Let's all bow to the brow
The '80s are back - not the MC Hammer pants thank goodness, but real eyebrows in all their bushy glory.
Those two small tufts of hair were tortured throughout the '90s and noughties: thinned, lasered and waxed with the aim of accentuating the arch of the brows. Sadly, some were plucked to extinction.
But the contemporary woman's eyebrows have been granted a reprieve. The thin, crescent moon look is out, and the organic, free-range, caterpillar-style, al la Brooke Shields, is back.
''The big trend is very full brows,'' says Rae Morris, one of Australia's most influential make-up artists.
For the low maintenance, hirsute or just plain lazy lady this is a good news story - your face is now ''on trend'' and it appears you've been looking younger than the rest of us all along.
''I can take 10 years off a woman by filling it in and giving her more eyebrow,'' says Morris.
For the overplucked among us, who are sporting a permanently surprised look, our tweezers have not been doing us any favours.
''When we get older we get a very heavy eyebrow bone and puffy eyelids,'' says Morris.
''If you keep arching your brow you make that area bigger and it's an area you don't want to make bigger.
''By having a fuller not so arched brow you're going to give your eye a lift and take out the puffiness of your eye.''
Why did no one tell us this in the 90s? And what can be done if, like an adolescent boy trying to grow a beard, one cannot cultivate bushy brows after years of pruning?
Reach for the colouring-in crayons, not the pencils, experts say.
''Instead of applying thick eyebrow pencils, which can look really harsh, we recommend they use a brow product with a crayon-like formula which appears much more natural,'' says Calvin Klein beauty expert Jasmine Gunn.
The aim is to create brows that look something like those of young stars Cara Delevingne, Camilla Belle and Lilly Collins, who have embraced bold brows.
''The full brow gives the eye more definition, it makes women look more sophisticated,'' says Morris.
The perceived importance of eyebrows for enhancing beauty has been important at least since the Egyptian pharaohs blackened their arches with kohl. The significance of these tufts of facial hair to fashion has not waned to this day.
In the 18th century, Western European women believed bold eyebrows were so beautiful they would affix mouse hide brow wigs to their foreheads. That's enough to make Mona Lisa cry: Leonardo da Vinci's subject removed her brows as it was the fashion to have a bald face in Renaissance Florence.
One comfort for those with the Lisa look: if you wait long enough your eyebrows will come back into fashion. If you can't sit it out until then, you could always invest in a mouse trap.
Some brow history
- In Ancient Egypt, the Egyptian pharaohs blackened their arches with kohl.
- The Ancient Greeks used powdered minerals or soot to paint their brows black.
- Thin brows were all the rage during medieval times in Europe, when women favoured an eggheaded look. The trend continued through the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, whose had a bare brow.
- Mona Lisa is pictured without eyebrows in Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting as was the fashion at the time. But there is also speculation that her eyebrows were removed in a botched cleaning process of the painting by an art curator.
Modern eyebrow trends
- In the 1930s, thin brows were a must for screen sirens like Greta Garbo, while in the '50s thicker brows shaped in the Diva Arch, as seen on stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, were all the rage.
- In the '60s the trend was mixed, siren Sophia Loren was shaving off her eyebrows and painting them back on with tiny strokes, while many other women were wearing thick eyebrows.
- In the '80s stars like Madonna and Brooke Shields popularised the heavy brow look, but by the '90s the popular practice was to use tweezers or wax to narrow and accentuate the arch of the eyebrows.