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The Hottest Makeup Trends From Every Decade Of The 20th Century

Updated November 7, 2019 291.2k views11 items

Over time, beauty looks have changed drastically by the decade, and we're continually progressing with our techniques while borrowing from the past, as it is a constant source of inspiration. When comparing the hottest makeup trends by decade, there's a noticeable pattern of going back and forth between subtle makeup and taking a more flashy direction in cosmetics, rather like a pendulum swinging from side to side.

One thing is certain regarding the makeup of the 20th century, and that is that we have evolved with our beauty trends and tricks, although sometimes not for the better. While it's hard to keep up with trends in the 21st century since they are constantly changing, there seems to be more interest in beauty and makeup than ever before. Continue reading to learn about makeup by the decade, and how much it has progressed.

  • The 1940s Went Back To The Natural Look

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Look: Light eyeshadow, mascara, red lips

    World War II began during the 1940s, and women joined the workforce in a way they never had before. Because of this - as well as wartime rations that made excess seem inappropriate - makeup took on a more practical look. Gone were the days of smoky eyes and dark lips. Women now preferred light eye makeup, such as a light brown eyeshadow and light mascara. The pin-up girl also became famous and red lips were in style.

  • By 1950, Most Women Wore Winged Eyeliner And Red Lipstick

    Photo: Photoplay Magazine / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Look: Glamorous Hollywood with winged eyeliner and bright lips

    The end of WWII allowed for more freedom in makeup and personal expression; after the strictures of the war women wanted to have a bit more fun. While some women wore winged eyeliner previously, Marilyn Monroe made it a thing after making the film The Asphalt Jungle in 1950. Also popular during this time were creamy foundations instead of powder and red or pink lipstick.

  • The '60s Were About Making Eyes Pop

    The Look: False lashes on the upper and lower lids with lots of mascara

    The model Twiggy brought the "London Look" to America in the 1960s, with bold lashes, heavy mascara, bright white eyeshadow and bare lips. Makeup focused primarily on the eyes, with little color elsewhere on the face. 

  • The '70s Were All About Long Hair And A Natural Face

    Photo: Lynn Gilbert / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    The Look: Back to natural, long wavy hair

    By the '70s, everyone grew tired of the exaggerated eye makeup and women went back to the natural look. In fact, it was not all that uncommon for women to skip eyeshadow all together in the 1970s. Mascara was still in during this time, but not layer upon layer like in the '60's. Light eyeshadow and blush, giving a light sheer look was very much in style in the '70s.