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80s Makeup

Every decade has its own style, and the 80s really had its own. From miniskirts to parachute pants and everything in between, something really went awry with our fashion sense during that decade. Make up was no exception.

All About the Eyes and the Cheeks - A Case Study

First and foremost there was just way too much of it. The girls of the decade literally “painted” their faces on. The two defining makeup elements in the 80s face were bold eyes and blush meant to accentuate the cheek bones.  The more noticeable the eye shadow and the heavier the blush, the better you looked as far as 80s fashion was concerned. If your face didn’t look halfway clownish, you hadn't quite achieved the look yet.

Amazingly, the 80s makeup look is making a comeback.  Read more about the 80s makeup trends of Winter 2010.


The picture to the right of 80s music and fashion queen, Cyndi Lauper, has a lot of great elements to point out, relating to makeup as well as 80s fashion in general.  Notice the very heavy use of bright pink blush in combination with the heavy eyeliner and orange eye shadow.  On the fashion side, she's got the top over the shoulder thing going, lots of bangles and even a black lace fingerless glove on her right hand.  On the hair side, she has the big, teased and off to one side do down pat.

The Eyes - A Closer Look

80s Makeup - Eyes GaloreThere were tons of eye shadow colors in heavy use throughout the 80s, but the color most associated with the decade is the god-awful electric blue stuff. What in the world were we thinking? The eyeliner, in particular, was worn in abundance and on the inside. Surely you remember gently pulling the bottom of your eye down to achieve the most complete coverage. Nothing says 80s valley vixen like tons of blue or teal eyeliner rimming the inside of your eyes. (By the way, if planning for an 80s party, you are going to want to employ this eyeliner trick – it has an instant transformative effect). Bright blue eye shadow along with a bold secondary color (as shown with orange to the left), heavy eyeliner, colored mascara – let’s just say it was the complete opposite of the “natural” look that’s so popular today.

While we’re talking about eye makeup, let’s discuss an alternate use we found for eyeliner in the eighties. Before the 80s, having a mole wasn’t something to be proud of. Then we fell in love with Madonna and suddenly everyone wanted one. Weren’t born with it? Not a problem. Buy a stick-on or simply draw one on with brown eyeliner. Did it look good? Heck no! But come on, it was the 80s!  Our totally bodacious babe shown above demonstrates both an excellent example of a blue and orange eye shadow palate along with the faux eyeliner-based facial mole.  As they say in the movie Better Off Dead, "lookin good, lookin real good."

Men in Makeup

Even men (well, some men) got in on the art – Twisted Sister comes to mind.  Really, lots of male rock stars got in on the makeup thing; check out Dead or Alive's "Brand New Lover" video as a great example.

To sum it up, the 80s makeup bag contained a tube of paste-like cover-up, a bottle of heavy foundation, a pressed-powder compact, eye shadow (in a rainbow of luscious colors), a few eyeliner pencils (blue, purple, teal), a couple of blush compacts, an entire mascara collection and a bunch of bright lipsticks in shades of red, pink and orange.

Picture Sources:
Top Left - "The Complete Book of Makeup," 1985.
Right - Submitted by Mira of Belgium

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