Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Just last week, I wrote a get-off-my-lawn op-ed about the coverage of so-called eyebrow trends in the beauty media. After watching it happen all last year — through squiggle brows, feathered brows, and more — I was finally inspired to lightly rant about it when I saw stories everywhere about “halo brows.” (One teen did it, 20 outlets wrote about it.) The gist was basically that one person doing a goofy thing on Instagram is not a trend, but that people will still click on stories about people doing this goofy thing because we can’t help ourselves and everyone’s bored.
But apparently no one cares about my opinion because it happened again this week: High heel eyebrows is the new eyebrow non-trend du jour. Of course I clicked!
How and why does this keep happening? Let me tell you a modern internet tale.
Last month, an Instagram account called @skyzeditz posted images of two Instagram beauty influencers with “fishtail brows.” Then Huda Kattan, who has almost 25 million followers and is the founder of Huda Beauty, posted a picture of herself with the negative-space Spock brows and attributed them to SkyzEditz.
SkyzEditz is Stefan Oskys, a 19-year-old who lives in London. He is not a makeup artist. He’s a former art school student and has a day job doing digital marketing and running social media accounts for brands. He first started an account called @skyzhighlight, where he would digitally add an obscene amount of highlighter to popular Instagram beauty gurus’ faces and repost them.
People loved it, but they loved it even more when he started posting side-by-side images of celebrities and influencers that he would digitally tweak to show two different looks, like Justin Bieber with blue eyes and brown eyes. He says when he started this type of Mother Nature manipulation, his account, now at 140,000 followers, “went crazy.” (He doesn’t post pictures of himself on his account, but you can see him in this Galore article from last year, which featured him when @skyzeditz started gaining traction.)
So how did this become his medium? Oskys is both charmingly earnest and a little bit sheepish when he talks about his unusual hobby. He told Racked that he used to draw a lot of the girls in his art class, and he had a knack for drawing in the makeup. Then he figured out that he was also pretty good at editing photos for social media, and he started doing it for his friends. The next step was combining the two. “I started up my Instagram account, which is my way of being as creative as I possibly can,” he says.
While watching America’s Next Top Model (“because why not?” he says a tiny bit defensively even though I did not question this decision), he was inspired by contestant Rio Summers, who sometimes wears one brow in the fishtail style. He decided to make it “more accentuated and dramatic.” It then went viral, as these things do.
Then came this week’s high heel brow. “I was looking at the emoji icons and thinking, what would look weird as an eyebrow?” he says. “Then I saw the heel one and I was like, that will get people talking because it’s insane.”
For now, he’s been mostly focusing on eyebrows, including emoji brows and my favorite, the Grinch brow. He says he uses a combination of apps to edit his images, including Enlight and Facetune on his phone, and Photoshop on his computer.
Oskys gets a bump in followers when Huda regrams one of his images, but he says he’s never been approached to do sponsored content or collaborate with brands. He does say that Huda’s team did contact him and offered him a job in Dubai working with the company’s social media accounts. “It was crazy,” he says. “I’m 19, so I’m not sure if I’m ready for it.” (Huda Kattan did not respond to a request for a confirmation of this job offer.)
The lightning-fast news cycle has made him, like all of us, a tad cynical. “To see news publications posting about it was really cool for the fishtail one, but after that I’m like, ‘Oh, OK, another one.” Here, he pauses, then laughs. “I don’t want to sound like a knob! But it wasn’t like when the fishtail thing went viral.”
He says an influencer has never been angry at him for his edits, and many have actually told him they really like the changes. His followers, however, may be tiring of ridiculous brows.
“A lot of my followers were quite angry about me posting crazy eyebrows,” he says, noting people said things like it was one of the reasons “this generation is so bad.”
But despite cranky old writers and followers waiting for the next new thing, Oskys remains undeterred. “A lot of people were really hating on my account at that point. I really get it, but you’ve got to do crazy stuff to stand out obviously. It was a bad thing, but a good thing to me.”