The Bella Hadid lift: will a generation of girls regret

When I was 14, on the advice of a so-called friend, I plucked my eyebrows pencil-thin and hand on heart, not a day goes by that I don’t replay that conversation. What if I hadn’t listened to her? What if I had watched her do it first? What – I think while applying brow pencil every single morning – if we had never met? So news that people are partially shaving the ends of their eyebrows using a razor is nothing short of chilling, at least to anyone born in the 1980s.

Still, the point of growing older is to learn, as Sherrille Riley, founder and CEO of Nails & Brows, a salon in London’s Mayfair, says: “We all did it so perhaps every generation must make their mistake now and repent later.”

‘It’s a variation on what we call the Audrey brow’ … Audrey Hepburn.
‘It’s a variation on what we call the Audrey brow’ … Audrey Hepburn. Photograph: Bettmann Archive

While most DIY beauty trends have been on the wane since the pandemic, brow trends have waxed. From eyebrow lamination – like a perm for your brows – to microblading, eyebrow bleaching (see Nicola Peltz-Beckham), soap brows (in which bar soap is applied to the eyebrows with a spoolie brush to keep them in place) and skinny brows, when it comes to brow-experimentation we simply can’t help ourselves.

The straight brow trend involves shaving or plucking the tail end of your eyebrow in order to “straighten” your brows and supposedly lift your face. It began life on TikTok, where straight brows have now racked up 129m views, though it was model Bella Hadid, the town crier of preternatural beauty procedures, who made it real.

It’s not old but it’s not exactly new, says Riley. “In some ways it’s a variation on what we call the Audrey brow, which is about making a brow straight and full,” she says. “But that’s more about making the most of what you have, so brushing upwards and then tapering them out at the end, like you would a graduated cut,” she adds. “I would never use a razor and would never remove entire sections of the brow.” All in all, it’s not something we would encourage, she says, and directs me to the curtailed brows of Star Trek’s Mr Spock. “I’m not on TikTok but it’s funny that they are doing this more than five years later and they’re doing it all wrong.”

Miranda Kerr with her straight brows.
Miranda Kerr with her straight brows. Photograph: Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

The real issue, Riley adds, is that it will “unbalance your features” and “draw attention to your jawline because of where the brow ends”. Fine if you’re Margot Robbie. Less fine if you’re not. “And if you remove eyebrows with something like a razor, the rumours are true – it’s really unlikely that they will fully grow back.”

Natalie Portman.
Trend follower … Natalie Portman. Photograph: Samir Hussein/WireImage

Fides Baldesberger, a Swiss brow expert and the creator of Rubis tweezers, is more amenable: “It might give people flashbacks of overplucked 90s brows, but for those with round, oval or heart face shapes, this brow style can balance features,” she says. Still, there are rules. “Make sure your skin is properly cleansed, including your brow hair area, before plucking or shaving the tails,” she says. Then, draw where you plan to cut off with a brow pencil and look at yourself in the mirror. Still on the fence? “You can also test it out a few times using a spoolie with concealer to cover up the tails of your brows before fully committing to the look.”

If you want to do this, she says, “it’s important to understand that brow hairs can take anywhere between two and six months to fully grow back”. Just as important, she says, is knowing when to stop.