Having good eyebrows is important to many women, but eyebrows in general — whether shaped or not — are actually a quite practical addition to your face. Eyebrows serve two main purposes, according to experts. One is to help keep things out of your eyes — from sweat to rain to foreign matter, your eyebrows act as a buffer to protect your eyes. They also help filter light, which also serves as eye protection.
Eyebrows also play a significant role in communication. We all recognize a furrowed brow to indicate displeasure or raised brows to signify surprise. But, beyond just helping us demonstrate and understand emotion, eyebrows are useful for facial recognition. A scientific study performed in 2003 found a "very large and significant disruption in recognition performance" when participants were shown photos of familiar faces, but altered to remove their eyebrows. Brows can literally change how we see people.
It’s no wonder, then, that celebrities who have changed their eyebrows have also dramatically transformed their entire look. Here are some of the most noteworthy transformations to date.
Drew Barrymore has been acting since she was just a little kid, so fans have gotten a peek at her many transformations over the years. Nevertheless, her eyebrows may have had the most impact. When Barrymore attended the Los Angeles premiere of Reservoir Dogs in 1992, her previously full brows took a turn to follow the trend of the decade, which was to be seriously tiny. By the time Tom Boy premiered in 1995, the actress’ brows were pencil-thin.
Just as Barrymore’s rebellious years are long behind her, her itty-bitty brows are also a thing of the past. Although she hasn’t embraced the super thick brow look that’s on trend these days, she has taken to a much more natural and neutral appearance — both in how she shapes her brows and applies her makeup. Barrymore’s style has also evolved since the aughts, making for a very well-rounded and incredible transformation.
When Katelyn Tarver posted a throwback photo of herself with Chantel Brunnert and Lucy Hale from the 2003 Teen Choice Awards, fans were struck by Hale’s high-arched eyebrows. "The eyebrows tho," wrote one commenter. Another questioned why the girls would pluck their brows at that age. The early 2000s were a different time — that’s for sure — but Hale does agree with naysayers.
"I overplucked mine and they just looked crazy," she said in an interview with People. That’s certainly not the case anymore. The Lucy Hale of today looks vastly different than her former self, and much of that has to do with her big, bold brows. She admitted to People that, despite all the plucking, she’s always had very full eyebrows. Surprisingly, she still does her brows herself. "I just get a little nervous when people try to touch them," she explained. Well, whatever she’s doing, it’s working!
Kim Kardashian has gone through many transformations over the years. It may be hard to imagine that eyebrows could have such a drastic effect on her appearance, but it’s true. In the late ’90s, Kardashian embraced much smaller and tightly shaped eyebrows. In a throwback Instagram photo shared by Kris Jenner, Kardashian is hardly recognizable with her former arches. Kardashian herself commented on the photo writing, "I look horrendous! I was obsessed with Drew Barrymore and her thin eyebrows!"
Both women are likely thankful that they’ve come to embrace fuller brows. That’s not to say it’s easy to go from thin to thick brows. In fact, Kardashian’s routine is quite complicated, and she detailed the process on her app (via InStyle). She revealed that Anastasia Soare, a famous brow artist and inventor of the Brow Powder Duo, is the expert in charge of her brows. Soare gets to work by waxing and trimming, applies both eye cream and foundation around the brows for definition, fills in any hairless areas with a brow pencil and, last but not least, sets them in place using brow gel. Whew.
When Jennifer Aniston was busy starring in Friends as Rachel in the 2000s, her haircut gained major attention. Despite nearly everyone becoming obsessed with "the Rachel," as it became known, Aniston wasn’t a fan. "That was kind of cringe-y for me," she admitted to Glamour. But the iconic haircut isn’t the only thing Aniston regrets from that time.
In an interview with Elle, Aniston said she will never again "bleach out [her] eyebrows." She further explained, "It was a real look in the 90s." At the time, Aniston got her brows bleached for her very first Cosmopolitan cover shoot. "I was so new and naïve in the business, I didn’t know that I could say ‘no,’" she told Elle, "I had to paint in my eyebrows for three months with brown shadow." Eek! Thankfully, Aniston’s eyebrows have recovered from their days of being over-plucked and lightened.
Megan Fox and #browgoals are essentially synonymous. This wasn’t always the case, however. In the 2001 film Holiday in the Sun, Fox can be seen rocking the sleek arches that were typical of the time. They may have been easier to groom in the early aughties, but Fox’s current brows seem to be a great fit for her face. Just as Kim Kardashian seeks out expert brow help, Fox relies on eyebrow artist Tonya Crooks, aka "BrowGal."
