80S Punk Makeup

Introduction to 80s Punk Makeup

The Artistic Rebellion of Punk Culture

The 1980s marked a significant era in cultural history, particularly within the rebellious and unconventional punk subculture. Originating as a countercultural movement, punk challenged societal norms and embraced a do-it-yourself ethos in various aspects of life, including fashion and makeup.

Punk makeup in the 80s was a powerful form of self-expression that allowed individuals to visually communicate their defiance and nonconformity. By adorning their faces with bold colors, striking contours, and daring accessories, punks transformed themselves into walking works of art.

Unleashing Creativity Through Makeup

For punks in the 80s, makeup became a vital tool for individual expression amidst a society that often stifled uniqueness. It served as both armor against societal expectations and an artistic outlet for personal creativity. The vibrant palette of punk makeup allowed individuals to break free from traditional beauty standards and embrace their own distinctive aesthetic.

Subverting Conventional Beauty Ideals

Punk culture rejected mainstream notions of attractiveness by actively challenging conventional beauty ideals. Unlike the polished perfection often associated with traditional beauty trends, punk makeup emphasized rawness, imperfection, and shock value.

The deliberate use of pale foundation or powder created an otherworldly appearance that defied the socially accepted tanned complexion. In contrast to natural-looking blushes applied subtly on the apples of cheeks, punks boldly embraced unconventional shades like neon pink or electric blue—colors that defied categorization.

A Catalyst for Self-Identity

Makeup played an essential role in shaping individual identities within the punk movement. It provided punks with the means to establish solidarity within their subculture while signaling dissent from mainstream society at large. The transformative power of heavily contoured cheekbones and sharp jawlines allowed punks to project an intimidating and rebellious image, amplifying a sense of defiance.

Through exaggerated eyeliner and smudged eyeshadows in vibrant hues, punks could convey their inner turmoil or express their outrage against societal injustices. The makeup choices made by 80s punks were far from superficial; they represented a potent symbol of resistance against societal pressures and the status quo.

By utilizing makeup as a tool for self-expression, punks challenged norms and asserted their individuality in an era that often sought to suppress it. In the subsequent sections, we will delve deeper into the specific elements of 80s punk makeup, exploring foundation and base makeup, eye makeup techniques, lipstick and lip liner preferences, as well as facial piercings and accessories that further amplified the punk aesthetic.

Foundation and Base Makeup

Pale complexion: The iconic “pale face” look achieved with white foundation or powder

In the realm of 80s punk makeup, achieving a pale complexion was an essential element in creating a striking visual impact. To attain the iconic “pale face” look, punks would utilize white foundation or powder to create an ethereal and ghostly appearance.

This stark contrast against their dark clothing and vibrant makeup choices allowed them to stand out and make a bold statement. The process of achieving this pale complexion started with a clean, moisturized face as the base.

Then, they would apply a layer of white foundation or use a white powder to even out their skin tone while simultaneously lightening it significantly. The goal was not just to appear paler but also to create an almost otherworldly aura that defied societal norms of beauty.

It is important to note that this was not meant to mimic the natural appearance of fair skin; rather, it was an intentional departure from conventional beauty standards. This deliberate choice in 80s punk culture challenged societal norms and served as a form of rebellion against mainstream ideals.

Heavy contouring: Dramatic cheekbones and sharp jawlines using dark shades for a bold effect

Another prominent aspect of 80s punk makeup was heavy contouring, which aimed at emphasizing facial features through strategic shading. Punks sought dramatic cheekbones and sharp jawlines by using dark shades such as deep browns or greys for contouring purposes.

To achieve this look, punks would apply contour products beneath their cheekbones, along their temples, and under their jawline. By blending in these darker shades meticulously, they created shadows that enhanced the desired features’ prominence on their faces.

This intense contouring technique added depth and definition to facial structures, further contributing to the overall edgy and rebellious aesthetic. It is worth mentioning that the heavy contouring techniques employed in 80s punk makeup were far from subtle.

The goal was not to create a natural appearance but rather to make a bold statement and challenge societal beauty standards. This level of contouring allowed punks to showcase their creative expression and defy traditional notions of how makeup should be applied.

Colorful blush: Bright and unconventional colors like neon pink or electric blue applied liberally on cheeks

While mainstream makeup trends often lean towards muted, natural shades of blush, 80s punk makeup took a completely different approach. In this era, punks embraced vibrant and unconventional colors for their blush application, such as neon pink or electric blue. Colorful blush was used liberally on the cheeks, with punks often applying it in bold strokes that extended towards the temples or even under the eyes.

