Today’s article will be taking a quick look at makeup through the ages, starting in the 1920s and ending in the early 2000s! If you want to try a specific decade look, this article can help to inspire you!


The 1920s was a time for ‘nice’ girls to become ‘bad’. The makeup during this time got heavier and bolder. The foundation was still lighter, but blush was used more liberally and eye liner became thicker. The bow lip became extremely popular during this time. Dark eye shadow was also in fashion at the time. The flapper makeup was a statement, it said to society “We’re going to dress up, be free, and have fun”!


1930s makeup was a bit more restrained than the 20s because of the great depression. Ivory tone foundations became popular in the mid 30s, women preferred pink and orange tones. Eyeliner was traced in an upward triangle from the tear duct to the other end of the eye. Rouges we’re usually lighter pinks and less intense than blush used in the 1920s. Mascara became more popular, but was only used on the upper lashes. Lips were traced in a less dramatic way and darker lip colors were more popular. Eye shadow started darker at the crease and lightened up from there to the brow bone. This was an effect used to make the eyes look bigger.


Foundations became very popular during this time and became a bit darker than the skin color. Popular lipsticks were fuchsia, pink reds, and orange reds. During the wartime, eyes were the focus of the face. Matte eye shadows were used to add depth to the crease and used brown or black eyeliner to enhance lashes and brows. Cosmetics began to be sold in drugstores and truly became household products.


Pastels were huge in this decade. Foundations were used in peach or cream colors mostly. Purple-reds and orange-reds dominated in the lipstick category. It was common place to extend the natural borders of your lips with lip liner. Beauty books became popular and were filled with information about which makeup colors to choose for your complexion and what makeup to wear for different times of the day, it also featured outfits and other accessories that would compliment the makeup worn. Eye shadow became less popular during this time period and instead mascara was the go-to for eye makeup. Blush was used in pinks and was sometimes used above the eyebrows as a touch up.


The beginning of the 1960s was very similar to the 1950s in it’s pale hues and more ‘natural’ look. However, the further into the decade you go, the more it becomes bold and dramatic. This style was referred to as ‘Mod’ and was popularized by the model Twiggy. This style was based on bold geometric patterns and eye shadows were usually in greys, blues, greens, and whites. The ‘cat eye’ look of the 1950s instead became a bold thick eye liner that doubled up at the corners of the eyes, false lashes also became popular. Lip colors were generally pale pinks and lip-liner was no longer in style. Foundations were still more natural looking and blush was used in small areas on the cheeks (instead over many parts of the face).


The 1970s was a period of liberation for women, politically and economically. Because of this cosmetic companies started to move away from the classic portraits of women to show a new and independent woman. The first half of the 1970s was a 1920s revival of bold makeup. The 1940s were also brought back during this period. Cream shimmer shadows became very popular, it was used in three heavy coordinating shades on the eyelids. Mascara was used on the top and bottom lashes. Bronzer powders became popular during this time, as did darker colored blushes. The focus was on a tanned and athletic look. The 1970s addressed the issue of the lack of makeup for women of color. Women of color showed up more in advertising for makeup and cosmetic industries started to cater to their needs as well.


The 80s was characterized by heavy eye shadow and eye liner, as well as bright blush. It was considered the heavier the makeup, the better! Many women opted for shadows two or three shades lighter than their natural skin tone. Winged eye liner came back in full swing and false eye lashes also came back. For the first time thick penciled in eyebrows became a style. Blush was placed in the hollow of the cheeks (between the top and bottom of the jaw). One of the most notable colors of the decade was electric blue. This bold color popped up in many places including on the famous Cyndi Lauper.


The 90s toned it down a bit (thankfully) and took a more natural approach than the 80s makeup look had. Lipsticks became more nude in color and also more matte, however, dark glosses over a nude lip became popular. Dark eyeliner was still popular, especially in the subculture of grunge/punk. Glitter-y eyeshadow didn’t totally go away from the 80s, but the colors were much more subtle than the electric blues from last decade. White eye liner made an appearance, it was used on the inner rim of the bottom lid in order to make the eyes more radiant. Blushes and shadows also became a bit more subtle than they were before. Thicker brows were still considered the better option.


The early 2000s were a comeback of bolder eye shadow colors, purples and blues especially were popular. The eye shadow was darker and not blended as much (like in the 80s). Super glossy lips were definitely in style and skinny brows were back in fashion. Thick eye liner was popular, especially in the alternative scene (think Avril Lavine). In the alternative scene, the paler the better, but in pop culture rosy cheeks were the trend.

Hopefully you’re feeling inspired to be bold and try a ‘new’ old look!

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