Anastasia Soare is sketching an eyebrow. But not just any eyebrow—the perfect eyebrow.
She’s explaining the Golden Ratio, the brow shape she developed and patented. “I want to find a way of explaining to you,” Soare tells me over Zoom as she scribbles in her notebook. She says the face is divided into several main sections—more on that later—and holds up her drawing, complete with angles, graphs, and fractions. “It took me years and years to simplify this,” she says.
There aren’t many people who can claim to be synonymous with an entire body part. But Anastasia Soare, the woman and name behind Anastasia Beverly Hills, is eyebrows. Her story is almost mythical: Born in Romania, Soare immigrated to the United States without speaking English, and without financial means. She settled in Los Angeles and started working at a salon before focusing on brows. Little did she know a celeb-frequented brow destination, beloved product line, and billion-dollar valuation were in her future.
As Anastasia Beverly Hills celebrates its 25th anniversary, the mogul and Queen of Brows sits down with BAZAAR.com to look back at her incredible rise.
The Early Years
It was the early ‘90s, and Soare had already made a name for herself as waxer to the stars. “I was doing bikini wax, leg wax, facials and all that,” she recalls. It wasn’t long before the press got wind of her talents. “One magazine asked if I could [speak about] one of my celebrity clients. I said, ‘Of course. Let me ask Michelle Pfeiffer.’" But in contrast to today’s overshare-prone celebs, A-listers at the time were a bit more discreet about body care. "She said, ‘Well, I cannot tell them you do my bikini wax.’”
Soare then had an epiphany. “I was thinking, ‘maybe I should focus on eyebrows, because it's a walking advertisement.’” Simple as it seems, she says the concept was revolutionary at the time. “Before that, I realized that nobody paid attention to eyebrows,” she says. Through word of mouth, her business grew at high-speed, especially when makeup artists realized they could save time by having their clients’ brows done ahead of time.
Perfecting the Golden Ratio
In the age of the skinny brow, part of what set Soare’s technique apart—and had all of Beverly Hills banging down her door—was her patented Golden Ratio. Based on a visual concept that dates back to the Ancient Greeks, the Golden Ratio, or the divine proportion, is a mathematical principle usually applied to art and architecture. But it was Soare who believed eyebrows could be considered both.
“I realized that in every picture that I had from Romania, I looked very surprised, because my eyebrow was very thin and round,” Soare says. “I remember my art teacher talking about how important eyebrows are and how if we need to draw a portrait, just that change in emotion, we could just change the eyebrow shape.”
She recalled learning about Leonardo da Vinci, and his use of the Golden Ratio in some of his most famous works. “He did several studies of the face. He never did eyebrows though,” she says.
Naturally, she picked up where da Vinci left off. She learned that the face is split into invisible “zones”: three horizontal, and five vertical, with the brow helping to separate them and keep them equally spaced. And by creating three key points on the brow, it would be, in her mind, not only spatially correct but also the most aesthetically pleasing.
Soare practiced the technique on herself first, and the compliments rolled in. “I started doing the service to the clients without even charging them because it wasn't considered a service.”
Opening Anastasia Beverly Hills
In 1992, the high demand for Soare’s services led to her own space, a room across from Neiman Marcus in, yes, Beverly Hills. But Soare’s signature style was in direct contrast to what was popular.
“Remember, it was the Pamela Anderson age where everybody wanted pencil-thin eyebrows,” she says. Because brow products didn’t really exist yet, Soare developed a homemade solution for clients who had over-tweezed. “I used to mix eyeshadow with aloe vera and some Vaseline to create this pomade and fill in the client's eyebrows,” she says.
Of course, clients couldn’t duplicate the look at home, and a product line was the next logical step. Then came expansion: In 1997, she found a larger salon space to offer her brow, waxing, and facial services, plus her brand-new makeup line. Anastasia Beverly Hills was officially in business.
Disrupting an Industry
Selling the line in the salon was a big first step, but as Soare’s name recognition grew, the demand reached far outside the 90210 zip code. “I was working, at that time, with every celebrity possible,” she says.
That’s when Nordstrom came calling. The department store was interested in stocking the brand, but Soare had a big caveat: “I said, ‘It's great and I'm flattered, but we have to do [brow] services.’ At that time, people didn't know that you have to put powder in your eyebrows or how to do it. It was very important from the beginning to have a service to train the customer.”
Nordstrom agreed, and Anastasia Beverly Hills launched in 20 stores, with estheticians stationed in each one. Soare herself would travel to the stores on weekends to train the staff and support the brand (which she continued to do for the next 12 years).
Nordstrom’s support was invaluable, but not everyone was immediately on board with a line exclusively devoted to brows. “Everybody thought, ‘What, eyebrows? No, this is not going to work.’” Part of the reason, she says, was the wide variety of shades and textures she wanted to offer. “I have clients from all over the world. I cannot say, ‘I'm sorry, I don't have a color for you.’"
But Soare was laying the groundwork—or etching the stencil, as it were—for a previously untapped category in the beauty industry. According to Forbes, Anastasia Beverly Hills was valued at $3 billion in 2018, and it's now a top seller at Sephora and Ulta. Brow Wiz, the brand's iconic brow pencil (0ffered in 12 shades, from blonde to ebony) is a runaway success; one is sold every 10 seconds, and it's the number-one brow product in the U.S., according to NPD data.
The “Oscar Moment”
During her decades-long career, Soare has had her fair share of marquee moments. “I think one at the beginning of my career was being on the Oprah Winfrey Show [in 1998], doing her eyebrows live,” says Soare. “She was the original influencer. That was like getting an Oscar, my Oscar moment.” (Quite the statement, one could argue, from someone who has done her fair share of eyebrows for the actual Academy Awards.)
Soare says another of her proudest moments was being invited to the White House by Michelle Obama, whose brows she still shapes. “Being there for Christmas was very, very incredible for me,” she says. “I was in this country for 25 years and being there under the United States seal and the American flag was the true American success story, I have to say.”
The Next 25
As big as Anastasia Beverly Hills has grown, Soare still has her sights on what’s next. And that means a truly global presence. “I want in every village, in every single corner of every country,” she says. And although the ABH lineup has expanded to a full cosmetics line (the liquid lipstick is top tier) brows will always be at the core.
Luckily, Soare has the hookup. “Technology changes all the time, so I want to be on top of everything," she says. "Every lab that comes up with eyebrow products, I think I'm the first one they send it to.”
Lindy Segal is a beauty writer and editor. In addition to regularly contributing to BAZAAR.COM, she also writes for Glamour, People, WhoWhatWear, and Fashionista, among other publications. She lives in New York City with her Chihuahua mix, Barney.