This choice of vivid, eye-catching shades allowed punks to create a stark contrast against their pale complexions while adding an element of visual interest to their overall look. This departure from the norm was an intentional rejection of conventional beauty ideals.

By embracing bright and unconventional colors for blush application, punks challenged society’s expectations regarding appropriate makeup choices. The use of vibrant hues served as a vehicle for self-expression within the punk subculture and played a crucial role in shaping its distinctive aesthetic.

Eye Makeup

Intense Eyeliner: Defining the Punk Look

In the realm of 80s punk makeup, one cannot underestimate the power of intense eyeliner. Thick, black eyeliner became synonymous with the rebellious spirit of punk culture. This distinctive style involved drawing a bold, unapologetic line along the upper lash line, often extending it into exaggerated winged shapes.

The purpose was to create an intense and sharp gaze that captured attention and defied societal norms. Punks would meticulously apply jet-black eyeliner using various techniques.

Some preferred liquid liners for their precision, while others favored kohl pencils for their smudgy and grungy effect. The goal was not to achieve perfection but rather to embrace imperfections, as if the liner was applied in haste or with a deliberate disregard for conventional beauty standards.

Smudged and Messy Eyeshadow: Embracing Chaos

To complement the bold eyeliner, punks in the 80s embraced eyeshadow that exuded an air of grunge and rebellion. Vibrant shades like electric blue, neon green, or fiery red were favorites amongst those who dared to experiment with unconventional colors.

However, what truly set this look apart was not just the choice of color but also how it was applied. The eyeshadow application technique aimed to create a smudged and messy effect that defied traditional makeup guidelines.

Rather than striving for perfect blending or precise lines, punks would blend these vibrant shades haphazardly around their eyes. The result was an intentionally imperfect look that screamed chaos and nonconformity.

Colored Mascara: Making Lashes Pop

In addition to fierce eyeliner and daring eyeshadow looks, colored mascara played a key role in elevating 80s punk eye makeup to new heights. Punks sought to push the boundaries of traditional beauty standards by opting for unconventional mascara colors such as purple, green, or even metallic silver.

Colored mascara added an unexpected twist to the eye makeup ensemble, making lashes pop and creating a striking contrast against the intense eyeliner and vibrant eyeshadow. Each swipe of colored mascara contributed to the overall impact of the look, enhancing the rebellious nature of punk culture.

The application process was straightforward: punks would coat their lashes generously with their chosen unconventional color, ensuring that every lash was coated from root to tip. The aim was not just to define the eyes but also to make a bold statement that defied societal norms and celebrated individuality.

80s punk eye makeup was all about defying conventions and embracing self-expression through intense eyeliner, smudged and messy eyeshadow in vibrant shades like electric blue or neon green, and colored mascara that made lashes pop. These elements combined created a distinctive look that challenged mainstream beauty ideals and symbolized rebellion within punk culture.

Lipstick and Lip Liner

Dark and bold lips

In the realm of 80s punk makeup, the lips were a canvas for rebellion and self-expression. Dark, dramatic shades such as deep reds, purples, or even jet black were coveted to create a striking contrast against the pale complexion that was characteristic of the era. Punk icons like Siouxsie Sioux and Debbie Harry effortlessly pulled off these bold lip looks, which exuded confidence and defiance.

Applying lipstick generously was encouraged to achieve an intense effect. The key to nailing this look is selecting a lipstick with a rich pigmentation that provides full coverage in one swipe.

Matte finishes were particularly popular during this time, creating an edgy vibe on the lips. Brands like MAC Cosmetics and Urban Decay offered provocative shades like “Burgundy Velvet” or “Blackmail” that perfectly embodied the rebellious spirit of punk.

To make your dark lips last longer without smudging or bleeding, prepare your lips by applying foundation or concealer all over them before applying lipstick. This creates an even base and helps the color adhere better.

Blotting excess product with tissue and setting it with translucent powder can also enhance longevity. Remember, dark lips were not just reserved for nighttime looks; they served as an everyday accessory for punks looking to make a statement wherever they went.

