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The Trendiest Makeup Looks Through Different Eras

In beauty, a lot of modern day trends have been repurposed from another decade. We've seen many trends from throughout the 20th century resurface in the 21st century: here's where some of them originated from.

Who do you think of when you think of beauty? Do you think of modern celebrities like Rihanna or classics like Marilyn Monroe? Beauty trends for women have consistently evolved over the years with the influences of actresses, models, singers, and many more. Even modern-day trends have drawn inspiration from the stylistic choices of the past.

We finally have to a place where everyone can wear makeup to express themselves. By reflecting on trends of the past, we are able to recognize how events can impact and/or determine the trendiest looks of the future.

Beauty Over the Century


The Popular Trend

Smokey eye, Thin brows

Historical Context

The roaring 20s was an exciting time all around. The burst of the artwork and novels from the Harlem Renaissance, the start of the jazz era, and there was an economic boom. Ultimately in the twenties, there is always something to celebrate and it showed through the makeup of the women during the time. Flappers are the most notorious figures in terms of style when speaking about the 20s.


The Popular Trend

Penciled on eyebrows (shaped like a semi-circle), pastel eyeshadow

Historical Context

At the end of the 1920s, there was a huge economic crash which ultimately led to the 30s being the Great Depression era. People were suffering: many lost their homes, their jobs and were scrambling all over the country to find work. There weren't many innovative makeup looks in this era, most likely due to this reason of things being so unaffordable and people were trying to get by. Hence, the more simplified penciled-on eyebrows look.


The Popular Trend

Red lips

Historical Context

The 1940s was the start of World War II, therefore many men had to go off to war. As a result, it left women back home in the US having to run things, which is a huge shift from them being housewives. So because they had to enter the workforce, eye makeup wasn't a focus anymore, neutral eye makeup and red lips were. Red lips can be looked at as a symbol of empowerment for women who entered the workforce, and as something they can hold onto from being a housewife in the roaring 20s.


The Popular Trend

Cat eyes, reddish-pink lips

Historical Context

The 1950s is the post-world war II era but also can be recognized as part of the Golden Age Era in Hollywood. The 1950s was a huge time for mass media. As a result, during this time a lot of the beauty trends came from Cinema.


The Popular Trend

Heavy false lashes, paler lips

Historical Context

When you think of the sixties, you think of a time where social justice was the main focus. There were so many student protests against the Vietnam War, it was the start of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of the politics of the Cold War.

The fact that the makeup trend was focused on the eyes is pretty symbolic due to people opening their eyes and paying attention to social structure in America.


The Popular Trend

Heavy bronzer, peach, and pink glosses

Historical Context

Hippies are one of the most notorious things known in this era, which adds to the fashion and the style and beauty of this era. It makes a lot more sense in context. In the sixties, people were very expressive and it showed up with the way they dressed. Hippies were a countercultural movement and were most popular among college students, and they popularized using peach and pink lip glosses, as well as applying heavy bronzer to looks.


The Popular Trend

Full brows, pink blush, and lips

Historical Context

The thing most memorable about the 80s was neon. Music was a major influence, and that's where a lot of the makeup trends came from. One popular trend in the 80s was the Rocker eye makeup: with a pink lip, neons, and heavy eyeliner. Makeup looks were drawn more so from the music industry in comparison to the cinema, unlike earlier in the century, especially as music promotion grew and music videos became more popular for musicians to shoot.


The Popular Trend

Matte skin, brownish-red ( burgundy) lips, natural blush, smudged eyes

Historical Context

Many key events happened in the 90s, like the fall of the Soviet Union (ending the Cold War) and the rise of the Internet. Makeup continued to get heavy inspiration from the world of music, including hip-hop, grunge, and rock. Movies like Clueless also paved the way for new techniques and fashion to be incorporated into everyday looks, including matte and natural blushes and the smudged eye look.


The Popular Trend

Black liner, shimmer, lip gloss

Historical Context

The style of Y2k that is currently coming back was popularized by black women in the late 90s/ early 2000s. As the music industry continued its meteoric rise in its control over the culture, influencers and musicians began to inspire new trends in beauty even more. A song could blow up a makeup trend, and Lil Mama's "Lip Gloss" music video is the perfect example to show the mainstream media's influence on Millenials and Gen Z.


The Popular Trend

Bold brows, Heavy contour, big lips

Historical Context

In the 2010s, there was a huge rise in social media platforms like Instagram. The century was so social media influenced, and featured many trends originating from celebrities like Cara Delevingne and the Kardashians. Many celebrities at the time who were popular also took their own inspiration from things people had naturally or created in the past. For instance, big lips were a thing everyone wanted and people who weren’t born with it either used make-up to enhance that feature by over-lining their lips or went through the procedure of getting lip fillers. Typically, black people have full lips, and many were bullied over it growing up, and now it is considered a beauty trend to get bigger lips. On Instagram, contouring was also a huge trend, but many of the techniques used were already created by drag queens, who were shamed by the mainstream public for a huge chunk of the 20th and early 21st century.


The Popular Trend

Graphic liner, dewy skin

When researching, I came across this quote from Vogue

“When the future is uncertain, the automatic behavior is to find refuge in past events and calm anxious feelings with known points of references,” explains trend forecaster Marie-Michèle Larivée.

This quote is very important to take note of because the events of 2020, being stuck at home from the start of the year, and not knowing what’s next to come, led for this decade so far to revert back to trends/ aesthetics in makeup and beauty of the past. In especially 2020, we saw many Tik Tok challenges of people recreating aesthetics as a result of having more time without events and activities to participate in. As this decade progresses, we will certainly see some new trends and ideas in beauty, especially as the world opens up again.

In the meantime, we can have fun recreating looks.

Top 5 Must-Haves to Recreate These Looks

Ohemaas Eyeshadow Palette

It is a perfect addition because it has a variety of matte/ shimmers and neutral tones/ more vibrant colors to achieve different looks

Anastasia Beverly Hill Brow Freeze

It is the perfect brow gel to use for achieving different Brow looks

Roses Crème Lip Gloss Bundle

Many trends have a pink or red lip so this bundle would be perfect to try.

Brown Lip-Liner

Lip liners like this can also be used for penciling on brows, which are included in many trends.

Anastasia Beverly Hill Contour Kit

Perfect if you want to try looks that are more contour-heavy like the 2010s.

Trends have many factors such as culture, region of origin, and ethnicities behind their creators. With that being said, what was your favorite time period to draw inspiration from? Recreate it and if you share it on social media, be sure to tag or @simplylayxx on Instagram!

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1 Comment

Tiffany McCullough
Tiffany McCullough
Jun 19, 2021

What an interesting post! I love that you gave a little history on each era and what influenced the different makeup looks. Thanks for sharing!

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