After several seasons of magazine beauty editors championing the strong, overgrown brow look, the pendulum has swung towards eyebrows that look nearly invisible. The initial impression is stark and alienating, but eliminating a heavy brow is refreshingly liberating for a neo-modern, bare-faced look.
We first caught wind of this trend last year on the runway for Balenciaga’s spring/summer ’09 collection when Natalia Vodianova opened the show with her signature full eyebrows faded into her glowing, pale complexion, but the look reemerged on runways from Milan to Paris at the recent autumn/winter ’09 shows.
At Miu Miu, make-up artists were seen applying cream bleach on top of the models’ brows before sweeping warm, sunset-in-the-Sahara hues all over the lids and extending into the eyebrow area, which achieved a futuristic ’70s appeal. Meanwhile, at Givenchy, brows looked baby-fine and barely there, accented only by a soft touch of sheer gunpowder eye shadow on the lids. Alexander McQueen created drama through erasing brows altogether with white creamy foundation in order to showcase the ghastly, overblown red lips drawn on his models. Giorgio Armani, on the other hand, took a reliably elegant approach by pairing naturally bare, but brushed, brows with demure, smoky eyes and defined lips.
Though the trend may sound a tad dramatic for non-professionals, the minimal look actually translates from the runway to reality. Scarlett Johansson may have once joked that she looked like “a peeled egg” in Girl with a Pearl Earring, but model Lara Stone strikes a better balance with her own bare brow look—ranging from innocent to severe depending on the rest of her makeup or wardrobe.
A reality-friendly technique to keep on-trend without sacrificing your brow is to follow the advice in Kevin Aucoin’s beauty bible Making Faces: bleach your eyebrows one shade lighter than its natural color, or fill in-between the hairs with a medium to light ash eyebrow pencil. After all, not every face can withstand bold, unkempt brows—even Brooke Shields’ famously thick eyebrows have become more streamlined over the years.