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Eyebrows—those funny little tufts of hair that rest below our foreheads—are responsible for some of the most major beauty looks of the ages. Because they have the ability to frame the face, make eyes appear lifted, and help convey the most alluring of facial expressions, brows continue to stir strong reactions in people across the globe. (No wonder we pluck, wax, thread, darken and otherwise engage in minor torture sessions in efforts to upgrade our brows.)
How did the furor begin? See below for the story on some of the most compelling brows in history.
Ancient Egypt: A strong brow has long reflected personal power. To exaggerate her natural eyebrows, Cleopatra is thought to have darkened hers with carbon.
Fourth century Rome: Some of the most alluring women of this time let their brows abound, as the unibrow was considered a sign of superior intelligence. The look long laid dormant until artist Frida Kahlo brought it back into the limelight.
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1920s: Actress and original "It Girl" Clara Bow set a trend for flappers nationwide by plucking brows to oblivion and drawing on a thin line that dramatically extended clear to her temples.
1930s: Greta Garbo, who was known for her pencil-thin brows drawn in a deep arch, got the look as a newbie actress by way of Hollywood makeover. Legendary makeup artist Max Factor plucked her natural brows to nothing, then penciled on exaggerated curves to draw attention to her eyes. American women liked the look so much, they began to purchase eye makeup (something formerly reserved for women of the night) to mimic the style at home.
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1940s: Perhaps no other woman in history has been so famous for her seductive gaze. Model-turned-actress Lauren Bacall had heavy lids, long lashes, V-shaped brows and a come-hither pose so magnetic, it earned her the nickname, "The Look."
1950s: After following the pin-thin brow trend of the '30s, Joan Crawford set a trend of her own by growing out her brows in the '40s and '50s. The stronger brow look struck a perfect balance between the strict V-shaped arches popular the '40s and the more rounded shape that Garbo made famous.
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1960s: If anyone knew the painstaking process of extreme brow upkeep, it was Sophia Loren in the '60s. Though gifted with naturally thick brows, Loren shaved them off and carefully painted arches back on with miniscule strokes. Like the work of Monet, the resulting look yielded perfection through astounding precision.
1980s: A teenage Brooke Shields caused an uproar for a Calvin Klein Jeans commercial in which she proclaimed, "Do you want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing!" No matter where people stood on the controversy, the nation seemed to universally covet her ample, feathered brows.
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1990s: Incredibly thin was back in (for both bodies and brows), as Kate Moss became the poster girl for '90s beauty. Overplucking became rampant as women recreated the super model's barely-there brows.
2010s: As we entered a new decade, a fresh model named Cara Delevingne debuted with brows of nearly cartoonish proportions. The look created an overwhelming desire for natural, feathered brows that recalled Brooke Shields' in the '80s.