Whether you’re on Instagram, YouTube, or pretty much any other social media site, you’re likely to come across some photos of the gorgeous makeup looks people have put together, perhaps alongside a tutorial of how to recreate it on yourself. Today’s made-up face tends to be pretty elaborate, but it wasn’t always that way. Take a look at what the popular styles for makeup have been since 1910.
Wearing makeup was, for the most part, considered inappropriate for a sophisticated lady, as it was associated with prostitutes and actresses – neither a very well-respected group in society during the Edwardian Era.
Eyes: The brows would be brushed into place, and petroleum was used to style them, as well as the eyelashes. Rouge (blush) was one of the only cosmetics that was seen as decent, so it was sometimes applied as eyeshadow.
Face: Rouge came as a liquid and would be applied followed by powder. This was another acceptable product, and it often came in decorative compacts.
Lips: Women were discouraged from using lipstick, which was becoming common in the world of film. Instead, they opted for lip salve – basically, a tinted lip balm to maintain softness and add a marginal amount of color.
Beauty icons of this era: Mary Pickford, Lily Elsie, Gladys Cooper
The 20s saw some huge changes for women, one of which was a new embracing of makeup. Everyone decided that movies were actually great and actors, therefore, weren’t such lowlifes after all. This helped cosmetic use become acceptable, too.
Eyes: Brows were often tweezed into thin lines, or else brushed upward to mimic this look. Grease pencil was used to fill the brows in, and they were usually extended down to the temples. The same pencil was used to line the eyes and the crease. Mascara, invented in 1917, came in a small cake that had to be made wet and applied with a flat brush.
Face: White face powder and rouge continued to be worn. Rouge was often applied in a circular fashion, giving the wearer a doll-like appearance.
Lips: Lipstick typically was wine-colored. A specific shape was desired, with a prominent cupid’s bow and round lower lip. This was called the “rosebud” mouth.
Beauty icons of this era: Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson
Despite the Great Depression, women still wanted to purchase and wear cosmetics. The look for this era tended to emphasize femininity – in clothing, that meant flowing fabrics, and in makeup, that meant exaggerating certain facial features.
Eyes: The eyebrows got even thinner, taking on a rounder shape. Some women went ahead and shaved off their real eyebrows so they could draw two pencil-thin semicircles. Colorful eyeshadows were worn, usually applied to only the outer half of the eyes. Long eyelashes were desired, so plenty of mascara was used on top and bottom, along with false lashes.
Face: Outdoor physical activity became a popular pastime in the 30s, so having a slight suntan and “rosy glow” were seen positively. Accordingly, face powder became less white and women applied even more rouge.
Lips: Lipstick started coming in lighter colors, with bright reds and pinks being big sellers. A rounder shape than the 20s was desired and the lips were often filled beyond their natural end.
Beauty icons of this era: Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich
During World War II, many of the ingredients used in cosmetics were rationed, including some dyes, alcohol, and petroleum. Thus, using less makeup was not only a necessity, but also seen as a patriotic move.
Eyes: The eyebrows were allowed to grow back in, though they remained groomed. Eyeshadow was not worn often, but mostly came in neutral colors. Mascara and false lashes, however, were very popular, though not used on the bottom any longer. Grease pencil eyeliner was generally no longer used.
Face: Face powder was mostly worn in fleshy tones and not white. Much less rouge was used; women typically would apply three little dots and blend it in with their fingers.
Lips: A matte red lipstick was a must, being worn by pretty much every woman. The upper lip was sometimes overdrawn on the sides or simply left the natural shape.
Beauty icons of this era: Rita Hayworth, Gene Tierney, Lauren Bacall
After the war, many women returned to a homemaking role, and with that came more traditionally feminine styles. The result was longer hemlines, more elaborate hairstyles, and more makeup.
Eyes: Eyeshadow was back in a big way, and women regularly matched its color to that of their outfit for the day. Neutral colors were also popular, especially blue-gray. Women began using more eyeliner and extending it outside the length of the lid, creating the “cat eye” effect. Brows were arched toward the center.
Face: A cream foundation stick was applied all over the face, followed by liquid rouge and then a generous layer of white or peach-colored powder.
Lips: Red remained a popular shade for lipstick, though pink and orange were also common. The color was applied to emphasize the peaks in the upper lip and create a supple-looking mouth.
Beauty icons of this era: Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn
The 1960s saw new freedoms for women as well-fought-for strides in gender equality were slowly being made. In clothing, that meant the appearance of the mini-skirt, and in makeup, it brought on a new style, too.
Eyes: Liquid liner was invented in the 60s and was used extensively, especially on the upper lid. It was also used to emphasize the crease line, sometimes drawing it higher than its real position. The lower lashes were also heavily darkened, and some women even drew on fake ones with liner. Eyeshadows were usually pale colors.
