course being, you never know which side you’ll fall on! If you have ripped off your hairs one too many times, Streicher recommends using Grande Brow, Neu Brow or vegaBROW Volumizing Serum to get them to grow back in. Cali Strauhs, esthetician and brow expert at NYC hotspot Pearlita says, “Brows are so personal. But it’s a long journey to get them back to what’s natural, and you may never fully get them back to what once was. I say embrace what you have and nourish them, love them, water them like you would a plant and let them blossom to their fullest potential.”
So what’s a Gen Z-er to do if they want to experiment with their brows without causing permanent or costly damage? Streicher says you could “try a slightly more tailored and refined shaped brow. If you’re really concerned about the hair not growing back, experiment with a razor first- as shaving shouldn’t cause as much damage to the hair follicle.” Color is another way to differentiate your brows, “I dig the way a bleached brow can make an unexpected impact but can also be really soft and flattering to the face. I also LOVE to bleach out a brow and then add a powerful color punch using Manic Panic’s wide range of colors.” She recommends staying away from pinks and reds though, as that can enhance the same undertones of your skin. Strauhs does warn, “if you have darker brows, it’s so much to keep up with. You’ll see them grow out almost immediately. The amount of bleaching that is necessary to keep up for the color is absolutely damaging (and drying)!” Both recommend trusting your brows to a professional whatever look you decide you want to try.
If my six year old daughter – who is half Turkish, and since birth has had the most glorious brows you’ve ever seen – wants to rebel against me, it won’t be with drugs and alcohol, it will be plucking her perfect eyebrows. I was relieved to discover neither Bella nor Rhianna did away with theirs. Both just had them bleached, covered with makeup and then drawn back on to achieve a new sartorial look. But if you’re determined and the silent screen sirens or heroin chic Kate Moss is your new beauty inspo, take a cue from the experts – and your older and wiser Millennial sisters – put the tweezers down and get out your concealer instead.