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6 Decades making a retro beauty comeback

The cool thing about beauty and fashion — and basically any other trending area — is that what was once old will become new again, if you just give it a little time. This is great news for someone like me who has been holding onto my pair of super-cool alligator skin Doc Martens since the eighth grade.

It’s easy to base most of our beauty trends on what celebs are doing and what we see on Instagram — until you realize that Kim Kardashian’s Snuffleupagus lashes, shockingly blond hair and unnaturally bronze skin may not work for the average person. And that’s OK.

More: 8 Fashionistas style Birkenstocks and prove they are back in a big way

You don’t have to put yourself in a box if you don’t want to. You can turn back time just a few decades to choose beauty styles that may work better for your personality, your coloring and your skin type. And who knows? You might even start a “new” trend while you’re at it.

Try one of these beauty throwbacks if your makeup is in desperate need of a blast from the past:


This one is so easy, you’re going to wonder why you’re not doing it. As a former makeup artist, I personally believe red lips have never gone out of style — though shades and brightness change with the trends of each decade. But according to Molly Leahy, bridal hair and makeup artist at Blushing Brides, the most classic type of red lip is back.

“Bold red lips are definitely back in style, which is a throwback to the ’40s and ’50s when it was much more common,” explains Leahy. Ellen Miller, resident Fashion Beauty and Director for Better Homes and Gardens, gets a little more specific: Orange-red lips are the perfect definition of 1940s glam

More: 13 Shades of lipstick to know and love

Bold lips pair perfectly with strong eyebrows and minimal eye makeup, à la 1940s Lauren Bacall, says Dedra Whitt Dakota of dedra beauty. “Using your foundation and/or concealer, clean edges all around your eyebrows after applying an eyebrow product. Using an angled brush to apply the product allows for a precise application. This will ensure a strong definition and really create a super clean eyebrow. Also, by applying your foundation and/or concealer on your eyelid before applying mascara, it will create a clean look that actually puts focus on the lashes.”


Think Twiggy. Think pixie cuts. Think minimal makeup in a mini dress. Already, I’m excited, and I haven’t even gotten to the beauty trend yet. Leahy says her favorite vintage makeup tip can be used to expand the eyes by making them look bigger and wider. She explains, “Use a nude eyeliner on your waterline. This is a very ’60s inspired tip that was used by models like Twiggy.”

And if we learned anything from Twiggy, it’s that luscious lashes and standout eye makeup can go a long way, even 50 years later. Leahy continues, “Winged eyeliner was originally popular in the ’60s and is now back in full force! Use a piece of tape lined up from the bottom water line to the end of your eyebrow, draw on your liner with the wing and then remove the tape for a perfect wing.”


Though the ’70s were just before my time, even I know this ground-breaking decade was all about women’s lib and natural makeup. If you want to translate this ethereal, feminist vibe into your everyday life, start by focusing on one key feature on your face. Bold eyebrows from the 1940s were hot again in the ’70s, and Miller says the retro style is back with a vengeance today. Now it’s all about “big bold brows, undone natural hair, middle parts and technicolor shadow.”

Bold brows would be nothing without the simplicity of classic ’70s eye makeup — and, yes, it really is as easy as it sounds. Choose one bright color, sweep it over the lid with an eyeshadow brush and call it a day. Eyeliner, mascara and light lip gloss are optional. Farrah Fawcett would be so proud.

It’s almost pathetic how excited I am that ’80s makeup trends are still en vogue. Maybe it’s reflective of my extroverted personality, but nothing makes me happier than getting to scribble all over my face with a blue crayon. Miller predicts that blue and navy eyeliner and eyeshadow, often paired with pink lips, are going to be huge for the fall.

While most bold, bright and beautiful ’80s makeup trends are user-friendly, Baltimore makeup artist Tymia Yvette reminds us how important it is to soften harsh ’80s styles with one timeless trick: Learn to blend. “If you remember the ’80s, then you know that blush was meant to be seen. There was no such thing as an airbrushed look for makeup. Blush and bronzer looked more like racing-stripes, similar to how Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie wore their makeup,” she recalls.

“Fast-forward to 2015, blush has taken the backseat, and contouring and bronzing are headlining. Contouring the face has become a must with daily makeup.”

More: How to to contour your face in under 5 minutes — seriously


Good thing I’ve been saving my Doc Martens for a rainy day because chunky highlights and deep merlot lips are once again acceptable to wear out in public, says Miller. (Though I will be the first to say how glad I am that brown lipstick is gone forever.) If wine-stained lips are a still bit too Courtney Love for you, even 20 years later, you can try alternative ’90s beauty on the other side of the spectrum: matte nude lips.

Leahy advises pairing nude lip liner with nude lipstick, saying, “Matte nude lips of the ’90s are something that has recently become more popular as smoky eyes have become a standard in today’s beauty world.”

More: 32 Beauty products you probably used in the ’90s


It may be a stretch to call the early 2000s “retro,” but since Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake have gone their separate ways, I’m going to say it counts. If you, like me, can’t stand to say “Bye Bye Bye” to this ridiculously addicting decade, you now have full permission to keep it alive in your makeup. Leah Chavie of Leah Chavie Skincare says that, along with crimped hair, 2000s makeup trends like metallic lids and bold eyeliner are still hot.

Celeb trendsetters like Kendall Jenner and Lupita Nyong’o have been rocking these outdated styles on the red carpet, making them cool again. For us normal folk, Chavie recommends easing into the throwback fad with bold eyeliner and metallic mineral eyeshadows in teal and silver.

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