There are some, shall we say short-sighted, beauty trends you can recover from in seconds. Fake freckles with an eyeliner pen that end up looking like a case of adult-onset chickenpox? A swipe of micellar and you’re in the clear. Then there are those you might have to wait out for a while, a flirtation with pink hair that’s more circus than chic or a fake tan that that would get you work as a Donald Trump lookalike. These are usually gone after a few showers. Even a truly terrible haircut will rectify itself within months. But there’s one beauty trend that has stuck around decades and decades after you gave it a go. I’m talking 90’s skinny brows. And even A-listers aren’t immune with Charlize Theron recently admitting that ‘thin eyebrows in the ‘90’s’ were her biggest beauty regret and one she was ‘still recovering from’. There is definite comfort to be found when no amount of cash or access to experts can make a difference. Although I imagine we’re not too far away from eyebrow transplant surgery Turkish minibreaks.
In the 90’s when Kate Moss said nothing tastes as good as skinny feels did anyone check if she was talking about eyebrows? Because every single one of us plucked them into nothingness. Barely there semi circles were de rigeur and tweezering was a nightly pastime. Mine were never particularly full to start with and once I’d developed an LTR with my Tweezerman (as much a 90’s cult buy as Heather Shimmer) they were all but gone. When I look at pictures today, I can hardly believe my commitment to this biro-on-a-boiled-egg look and find it astounding we never questioned it, but here’s the strange thing….none of us thought we were going too far. Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing. When I contacted a friend asking her if I could share a picture of us for this piece she said ‘is it about eyebrows? It must be because we have absolutely none!’
The only voice of reason at the time was our mums telling us that we’d regret it and that was all but drowned out in a sea of pictures of Pamela Anderson and Gwen Stefani sporting no more than around ten hairs between them. Of course, with youthful optimism we thought they’d come back, this was the era of the epilator after all and no matter how many times we traumatised our bikini lines with this torture implement it always grew back. That’s what hair did right? Wrong. For some reason our brows decided that if they weren’t welcome then they sure as hell weren’t going to do us the courtesy of returning.
The early 00’s wasn’t too tough for the sparse browed, iridescent eyeshadow reigned supreme and no brows simply gave us more real estate to show off our frosted blues and silvers. Brows disappeared, quite literally in most of our cases, into the wilderness for the best part of a decade so we got away with their absence. All until the 2010’s and the Cara Delevigne fuelled craze for new power brow. Thick, full, and luxuriant, there was no getting away from the fact that brows were having a serious moment and we were found seriously wanting. Many of my friends turned to microblading, but squeamish of the needle I gave it a miss, and seeing the, ahem, varied effects of early era microblading and oxidised ink some ten years on I’m glad I did.
To coax my 90’s brows back out from hiding I firstly binned the tweezers, and I still don’t own a pair now. I did try various growth serums along the way but in all honestly never stuck at one long enough to see any real results. Instead, I perfected a subtle makeup routine that accentuated what I had and faked a little of what I didn’t. Here’s my 90’s brow rehab kit.
Shop: The Eyebrow Kit
1. Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Long Wear Brow Pencil
I love the shade and shape of this. The blonde is a slightly ashy brown that matches my natural colour perfectly and the slanted tip gives the closest strokes to real hair I’ve found. It gives a soft finish that looks super natural and is almost impossible to overdo.
2. Benefit Gimme Brow+ Volumising Eyebrow Gel
My one and done brow product for when I’m in a rush. A tinted gel boosted with fibres to add volume and thickness, it tames, styles, and gives you some added oomph.
3. NYX Professional Makeup The Brow Glue Instant Styler
TikTok might go crazy for honeys and soaps but when you don’t want your brows to budge this is the thing. Whether it’s the last step in your brow makeup regime to lock everything into place or you’re using it on your own to fluff up your natural hair it won’t move no matter what you put it through.
This article originally appeared on Grazia International