The overlooked history behind this blogger's 'hella unnecessary' eyebrow look

Dana Oliver
Beauty Director
Yahoo Lifestyle
Beauty blogger Menal Khan took to Instagram to show off her “boxed brows” but the looks is eerily similar to eyebrow cuts rappers have worn since the late 1980s. (Photo: Instagram/ mєηαl.κhαη)
Beauty blogger Menal Khan took to Instagram to show off her “boxed brows” but the looks is eerily similar to eyebrow cuts rappers have worn since the late 1980s. (Photo: Instagram/ mєηαl.κhαη)

Consider 2017 the year of bizarre brow trends. Everything from the Nike swoosh and McDonald’s arches to squiggle lines and faux braids have taken over the eyebrows of the adventurous. Now, with nostalgia being so in vogue, there’s been a resurgence of a classic brow shape that your favorite rappers used to sport back in the late ’80s and early ’90s: eyebrow cuts.

Toronto-based beauty blogger Menal Khan uploaded a photo of her “extra” eyebrows with the caption: “Felt like annoying everyone by doing something hella unnecessary with my eyebrows. I call them, the boxed brows.”

Felt like annoying everyone by doing something hella unnecessary with my eyebrows. I call them, the boxed brows. – Who likes being extra, just like I do? ‍♀️ tag someone who hates posts like these just to further bug them – Products Used: •Eyes: @hudabeauty / @shophudabeauty #HudaBeautyDesertDusk palette for the eye shadow ➕ @crystaleyesuk Loose Glitter in “Rose Gold” on center of lid & inner corner ➕ @urbandecaycosmetics Glide On Pencil in “Burbon” in waterline. ➕ @Benefitcosmetics Roller Lash for bottom lashes. •Lashes: @houseoflashes in “Allura Lite” •Brows: (first glued down my whole brow – you could see the glue line around my brows so I tried smoothing it out, you can still slightly see it though) @anastasiabeverlyhills / @norvina Pomade in “Soft Brown” to make the boxes ➕ @thekatvond / @katvondbeauty Liner in “Mad Max Brown” & “Trooper” for the hair strokes. ➕ @morphebrushes 35W palette to shade each box to make it look like brows ➕ @tartecosmetics Shape Tape in “Light Medium” to carve out the shape further” •Makeup Sponge: @loucabeautylondon beauty sponge (Use “Menal10” for $$ off •Brushes: @sigmabeauty – #eyebrows #sigmabrushes #hudabeauty #anastasiabeverlyhills #morphebrushes #morpheshadows #katvondbeauty #katvond #houseoflashes #wakeupandmakeup #hypnaughtypower #peachyqueenblog #maryhadalittleglam #melformakeup #makegirlz #undiscovered_muas #100daysofmakeup #tartecosmetics #benefitcosmetics #urbandecay #universodamaquiagem_oficial #transformationtuesday #eyebrowsonfleek #nyxcosmetics #sigmabrushes #smokeyeye #fentybeauty – @undiscovered_muas @wakeupandmakeup @bretmansvanity @makeupforbarbies @makeup.feed @hudabeauty

A post shared by mєηαl.κhαη (@ikhaniic) on Nov 30, 2017 at 2:13pm PST

Khan first glued down her entire brow (a technique commonly used by makeup artists backstage at Fashion Week) to smooth it out. Then she used Anastasia Beverly Hills Pomade in Soft Brown to replicate the box shape and exaggerated the hair strokes with Kat Von D Beauty Liners in Mad Max Brown and Trooper. Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape helped Khan to “carve out the shape further.”

The 25-year-old’s “boxed brows” has gained over 1,500 likes on Instagram. Followers impressed by the look wrote “Very creative love it,” “I aspire to be your level of extra lmao I loveeeee,” and “Way better than the squiggly brows!!” Khan’s makeup skills even caught the eye of beauty guru Huda Kattan , who reposted the pic on her account and racked up over 154,000 likes.

But as one woke commenter noted: “Sorry to disappoint this is definitely not new.”

Big Daddy Kane was one of the very first hip-hop artists to popularize eyebrow cuts. The sharp gaps in his brows accentuated his hi-top fade and killer cheekbones.

Big Daddy Kane Photo, circa 1980, rocking eyebrow cuts. (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Big Daddy Kane Photo, circa 1980, rocking eyebrow cuts. (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Many other rappers have since adopted the look and attempted to make it their own, including Vanilla Ice…

We see those eyebrow cuts! Vanilla Ice, circa 1985. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
We see those eyebrow cuts! Vanilla Ice, circa 1985. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

… Kriss Kross…

Rap duo Kriss Kross wore eyebrow cuts back in the early ’90s. (Photo by REX/Shutterstock)
Rap duo Kriss Kross wore eyebrow cuts back in the early ’90s. (Photo by REX/Shutterstock)

Soulja Boy…

Rapper Soulja Boy, his eyebrow cuts, and flashy jewelry arrive at the 2011 American Music Awards held at the Nokia Theater L.A. Live. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
Rapper Soulja Boy, his eyebrow cuts, and flashy jewelry arrive at the 2011 American Music Awards held at the Nokia Theater L.A. Live. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

… and Bow Wow, aka Shad Moss.

Bow Wow brought eyebrow cuts into the early aughts while hosting BET’s “106 & Park” at the BET Studios on December 12, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)
Bow Wow brought eyebrow cuts into the early aughts while hosting BET’s “106 & Park” at the BET Studios on December 12, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

Far from a trend or being entirely “new,”  eyebrow cuts may also identify gang affiliation with the number of cuts allegedly representing one’s clique.

While Khan didn’t elaborate on the inspiration for her boxed brows or explain whether she was inspired by any of these rappers, calling it “boxed brows” is wrong. The lack of acknowledgement of any hip-hop influence could be her unawareness of where the look truly originated.

However, we can’t help but recall that time where undercut designs were culturally appropriated and redefined as “hair tattoos.” Any individual whose stepped foot inside a barbershop in a predominately black or Latino neighborhood knows that etching crisp and imaginative works of art with a pair of clippers didn’t start on Instagram or Twitter — social media simply elevates these looks beyond your neighborhood salon.

So to summarize: boxed brows aren’t new and you should refer to them as eyebrows cuts.

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