Makeup 1980S


The 1980s is widely recognized as a decade that left an indelible mark on the world of fashion and beauty. With its vibrant, bold, and sometimes outrageous trends, this era became a playground for self-expression and individuality.

From big hair to shoulder pads, the 80s was an era of excess in every aspect of style. When it comes to makeup, the 1980s showcased an explosion of colors and techniques that defined the look of the era.

Brief Overview of the 1980s as a Vibrant and Iconic Decade in Fashion and Beauty

The 1980s was characterized by exuberance and a sense of liberation from some of the constraints seen in previous decades. As popularized by music icons like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince, this era embraced boldness and self-assurance.

Fashion trends reflected this spirit with oversized clothing, bright colors, power suits with padded shoulders for women, and spandex attire coupled with leather jackets for men. Beauty standards during this time were equally flamboyant.

The makeup looks seen in magazines, movies, and music videos were all about making a statement. The mantra was “the bolder, the better.” The combination of vibrant colors on eyes and lips became synonymous with the 80s aesthetic.

Makeup played a pivotal role in defining the overall style aesthetic of the 1980s. It was not merely an accessory; it became an essential part of self-expression. The bold makeup trends embraced during this time allowed individuals to experiment with their appearance freely.

Whether you were attending a party or heading to work in a corporate setting dominated by women’s empowerment movements like Second Wave Feminism—makeup became an outward reflection of one’s personality. With the rise of music television channels like MTV in the 1980s, celebrities and musicians had an unprecedented impact on trends.

The looks of iconic artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, and Debbie Harry became influential in shaping makeup trends and inspiring countless individuals to embrace their own unique style. The 1980s was a decade that exuded vibrancy and self-expression in every aspect of fashion and beauty.

Makeup trends of this era played a crucial role in defining the overall look. From bold colors to contouring techniques, individuals embraced makeup as a way to showcase their individuality.

The influence of music icons further solidified these trends and continues to inspire current generations. In the subsequent sections, we will explore the general makeup trends as well as iconic looks that emerged during this iconic era.

Bold and Dramatic Colors Dominated the Makeup Scene

The 1980s was a decade characterized by vibrant and fearless fashion choices, and the world of makeup was no exception. The era saw a departure from the more subdued color palettes of previous decades, as bold and dramatic colors took center stage.

One of the most notable trends during this time was the use of striking eyeshadows in neon hues such as electric blue, hot pink, and lime green. These vivid shades were applied generously to create eye-catching looks that perfectly complemented the flamboyant fashion trends of the era.

Vibrant Eyeshadows in Neon Hues

Eyeshadow became a creative playground for makeup enthusiasts during the 1980s. Neon shades were particularly favored, allowing individuals to express their bold personalities through their eye makeup. Electric blue eyeshadow became an iconic choice, often applied liberally across entire eyelids or blended with complementary colors for an even more daring effect.

Hot pink hues were also highly popular, adding a vibrant pop of color that could instantly elevate any look. Lime green eyeshadows brought an unexpected touch of funkiness to eye makeup, giving wearers an edgy and unconventional appearance.

Intense Blushes in Bright Coral or Deep Rosy Pinks

Blush played a crucial role in defining facial features during this era, with an emphasis on achieving a high-impact look. Intense blushes in shades like bright coral or deep rosy pinks were purposely applied to create prominent cheekbones that couldn’t be missed.

This technique involved using blush generously on the apples of cheeks and blending it upwards towards temples for a sculpted effect. The result was a youthful flush that added vitality to one’s complexion while accentuating bone structure and lending a touch of drama to the overall makeup look.

Lipsticks Ranging from Fiery Reds to Frosty Pastels

Lips were also a focal point in 1980s makeup trends, with lipstick choices ranging from fiery reds to frosty pastels. Fiery red lipsticks were favored for their ability to make a bold statement and exude confidence. These vibrant shades were often paired with equally intense eye makeup, creating a harmonious balance of color.

On the other hand, frosty pastel lipsticks offered a softer alternative for those who preferred a more ethereal and romantic look. Colors like baby pink, lavender, and peach gave lips an iridescent sheen that added an air of playfulness and femininity to any ensemble.

Emphasis on Contouring and Sculpting Facial Features

In addition to the use of bold colors, contouring and sculpting facial features was another prominent trend during the 1980s. The era saw an increased focus on enhancing natural bone structure through strategic shading techniques.

Prominent cheekbones were achieved by applying blush in generous amounts along the cheekbones themselves, creating angles that caught the light beautifully. Furthermore, noses were contoured using darker shades to create a more defined look.

By applying shadow along the sides of the nose bridge and highlighting its center with lighter tones, individuals could alter their nose’s appearance subtly or make it appear slimmer or more pronounced according to personal preference. Such techniques exemplified the era’s pursuit of well-defined features that showcased both individuality and artistry through makeup application.

