Thin Eyebrows Are Back — Here's What You Can Expect From the Controversial Trend This Time Around

If you take a look at fashion and beauty trends that are happening at the moment, and it's no secret that the '90s and early '00s are back. While there are some trends that we can lean into, like dark lipstick and certain Y2K hairstyles, there are others that give us cringe-worthy flashbacks of our middle and high school days. Remember low-rise jeans and the notorious thin eyebrows?

As the saying goes, though, history repeats itself, which means, yes, thin eyebrows are making their comeback.

"I think there's an obsession with the '90s happening, and we're seeing Gen-Z focus on this, especially on TikTok," says celebrity brow expert Joey Healy. "We're seeing it with clothing and makeup with a general Y2K aesthetic, and I think that this obsession is leading the way with brows," he tells InStyle.

Rene de la Garza, another celebrity brow expert, says he thinks the pandemic is also playing a role in this resurgence. "I think people are sick of the overgrown ungroomed quarantine brow," he says. "And now that social events are back, my clients want the most sculpted beautiful shape, especially since most people are wearing masks." 

Lately, celebrities, most notably Bella Hadid, are going thinner and thinner with their brows and slowly moving away from the bushy, dark, Cara Delevingne-esque brow that reigned supreme for the last two decades.

If your initial reaction to the trend's revival is to cringe and become painfully reminded of the process of growing out your once pencil-thin arches, don't worry. Thin eyebrows are making a comeback but will look different this time around, and the beauty pros are particularly excited.

"Over the past few years, brows have become the new playground of self-expression, and I'm here for it," says Jared Bailey, global brow expert for Benefit Cosmetics. "People have shifted from using cool colors on their eyes and trendy liner techniques on their lids to letting their brows set the stage for their overall look."

Sandra Saenz, a professional makeup artist, and KVD beauty veritas ambassador says she's also not mad at the trend. "I feel like a lot of people want to stay away from the thin eyebrow trend, but I would love to see this era revived," she tells InStyle.

Despite these professionals' excitement, though, the trend is still super controversial because the overplucking caused many people damage to their eyebrows in the past. "This isn't like trying out '90s makeup, which was frosted lipstick and glitter eyeshadow," says Healy. "It's controversial because there is a lot to repair, which is the reason that the Joey Healy Brow Renovation Serum ($125, amazon.com) continues to be our number one product," he says. "We are helping people undo the damage that they did in the '90s." 

The mixed feelings also stem from the permanent aspect of this trend. "It's more difficult to go back and forth between thin and thick brows, unlike dyeing your hair, which is something you can easily change back," says Saenz.

However, with all good life lessons, you learn from your mistakes, which is why this trend won't be exactly like what most of us remember. 

"I feel excited about [this trend], especially knowing that this won't be a complete repeat of the '90s brow we all cringe about," says Garza. "This time, it's sculpted, sleek, and incorporates brow lamination, the biggest trend of the past couple of years."

"With the current thin brow, you can still expect to see a bit of density throughout," says Bailey. "Gone are the days of thinning the brows and leaving them sparse and almost invisible." Healy agrees with Bailey and says the brows will be tighter and more structured while still emphasizing texture all over.

VIDEO: Celebrities Show How Eyebrows Can Change Your Entire Face

If you want to give thin eyebrows a try, there are a few ways you can do it. For those who are understandably non-committal but want to see what a thinner brow will do for their face, Saenz says you can try blocking out the unwanted hairs with a concealer. "Apply a concealer over the brow to make your existing brow lighter and create a blank canvas," she says.

When doing this technique, Bailey recommends patting the concealer instead of using a brush. "This is key to covering the hair that tends to be a bit more oily than the skin," he says. He recommends using a high-coverage matte concealer, like Benefit Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer ($24, ulta.com). "Choosing a concealer that's the same shade as your skin tone will give you a blank canvas to create a new shape."

"Once you've created a base, follow up with a brow pencil, like the KVD Beauty Signature Brow Precision Brow Pencil ($22, sephora.com) to create the thin shape of your desired look," adds Saenz.

For those who are experimental and want to try doing the thin eyebrow trend at home, Healy says try trimming the brows first. The Joey Healy Precision Brow Scissor ($28, amazon.com) is perfect for trimming the brows with ease and, well, precision. "It makes the brow tighter and groomed neater and sharper without damaging the hair follicle because you're not ruining the hair," he says.

Next, he says to fill in the brows using a lighter brow gel than your actual brow color because it minimizes the look of the brow without actually removing the hair. "Lastly, a good highlighter, under the arch, can give you more lift without removing more hair," says Healy. "I don't like to do it above the brow, just underneath because it will make the brow look crisp and clean, and make the arch look high without ruining your brows."

When in doubt, however, always feel free to go to a professional who Bailey says can help you get the look you want without damaging your skin or hair so you can always keep up with trends.

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