Some of the Worst Makeup Trends Over the Decades
| LAST UPDATE 02/06/2022
From thin eyebrows to bold shadows, makeup trends are forever changing. That's why we've compiled a list of the worst beauty fads over the years to help keep tabs. Get ready for a sweet dose of nostalgia in 3, 2...
1950-1951: The "Mask-Effect"
The early '50s was definitely the era of lots of face makeup. Women used to cover their faces with multiple layers of powder, usually ending up looking like ghosts. While their faces were whiter than usual, the rest of their bodies were not. Thus the term "mask effect" came to life.
And it actually all started with Hollywood. People have looked to celebrities since the beginning of time for beauty inspiration. Even in the '50s, when people saw their favorite stars sporting a trend, they typically followed suit without a blink of an eye. Hey, if celebrities do it, so can we...
1952-1953: Off With The Eyebrows
Styling your brows was all the rage between 1952-1953. So, to get creative, women decided to shave off both of them. Now they had enough space to do whatever they pleased. They had the room to do it all, whether it was drawing the style called the 'feline arch' or the 'thick straight brow.'
But some people didn't understand the appeal of shaving one's eyebrows off entirely. However, this did not matter at all. Women continued to do what they pleased with their brows during this time. Which we fully support. After all, haters gonna hate, right?
1954-1955: Bronzed Faces
During the mid-'50s, we saw an homage to the French artist Paul Gaugin. Women around the world looked to his art for inspiration and started the bronze trend. They styled this look by drawing on heavy brows and contouring their faces. And, this look was not without its share of controversy.
The controversy surrounding this look was related to the darkening of one's skin. Caucasian women were seen having much darker complexion, and many people looked at it as a type of racial appropriation. And, understandably so. It's no wonder that this look didn't make it out of the '50s alive.
1956-1957: Pale Faces
After the bronze trend in 1954-1955, women looked in the opposite direction. They started to blend their foundations and powders to achieve a more pale, whiter look. Saying that women looked a little paler is an understatement, as they made their faces significantly whiter than they were.
To compensate for their overly white skin, women stepped on the gas when they did their eye makeup. Also, their lips were styles with darker and heavier tones. But, as with many trends before this one, people soon grew bored and moved on to the next best thing. Keep scrolling.
1958-1959: Blue Eyes and Blue Shadow
The late '50s were famous for the use of color. Women with green eyes used green shadow, women with brown eyes used brown. You get the gist. It was all the rage to wear eye shadow that matched their eyes. It may look funny to us now, but then, well, we didn't know better.
Since color was so big at the decade's end, people experimented with it left and right. Often, women were seen wearing a complete set of makeup to match their eyes, including shadow, eyeliner, lipstick, the works. Safe to say that this trend made for a very colorful beginning of the new decade.
1960-1961: Color Revolution
As women began their journey to the '60s, they experienced a color awakening. If looking pale and white was fun back in the '50s, the '60s were much different. Women everywhere let their creativity take the wheel as they delved into the world of color at full speed.
If eyeliners in multiple colors weren't enough, they also shined. Yes, colorful eyeliners glimmering in the night could be seen anywhere. From nightclubs to restaurants to cafes, women loved the radiant and bright look they got with these new styles.
1962-1963: Channeling Our Inner Cleopatra
1963 was the year of the overly dramatic eyeliner. Following the release of Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra, the over-the-top eyeliner trend emerged. And, when we say overly dramatic eyeliner, we mean it. Women were putting their eyeliners well over their eyes and were using green, blue, and white to do so.
This over-the-top movie scene look was all anyone would see when out on the town. Just like many other edgy and exaggerated trends, women were enjoying this one thoroughly. But, don't worry, the next trend on our list has nothing to do with the eyes.
1964-1965: Turning It Down A Notch
After several years of intense dark makeup, it was time to switch it up, or rather, down. The dark lipsticks and colorful eyeliners were exchanged for pale lips and pink lipsticks. Women looked less like the costumed movie stars and more like themselves.