Iconic Makeup Looks of the Decade

The “Power Makeup” Look for Women in Corporate Settings

In the 1980s, makeup became an essential component of a woman’s professional image, particularly in corporate settings. The “Power Makeup” look was characterized by strong features that exuded confidence and authority. One prominent feature was bold, well-defined eyebrows.

Women would use dark brow pencils or powders to create thick arches that framed their eyes assertively. This strong brow trend helped to convey a sense of strength and determination.

To enhance the eyes without being overly bold, neutral eyeshadows with a touch of shimmer were favored. Earthy tones like taupe, bronze, and champagne were applied delicately to the lids to provide a subtle yet sophisticated radiance.

The shimmer added depth and dimension to the eyes without overpowering the overall look. For lips in the corporate environment, matte lipsticks in muted shades like mauve or brick red were popular choices.

These colors complemented various skin tones and created a polished appearance suitable for formal settings. The matte finish added elegance while avoiding excessive attention-drawing elements.

The Glamorous “New Wave” Look for Nightlife and Parties

When it came to nightlife and parties during the 1980s, makeup took on a more dramatic and glamorous personality known as the “New Wave” look. This style celebrated individuality and self-expression through vibrant colors and bold techniques. Dramatic eye makeup was key to achieving this look.

Heavy use of eyeliner became commonplace as women sought to define their eyes with precision and intensity. Eyeliner was often extended beyond the natural lash line, creating elongated cat-eye or winged looks that accentuated their gaze dramatically.

Brightly colored eyeshadows took center stage during this era as well. Shades like electric blue, hot pink, and neon green were applied generously all over the lids.

The goal was to create a vibrant effect, and these colors were often blended into each other to achieve an artistic, multi-dimensional look. To complete the glamorous “New Wave” style, glossy lips were highly sought after.

This was accomplished by layering lip gloss over bright lipstick shades like fire-engine red or fuchsia pink. The glossy finish added a touch of luxury and captured the playful spirit of the 1980s nightlife scene.

By embracing these iconic makeup looks, women in the 1980s could express their individuality both in corporate settings and during evenings out on the town. These styles continue to have an enduring influence on modern beauty trends, reminding us of a colorful era that forever changed the landscape of makeup artistry.

Iconic Faces and their Impact

Celebrities played a significant role in influencing the makeup trends of the 1980s. Their iconic looks set the standard for beauty and inspired countless individuals to emulate their style. One of the most influential figures during this era was Madonna, whose bold and edgy makeup choices became synonymous with the 80s aesthetic.

Her signature heavily-lined eyes, exaggerated blush, and bright red lips became an emblematic look for many young women. Other notable celebrities who left their mark include Cyndi Lauper with her vibrant eyeshadows and Boy George with his gender-bending makeup style.

Innovative Techniques from Hollywood

Hollywood stars also had a tremendous impact on makeup trends during this period. The silver screen introduced innovative techniques that were then adapted by everyday individuals seeking to replicate the glamour of their favorite idols.

One such technique popularized by movie stars like Demi Moore was contouring, which involved using different shades of foundation to sculpt and enhance facial features. This technique revolutionized makeup application, allowing individuals to create more defined cheekbones, slimmer noses, and sharper jawlines.

The Influence of Music Icons

Music icons not only shaped the music scene but also left a lasting impression on beauty trends. Artists like Prince and David Bowie pushed boundaries with their unique styles that challenged traditional notions of gender expression while inspiring others to experiment with unconventional makeup looks. Prince’s signature smoky eyes, adorned with sparkling gems or bold colors, symbolized sensuality and individuality in equal measure.


The 1980s were undoubtedly an era marked by boldness and experimentation in makeup trends. From vibrant eyeshadows to heavy contouring techniques, this decade was all about pushing boundaries and embracing self-expression through cosmetics. Influenced by celebrities from various realms of entertainment, people eagerly sought to recreate their favorite star’s signature looks.

Despite the passage of time, the impact of these trends can still be seen today, with many contemporary makeup styles drawing inspiration from the audacity and individuality of the 80s. Embracing a nostalgic admiration for this era allows us to celebrate its vibrant spirit and reminds us that beauty knows no limits when it comes to self-expression.


What were the popular makeup trends in the 1980s?

Popular makeup trends in the 1980s included bold, bright eyeshadows, dramatic eyeliner, heavy blush, and vibrant lip colors. The emphasis was on bold and colorful looks.

Which makeup brands were popular in the 1980s?

Some of the popular makeup brands in the 1980s included Max Factor, Revlon, Maybelline, and CoverGirl. These brands offered a wide range of products to achieve the trendy looks of the decade.

How did people achieve the iconic ’80s makeup look?

Achieving the ’80s makeup look involved using products like blue eyeshadow, frosted lipstick, and lots of mascara. Techniques like contouring and highlighting were also widely used to create defined features.

What influence did pop culture have on ’80s makeup?

Pop culture icons like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper heavily influenced ’80s makeup trends. Their distinctive looks, characterized by bold colors and dramatic styles, inspired many to emulate their makeup choices.

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