Monday 23 April 2018

Little brows get bigger every day...

Bushy eyebrows are becoming a fashion item? Well who'd have thought it, wonders Sophie Donaldson

CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS: Sophia Hadjipanteli, pictured, and artist Frida Kahlo have all used their brows to sometimes, well, eyebrow-raising, effect...
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS: Sophia Hadjipanteli, pictured, and artist Frida Kahlo have all used their brows to sometimes, well, eyebrow-raising, effect...
Sophie Donaldson

Sophie Donaldson

Foil, feather, squiggle, split: how do you like your brows?

This year the beauty world has been inundated with increasingly zany styling options for those two little lines of hair on your forehead. Instagram is the showcase app of choice, with makeup artists and amateurs alike flocking to the platform to show off their latest teeny-tiny hair styles.

Like nail art before it, eyebrow art is now a 'thing'. Armed with miniature combs, tweezers, glue and makeup, eyebrows might be artfully foiled, in which small pieces of metallic paper are applied on top of the hair. Or they might be feathered, where the brow is parted in the centre and combed out on each side to resemble a fern frond.

Eyebrow art has become so prolific, or ridiculous, that even the grand dame of the brow business has trolled it.

You may not know her name, but Huda Kattan is one of the most influential women in the beauty industry. She was named by Forbes as one of the top three beauty influencers on social media and is also thought to be the highest-earning influencer on Instagram.

Dubai-based Kattan, who is Muslim, has managed to straddle both Eastern and Western beauty ideals with her sell-out namesake cosmetics range, which is stocked in hallowed beauty emporiums like Sephora and Harrods.

Last week she took to Instagram with a satirical 'how-to' video that directed her 21 million followers to create #McDonaldsBrows.

With her natural eyebrows hidden beneath concealer she recreated the fast food empire's famous golden arches on her forehead with a brown eyebrow pencil.

The video was a dig at the ludicrous eyebrow 'trends' that make Cara Delevingne's bushy brows look positively sheepish. Her au naturel eyebrows took the world by storm a few years ago and inspired a whole generation of women to put down the tweezers. Her influence is immense and perhaps even extends to the White House, where Hope Hicks and her power brows have just been announced as Trump's new communications director.

Eyebrow art aside, there is a huge emphasis on perfectly groomed brows. Featherblading, in which a technician draws fine lines of semi-permanent ink to fill out fine brows, is gaining popularity. HD brows is a popular seven step treatment that uses techniques like tinting and threading to create perfectly shaped arches.


It's little wonder that a backlash against perfectly sculpted brows has begun, championed by Cypriot model and student Sophia Hadjipanteli who has founded the #UnibrowMovement.

Sporting a magnificent unibrow herself, she hopes the campaign will dispel some of the negativity that typically surrounds an untended brow. Bushy, black and unabashed in its hairiness, her unibrow has garnered her more than 67, 000 thousand followers on Instagram where her photos generate some of the most divided comment threads on the internet. With comments that range from the adoring to the disgusted, Hadjipanteli isn't fazed.

She told Harper's Bazaar recently that while she might wax her brow in the future, "until people start to accept others for this specific feature on their face, I won't feel ready to move on from it."

Hadjipanteli isn't alone in her quest for unibrow acceptance. Speaking to Teen Vogue in July, New York-based model and art student Scarlett Costello revealed it was actually her modelling agency, Ford Paris, that encouraged her to grow out her brow. Having sported a single line of fuzz since childhood she would wax it off intermittently for modelling gigs but has since found that having a unibrow has been a boon to her career, though real life can be a little less accepting.

"I get more positive feedback than negative," she told the magazine, "but I've gotten some negative comments as well. People have called me an ogre and a pretentious feminist."

Both Hadjipanteli and Costello have an affinity with the original monobrow muse, Frida Kahlo. Teen Vogue published a photograph of Costello as a child dressed as the Mexican artist, while Hadjipanteli recently posed for a striking portrait in a similar costume (posted on her Instagram, naturally).

With recent news that the V&A in London is planning an exhibition next year on Frida Kahlo's wardrobe, perhaps the #UnibrowMovement really is having a moment.

Nobody would have predicted that Delevingne's brows would kickstart a standalone industry for eyebrow products. There's every chance women like Hadjipanteli and Costello could be at the fore of a whole new unibrow revolution. Who knew a single line of hair would, um, raise so many eyebrows?

Sunday Independent

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