By Erin Kelly
While I’ve reveled in many questionable beauty trends over the years, none have been as awful as the pair of razor-thin excuses for eyebrows I tweezed myself in junior high. I remember setting up a battle station in my upstairs bathroom, ready to pluck: It seemed like all the girls in my eighth grade class and famous celebrities alike had arranged a secret meeting and decided that deep-arched, rail-thin eyebrows were ‘in’—and I’d missed it.
If you guessed that it went horribly wrong, you’d be right. I plucked with a vengeance, but in the end I was left with two square-shaped, barely-there brows. It would be months until they grew back, and the evidence hangs proudly in the form of a school portrait in my parent’s living room to this day.
Fifteen years (and two much thicker, shapely brows) later, I laugh it off, but I also really appreciate the current beauty trends that have inspired bigger, fuller brows. To celebrate the evolution of eyebrows from barely-there lines to exuding Big Brow Energy, we partnered with Sephora Collection to compare five women’s brow styles from the 2000s, to today. Scroll down to get full 2000s nostalgia—we guarantee it’ll make you appreciate how brows have come full arch.
In high school, Portia’s personal style could only be described as ‘unkempt.’ She wore holey clothes, refused to brush her hair, and had no cares in the world. Her nonchalant attitude didn’t stop her from diligently maintaining her eyebrows, though. She got them waxed religiously, just like everyone else in her Connecticut hometown.
“Now I know better,” Portia says. “It takes work to maintain a pencil thin line, but now that I’m older I’m more relaxed about everything.”
And what does having big brow energy mean to her?
“Being comfortable with what you have, and working with it. I get my eyebrows threaded, then let them have their natural shape.”
To enhance Portia’s natural shape, Helen Phillips, the National Artist for Sephora Collection used the Retractable Brow Pencil in Ebony, creating short hair-like strokes, then tamed her brow hairs with the Clear Brow Gel.
Today, Diana loves her dark eyebrows. But as a kid, she remembers feeling embarrassed.
“As I got older, I truly tried to copy the eyebrow styles I felt were popular, but somewhere along the line I thought less [hair] was better,” Diana explains. “I think that’s a societal pressure when it comes to facial hair and women, though it’s so wrong.”
Today, Diana revels in the fact that her brows are often the first thing people notice about her, something she believes is indicative of the confidence she’s gained over time. “I’m no longer shrinking or trying to make them disappear,” she says. “I want them to be as bold as they can be.”
Diana’s brows are naturally dark, thick and long, so Phillips used the Brow Shaper Pencil in Chocolate Brown to create more definition and a softer look, then the Clear Brow Gel to brush them into shape.
Abby’s always been obsessed with fashion and making certain styles and trends work — especially on a budget. This also applied to her brows. “Ten years ago, super-long, thin eyebrows were in so that’s what they looked like. Now I’m a fan of the natural, less polished look,” she says.
For Abby, having Big Brow Energy means being confident in whatever brow shape you’re blessed with. Afterall, you can dress them up however you’d like.
Without much shape to work with, Phillips had to map out where Abby’s brows would start, end, and where her arch should be, then filled it in using the Brow Shaper Pencil in Granite.
Curious how that works? Read on.
Step 1: Line up the pencil vertically with the outside of your nose & inner corner of your eye to determine where your brow should start.
Step 2: To find your true arch, keep the base of the pencil at your nose and rotate it diagonally to the outside edge of your iris.
Step 3: Continue rotating it diagonally to the outer corner of your eye—that’s where your brow should end.
Paige remembers two things about high school: The first is how carefree she was, only worrying about what to do on the weekends (and how not to get detention). The second is how self conscious she was about her thin eyebrows—something her friends from high school still bring up to this day. Luckily, her feelings about her eyebrows have changed for the better: Now, Paige believes her eyebrows are one of her best features.
She attributes her better brows to her more careful consideration of where she gets her eyebrows waxed, and using the right products to fill in gaps and darken the right areas. A big fan of the fluffy eyebrow trend, Phillips used the Microblade Effect Brow Pen in Universal Deep to maintain the feathery effect she loves.
Her personal brow mantra? “Full, defined brows come with a lot of confidence.”
Ten years ago, Callie trusted ‘any and everyone’ with her eyebrows and didn’t think twice about a cheap waxing. She thought brows needed to be groomed any time hair sprouted out of place, which could be every few weeks, leading her to actually lose half of each eyebrow! Today, she’s much more gentle to her brows, filling them in to make them stand out more instead of waxing them off.
Phillips used the Retractable Brow Pencil in Soft Charcoal to define her shape and cover up sparse areas. She then brushed up her brow hairs using the Clear Brow Gel to complete the brow look. “To me, having ‘Big Brow Energy’ means that my face is complete and I feel confident even if I don't have an ounce of makeup on. As long as my brows are full, defined, and complete, I’m good,” Callie says.