80S Eye Makeup


The 1980s marked a remarkable era in fashion and beauty, with its unmistakable boldness and audacity. This decade witnessed a dramatic shift from the subdued styles of the preceding years, as people embraced vibrant colors, exaggerated silhouettes, and flamboyant aesthetics.

From big shoulder pads to wild hairstyles, the 80s encapsulated a spirit of individuality and self-expression that extended to every aspect of life, including makeup. In this article, we delve into one of the most defining elements of the iconic 80s look: eye makeup.

Throughout history, eye makeup has served as an essential tool for self-adornment and expression. However, in the 1980s, eye makeup took on a whole new level of significance.

It became a powerful means to convey personal style and make a bold statement. As fashion trends evolved towards more experimental and daring choices during this time period, eye makeup followed suit in full force.

In the 80s, eye makeup became synonymous with creativity and flair. It was no longer about simply enhancing natural beauty; instead, it was about making an impact through vibrant colors and dramatic effects.

The eyes became windows to individuality as they were adorned with electrifying hues that matched or contrasted with outfits. Eye makeup became an art form in itself—a key element in transforming one’s appearance into something extraordinary.

The influence of pop culture icons cannot be underestimated when discussing 80s eye makeup trends. Figures such as Madonna with her rebellious attitude and provocative style choices, Cyndi Lauper who embraced a playful mix of punk rock edge and colorful femininity, or Boy George who redefined gender norms had an immense impact on shaping beauty standards at that time.

These musicians not only commanded attention through their music but also through their distinctive looks which often revolved around striking eye makeup styles. The 1980s was an era characterized by fearless experimentation in fashion and beauty.

Eye makeup played a pivotal role in defining the iconic 80s look, allowing individuals to express their personality and embrace self-expression like never before. From neon bright eyeshadows that illuminated the eyes to bold eyeliner that accentuated their shape, eye makeup became a canvas for creativity and individuality.

The next sections will explore in detail the specific elements of 80s eye makeup trends, including the vibrant eyeshadow choices and the power of eyeliner. So let’s dive into this colorful journey through time and discover how eye makeup helped define an unforgettable decade.

Emphasis on vibrant colors and dramatic effects

In the 1980s, eye makeup took center stage as a crucial component of the iconic 80s look. The era was marked by an unapologetic enthusiasm for bold and vibrant colors, with eye makeup being no exception. Gone were the subdued tones of previous decades; instead, a riot of vivid hues adorned eyelids everywhere.

Electric blues, neon pinks, and lime greens became go-to choices for those seeking to make a statement with their eye makeup. These bright colors were not only visually striking but also symbolized the exuberant spirit and rebellious nature that characterized the 80s.

Moreover, dramatic effects were highly sought after in 80s eye makeup. The goal was to create an attention-grabbing look that couldn’t be ignored.

Eyes were transformed into works of art using techniques such as blending multiple shades together or creating gradient effects with eyeshadows. This desire for drama extended beyond just color choice; it encompassed every aspect of eye makeup application – from eyeliner to mascara – resulting in a look that was anything but subtle.

Influence of pop culture icons like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George

Pop culture icons played a significant role in shaping 80s eye makeup trends. Artists like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George not only dominated the music scene but also became style influencers who pushed boundaries with their unique fashion choices and daring makeup looks. Madonna’s impact on beauty trends cannot be overstated; she popularized heavy smoky eyes combined with bold red lips – a combination that epitomized glamour and sensuality in the 80s.

Similarly, Cyndi Lauper embraced eccentricity through her eclectic fashion sense and colorful hairdos. Her eye-catching makeup looks often featured bright, contrasting eyeshadows alongside exaggerated eyeliner.

Boy George, with his androgynous style, challenged traditional gender norms and paved the way for experimental makeup on both men and women. His iconic use of vibrant colors, especially around the eyes, inspired a generation to embrace their individuality and express themselves through makeup.

To achieve the quintessential 80s eye makeup look, several popular techniques were employed. Heavy eyeliner was a staple of 80s fashion. Thick lines drawn along the upper lash line extended beyond the outer corner of the eye to create an elongated effect – often referred to as “winged” or “cat-eye” eyeliner.

This technique added an aura of intensity and drama to one’s gaze. Bright eyeshadows were another crucial element in 80s eye makeup trends.

As mentioned before, neon pinks, electric blues, vibrant purples, and lime greens took center stage. These highly pigmented shadows were applied generously from the lash line to the brow bone for maximum impact.

The goal was to make a statement with every blink by showcasing vivid colors that contrasted sharply against the skin tone. Exaggerated eyebrows also played a significant role in defining 80s eye makeup looks.

Unlike today’s preference for well-groomed and defined brows, the trend in this era leaned towards fuller and more natural-looking eyebrows with a touch of untamed wildness. This style complemented bold eye makeup choices by adding an extra element of flair.

Overall, 80s eye makeup trends were characterized by an unapologetic embrace of vibrant colors and dramatic effects driven by influential pop culture icons like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George. Through heavy eyeliner application, bright eyeshadow choices that defied convention, and exaggerated eyebrows, individuals of this era expressed their individuality and embraced the audacious spirit of the decade.

Exploring Eyeshadow Choices in the 80s

Neon Brights: Embracing Vibrant Shades for Maximum Impact

The 1980s were an era characterized by bold and daring fashion choices, and eye makeup was no exception. Neon-colored eyeshadows took center stage, becoming a hallmark of the vibrant 80s aesthetic. Shades like hot pink, electric blue, and lime green were highly sought after to create eye-catching looks that exuded youthful energy and rebellion.

