The Low-Commitment Way To Get Thin, Ever-Trendy '90s Brows

Put down those tweezers! Thin, '90s-inspired brows have been popping up everywhere lately, from the red carpet to your TikTok feed. While teeny tiny arched eyebrows are a fun trend to get in on, heed the warnings of the elder millennials of yore: what gets plucked does not always grow back.


Minimal eyebrow grooming is fine, especially when pulling stray hairs between your brows or making small modifications to your brow shape. However, major eyebrow hair removal should be left to the professionals. Eyebrows are finicky — with only a few wrong plucks, you can end up with skinny, misshapen arches that look out of place on your brow bone.

If you want the thin eyebrows look, take a low-commitment approach. Plucked hair takes a long time to grow back, and damage to the hair follicle often results in thinner, weaker eyebrow hairs than you originally had. Trends are constantly changing, so you'll want to keep your eyebrow hair healthy and ready to show off when you're in the mood for a bold brow. Fortunately, with a few makeup tricks, you can sport thin '90s brows without pulling out a single hair.


Use an eyebrow pencil

If you examine the skinny eyebrow queens of the 1990s — think Pamela Anderson or Drew Barrymore — you'll notice that most of the shape is achieved with an eyebrow pencil, not the actual eyebrow hairs. While you won't get ultra-skinny eyebrows when you skip the tweezers, you can still get a gorgeous, tapered arch with the precise use of an eyebrow pencil.


Choose an eyebrow pencil that matches your hair color and start with the center of your eyebrow. Imagine where your eyebrow would be if you had plucked it into a thin shape, and focus on making that section as defined as possible. Once you have most of the thin arch filled in, you can get to work on the tail. Long, skinny tails are the signature shape for '90s brows. Draw a thin, curved line extending out of your eyebrow. Every eyebrow shape is different, so you may have to play around a little to determine what looks best on you. Overall, the aim is to make your eyebrows have a wide, super thin arch.

Folks with naturally light, thin eyebrows might be able to stop at this step. The drawn-on eyebrow tail could be enough to get you the style you want. But if you have thick, dark eyebrows — or if you just want as extreme a thin look as you can get — you'll want to go in with eyebrow gel next.


The magic of brow gel

For a dramatic eyebrow change without hair removal, brow gel is a must. Eyebrow gel wasn't a common makeup product in the '90s, but it has since become a go-to tool for manipulating your eyebrow shape. While you can use eyebrow gel to get the thick, defined eyebrows of the 2010s, you can also use it to condense your brow hairs.


To use brow gel to get '90s eyebrows, you'll need to comb out your eyebrow hairs. If you don't have a cute little eyebrow comb, now is a great time to get one. After applying the gel, brush your hairs up so they are detangled and easy to manipulate. Then, smooth the hair down, pushing it along the arch shape you drew with the eyebrow pencil. The result will be dense but tapered eyebrows. Using the eyebrow pencil before the gel gives you a convenient guide for the shape, but you can also go back in with the pencil after the gel to fill in certain areas and further define the arch.

Play with light

Getting low-commitment skinny eyebrows is all about creating an optical illusion. All your eyebrow hair is still there, but you want it to appear like you have less. One way to play up your skinny brow look is to draw more visual attention to your brow bone, rather than the eyebrow.


This strategy goes back to contouring basics: you emphasize features by attracting more light to them. In this case, that means applying extra highlighter to your brow bone after you are done with your eyebrow makeup.

For the highlighter, apply it all along the area below your eyebrow, especially in the center of the arch. The shiny product will open up the space and emphasize your brow bone, which in turn will make your eyebrow shape appear skinnier and more dramatic. Eyebrow makeup artist Joey Healy recommends using a cream product instead of powder since the cream can slick down some of your smaller eyebrow hairs and help exaggerate the shape even more (via Popsugar).

Be dramatic

The thin '90s eyebrow trend is all about having fun with your makeup and creating an intense, dramatic look. Just because you want a low-commitment style doesn't mean you can't get wild with it.

For a full eyebrow transformation, take inspiration from drag queens and other performers. Use a generous amount of eyebrow gel to fully slick down your eyebrow hair. If you want an even more secure way to keep your hair flat, you can also experiment with a child-safe glue stick. A nontoxic glue stick is effective if you need a long-lasting solution, but it's not intended for your skin, so be conservative about when you whip out the Elmer's.


After slicking down your eyebrows, start applying concealer. Use a liquid concealer to coat the eyebrow hairs — this will also serve as an additional layer to flatten the hairs. Follow the liquid concealer with a powder to fill in gaps and set the liquid makeup in place. Once you have the coverage you want and you've let the liquid products dry, you can use an eyebrow pencil to draw in your beautiful skinny brows.

Trim, don't pluck

But what if you genuinely want thin eyebrows for the long haul? Should you go ahead and pluck? While no one can stop you from ripping out your precious, delicate eyebrow hairs, you should really look for an alternative solution. Repeatedly plucking your hairs will make your eyebrows grow back sparsely and eventually stop growing at all due to the damage to the hair follicles. As you get older and your hair growth diminishes, you might miss your original eyebrow density. Plus, vanity aside, as a general health rule it's best to avoid beauty practices that damage your skin or hair.


To remove hair while still being kind to eyebrows, opt for trimming instead of plucking. With trimming you can minimize the size of your eyebrows without interfering with your hair follicles. Eyebrow hair only grows about 0.14 millimeters a day, which is less than half a centimeter per month (via Emergency Medicine Open Journal). Trimming instead of plucking gives you much more wiggle room for errors and will make grow-out periods easier.

When trimming your eyebrows, cut down, not across, to maintain a natural eyebrow texture. Follow the same principle as plucking and only trim one hair at a time, pausing between each hair to assess the shape and fullness before continuing. And when in doubt, keep the trimming to a minimum and utilize your brow gel and pencil to complete the rest of the style.