The Evolution of Makeup Trends: From the 50s to Modern Looks

From poodle skirts and cat eye sunglasses of the 1950s, to modern-day glitter and neon shades, makeup trends have certainly changed over the years. From an era of minimalism to today’s maximalism, our faces now bear witness to an evolution of color and style. In this article, we take a nostalgic trip back in time and explore the ever-changing makeup looks of the last six decades. So buckle in and join us on this journey through the ages – where we celebrate the beauty and timelessness of makeup.

1. Timeless Beauty: Exploring the History of Makeup

Makeup – the art of enhancing beauty – has been around for centuries. Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings demonstrate the value placed upon divinity, representing beauty and youth through painted pieces. Traditional Indian Mehndi art is still practiced today, decorating hands and feet with intricate designs made with henna.

  • Renaissance – The Renaissance period saw a transformation in the way beauty and cosmetics were viewed. Women would take care to wear the finest clothes and poise, paint the face with white lead and rouge, a notorious habit to achieve a youthful look.
  • The 18th Century – Women began to powder their face, neck and décolleté with white face powder. Rouge was added to the lips and cheeks, using pinks, reds, and oranges as accents that would be later applied by the finger.
  • The Victorians – The Victorians began to emphasize more on the social implications of makeup. A strong focus on modesty was introduced, emphasizing a need for subtlety in makeup. Fashions varied depending on the occasion.
  • The 20th Century – Luxuries such as perfume, lipsticks, mascara, and eyeshadow were becoming increasingly popular. Cosmetics also became globalized due to influences from the East and other parts of the world.
  • Modern Day – We now have access to countless types of makeup products and tools. The trends, technologies, and ingredients used vary drastically, producing anything from classic looks to outrageous styles.

Ultimately, makeup is a chronicle of self-expression and human artistry that has evolved over time. It is an experiment that has acquired the support of both men and women throughout history – and its impact today is nothing short of unforgettable.

From the ancient arts of Egypt to the cosmetics of China’s Imperial Palaces, makeup has been used through the centuries to express culture and beauty. It has evolved in different eras and adapted to the changing demands of the different societies it was a part of.

  • The Ancient Egyptians created a set of unique tools and binding agents to create their signature look of black kohl-ringed eyes and red stained lips. Not content with that, they pushed boundaries further by pioneering eyebrow enhancement and the utilization false hair pieces.
  • The dawning of the Elizabethan era saw cosmetics reach new heights of popularity. Women favoured a less-is-more approach, often using un-natural dyes to achieve a paler skin complexion as well as lightening the hair. The result was a distinct look that signalled wealth and aristocracy.
  • The roaring twenties saw a drastic shift away from the subtlety of the Elizabethans, introducing flapper girls and cosmetics of a bolder shade. Bright lipstick and garishly coloured eyeshadow were used to unite the young women of the era celebrating the freedom of the day.
  • In recent decades, makeup has become more widely accessible and used by women and men alike. There is more choice than ever before, allowing users to create refined and distinct looks.

The evolution of makeup speaks of societal change, quickly adapting to accommodate different standards of beauty. We can now look to the future with a level of excitement and anticipation, ready to see what trends may emerge over the coming decades.

3. Decade by Decade: The Fashionable Faces of the 50s

The 1950s presented a stunning array of fashionable facial expressions. Each decade had its icons, its own style and its own vocal expression of femininity.

  • The Quaint Pixie: This look was one of the hallmarks of the 50s with icons like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. It depicted a soft feminine charm with a shapely frame, luxury curls and upturned eyes that looked at the world with curiosity and innocence.
  • The Sporty Tomboy: While plenty of the fashion at the time was ultra-feminine, there was also a hearty selection of masculine-inspired clothing for women. Jean jacket, crisp white plimsolls and a free-flowing headscarf perfectly represented this alternative look, symbolizing the liberation of 1950s women.
  • The Graceful Housewife: Clad in mid-length frocks and kitten heels, this image captures the expected feminine code during this era. Often seen in puffed sleeves and capri pants, this look just goes to show how versatile fashion was during the 1950s.

The 1950s fashion set the tone for the rest of the century. With its vast array of feminine faces, the 1950s left an indelible impression on frameable fashion shapes and attitudes. Iconic figures remain with us today, carrying with them the style, grace and beauty of the era.

4. In With the New: Makeup in the 60s and Beyond

The 1960s were a time of high fashion and bold new trends. Women began to embrace makeup, turning it from a superficial art to a tool for empowerment and self-expression. Here’s a look at how makeup in the 60s and beyond has evolved.

The Natural Look

With the birth of the “natural look,” minimal makeup became the trendiest way to highlight natural features. Focusing on fresh, dewy skin along with some light blush and eye liner defined the look. Foundational products like mascara and lipstick began to be seen as luxuries, not necessities.

Colors Everywhere

As the 1970s approached, bright colors, both in clothing and cosmetics, were seen everywhere. Peach blush, vibrant eyeshadows, and bronzing powders flooded the market. This era also saw the rise of earthy tones, as women began to experiment with shades like olive and sienna.

The Bold Look

In the 1980s, bold and dramatic makeup was all the rage. Women began experimenting with bright eyeshadows in shades like deep red and royal blue, and lipsticks in magenta and coral. The emphasis was on looking glamorous, with the goal of creating a dramatic look.

No Makeup, Makeup

In the early 2000s, the goal shifted to achieving a no makeup look. Skin perfection and a natural, healthy-looking glow were the focus, and heavy makeup application was out. Products like BB creams and tinted moisturizers replaced traditional foundation, and blushes came in sheer, natural-hued shades.

5. The Final Frontier: Modern Makeup Looks for the 21st Century

In the 21st century, make-up has become go-to for glamour, daily living, special events, and more. Understanding how to use modern makeup can make all the difference in achieving a perfect finishing touch. Here’s what you need to know to apply makeup like a pro in 2021.

1. Choose Quality Products

The key to modern makeup is investing in high quality products. Look for mineral, organic, and non-toxic ingredients to ensure you’re taking care of your skin and maintaining its health. Choose to purchase from cruelty-free beauty companies as well.

2. Natural Looks Lead the Way

One of the most popular makeup trends of 2021 is an illustrative and natural look with light skin products, neutral colors, and classic beauty. It emphasizes dewy, fresh-looking complexion and the focus is on enhancing the features already present.

3. Experiment With Color and Textures

  • To keep your makeup looks fresh and modern, why not do a bit of experimentation?
  • Play around and add eye shadow in matte, pearl, and metallic finishes.
  • Try out different colors or dress up with combos of blues, yellows, pinks, and purples.
  • Contouring adds depth and shadows so experiment with a variety of colors and tones.

4. Upgrade your Eyebrows

Eyebrows always will be in style and a great way to find the perfect look is through eyebrow tinting and shaping. Fill any bald spots and make them look full and voluminous with a dramatic effect. Upgrade your eyebrow game with a 90s intense-natural look – you will be shocked at how much it does for your look!

From the poodle skirts of the 50s to the now iconic smoky eye, makeup trends have continuously evolved over the decades. While some looks may come and go, a timeless beauty approach is sure to stand the test of time. Ignite your creativity by taking inspiration from the past and modernizing old classics for the modern age. Who knows, maybe the look you come up with will be the next trend!


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