Shaping brows is not a one-fits-all solution, Crooks explained to Refinery29. "Brows for me fall into one of three categories: arch, arc, or straight. Megan Fox has a classic arch," she said. If Fox were to have her brows shaped in a straight direction, Crooks said Fox wouldn’t look like herself. Something would be off. Brow trends will likely change in the future, but with an expert like Crooks on her side, we’re sure Fox will continue to slay in the brow department.
Gwen Stefani has always had an epic sense of style. She seems to be one who is much more likely to set trends than follow them. Yet and still, she became victim to the tiny brow. In 1998, she attended the MTV Video Music Awards with her hair dyed cotton candy blue and some jewels donning her face. With a bindi and studs framing her eyes, her thin arched painted-on eyebrows were on full display. In 1999, Stefani’s brows seemed to get even thinner.
In an interview with Refinery29, Stefani said she agreed to having her brows bleached in order to have "really skinny eyebrows." Once they started growing in, she decided to have it done again, but this time she ended up in the emergency room. "I had chemical burns," she said, "But I survived! I do have a scar, though." Scars and all, Stefani achieved brow-goal status in 2015 and has been rocking thick brows ever since.
Can you even think about the early 2000s without remembering Paris Hilton? There were no limits to the heiress’ style in those days. From tracksuits to tiaras, Hilton was obviously not afraid of trying — and creating — new trends. While her outfits may have varied greatly, her brows remained mostly unchanged, which meant they were thin and blonde for a very long time. Hilton discussed her beauty woe of yesteryear with InStyle and explained the rationale behind the brow, saying, "Back in the day, everybody plucked their eyebrows sooo thin." It’s true. "It was the style back then," she added.
Although Hilton said hers weren’t "beyond thin," she admitted to now loving a "thicker brow." She also admitted that she even gets her eyebrows dyed. "Otherwise they look sparse," she told the magazine. Her thicker, darker brows are definitely on point, which means we can’t help but say, that’s hot.
Angelina Jolie is living proof that you can recover from both a really regrettable tattoo and super tiny eyebrows. Jolie’s full brows are so amazing, it’s hard to imagine she once dove into the thin eyebrow trend headfirst. In fact, Jolie has managed to capture such perfect arches that her brows were in the top 15 most googled celebrity eyebrows of 2017, according to Harper’s Bazaar.
While Jolie’s eyebrows are not the super-thick variety that became quite popular in 2018, her brows are shaped in a way that looks natural, while not looking untamed. Of course, that’s not necessarily surprisingly for Jolie as her style and beauty regimen are of the same vein. With her goal to remain "as natural as possible," it definitely makes sense that she’s given up her small, heavily plucked arches in favor of less manicured "I woke up like this" brows.
For most of her teen years, Kylie Jenner favored thin brows. Although they were never quite as twiggy as the ’90s style, they were a far cry from her modern day arches. In 2014, however, Jenner hosted the MuchMusic Video Awards and her brows quite literally began to take shape. With long lashes and expertly defined brows, Jenner was starting her evolution to Brow Queen. By the time she attended the Met Gala in May 2017, Jenner’s brows had officially reached the peak of perfection.
Much like her half-sister Kim Kardashian, Jenner has a brow artist to help her out. In an interview with StyleCaster, Jenner’s brow guru, Erin Bryant, explained her task, saying, "When I first did Kylie’s brows, they weren’t bad, but I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them because they were a little too thinned out." Bryant explained that fuller brows give off a youthful appearance. "Thinned out brows age women," she added. Of course, at 21 Jenner may not be too worried about looking old, but her brows look phenomenal nonetheless.
In an article for Vogue, Lena Dunham said she first started plucking her eyebrows in eighth grade. At that time, she also attempted to fill in her brows, which drew attention from her classmates — and not in a good way. "What the f*** is wrong with your eyebrows?" Dunham recalled one decidedly popular boy asking her. "Thus began a near 20-year saga, during which my brows never really grew back," the star wrote.
In summer 2016, Dunham heard about a procedure called microblading, which is a semi-permanent tattooing technique used to fill in and add more symmetry to a person’s eyebrows. Dunham decided to give it a go and, after a 40-minute session, Dunham was amazed at the results. "On my face were two perfect brows," the celeb explained, "the same hard-to-capture brown as the hair on my head, multidimensional, thick in all the right places, giving my face a grounded seriousness I had been wishing for since that day in the bathroom almost 20 years ago." Eyebrow goals.
Is there a look Lady Gaga hasn’t tried? In the past, Gaga’s standby look was bleached brows. While there aren’t many people who can pull off this look, the singer may just be one of them. Gaga sat down with Vogue at the Marc Jacobs Fall 2016 runway show and discussed her eyebrow routine. "I bleach my eyebrows every day — I like to keep them light," she admitted to the publication. "They’re more versatile for a beauty look. You can draw [your eyebrows] any way you want when they’re bleached."