Face: Cream foundation remained popular, but powdered blushes were growing more common than liquid rouges. Only a small amount was used, though.
Lips: This was the decade when the red lip finally lost its number one spot. The look of modernity was a pink lip, which suggested youthfulness.
Beauty icons of this era: Edie Sedgwick, Jane Birkin, Jean Shrimpton
Feminism was front and center during the 70s, as were the disco and hippie cultures. Women’s makeup became much lighter and comparatively more natural to the looks of preceding decades.
Eyes: Shadows for daytime usually had brown or gold tones; shimmers in darker colors were also well-loved for a more dramatic look. False lashes were sometimes still worn, although many women preferred to just use mascara. The eyebrows were often plucked thin and not filled in, giving them a “barely there” appearance.
Face: Bronzer, which could be used to enhance or simulate a tan, was used on the cheeks, either along with or in place of blush. Highlighting powders with sparkle were also very popular.
Lips: Lipsticks came in many colors, with nudes and peaches being some of the most common. The matte look of previous years was over; everyone wanted a shining, moisturized mouth, and lip glosses exploded in popularity.
Beauty icons of this era: Farrah Fawcett, Sharon Tate, Donna Summer
The 1980s saw women moving into the business world at an unprecedented rate, and everything got bolder. The hair was bigger, clothes were bulkier, and makeup was more intense. Women wanted to make a statement, and they did!
Eyes: Creative eye makeup was in, and there were many options to choose from. Shadows in a huge range of colors were available, as were dozens of eyeliners and mascaras. To match makeup like that, brows were left full and thick with minimal grooming.
Face: The hip thing in the 80s was contouring, a technique for emphasizing the shapes of the face. Blushes (like everything else) were colorful and were applied diagonally to bring out cheekbones.
Lips: The desire for shine from the 70s carried over into the next decade; many 80s lip products were advertised based on how much moisture they could impart. Reds, pinks, and purples were all worn.
Beauty icons of this era: Whitney Houston, Madonna, Brooke Shields
1990s makeup can be characterized by… well, a lot of browns. There was a definite pushback against the colorful 80s and makeup (along with nail polish and clothing) all trended toward neutral, “nude” colors.
Eyes: The philosophy behind contouring was applied to the eyes as well, and color was used to replicate the face’s natural shadows and create a more deep-set looking eye. Brows were tweezed thin and angular and filled in dark.
Face: Avoiding the pinky blush of the past decade, the 90s look was all about using brown tones to shape the face and emphasize structure by deepening the natural hollows beneath the cheekbones.
Lips: The obviously-artificial bright pinks and purples of the last decade were out. The most popular color for lips in the 90s? You guessed it – brown. Shades of red were worn, too, as were some oranges.
Beauty icons of this era: Tyra Banks, Christy Turlington, Drew Barrymore
After 9/11 and the beginning of the War on Terror, the world no longer seemed like a very safe place. So, we turned to partying, consumerism, and sexing it up as our escapes. Reality TV was massive, and women started taking style inspiration from its stars.
Eyes: The “smoky eye” was the go-to style in the 00s, and it was meant to look anything but natural. Plenty of black shadow and a pair (or two) of false lashes worked together to make the dramatic look that was well-loved by the increasingly troubled celebrities of the decade.
Face: Everyone wanted to be tan, tan, tan. The dangers of sitting in the sun were common knowledge, so women turned to spray-on alternatives, or just treated themselves to a major dose of bronzer.
Lips: By the 00s, lipstick altogether had lost out in popularity to gloss, which people wore a lot of. The best thing to pair your smoky eyes with was a nude (that is, skin-colored) lip; some women achieved this by simply covering their lips with concealer. Pink was another option for those not feeling the nude.
Beauty icons of this era: Paris Hilton, Rihanna, Lindsay Lohan
Today’s face is an extensively made-up one. With video tutorials having become extremely popular, anyone can learn to do just about any look they want. Technique and product are scrutinized more than ever, and innovation is prized.
Eyes: Eye looks can be highly intricate, involving four or more shades. Looks with a defined crease are highly popular, as are shimmery shadows. The placement of color is often very deliberate and regimented in terms of what tone should go where. Brows tend to be thick and arched.
Face: Today’s face is more highlighted and contoured than it ever has been, to the point of looking clearly artificial. Bronzer has remained popular, but is now usually used to warm the skin tone rather than simulate a tan, and is also applied liberally.
Lips: Fuller lips are definitely in, and multiple products are used in tandem to help simulate them. Lipsticks in liquid form are very popular and may be left matte or paired with a gloss. Brown is a popular color, though many different ones are worn.
Beauty icons of this era: Nikkie de Jager, Huda Kattan, Kylie Jenner