To pluck or not to pluck: Beauty experts weigh in on the skinny brow trend

When Rihanna appeared on the cover of British Vogue in 2018 sporting pencil-thin brows, it heralded the beginning of the end of our caterpillar eyebrow obsession.

For years prior, we were in a chokehold of ‘must have’ pomades, pencils, powders, and stencils – all in the pursuit of fluffy, bold brows that’d give Cara Delevingne a run for her money.

Thanks to the Y2K fashion resurgence and associated trends like ‘Pam-core’, however, the so-called Scouse brow has fallen out of favour.

Not only are we being prompted to party like it’s 1999, we’re also seeing some distinctly retro beauty, with the likes of Bella Hadid, Barbie Ferreira, and FKA Twigs showing off skinny brow looks.

A new TikTok filter showing users what they look like with pared-back eyebrows has piqued interest further, racking up over four billion views on the platform. You’ll now find thousands of videos from people asking if they should shave or pluck their forehead fuzz to get in on the action.

Those of us who are old enough to remember skinny brows the first time around are perhaps less enthused. Whether your inspiration back then was Gwen Stefani, Drew Barrymore, or Cameron Diaz, you likely dealt with the aftermath of over-plucking long after the Walkman became obsolete.

Eyebrow transplants have been growing in popularity, too, with Chrissy Teigen having one last year, saying: ‘Teens, do not pluck them all off like I did.’

But what do beauty experts, who see crazes come and go and sort us out after DIY mistakes, have to say?

We spoke to them to see if they’re pro or for skinny brows, as well as how to work the trend without regrets.

Fides Baldesberger, CEO of Rubis tweezers

‘It’s extremely difficult to go back and forth between thin and thick brows. This is because brows, unlike the hairs on our head, grow very slowly, with the entire brow growth cycle taking 3-4 months with no guarantee that they’ll grow back full or in the same way.

‘When you pluck hair from the root repeatedly over time, the stress on the follicle may damage it enough so that it does not grow back, leading to sparse growth or no growth.

‘Even with the help of growth serums and dietary supplements it can be very difficult to repair the damage caused by over-plucking and the only option would be a costly and painful eyebrow transplant.

‘If you do choose to continue with your brow grooming, plucking one hair at a time and then standing back and reviewing in a mirror will help to stop over plucking.

‘Also avoid plucking out a new brow shape by over-plucking underneath your brows. Focus on the strays, and if in doubt use a brow pencil, powder, or pomade to draw in your natural shape and give you a clear indication of what hairs to avoid.’

Sarah Fogg, Founder of Brows by Sarah

‘As much as I love a naturally fluffy brow, I can’t deny that celebrities like Bella Hadid look stunning with a slim defined brow.

‘Whatever look you’re going for, remember that our brows are extremely personal – it’s not ‘one size fits all’. Brow trends change a lot quicker than your brows can so I think it’s important to wear your brows in a way that works best for you.

‘We all have different needs and certain shapes and colours suit different faces. When doing brows at home, remember to consider what best compliments your face shape, you want to follow the natural arch of your brow at all times – especially when aiming for a “natural” brow look.

‘Always remember to keep the bulb of the brow super soft getting stronger towards the tail, this will result in the most natural looking brow.’

Sian Dellar, Permanent Makeup Specialist

‘I don’t think the painfully thin, drawn on look will ever make a revival but some celebrities are wearing their brows a lot slimmer than the big bushy brows we have become accustomed to.

‘I think lockdown has a part to play in this new trend. No one was able to maintain the laminated brow for instance, and so sporting a thinner brow was a lot easier cope with.

‘As long as it is done carefully i.e. not shaving them off and drawing them back on as per the trend of the 60s or the over-plucking of the 90s, as both methods can cause irreparable damage and take years to grow back. 

‘When opting for a thinner brow, the most common mistakes we see are: 

  • Over tweezing: The most common eyebrow grooming mistake we see! Over tweezing your brows to with an inch of their life, leaves you with very thin unnatural looking brows. The eyebrows frame the face and give structure, keeping the brows as full as possible and only taking the stray hairs that sit outside the shape prevents them looking too harsh. 
  • Starting the arch too soon: A nice defined brow arch is the most requested look we get. However if the arch is too close to the middle you can look quite angry, like angry bird
  • Not blending the colour: Blending the colour of your eyebrow pencil or powder keeps it from looking harsh and overdrawn. Once you have filled in the natural hairs, use a angled eyebrow brush to blend the colour through the brow to soften the edges. A clear brow gel can keep brows neat and tidy. 

‘By all means opt for a thinner brow, but be warned that this trend is likely to be short lived and the fuller brow is here to stay, so go easy or you shall be paying the price (literally!) thereafter!’

Saffron Hughes, MUA at FalseEyelashes.co.uk

‘For some people, depending on their face shape and features, skinny eyebrows may be a more flattering option – in these cases pluck until your heart’s content. 

‘As a full, fluffy brow lover, this trend gives me the fear as I spent a good amount of time growing my eyebrow hairs back after plucking them to an inch of their life back in high school. 

‘For those wishing to give skinny eyebrows a go, I would suggest doing it in stages in case you regret your decision or change your mind, so they won’t take as long to grow back.

‘Always be cautious and remember that over-plucking can lead to permanent damage and may cause your eyebrow hairs to not grow back. I would suggest using an eyebrow growth accelerator treatment to help with the growth of your eyebrow hairs.’

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