The popularity of neon eyeshadows in the 80s was closely linked to the neon fashion trend that dominated that time period. From fluorescent clothing to accessories, bright colors were all the rage.

People wanted their eye makeup to complement their neon outfits perfectly, so opting for eyeshadows in equally vibrant shades was a natural choice. To achieve maximum impact with neon brights, individuals often applied these vibrant shades from the lash line all the way up to their brow bone.

This application technique ensured that the bold colors stood out prominently on their eyelids. Some even extended the eyeshadow beyond their outer corners or blended different neon shades together to create an even more dynamic effect.

Metallic Madness: The Rise of Futuristic Aesthetics

While neon brights commanded attention in 80s eye makeup trends, metallic eyeshadows also gained significant popularity during this era. Silver, gold, and bronze became go-to shades for those seeking a high-shine effect that added an air of futurism to their overall look.

The rise of metallic eyeshadows can be attributed to the influence of futuristic aesthetics prevalent during the 80s. As technology advanced rapidly and sci-fi movies captured people’s imaginations, this fascination with what lay ahead translated into various aspects of popular culture—including makeup trends.

Achieving a high-shine effect with metallic eyeshadows involved a few techniques. First, individuals would apply a base eyeshadow in a similar color tone to their desired metallic shade.

Then, they would carefully layer the metallic shadow on top, using either a flat eyeshadow brush or their fingertips for optimal pigmentation and sheen. Some even experimented with wetting their brushes before dipping into the shadow to intensify its metallic impact.

80s eye makeup was all about embracing vibrant shades and daring application techniques. Neon brights allowed individuals to showcase their youthful rebellion by incorporating eyeshadows in hot pink, electric blue, and lime green into their looks.

On the other hand, metallic madness brought futuristic aesthetics to life through silver, gold, and bronze shades that exuded high-shine brilliance. These eyeshadow choices exemplified the unique spirit of the 80s and remain iconic representations of that vibrant era.

The Power of Eyeliner in the 80s

Thick and Bold: Creating an Intense Look

In the realm of 80s eye makeup, thick black eyeliner emerged as a quintessential element for achieving a dramatic and intense look. The trend can be attributed to the rebellious influence of the punk rock subculture during that era. Punk music and fashion challenged societal norms, embracing an edgy aesthetic that spilled over into makeup trends.

Thick black eyeliner became a symbol of nonconformity and self-expression, allowing individuals to make a bold statement with their eyes. It was often applied generously on both the upper and lower lash lines, creating a striking contrast against vibrant eyeshadows.

When it came to achieving precise yet impactful eyeliner application, several techniques were employed in the 80s. Many opted for using pencil liners due to their ease of use and ability to create thick lines.

Starting from the inner corner of the upper lash line, individuals would confidently glide the liner towards the outer corner, gradually increasing its width for an exaggerated effect. Some even extended the liner past their natural lash line, elongating their eyes for an even more intense appearance.

Winged Wonder: Embracing “Cat-Eye” Looks

Apart from thick liner styles, another popular choice in 80s eye makeup was winged eyeliner or “cat-eye” looks. This trend gained inspiration from Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, who exuded timeless elegance with their stunning winged eyeliner looks in classic movies. The allure of these legendary actresses influenced many individuals in adopting this particular style during that decade.

Creating a perfect winged eyeliner required precision and practice but was well worth it for those seeking an enchanting gaze. Starting from the inner corner of the upper lash line once again, individuals would draw a thin line along the lash line, subtly thickening it towards the outer corner.

Then, using the lower lash line as a guideline, they would extend the liner upwards and outwards, creating a graceful winged flick. The size and angle of the wing varied according to personal preference and desired intensity.


The 80s brought forth an era of eye makeup that was daring, vibrant, and self-expressive. Thick black eyeliner became synonymous with rebellion and intensity, influenced by punk rock subculture. Meanwhile, winged eyeliner looks borrowed inspiration from Hollywood icons of yesteryears like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

These trends allowed individuals to transform their eyes into compelling works of art. While rooted in a decade filled with bold fashion choices and unconventional styles, 80s eye makeup continues to inspire contemporary beauty enthusiasts.

It serves as a reminder of the power of makeup to empower individuals to express their uniqueness and inner creativity. So next time you pick up your eyeliner brush or pencil, dare to embrace your rebellious spirit or channel timeless elegance – let your eyes tell a story that is uniquely yours!


What were the popular eyeshadow colors in the 80s for eye makeup?

In the 80s, popular eyeshadow colors included bright shades like neon pinks, blues, purples, and bold metallics such as gold and silver.

How did people achieve the iconic winged eyeliner look in the 80s?

The iconic winged eyeliner look in the 80s was achieved using liquid or pencil eyeliners. The liner was applied along the upper lash line, extending outward and upward to create a dramatic winged effect.

What makeup trends defined 80s eye makeup aside from bold colors and winged eyeliner?

Other defining trends included heavy mascara application for voluminous lashes, using white eyeliner on the waterline to make the eyes appear larger, and experimenting with asymmetrical and geometric eyeshadow shapes.

Were there any notable celebrities or icons known for their 80s eye makeup looks?

Yes, celebrities like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George were known for their distinctive 80s eye makeup looks. Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” era featured heavy black eyeliner and a beauty mark, while Cyndi Lauper often sported vibrant eyeshadow and bold eyeliner. Boy George was known for his unique and colorful eye makeup, which was a part of his signature style.

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