“Three cuts in your eyebrows tryin’ to wild out,” Jay Z once rapped, mocking people for adopting a style pioneered by Big Daddy Kane. Instead of gatekeeping the style like he intended to, Jay Z is now credited with initiating the resurgence of an entire beauty trend—currently at a whopping 101 million views on TikTok. Re-introducing eyebrow cuts, a 2021 runway trend whose roots can be traced back to hip hop culture and the black community.
Eyebrow cuts are thin, vertical slits typically made towards the tail of an eyebrow. Spin-offs of the trend include variations in terms of the number of slits, angle of tilt and the eyebrows chosen. Although there is no hard and fast rule about the width, number or style of cuts, single eyebrow cuts are considered to be the most basic style for starters.
With enough evidence to trace its origins back to the late 90s, eyebrow cuts are a trend influenced into popular culture by hip hop artists such as Big Daddy Kane and Bow Wow. Their creation is deeply embedded within the hip hop and black community and has witnessed continual peaks and dips in popularity. They are also considered as an offshoot of designs African-American men would shave onto their heads to simulate the appearance of a scar.
Over time, however, the trend has been looped into two major controversies. First, for its affiliation with gangs and general ‘badassery’. Perceived as the remnants of an injury from fights, eyebrow cuts are said to be pulled off by gangsters—who keep a count of the number of people they’ve murdered with the number of slits they make. These rumours have been so persistent that it has previously influenced schools to either ban or make students fill cuts with eyebrow pencils.
The second controversy surrounds cultural appropriation. A 2015 Buzzfeed article has been in the news for cherry-picking eyebrow cuts from hip hop and the African-American community into a fashion statement. The article featured Soulja Boy as the poster child of the trend instead of Big Daddy Kane. They also renamed ‘eyebrow cuts’ as ‘eyebrow slits’. A follow-up article by The Root later called out Buzzfeed for “columbusing”—the art of ‘discovering’ something that has existed forever. “Calling something that is older than Soulja Boy ‘slits’ is a microaggression and an attempt to rename a cultural legacy that is older than him and all of these newbies doing it,” The Root added.
On the other hand, critics argue how the terminology for the style shouldn’t matter—given that we are constantly interacting and borrowing from other cultures and traditions. As the trend currently washes over the 2021 runways, however, it is crucial to acknowledge how it originated from a subculture before it was recognised as a trend. Cultural significance should not be overlooked like they systematically are in this regard.
Let’s start by listing out the possibilities of eyebrow cuts. Although one or two cuts on one eyebrow is the most popular with zero risks, other options include one or two cuts on both eyebrows, cross cuts (two crossed lines resembling an ‘X’) and front cuts (slits towards the front of your eyebrows instead of the tail). Sometimes, the eyebrow cut is also extended into the hairline with the same tilt to give off an elevated look. Bejewelled cuts are yet another spin-off of the trend. All of these variations mentioned can be further personalised depending on the width and size of the gap made.
So, if you are ready to channel your inner Jason Momoa—although the actor got his eyebrow cut from an actual bar fight—here’s how you can jump on the trend (minus the 140 stitches to the face that it took Momoa).
First up, brush out your eyebrows to make them nice and even. Then grab a white liner and decide on the width and size you want your cut to be. If you are planning on double slits, then make sure to space them out evenly before committing to the trend. This is also the step where you decide on the angle of tilt you want to go for—be it a perfect 90 or a 60 degree.
Once you’re done outlining your desired shape, it’s time to fool-proof the process a bit. Using scotch tape, place the sticky side onto the lines you’ve drawn in step 1. The straight edges of the tape would essentially help as a guide to ensure you don’t end up with a bald patch during the process. Make sure to use scotch and not duct tape—remember, we’re shaving today, not waxing.
There are various tools you can use to nail the look. But these choices depend upon the stability of your hand. If you’re confident enough, you can go ahead and grab one of your bulky electric trimmers. But if you harbour self-doubt like me, I recommend a manual eyebrow shaver. Those sleek ones that safely take off less than you always intend to.
It’s time to get cracking. Grabbing your weapon of choice, start by shaving the patch between the lines you’ve highlighted with the scotch tape in step 2. Make sure to hold the razor vertically and move sideways carefully. Increased pressure, in this case, would not only displace the tape and make you shave off more than necessary but also guarantee you some nasty razor burns. Slow and steady wins the trend.
Once you’ve shaved most of the hair out of the way, peel off the tape carefully and grab some tweezers to pull out the leftovers. This step would guarantee a smooth, clean and sharp cut without having to define it with makeup later on.
Let’s address some of the most common questions that come along with the trend. Do eyebrow cuts grow out? If so, how long does it take? According to How To Discuss, eyebrows have the same growth pattern as the hair present all over the body. Similar to beards and mustaches growing out after shaving, eyebrow cuts generally take two to six weeks to grow back fully. This time frame can be looked at from two different angles. If you’ve nailed the look after shaving, this means that the cut would be low-maintenance. Otherwise, well…you can always fill them in until they grow back.
However, if you merely want to try out the look first, makeup can do wonders. All you need is a concealer and a flat brush. After prepping your eyebrows like you generally would with liners, grab a spoolie and brush out the area you want to create the artificial cut. Using your flat brush, apply some concealer in a vertical line as desired. Make sure to cover the patch completely and blend it out. According to TikTok, this hack passes off as a real eyebrow cut unless someone decides to breach COVID-19 protocols and examine it up close.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’ve always wanted to jump on the bandwagon, grab that clipper or concealer and get to work. But make sure to tread with caution (or rather thread with caution) either way.