The noughties were a take-no-prisoners time for our brows; we wielded our tweezers with abandon, many of us regrettably reducing our arches to razor-thin tadpoles.
We know better now, you might think, but with the Y2K redux upon us—#Y2K has now amassed almost 5 billion views on TikTok—the fated cycling of trends, and Bella Hadid leading the skinny power brow charge, it might be time to revisit your brow shape with a fresh new perspective.
“It seems inevitable that, eventually, the natural brow is going to have to succumb to the tweezer again,” says makeup artist Troy Surratt. Trust that Surratt, a protégé of Kevyn Aucoin, knows a thing or two about pencil-thin brows. After all, Aucoin was the one who helped popularize them in the ‘90s as he made up the faces of the most iconic supers of the time—Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista. “There was a time that we decided together that everyone needed to look like Carole Lombard and have really skinny eyebrows,” recalled designer and collaborator Isaac Mizrahi in the Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story. “The next thing I knew, [Aucoin] was plucking everybody’s eyebrows.”
After the millennium, fashionably crafted brows started to get a bit more mathematical. “In the early ’00s, brow-shaping experts were gaining notoriety and creating a sort of diktat that the eyebrow should start straight above the tear duct of the eye, the highest point of the arch should be at the edge of the iris, and the ‘tail’ of the brow should taper off,” explains Surratt, adding that brows were then shaped accordingly to “formulaic perfection,” using a wax, tweezer, threading, or even a combination of all three. The pro? “This thinner, more preened eyebrow look can have an overall eye brightening effect,” says Surratt of the best case scenario, adding that it also creates more real estate for intense eyeshadow or bold liner looks. The con? “Brows that are overly sharp or angled may result in an overall harsh or aggressive effect on the face,” he says.
L.A. brow expert Kristie Streicher, who has observed more than a few Gen Zers keen on “going thin,” believes there is a place for the spirit of Y2K-era beauty, within reason. “I love seeing this on runways and in editorials,” says Streicher, “but…it’s just not practical for everyday life.” She goes on to emphasize that one’s natural brow shape is typically in proportion with their features. “There are people who naturally have more of a defined and smaller brow, which is usually matched with smaller, more defined features,” she explains. “It can look stark and be ‘a lot of face’ when not naturally occurring on someone as well as a lot to maintain!”