A History of Eyebrows, Part 1: 1920s-1960s

A look at eyebrow trends through the decades.
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A look at eyebrow trends through the decades.
Cara Delevingne eyebrows

Photo Credit: ELLE

Eyebrows have been getting more attention than ever lately, with countless YouTube videos teaching us how to shape the perfect arch or how to shade the prefect bold brow. Today, Cara Delevingne is a name that instantly comes to mind when we think eyebrows, but thick, bold brows like hers haven't always been seen as admirable. 

Eyebrow trends have come a long way through the decades. Here's a look at how they've changed from the Roaring Twenties to the Swinging Sixties:

The '20s

eyebrow trends 1920s

Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and  Norma Shearer | Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

Eyebrows in the '20s were quite the opposite of today's thick and heavily arched ones. They were thin and straight with only a very slight curve.

Often, brows were drawn out to extend towards the temple farther than normal brow growth. This shape became popularized by stars (and therefore the general Western world) because they were said to express more emotion in photos and film.

The '30s

eyebrow trends 1930s

Joan Crawford, Claudette Colbert and Jean Harlow and her mother | Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3

Women continued to wear thin eyebrows as they did in the '20s. However, actresses like Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow influenced a trendy new shape: sporting ultra-high, rounded arches. This style gave them a more severe, dramatic look.

It also became common for women to pluck their eyebrows completely out of existence and draw on the "ideal" arches.

The '40s

eyebrow trends 1940s

Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, and Veronica Lake | Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3

Eyebrows in the '40s were softer and more natural-looking than the trends of the previous two decades. Starlets like Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall, and again, Joan Crawford brought attention to this style.

Arches were still emphasized, but they were softer. A slightly thicker shape, closer to eyebrows' natural thickness, became more popular. 

The '50s

eyebrow trends 1950s

Susan Strasberg, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor | Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

During this decade dark, strong brows became the trend. Beauty icons of the '50s, including Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, popularized this look by making their brows a focal point.

The shape remained similar to that of the '40s, with a defined yet natural-looking arch, but women began shading in their brows to achieve a bolder look. 

The '60s

eyebrow trends 1960s

Dinah Washington, Sophia Loren, and Jean Shrimpton | Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

In the '60s, stars continued to largely influence the most sought-after eyebrow shapes. Again, the style of eyebrows remained similar to that of the previous decade, though perhaps a touch less bold.

Fun fact: It was revealed that Sophia Loren's famed eyebrows (above center) were formed by shaving them off completely and redrawing them with precise individual stokes. 

What do you think?

Which decade rocks the best brows? Which decade doesn't? We'd love to hear from you. Also, be on the lookout for A History of Eyebrows, Part 2; I'll be covering eyebrow trends from the groovy '70s to the great big NOW!