On a rainy day when the kids are feeling bored, or when we’re looking for something low-energy and fun, we like to play dress up. Playing dress-up gives my daughter an excuse to rummage through my makeup and try things on. Her ultimate look is very 80s! When I tell her that, she is clueless, of course. So how do I explain the 80s makeup look to a young girl?
In the 80s, people looked and dressed very differently! I’m talking neon colors on shoes and clothing, with bright eyeshadow and lip colors. 80s makeup allowed all genders to express themselves without judgment and show their creativity. It was a much different time! Let’s look at how that style is dramatically different from the looks many of us wear today.
What was makeup like in the 80s?
Here is a quick overview of the popular colors with 80s makeup.
- Bright red or pink blush extends past the cheekbones, giving a contoured look.
- Colorful eye makeup like blue eyeshadow, pink and purple eyeshadow. The smokey eye look was typical in the 80s.
Other Eye Makeup
- Black eyeliner is applied all around the lash line, including the lower lash. Eyeliner also helps achieve the winged or cat-eye look.
- Fuchsia lips and pink lips were the more popular lip color look.
- Lip liner darker than the lipstick shade
- Lip gloss
Other Makeup Looks
- Bush brows
- Fake beauty marks
- Full coverage foundation, one shade lighter than your actual skin tone
What was the most popular makeup look in the 80s?
Many women from different industries, like pop stars, models, and actresses, were considered fashion icons in the 80s. Here is a look at some of the most notable icons in the 80s and their makeup looks:
- One of the most popular singers in the 80s, Madonna used to sport various styles throughout the decade. The exaggerated beauty mark, heavy eyeliner, bright red lips, and bushy brows were notable.
- Cyndi Lauper, another pop star, wore wildly colorful makeup and clothing. Her eyeshadow was always multi-colored and bright, often extending past the eye area.
- Boy George, similar to Cyndi Lauper, would wear bright multi-colored eye shadow paired with pink lipstick, heavy dark eyeliner, and thick, dark eyebrows.
- Grace Jones, an actor and model in the 80s, was known for sporting neon-colored eyeshadow.
- Christie Brinkley, known as the Uptown Girl, a song written for her by her husband at the time, often sported blue eyeliner and eyeshadow in the shades of purple and green.
- Brooke Shields was famous and a top model at a young age. Although her makeup was more subtle, Brooke became known for her thick eyebrows.
Then there was Princess Diana. She was royalty, so her makeup look was also more subtle. However, she expressed herself often with cobalt blue eyeliner placed only on her lower lash line. She would also appear with bright shades of blush and shiny lip gloss.
How do you do 80s makeup?
There are plenty of 80s makeup tutorials available online. Here are the makeup products you should have on hand to achieve the 80s makeup look:
- Pink, purple and blue eyeshadow palette
- A lighter-colored foundation
- Hot pink or fuchsia lipstick, red lipstick, purple lipstick, and a dark-colored lip liner
- Bright pink colored blush
- Black pencil or gel eyeliner
- Dark-colored eyebrow filler
What makeup brands and products were popular in the 80s?
These were the top makeup brands in the 80s:
- Max Factor – known for its colorful collection of tones, from green to yellow.
- Covergirl – ambassadors for their products were usually famous actresses, singers, and models like Debbie Gibson.
- Revlon – more known for its lipsticks in pink, red, and purple shades.
- Maybelline -in the 80s, the flagship product was a lip gloss called Kissing Koolers that had such flavors as cherry cola and watermelon swirl.
How to Achieve the Look Step-by-Step
- Start with a full coverage foundation all over your face and eyelids.
- Take a bright pink blush and sweep it over the cheekbones and towards the temples.
- Apply a base eyeshadow color like blue or pink. Cover your eyelid and blend it up to the eyebrows. Brush the same color under the eye and the lower lash. Layer a darker color on the outer area of the lid—any color of the rainbow works. Don’t use brown, gray, or any other neutral eyeshadow color.
- Take a black eyeliner and line all around the eyes. Extend the line past the outer corner of the eye to create a winged or cat-eye look.
- Apply fuchsia, purple or red lipstick.
Ways to Have Fun with 80s makeup with the Family
If you would like to relive the 80s for a fun activity, here are a few occasions where you can plan an 80s night:
- Dress-up Party
- Fun Birthday Party Theme
Here are some items that would give you the retro 80s look:
- Crimper or small curling iron to make ringlets
- A giant hair bow or lace to tie around the hair and into a bow on top
- You can choose from different 80s looks such as punk, preppy or athletic!
- Punk style is the more exaggerated and vibrant makeup:
- thick eyeliner
- dark eyebrows
- Bright, colorful eyeshadow stretched beyond the eyelid area
- Bold lipstick colors like dark purple or hot pink
- Hair is spiky, poofy, and colorful
- Short leather jackets
- Ripped jeans
- Doc Martin boots
- Plaid print
- Less bold eyeshadow but still had color
- Blue eyeliner
- Frosted lips and lip gloss
- RayBan sunglasses
- A sweater draped over the shoulders
- Tretorn sneakers
- Polo or collared golf shirts in pastel colors
- Khakis or Bermuda shorts
- Big poofy hair
- Bright lipstick
- Bright multi-colored eyeshadow
- Everything neon or brightly colored
- Tights with a bodysuit or leotard on top
- Fanny packs
- Off the shoulder slouchy sweatshirts
How to Do 80s makeup Now
80s makeup is not just for dressing up. It’s making a comeback! Makeup trends are taking inspiration from 80s trends, but with a modern take. With 80s makeup being so vibrant and heavy, you may not want your young kids to emulate that trend. So how can you still take inspiration from the 80s and still wear makeup that isn’t as dark and heavy?
Here are some ways for not so bold women and younger kids to experiment with 80s makeup trends but still keep a more natural look:
- Fill in any sparse areas with an eyebrow pencil. You can also purchase an eyebrow gel to hold the hairs up.
- Try light shades of purple, blue or pink eyeshadow to give that 80s vibe. Apply orange color all over the eyelid for another subtle look and mix in a deeper shade on the outer corners.
- Colored mascara in blue or burgundy gives a subtle 80s look and is enough color to bypass the bright eyeshadow.
- Sweep a softer tone of red or pink under the cheekbone toward the outer corner of the eye, also called ‘brush draping,’ to help give a nice contoured look like the 80s.
- Wear lip liner but blend it with lipstick in the same color family.
- Try creamy frosted lipstick in shades of orange, mauve, peach, and nude.
If you decide to go more vibrant with the eyeshadow, you can tame the look with nude or very light-colored lip color to balance it out, unlike in the 80s, where lips would be just as bright as the eye makeup.
80s Makeup Inspiration
The 80s look was fun, creative, and a harmless way for people to express themselves. Everything was bright and bold without fear of judgment. Although we can’t bring back the entire 80s makeup style without getting strange looks these days, there are ways to incorporate bursts of color with more muted tones to give you that inspired 80s makeup look to have fun with.
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Nadia is an M.B.A. graduate and freelance writer. She also likes to write about all aspects of mom life, co-authors the blog This Mom Is On Fire, and advocates for better dementia healthcare for seniors.