Overdrawn lips

An iconic trend in 80s punk makeup was using lip liner to exaggerate one’s natural lip shape by outlining slightly outside the natural lip line. This technique gave the illusion of fuller, more pronounced lips, taking center stage in any punk-inspired makeup look.

Whether it was a subtle enhancement or a bold transformation, overdrawn lips were a powerful tool in expressing individuality. To achieve this effect, choose a lip liner that closely matches your chosen lipstick shade.

Begin by softly outlining the natural lip line, then selectively extend the line outward to create fuller-looking lips. It’s important to be precise but also blend the liner with the lipstick for a seamless finish.

Overdrawn lips were often paired with dark and bold lipstick shades, intensifying their impact and creating an even more rebellious aesthetic. The combination of exaggerated lip shape and intense color made a strong statement against societal norms, challenging traditional beauty standards with each bold stroke of the liner.

This trend continues to inspire modern makeup enthusiasts who embrace bold experimentation and unapologetic self-expression on their lips. It’s an enduring reminder of punk’s influence on cosmetic trends that celebrate uniqueness and push boundaries.

Facial Piercings and Accessories

Nose rings were an iconic element of 80s punk makeup, adorning the faces of rebellious individuals who embraced the punk ethos. This piercing was a bold statement against societal norms and conventional beauty standards. Punks opted for small studs or hoops, often worn on one side of the nose to enhance their edgy appearance.

The choice between a stud or hoop depended on personal preference, with both options being equally popular. The placement of the nose ring varied as well, with some punks opting for a classic nostril piercing while others went for unconventional positions like septum or bridge piercings.

Nose rings were often accompanied by additional facial piercings, amplifying the individual’s unique style and self-expression. They were typically made from stainless steel or silver, adding a touch of metallic shine to complement the overall punk aesthetic.

Eyebrow piercings: Often seen with multiple piercings along one eyebrow; small rings or barbells

Eyebrow piercings played a prominent role in 80s punk makeup, particularly among those who wanted to intensify their rebellious look. Punk fashionistas frequently adorned their eyebrows with multiple piercings along one brow, creating an eye-catching visual effect that demanded attention. Small rings or barbells were commonly used as eyebrow jewelry during this era.

The selection of jewelry was diverse, ranging from simple stainless steel rings to more elaborate designs featuring spikes or gems. Each piercing was carefully aligned along the arch of the brow to accentuate facial features and demonstrate individuality.

Eyebrow piercings allowed punks to push boundaries further while showcasing their distinctive style within mainstream society. This form of self-expression became a defining element of 80s punk makeup, symbolizing the rebellious spirit and boldness that characterized the subculture.


80s punk makeup was a transformative and empowering form of self-expression for those who embraced the rebellious nature of the subculture. Facial piercings, such as nose rings and eyebrow piercings, were integral aspects of this iconic look.

They served as visual statements against societal norms and added an edgy touch to the overall aesthetic. These facial piercings allowed punks to embrace their individuality with confidence, challenging traditional beauty standards and encouraging others to do the same.

By adorning their faces with small studs, hoops, or multiple eyebrow piercings, punks showcased their willingness to defy convention and assert their unique identity. Despite its association with rebellion and nonconformity, 80s punk makeup remains a captivating part of fashion history.

It continues to inspire individuals today to break free from societal constraints and celebrate their authenticity through style. So let us embrace our inner punk spirit and find joy in expressing ourselves fearlessly—just as the punks did in the vibrant era of 1980s punk culture!


What were the key elements of 80s punk makeup?

80s punk makeup was characterized by heavy eyeliner, bold eyeshadow in vibrant colors, dark lipstick, and unconventional facial piercings.

How can I achieve the iconic 80s punk makeup look?

To achieve the 80s punk makeup look, start with a pale foundation, then apply thick black eyeliner, experiment with neon or bold eyeshadows, and finish with deep red or black lipstick. Don’t forget to accessorize with punk-inspired jewelry and piercings.

What makeup brands and products were popular in the 80s punk scene?

Popular makeup brands in the 80s punk scene included Manic Panic, Wet n Wild, and Max Factor. Key products included black eyeliner, vibrant eyeshadows, and dark lipsticks.

Are there any modern variations of 80s punk makeup that I can try today?

Yes, you can create modern variations of 80s punk makeup by incorporating elements like graphic eyeliner, metallic eyeshadows, and matte lipsticks in unconventional colors. Adapt the look to suit your personal style while paying homage to the punk aesthetic.

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