They may be more versatile, but daily bleaching is not generally advised. For one thing, you could end up bleaching your eyebrows entirely off if you were to try a DIY version of the look, as reported by Allure. And, according to Michelle Henry, a dermatologist in New York City, this hair loss could be permanent. Additionally, Henry told Allure, "Ingredients used to bleach the hair [that include] high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can cause serious burns." Just because it worked for Gaga doesn’t mean it’ll work for us. Sigh.
To say Cara Delevingne has epic brows would be an understatement. Nevertheless, they weren’t always the big and bold brows you now know and love. In years past, the star had noticeably tamer and lighter eyebrows. But they’ve always been thick. The star admitted to InStyle that she once wanted less bushy brows. Because of that, she said she would "try to tweeze them down." Her mom insisted they were the model’s best feature, but Delevingne thought they looked like "giant slugs on [her] face."
Of course, we’re all obsessed with her iconic brows these days — which is something the star thinks is nice. "It’s really sweet; I’m flattered," Delevingne told Byrdie. After being "ashamed" of them for so long, the model said it’s nice to be able to "inspire other girls to be comfortable with their own." There’s enough room on this planet for big and small brows after all, right?
Remember when Rita Ora bleached her eyebrows? No? Well, the internet never forgets. In June 2014, Ora embraced the bold "invisibrow" trend. Cosmopolitan caught up with the star at the time and asked her about the process. "You’ve got to commit nowadays guys!" Ora said of her adventurous look. She further admitted that the process "really burnt." Eek, that’s never a good sign. "I don’t know if I’m going to get my eyebrows back," she opined. "They don’t fall out like hair do they?"
Thankfully for Ora, she seems to have gotten her brows back. While bleaching them may have been fun at the time, her updated brows are truly stellar. And, surprisingly, they’re not very high-maintenance either. When speaking with Us Weekly, the celebrity, who is an ambassador for Rimmel London, said she sometimes uses the brand’s mascara to fill her eyebrows. "A brown mascara," she added. Hey, whatever works.
Bella Hadid hasn’t joined the big, bold brow team, per se, but she has changed up her eyebrows. In doing so, her brows have only given her a more distinctive look. Much like Cara Delevingne, Hadid was once insecure about her eyebrows — but, unlike Delevingne, it wasn’t because Hadid’s brows were big.
"Growing up, I was always self-conscious about my brows but I never knew that you could do something about it," the model told Cosmopolitan. "I’ve always had really thin brows, I got them from my dad." While Hadid’s eyebrows are still naturally thin, she thickens them up just a tad with the use of a brow pencil. "Fake it till you make it, I guess," she told the publication. Hadid’s brows aren’t extreme and, if you didn’t know, you’d definitely think they were totally natural. "Brows are such a beautiful part of a woman and a man’s face," she explained, "so to be able to enhance them now is revolutionary for me."
Although Jennifer Lopez’s eyebrows were never really embarrassing — at least not Gigli levels of embarrassing — they’ve still evolved over the years. The star has always kept her eyebrows well-groomed, but she did fall victim to the skinny brow trend of the 2000s. You know, that style where the beginning of the brow was as thick as the tail? Sure, it wasn’t as terrible as the ’90s brow, but still. Why did we ever think either was a good look?
These days, Lopez’s brows vary in thickness appropriately. They’re bold without being distracting, and, more importantly, they work well with her face shape. If you’re looking to get brows just like Jenny from the block’s, you might just be able to. The star revealed her favorite brow product in an interview with InStyle. As of late 2018, the celeb stands by the Iconic London Sculpt and Boost Eyebrow Cushion. Of course, she also has the help of brow expert Anastasia Soare, but, for $40, you can at least attempt the J.Lo brow on your own.
Madonna’s eyebrows have gone through almost as many changes as the Queen of Pop herself. In the ’80s, she led the no-pluck movement and let her brows do their own thing. By the ’90s, though, the singer experimented with super-thin brows — just like all the rest of us. Madonna would end up sticking with the itty bitty brows for a long time. "There were many years where I wasn’t interested in having eyebrows," Madonna quipped in an interview with People.
According to Us Weekly, Madonna now opts for the same procedure as Lena Dunham: microblading. Although this brow trend has gotten increasingly popular, we all know how styles change. Despite being a tattooing technique, microblading is only semi-permanent. "How long they last depends on the clients skin type, everyone is a little different," Kendra Bray, brow expert at the permanent makeup studio Better Brows in New York City, told the publication, "but most clients can expect their microblading to last anywhere from a year and a half to two years." Sold.