According to viral TikTokers like Roxette Arisa and Naomi Katt, the ’90s brow is back. If you want to channel the spirit of 30-years-ago Gwen Stefani, Naomi Campbell or Angelina Jolie, you’ll be in good company. Makeup and brow artists are reporting a surge in clients seeking that particular look.
“Let’s face it, the ’90s were a whole vibe,” said Benefit’s global brow expert, Jared Bailey. “People who are drawn to that style of fashion and beauty tend to lean into it hard. If you’re going to commit to a wolf cut, feathered bangs or butterfly clips, you’re probably also going to want a slimmer, more tailored brow.”
“I’ve noticed a rise in the popularity of ’90s fashion, and I think a lot of those makeup trends have followed, including lip liner and thinner brows,” said Brow Trio founder Bree Olson. “Part of the reason for this brow style’s comeback is nostalgia, while others are just interested in having a more low-maintenance brow.”
Today’s thin brow isn’t quite the same.
“One myth about the skinny brows of 2022 are that they’re the same thin brows we remember seeing on our favorite ’90s icons,” Bailey said. “The truth is, they’re different because we’ve learned a lot since then.”
“Most importantly, we’ve learned that brows bring balance and proportion to your face and eyes. So, today’s thin brow still has density and texture. Even though the shape has slimmed in width, filling them in is key, since brows rare an important anchor while blocking out the proportions of the face.”
Makeup artist Kennedy agreed that things are different now: “The previous skinny brow seemed less intentional and almost had an accidental shape, but the new, modern skinny brow is sleek and symmetrical.”
Who should try it?
“I think those with a healthy brow hair-growth cycle are the best candidates for the skinny brow, as they are more inclined to grow their brows back if they choose to in the future,” said brow artist René de la Garza.
“When someone has fuller lips, a thicker eyebrow can create more balance, and when a person has thinner lips, a thinner brow can create balance,” Olson said.
“I don’t think there’s a particular face shape that does best with skinny brows, but I do think you need to be 100% confident to pull them off,” Kennedy said. “I like to balance a person’s brows with their lips.”
Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images
Angelina Jolie in 1998.
Try “glam-ouflage” first.
If you’re not ready to start plucking, there’s another way to see if this style works for you. “I always recommend a test drive before you buy,” Bailey said. “Going thin can be something that you have to wear for a while until a new cycle of hair growth restarts. To prevent any post-tweezing regret, you can lean on the magic of makeup for a less permanent way to achieve this trend at-home.”
Bailey suggests starting by brushing brows in the direction you want them to be styled, which, for thinner brows, is typically over and out toward the temple. “Then take a thin micro liner and use that to make tiny flicks in areas where the hair is thin or less dense. Keep these strokes sharp and deliberate.
“Next, use a high-coverage, matte concealer in the same shade as your skin tone, and gently pat it over the hairs that fall outside the desired new shape. If you have really dark hair, this could take more than one pass,” Bailey said. “Once you’ve successfully ‘glam-ouflaged’ those hairs, set the final look with an invisible brow gel. This will act like a top coat to your brows and lock on the entire look without fear of it smudging or budging.”
Should you thin your brows at home?
Sure, you can do it at home, but many of the brow artists we talked to urged at least one trip to a professional. “If you’re able to, seek out a professional brow artist to guide you along your transition to a skinny brow,” de la Garza said. “Brows are all about proportion, and removing the wrong hairs can really change the features of the face for the worse.”
“It’s important to see a trained aesthetician who will help protect the skin and the hair follicle while creating your new, thinner shape,” Bailey said. “Always rely on the skills of a pro, so there’s no permanent damage made to the hair follicle.”
Is it better to shave or pluck?
If you’re ready to commit, Olson is clear on her preferred method: “I recommend shaving the brow hair instead of plucking. Trimming or shaving brow hair will not affect hair growth, while plucking can cause the hair to slow in growth. It’s best to use a little eyebrow razor as opposed to removing it from the root with a tweezer.”
If you’re trying this at home, pay attention to how you’re shaping. “I think a common mistake people make when they’re trying a skinny brow out for the first time is removing from the top of the brow,” Kennedy said, “You never want to do this, because it compromises your natural arch and affects the overall natural shape. You only want to take hair from the underside of the brow, along with any random stragglers.”
Bailey offered this advice for at-home sessions: “Always remove hairs in the direction they’re growing, while holding the skin around the brow taut. This will prevent the derma vessel from rupturing and damaging the follicle permanently.”
A thin brow will need less maintenance.
“Since a thin brow is more low-maintenance, it won’t require many products to maintain the look,” Olson said. “An eyebrow razor or brow scissors is helpful to get rid of stray hairs to maintain a thinner brow.”
“You can’t do a skinny brow style without a nightly growth serum that will help with nourishing, conditioning and boosting healthy hair growth,” de la Garza said.
“My favorite tools to maintain my skinny brows are a mirrored phone case and a set of mini tweezers that I keep in my purse,” Kennedy said. “When I have downtime, I usually try to pluck whatever regrowth I have.”
Finally, Olson said, remember that brow hair will grow back, and there are ways to hurry along that process, at least a little bit. “If you decide the thin brow life isn’t for you, castor oil can be helpful to promote brow hair regrowth.”
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