Ancient Greece & Rome
From the 1920’s
1970’s – 1980`s
The reason why we have eyebrows was originally to protect our eyes from the rain and sweat. People are dependent on our sight more than any other sense, and without eyebrows water can get in and seriously blur vision. Eyebrows may also deflect debris and shield our eyes from the Sun. So, while we slowly evolved to lose most of our body hair, our eyelashes and eyebrows remained.
But eyebrows then took on important another function: expression. Facial expressions convey meaning and emotions in ways that are hard to pretend, and the eyebrows exaggerate expressions. Even in cartoons, a simple line above the eyes is enough to show anger, happiness, or surprise in a face, and experiments have shown that we can recognize a familiar face more easily when the eyes are covered than when the eyebrows are.
The history of eyebrow evolution.
To pay tribute to the Egyptian god Horus, both men and women wore heavily-lined eyes and elongated eyebrows, which they painted on with carbon and black oxide substances. Another curious fact: When a pet cat died, everyone in the household would shave their brows off in mourning.
Unibrows were in vogue during this time period. Unmarried women would often improve their brows with black incense or powder, or black paint to create this lusted-after trait.
Roman women had fewer restrictions in their beauty practices than the Greeks, but the unibrow was still considered the most fashionable attribute. It was a sign of intelligence and worn by the most noble and beautiful women of the time.
The Middle Ages
That was a real Golden Era for foreheads. Ladies removed eyebrows and eyelashes and even plucked their hairlines to highlight this section of their face. While skinny, pale brows were the standard, during the Elizabethan era, many women dyed their brows in reddish tones as a nod to Queen Elizabeth.
The Colonial Era
In the 18th century, towering hairstyles and very pale skin were in fashion. So, in order to achieve these extreme beauty styles, women tinted their eyebrows in darker colors (thanks to carefully applied coal). Moreover, they rouged cheeks very brightly to define their faces.
Silent movie stars popularized the eyebrow look of the time: super thin and pencil straight. Eyebrows were drawn very thinly so that they would have “more visible expression in silent movies.” Women also put petroleum jelly on the eyebrows to add “shine” — and keep hairs in place.
Beauty icons like Jean Harlow made high, rounded arches — going as far up as the temple — stylish during this era. There’s nothing quite like a constantly surprised face.
The ’40s marked the beginning of fuller, more natural-looking shapes. Joan Crawford inspired women to manicure their natural brows with a light hand.
The Hollywood stars of the time, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn, all boasted lush, immaculately-shaped brows meticulously drawn in. The economy was growing due to developments in manufacturing and so too were the brows.
Hippies, moms, career women, and supermodels alike adopted a more fresh-faced and natural look during this free-wheeling decade. Easy and on-trend? Sounds like the perfect combination.
What’s old always becomes new again. And the thinly-plucked eyebrows of the ’20s and ’30s made a big return during the ’90s, with stars Pamela Anderson, Drew Barrymore, and Gwen Stefani leading the way.
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