And, when women do something, they do it all the way. They took turning it down a notch quite seriously and even tried out white lipsticks. It didn't matter if mom and dad disapproved (which many of them did, by the way). But hey, girls just want to have fun!
1966-1967: Twiggy's Influence
The trend of imitating celebrities strikes again. And who else would people copy if not one of the biggest fashion influencers of the decade? Twiggy's fake lashes under the eye took the mid-'60s by storm - thus, the term "spider-like lashes" was born.
Another name sprouted from this trend: "Twiggies" was the term now used for these lashes. And when something has a cool nickname to it, it becomes even more memorable. However, this was not the only Twiggy-inspired trend to conquer women's hearts. We have not seen the last of her influence just yet...
1968-1969: Twiggy Strikes Again
It seems that people couldn't get enough of Twiggy back in the day. This time, she shook the cosmetic world with her daisy eyes. And we do mean daisy the flower. Women worldwide saw Twiggy's Vogue cover, where she had a daisy painted on her eye. After that, they tried this look for themselves too.
Twiggy's Daisy Eye was the hit of the season. Magazines and makeup professionals all said so anyway. Not only did this look have petals drawn over the eye, but it also extended into a green vine down the cheek. It was a mix of purples, greens, and reds, which certainly got people talking.
1970-1971: Crayons For Lids
The '70s brought us the so-called "Vamp" look, all thanks to the release of crayons meant to color the eyelids. Yes, really. There's nothing like a good catchphrase and the start of another decade to get people hooked when it comes to another makeup fad.
There are just some things that don't go away, no matter how hard we try. Dark colors and red lips were back again, stronger than ever. They seemed to pair well with the new "Vamp" look. Those who had retired them back in the day picked them up again and loved it.
1972-1973: Eyebrows Plucked
We saw women shaving their entire eyebrows in the past, but now they opted to go halfway. The goal of this trend was to have more space so that eye shadows could stick out like a sore thumb. Glam makeup was the primary concern, and no stops were pulled to get it.
When women started plucking their eyebrows, they plucked them so thin, and Twiggy was one of the famous figures who really mastered the look. The eyes were supposed to be the center of attention, and nothing could dare overshadow them, including the eyebrows. However, the thin eyebrow style was actually see seen on Marlene Dietrich first, a big star of the '30s.
1974-1975: Eye Polish
Because eyes were the main focus at the time, new products began to swoop the market. One particular product which changed the name of the makeup game in the mid-'70s was eye polish. More specifically, in the color blue. The reason why was because this magical invention could last longer than eye shadows and also remain intact.
When CoverGirl, the company that made the blue eye polish, saw that it struck gold, it was unstoppable. Soon, eye polish in colors like green, gold, teal, and purple was released - much to the excitement of women everywhere. Now, women could get even more creative and make their eyes stand out in any crowd.
1976-1977: A Little Something For The Working Women
After many bold experiments with makeup trends, people calmed down and went for something more dignified. Working women who wanted to be trendy and followed the fashion world were now able to join in. Not only could they be hip and trendy, but they could also do this at work.
This was the magnificent time of the birth of the smokey eye. Anything new that came out regarding the trend was welcomed in the industry. The smokey eye was the go-to look for both working and non-working women now, and all of them were enjoying it.
1978-1979: Purple And Gold
The soft and more calm makeup trends were still going strong. And in 1978, in came the pairing of purple and gold - still delicate and sophisticated, but yet something new and exciting. It kept the trend going just in time before the next dramatic makeup trend emerged.
Many different shades of these two colors were out there, ready for women to get creative and play around with them. It was the perfect calm before the storm. Because, as we began approaching a new decade, something bigger, bolder, and shinier was about to come to light.
1980-1981: The Metallics Era
Whenever a new decade shows up on the horizon, it bears something different with it as well. The theme of this new era was, well, to shine. Metallic colors for both eyelids and lips were the trendy thing, and they came in shades of gold, silver, and copper.
