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Waxing or microblading — these days we’re all after ideal eyebrows

Face value: Dua
Lipa is one of the
brow pin-ups

A DECADE ago, were anyone to ask what your defining feature was it’s doubtful you’d have said your brows. Fast forward to 2018, however, and the eyebrow has become ‘the thing’ women (and men) agonise over.

They need to be just thick enough (if yours are one centimetre wide at where they start either side of the bridge of your nose, then you’re deemed genetically blessed by the beauty crew) but not too thick, dark but not out of kilter with your colouring, shaped but not too hard-looking.

Unibrow: Sophia Hadjipanteli stopped plucking

To achieve the perfect brow, we’ll go to great lengths, trying everything from tinting to threading, plucking to waxing, gelling and microblading, even bleaching — a newly much-requested service at hip London hair salon Larry King.

It’s a time-consuming business and costly to boot. Hollywood celebrities even fly their favourite eyebrow artist (Sydney-based Sharon Lee) out to Los Angeles to do their eyebrows before the Oscars.

Bushy: Cara Delevingne was bad news for the tweezer

Just how obsessed with our brows are we? If findings from market research company Mintel are anything to go by, very. A recent report found that in 2017 the British eyebrow market was worth £41.8 million (double what it was in 2015). A whopping 70 per cent of us have our brows professionally tended to.

Last year, eyebrow bar pioneers Blink surveyed 40,000 women with pollsters YouGov and found that 77 per cent counted their brows as an important part of the daily beauty regime. Seventy-three per cent groomed brows at least once a month. The most common concern about brows? That they’re uneven (32 per cent).

Although popular on and off through the centuries, thick brows became fashionable in the 1950s when Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor popularised a wide, groomed yet arched look. According to Nicola Moulton, former beauty director of British Vogue and now creative director at the Seen group, our modern obsession with the bushy brow came from designer Tom Ford, who put it back on the beauty map during his time at YSL in the early Noughties.

In the thick of it: Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor (below)

‘Pioneers like Vaishaly Patel have been “doing” brows for about 20 years,’ says Moulton. ‘Way back then, Elizabeth Hurley said the first time she had her brows done she looked ten years younger. All of a sudden, people started thinking about the difference well-kept brows made to the face and a host of products started becoming available. Tom Ford’s ’70s brow made bushy brows sexy again. It was a game-changer. Then, of course, along came Cara Delevingne.’

Ah yes, Cara, the woman who Google noted had single-handedly killed the tweezer, sending searches for the tool — and ‘eyebrow plucking’ — through the floor in 2013. She’s since been joined by other brow pin-ups: Kaia Gerber, Dua Lipa and Charli Howard.

Instagram, of course, is instrumental in all things brows and it’s enabled model and marketing student Sophia Hadjipanteli, 21, and her uniquely thick eyebrows, to find fame.

‘I love the way my unibrow looks,’ says the Maryland resident. ‘I stopped plucking my brows in summer 2015 and this is what grew. I use castor oil every night to help them grow and make them fluffy. Occasionally I’ll shape them up, I tint them darker, but that’s it.’

With over 150,000 Instagram followers, it seems Hadjipanteli is really on to something.

‘Sometimes I get a lot more hate than love online, which has meant I’ve had to develop a thick skin,’ she says. ‘But I’ve been modelling for quite some time and I wanted to show you can be different and still be beautiful. I think my big brows can be a platform to change the way people feel about beauty.’

But it seems when it comes to brows, big is still beautiful.

‘We’re facing what is probably the biggest year for eyes in a while,’ says BeautyMart co-founder Millie Kendall. ‘I think we’ll start to see brows being used more strategically to help shape and change the face. Brows will come into their own this year.’

Unibrows, here we come.