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Bring on the bleach — this is fashion’s new It-brow

From Kim to Kendall, they’re all at it! Amy Francombe on how to pull off this season’s vanishing act

Say goodbye to the bushy brow; now it’s all about the bleach

/ ES
By
20 September 2022
B

rushed-up, fuzzy brows have been replaced with a new It girl-approved look. Yes, the bleached brow is back (again) — and has become one of 2022’s most widespread beauty trends, with A-listers and Gen Z alike erasing their arches in the name of high-fashion.

It’s a look that cycles into style every few years — each time causing a new generation to look permanently startled. Earlier this year, Kendall Jenner and actress Maisie Williams debuted bleached brows at the Met Gala. At Marc Jacobs’ autumn 2022 show, the entire cast of models — including Bella and Gigi Hadid — strutted down the catwalk with buffed-out brows; then came Kim Kardashian, who fronted Interview magazine with bleached-out brows, followed by Julia Fox, who fronted ES’s fashion issue in a similar vein. Musician Lizzo, socialite Amelia Gray — if you factor in all the TikTok influencers who are doing it, the list of women going sans brow is practically endless.

“I love how popular bleach brows have become,” says Adessa Simpson, founder of The Go To brow salon. “I feel we were always told brows are everything — they frame your face and lead your facial expressions. Now bleach brows add mystery and can enhance other facial features. It’s like having a blank canvas to be creative.”

Kim Kardashian

/ Interview magazine/Nadia Lee Cohen

The trend can actually be traced back to the Elizabethan era, when society ladies would pluck their brows into thin arches and remove hair from their hairlines to elongate their foreheads — a “high forehead” being a symbol of aristocracy. The modern take was first popularised in the Nineties, where OG supermodels such as Linda Evangelista shot futuristic campaigns with bleached brows, and New York club kids partied with erased arches.

Bleached brows were so ubiquitous among certain circles that celebrity make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin, who even did brows for Evangelista and Kate Moss, wrote up a how-to in his 1997 book, Making Faces. At the time he pointed out that: “A bleached brow will soften the expression... If you feel your brows are too low or too close to the eyes, bleaching them can open up the face.” Thanks to Chloë Sevigny and Gwen Stefani, minimalist foreheads continued into the early Noughties, before there was a strong pivot to bushy brows in the 2010s.

This time around it’s not just models and VIPs, the look has trickled down to TikTok, where the hashtag #BleachedBrows has 125 million views and a filter that enables creators to see what they’d look like with them having 113 million. Most of the videos under each hashtag show Gen Z creators surprised by how much they adore the trend.

“If you love experimenting with different make-up looks, bleach brows are perfect,” says Simpson. “Express yourself how you want to, banish the so-called beauty standards and make your own rules.”

Though at-home kits are much more sophisticated than they once were, most people would recommend going to a professional if you want to try it (bleaching near your eyes is a recipe for injury). If you do end up trying it at home, always do a patch test and use Vaseline to protect the skin under and around your brows.

“It is important to bear in mind your brow health if you’re going to bleach your brows,” says Chanice Sienna, founder of BAMBROWS. “Once you go through with the bleaching, the maintenance is mostly keeping your brows conditioned and nourished. A good way to do this is to use castor oil on your brows as an overnight treatment. Another great product for this is UKLASH brow serum.”

Julia Fox, who fronted ES magazine’s fashion issue

/ Julia Fox by Richie Shazam and ES magazine

However, if you’re not ready to commit to bleach, applying concealer and purple corrector will give your arches a temporary taste of the coveted style. “Try a product like BPerfects Sensorium Brow Engineer. Brush this product onto your brows and it will conceal your natural brow colour and give the bleached look,” says Simpson. “It comes in three shades,” she adds.

If there was ever a time to experiment with a disappearing brow it is now. The best part? Eyebrows grow out fast — very fast. So, if you’re scared of taking the plunge, know it will be only a temporary transformation. And, you never know, you might be reaching for the bleach box again and again.

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