It was hard not to exaggerate this look. Products in metallic colors were popping up left and right, and women could now shine in whichever part of their faces they wanted. Well, they opted for every part of it. Whether during the day or night, shiny faces were all around, lighting up the way as they went.
1982-1983: Red Is the New Black
There was no such thing as a comfortable, neutral style in the '80s. When clothes became softer and less excessive, makeup had to step up and balance it out. So, while the breaks were pulled on clothing, the gas was added to the makeup. And, what better color to spice things up than red, right?
Red-themed makeup pallets were the perfect companion to the neutral attire that people in the '80s sported. It was imperative to always be noticeable. As we know, women are always looking for a good pick me up, and a strong red color was just what they needed.
1984-1985: Going Dark
The focus now fell on the lips again. As the whole world was going more neutral, lining the lips with dark shades seemed like a fun idea. Now, the eyes were quiet, but the lips were loud. But, hey, balance is vital. And in this case, women didn't hold back when it came to "balancing."
All of the creative juices were flowing here. People were always on the lookout for something to make their lips more noticeable and radiant. And, between 1984-1985, dark lip liners were the answer to most women's curiosities about their makeup techniques.
1986-1987: The Peak Of Metallics
The metallic shades from the past were now evolving from gold, silver, and copper to red, green, blue, yellow - and many more. If you could recite all the rainbow colors, you could also put them on your eyes. Not only that, but you could make a rainbow with metallic hues right there on your eyes.
Women were shining now more than ever, thanks to this new trend. No eyes went unnoticed, and no rainbow went without a glow. This style was indeed for those who were bold at heart. No woman backs out from a challenge, let alone in the name of makeup.
1988-1989: Extra Bright
Neon colors made everyone's makeup pop and shone super bright under the stars. If one was to lose her way, she could let her eyes guide her to the light! All jokes aside, while others might have opted to go down the pink route, the main highway here was lit by neon.
Also, this trend was not to be taken lightly. If one committed to neon, they committed all the way. Only a select number of colors were worn with this look, and outfits had to be carefully chosen for the full effect. The '80s sure did go out with a bang.
1990-1991: The Return of the Thin Eyebrows
Trends are meant to be repeated, right? As the new decade came rolling in, so did women with their razors and waxing creams waiting to have a go at their eyebrows yet again. That's right - we're talking about the return of the thin eyebrows, folks...
The goal was the same as many years before. Women again needed more space to get creative and dive into the eyeshadow world once more. Hey, we can't blame them for trying, can we? Though as the years continued to pass, they soon went back in time to revisit another old trend.
1992-1993: Light Shadows
A wise man once said that history always repeats itself. Or was it a woman wanting to shave her eyebrows again? Nonetheless, after going dark a few years back, light and pastel colors were trendy again. Women were now applying soft-colored shadows more lightly and with less enthusiasm.
This trend of light layers and pastel colors allowed for many newcomers to come in. Doing our makeup was more straightforward and less complicated, and it allowed many to pick up their brushes and start their makeup journey confidently. The ease of this trend also made way for new things to hit the market.
1994-1995: Facial Accessories
When metallic rainbows and pastel eyeshadows started to fade away, people needed a new source of light. That's when glowing face stickers came into play. The trend was promoted by many celebrities and took the fashion world by storm in the blink of an eye.
The facial accessories trend was the perfect way to have some fun when it came to women's makeup routines. And if we're being honest? We wouldn't mind if it came back into style again. Compared to other trends, this one would likely receive a warm welcome.
1996-1997: The Blue Shadow Returns Again
Ah, makeup trends. Some are questionable, perhaps never to be repeated, but some are just too funky to pass up. When the blue shadows dawned on us again, many professionals took to the printing stations to try and ward us from their captivating influence.
Despite many warnings, people still wanted to try the blue shadow trend for themselves. Maybe they thought they could turn it around and make it adored by all. Or perhaps they just saw what celebrities were doing and felt inspired. Guess we'll never know.
