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‘Don’t get Botox, just shave your eyebrows’: The latest trend is erasing them off your face

For years, thin or shaved eyebrows were subversive territory, typical of goths, punks and drag queens. Today Gen Z is flirting with tweezers and clippers, drawing on a new face

Afeitar Cejas Moda
Doja Cat, with shaved eyebrows at the MTV Video Music Awards last September.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin (FilmMagic)

Experts say that the perfect eyebrow isn’t born, it’s made. This bristly patch located about two centimeters up from the sight organs on the human face, just above the eye socket, is much more than a common feature among most primates and mammals. It’s fascinating how these two arches, which in theory are there to protect the eye from sweat and external irritants, have become a reflection of their era. The history that connects their outline with the role of women over time is fascinating. During the last decades, they have fluctuated wildly: in the 1990s they were fine, extremely fine, thanks to such brow-wearers as Pamela Anderson, supermodels, and all the adolescent millennials, tweezers in hand, in search of a personality in keeping with the indomitable decade itself. Thick, noticeable, dark, bushy was the look in the 2010s, when Cara Delevingne made them fashionable, defining an era. The truth is that eyebrows have always constructed identities, and in recent years we have witnessed an explosion of techniques and aesthetics in shaping them, combing them, thickening them, filling them in, drawing them, and even laminating them.

Not to mention, eyebrows are a booming business. According to figures from market researchers Observatorio Sectorial DBK, eyebrow and eyelash salons in Spain saw 28% growth, generating over $1 billion in revenue in 2023, and that there are 22,000 new eyebrow and eyelash salons in the country alone.

Facialist Mariona Villanova, one of the founders of La Bombonera, a massage and wellness ritual salon in Barcelona, shared an interesting reflection on Instagram a while back about how femme eyebrows have changed over time: “The louder and more assertive women have become, the bigger their eyebrows have grown.” Later, she explained to EL PAÍS that “women’s eyebrows reflect their voice in society.” On one occasion, the famous eyebrow artist Tonya Crooks, Hollywood’s leader in the field, said that they are a feature that can change your face even more than surgery can, because they can help make the eyes look bigger and younger. For her, they are the defining feature and create the face’s overall look. It has long been said that they frame the face, and that we owe much of our facial symmetry to our eyebrows. It has even been said that they define what age we are perceived to have.

Now, the latest trend is going a step further and making them disappear, in a shocking turn of events.

Jodie Turner-Smith
Actress Jodie Turner-Smith, last September.Mike Marsland (Mike Marsland/WireImage)

It all began a few months ago among the Gen Z, who are forever in search of trends from the 2000s to repurpose. Bella Hadid, Alexa Demie, Nicola Peltz, Julia Fox and Doja Cat had been sporting skinny brows for some time, and the effect seems to have caught on, because on TikTok there are countless women who have started shaving the outer corner of their eyebrows to redraw them at a higher angel, Hadid style, as if they had just gotten a facelift. “Don’t get Botox, just shave your eyebrows,” 27-year-old makeup and cosplay artist Eleanor Barnes (known by her nickname, @snitchery) captioned a recent video.

The new skinny eyebrows, as Benefit’s “national beauty and brow authority” Giner Muñoz tells EL PAÍS, have their fine points. “The fine eyebrows that we’re seeing right now aren’t identical to those of the 1990s. These days people don’t wear them as fine, but rather defined, and with a well-demarcated arch. Where you see the very-fine eyebrows is exclusively on runways and editorial looks, but the majority of the time they’re done with makeup, without resorting to removing the hairs.”

The next step has been erasing them completely. This is where TikTok has been able to take the onetime taboo of this dramatic beauty look, once associated with punks, goths and drag queens, and make it fade away.

@dimaggioglows

This barbie shaves her brows completely off 💖🪒 How cute is this Barbie inspired shaver from @Athena Club I love how the handle has weight and glides right over the skin. 🙌🏻 Using the @KraveBeauty makeup rewind cleansing balm for a smooth shave, almost completely out of it 🥲 #nobrows #athenaclub #kravebeauty #brows #browdesign #eyebrowtutorial

♬ Speed Drive (From Barbie The Album) - Charli XCX

“There is something distinctly queer about shaved eyebrows: their presence, or rather absence, challenges our expectations about what a face should be. And indeed, for much of the past century, they were a signal of deviance from the norm — either because a person couldn’t fit in or because they refused to,” Harron Walker wrote a few days ago in The New York Times style magazine. To support her thesis, she cites as references British actress Jodie Turner-Smith, who said goodbye to her eyebrows in 2022; model Amelia Hamlin, who shaved them off for a photoshoot for Interview Magazine; and artist Doja Cat, who has recently been shaving them off on Instagram live because she claims she doesn’t need them, that what she’s interested in is doing something more editorial with her makeup, not so much to look pretty, but from a more artistic perspective. Not having eyebrows helps her to achieve new effects.

One of the pioneers in making eyebrows disappear was musical artist and model Jazzelle Zanaughtti, who decided to do without them five years ago in order to be more creative with her image. She said that eyebrows are kind of like a face tattoo that expresses who you are and what you do. For her, it’s easier to recreate a fantasy on the face when you don’t have eyebrows.

Despite the fact that many women who over-tweezed their eyebrows in the ‘90s later regretted it (a lot), there are those who find in this gesture a form of self-expression. The way to achieve the illusion of invisible brows without having to use a razor is through makeup. There are numerous tutorials for achieving the “no brow” look by first using a setting gel to keep the hairs in place, then a primer that protects them, and then, the most important step, filling in any gaps in the brow with a high coverage, matte finish concealer in the same shade as your skin tone. To seal it in, use a translucent powder. You can repeat these last two steps as necessary until you see that the brow has completely disappeared.

If you decide to shave, it’s important to know how to do it correctly. Australian brand Make My Shave claims that shaving your eyebrows is a radical move that will dramatically change your appearance, so before experimenting, it’s important to be confident in your decision. Once you make it, you can follow their step-by-step guide to doing it safely.

Is it safe to shave your eyebrows?

The brand assures that shaving one’s eyebrows is generally safe, but they warn that the skin around and below the brow is very thin, which means it can be sensitive, so it’s important to be very careful to avoid scratches and cuts. Its professional advice for shaving one’s brows is to use a razor with a moisture cushion to help prevent painful cuts.

Do shaved eyebrows require special care?

The brand reminds us that brows serve one function: together with eyelashes, eyebrows help to keep sweat, moisture, dirt and dust from getting in your eyes, and also help to protect eyes from the sun, so if you choose to shave, remember to take care to apply additional SPF to avoid sunburns on recently exposed brows.

Will my eyebrows grow back?

“When it comes to shaving eyebrows, there’s a natural fear that they won’t grow back. Rest assured that since you’re not pulling out the hair from the root, eyebrows generally grow back in approximately four to six weeks, though that timeline will depend on your age, health and genetics,” the brand assures.

What kind of razor should I use?

If you’re shaping your brows or only shaving a small section of hair, they recommend that you opt for a small dermaplaning tool, which will give you more control. In the case that you’re shaving the entire brow, they advise choosing a razor with four or five blades and a lot of lubrication. The Make My Shave razor is a good tool to use because the moisture cushion is infused with aloe vera and vitamin E, which soothe the skin, making your shaving easy on your skin, with fewer possibilities of cuts or irritation.

Should I use shaving cream?

The brand is quite clear on this point: “The eyebrow area can be very sensitive, so you should always use a shaving cream, foam, gel or shave bar: the more lubrication, the better!”

Any other tips for shaving eyebrows?

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