1998-1999: The Icy Look
Many movie stars and pop icons were captivated by the icy look between 1998 and 1999. Maybe it was the hot Hollywood weather that inspired them to create this new trend. Regardless of the reason, the combo of icy colors like blue with metallic hues marked the decade's end.
The trend might have looked bold, but women embraced it with open arms. It went as fast as it came, though it didn't last long. Some tried it, some conquered it, and then a new trend came into play that won over women's curiosity across the country...
2000-2001: Bodies Covered in Glitter
We really did start the new millennium shining. Then again, every new decade has commenced with a bang so far. Safe to say, by 2000, the latest trend was just as noteworthy: Women and girls alike were covering their entire bodies with glitter and feeling fabulous while doing it.
Glitter was incredibly close to the hearts of teenagers. They wouldn't dare be seen without it. Out on the streets, you could almost see trails of glitter on the pavements. Though a 2001 News-Press columnist didn't share their same enthusiasm, calling it "unoriginal."
2002-2003: Blush Overload
Today, there is an assortment of blushes we can choose from to complete our makeup looks. Whether it's a more neutral tone, a brown, or a red, we got it. However, between 2002-2003, women only had one shade in mind: extremely rosy ones, as seen below.
No one is judging, though. We've all had our fair share of makeup fever, and we've all been there. What matters most is that we've grown out of our questionable habits together. Though we've got a feeling this makeup trend won't be returning anytime soon.
2004-2005: Silver Eyes
A silver takeover occurred around the mid-2000s, and it was all anyone could talk about or wanted to wear. If you had a silver eye, or lips, or both, then you had nothing to worry about. Your look was complete. It was all the rage back then, on both regular folks and celebs alike.
Every woman in the world was rocking the trend; no matter the age, no matter the place - including Paris Hilton on all those red carpets. And while, of course, it did look good on most, unfortunately, we didn't belong to that group. But hey, you live, and you learn…
2006-2007: The Return of Colorful Liners
Just like the thin eyebrow fever that came once in a decade, celebrities soon brought back the bold lips era between 2006-2007. But hey, has a decade in the cosmetics industry really gone by if we haven't revived at least one (slightly questionable) blast from the past?
It wasn't only the lip liners that made a graceful return, but also the eyeliners. We're not talking about a standard black eyeliner above the eyelid; where's the fun in that? The eyeliners that were trendy these two years came in every color and could be seen both above and under one's eyes.
2008-2009: Heavy Eyeliners
Just before a new era was about to begin, women took a trip down memory lane and overdid their under eyeliner just a little bit. But we're not judging. In fact, sometimes we need to remind ourselves what didn't work to know what will work in the future.
All of us during this era couldn't wait to see what bold looks our favorite stars were coming up with. After all, that's how we got our inspiration. And the more inspired we were, the more eyeliner we used. We're laughing now, but who knows? Maybe soon this trend will be knocking at our doorsteps again.
2010: A Metallic End to a Decade
The new millennium's first decade was destined to end with a bang - and it did. While not everyone could make metallic shades of lipstick work, they were still a significant trend in 2010. Celebrities rocked metallic lips on every red carpet, and those who could follow suit jumped on this trend.
People love experimenting with makeup because it offers endless opportunities to explore. However, we enjoy a good blast from the past every once in a while. And even though not every look has worked, the effort is what really counts! But we're not done just yet. Let's dive into the next decade...
2011-2012: Red Lips, No Matter the Occasion
We can thank Taylor Swift for this next trend of the early 2010s. Between the release of her 2012 album titled Red and her go-to stage makeup look, bright red lipsticks were a MUST during this time. And we're talking an absolute MUST. A trend's a trend, right?
So, countless celebs and their loyal followers jumped aboard the trend. Regardless of the outfit, complexion, or occasion, when in doubt, we red-ed it out during this period. In fact, it was so dominant that InStyle picked up on it as the dominant makeup trend at the 2011 Met Gala.
2012-2013: Ombré Lips
With so many colorful trends leading up to 2012 to 2013, it was only a matter of time before we started playing with ombré. After all, why limit ourselves to just one bright color when we could combine two - or even more! Thanks to colorful collections put out by big brands like MAC, people's imaginations started running.
Hence, we started up the ombré lip trend. While lipliners and gloss contrast was a fad of the 90s and early 2000s, this specific colorful style involved colors blending from the outer corners of the mouth to the center. And it all started with Holly Fulton's bold runway makeup idea!
2013-2014: Black Swan Eyes
While the psychological horror film came out way back in 2010, Black Swan's impact lasted a good three to four years as far as makeup trends were concerned. The intense ballerina look left a huge mark on the fashion world and resulted in some pretty heavy eyeliner application.
After all, just ask January Jones! The iconic Mad Men actress whipped out the exaggerated look for the 2013 Met Gala red carpet, which that year was celebrating "Punk: Chaos to Couture." Looking back, we may find it a bit on the chaotic side, but it certainly had its moment way back when!
2014-2015: Bleached Brows
We first got a whisper that bleached brows were around the corner when Miley Cyrus took her brows platinum back in 2013. But in 2014, this trend came knocking on our door with full force. And unlike some makeup styles like glittery eyeshadows or bold lips, this one lasted a tad longer.
And just like streaky highlights or colored hair tips, people rushed to the salon to say goodbye to noticeable eyebrows. Here we can see Kendall Jenner, who hopped on the train for the Marc Jacobs fashion show back in 2014. This wasn't the first eyebrow trend we saw - and it certainly wouldn't be the last...
2015-2016: Kylie's Lip Trend
Speaking of the Jenner sisters, 2015 to 2016 saw another trend blow up thanks to the youngest of the KarJenner clan, Kylie Jenner. After getting lip fillers, the Hollywood celeb's full lip look blew up around the world and kicked off her lip kit empire.
For those who remember trying to buy a lip kit or catching the drama unfold on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kylie's impact on the makeup world was so enormous that her website crashed when releasing her first collection due to the millions of people trying to secure their supply of gloss and liner.
2016-2017: Contour, Contour, and More Contour
About six years ago, contour palettes broke onto the scene - and we never looked back. Highlight, low-light, and everything in between - this makeup trend had us layering on multi-hued makeup in an effort to help elevate the overall makeup look! But, like most cringe-inducing trends on our list, we took it a bit too far.
What started out as face slimming techniques spread to the neck, collarbones, chest, and even abs! Suddenly, this makeup trend was the be-all-end-all of optical illusions. People could paint on their own six-pack and even temporarily change the appearance of their whole face!
2017-2018: Filled-In Brows
If anyone's like us, only one person is popping into their minds as the root cause of this trend: Cara Delevingne. And while her full brows are as natural as they come, they certainly influenced a lot of us to take matters into our own hands and exaggerate brows with some makeup.
From Women's Weekly to Buzzfeed, countless publications have commented on this extreme makeup trend from the 2017-2018 years as a dark moment in eyebrow history. But from thinned to bleached and then overdrawn, our brows certainly have been through a lot over the years!
2018-2019: The Dewy Look
When Kim Kardashian stepped onto the red carpet at the 2019 Met Gala, she practically broke the internet with her water-inspired look designed by the late fashion designer Thierry Mugler. And Kim took it to the next level by rocking a dewy look both with her hair and makeup.
And, by now, we learned the drill: Kardashians say "jump," and we say "how high?" It didn't take long at all for the dewy looks to catch on. From lip gloss doubling as eye shadow to misty sprays to create a moist skin appearance, we said bye-bye to mattifying and embraced the shine.
2019-2020: Streaks of Color
After being cooped up in our homes for months, thanks to the pandemic, people were ready to debut some pretty adventurous makeup looks. And, just like we've seen with sparkly eyeshadows and bold lip trends, makeup styles began to pop back up after a few decades underground.
So when this combination of layered streaks of color came back as a trend in 2020, we weren't too surprised! This multi-colored fad opened up tons of creative room for people ready to embrace a little color in their makeup look. We've even seen Kylie Jenner and Hasley jump on board!