The 1980s was truly a flamboyant decade, filled with color, glitter, and perhaps some questionable artistic standards… oh, and did we mention color?
In this list, we have included 10 of the most iconic makeup components that anyone who was anyone would wear during the eighties.
If you’re feeling confident, take a look through, and maybe even try them out yourself…
1. Colorful Eyeshadow
First in this list, we have one of the first makeup staples that comes to most people’s minds when they cast their minds back to the fashion styles of the 1980s.
What better way to express your individuality than by using some vibrant pigments to cover your eyelids?
Colorful eyeshadow was a must-have accessory during this decade. From bright blues, to electric pinks, to using every color of the rainbow, people’s eye makeup became a work of art.
While ‘birthday makeup’ has recently become a trend of the past, with more recent fashion trends opting for a more natural look, we say that colorful eyeshadow should definitely be brought back!
2. Draped Blush
Another makeup trend that the 1980s were well known for is pink blush… and lots of it. Bright colors were the in-thing, and this included plenty of color on your cheekbones.
While contouring, bronzer, and highlighter have been at the forefront of modern makeup styles for the past few decades (see also “How To Use Highlighter Makeup“), blush has been slowly making its way back into many of our makeup routines.
However, back in the eighties, there was no such thing as ‘too much’ blush. The more pink pigment, the better! It would not only be used on the apples of our cheeks, but all across our faces.
When used alongside highlighter, some vibrantly colored blush can really shape a face out, and give it that pop of color that you need to display your individuality.
3. Streaked/Pointed Eyeliner
Eyeliner is a makeup staple that never seems to completely fade into the background.
Even today, when it is more fashionable to wear a more neutral makeup look, eyeliner can be subtly used to enhance our eyelids and create the illusion that your eyelashes are longer (see also “Best 1920s Makeup To Keep Wearing Today“).
In the 1980s, the word ‘subtle’ hadn’t yet been added to the dictionary. In fact, the phrase, ‘go hard or go home’ springs to mind.
Many of you will remember the use of thick, black eyeliner in the early 2000s, positioned both on our eyelid and below our waterlines. In the 1980s, this was also a standard practice.
Streaky eyeliner was particularly popular with the goths and the punks of the eighties, which is somewhat equivalent to the e-girls and e-boys of the 2020s.
Nothing displays an appearance of spunk and power quite like prominent, unapologetic eyeliner.
4. Frosty Lips
Over the past year or so, y2k fashion has become a thing.
The trends of the early 2000s are coming back into style, as all fashion trends do at some point in time, and one of the most popular makeup looks to come from this style is frosty, glossy lips.
Well, did you know that frosty lips have woven in and out of fashion ever since the 1960s, and they made a huge comeback in the eighties?
Frosty lips create a ‘frosty’ appearance on the wearer’s lips. They pair perfectly with all bright colors and holographic styles, creating an almost futuristic look on whoever uses it.
Matte lipstick was at the forefront of fashion from the early 2010s, leaving gloss to wait in the shadows for its inevitable return to the spotlight.
Well, that time is here. Glossy lips are back, and frosty lips are becoming just as popular!
5. Colored Mascara
When was the last time you wore a mascara that wasn’t colored black or dark brown?
If you were around in the early 2000s, you will remember the boom of colorful mascaras, with so many hues to choose from to match your deeply pigmented eyeshadow.
Colorful mascara first became a big deal in the 1960s, when supermodels, like Twiggy, would use dark green or purple mascaras to enhance their lashes.
This trend became less popular in the 70s, only to reappear with a vengeance during the following decade.
The most popular mascara color – that wasn’t black – was probably blue, which makes sense since the most popular eyeshadow color was also blue.
Blue mascara added a little edginess to any look, displaying individuality (despite the fact that it was used by everyone).
Colored mascara hasn’t quite made its way back into today’s everyday fashion just yet, but we think it’s about time that we started wearing it again.
6. Pale Foundation
Being pale was extremely popular in the 1980s. Once you notice this seemingly small detail, you will be unable to not notice how pale everyone seemed to look in the 1980s.
This was done on purpose, using very light foundation along with white powder. Take a look at most celebrities from this decade – most of them appear to be very pale.
We are lucky enough to now live in a time in which all skin colors are celebrated and catered for by the fashion industry; at least, more so than they were four decades ago.
Therefore, this is not necessarily a trend that we want to come back.
However, those who feel embarrassed about how pale their skin is should stay away from sunbeds, and remember that people would pay to be that pale during this time period. Celebrate your own skin!
7. Makeup Art
Celebrating individuality was a huge deal in the 1980s, and individualism was often displayed through using vibrant colors. Applying makeup unconventionally was another form of celebrating a person’s uniqueness.
While using face paint or smudging your makeup all over your face wasn’t a popular everyday-form-of-makeup, it was one that would be used on a night out, or to a concert.
It was also one that would be used by many celebrities, like Cyndi Lauper and Boy George.
After all, whoever said that your eyeshadow had to be placed on your eyelids, or blush had to be positioned on your cheeks?
The most fun a person can have when using makeup is when they get inventive, creating styles that are personal to them.
So, the next time you grab your box of colorful eyeshadow, let yourself go with the flow. Get creative, and see what designs come out of it!
8. Smokey Eyeshadow
Smokey eyeshadow is yet another makeup trend that never really seems to distance itself too far from the world of fashion.
While less people are applying this style of eyeshadow for everyday looks in 2023, it is still popularly adorned by those hitting the town.
This is predominantly viewed a ‘nighttime’ form of makeup, but in the 1980s, everyone was wearing smokey eyes in the mornings, the afternoons, and the evenings.
When paired with some thick mascara, winged eyeliner, and some dark lipstick, smokey eyes can help create a makeup look that is, in our eyes, timeless.
In a world which is leaning more towards naturalistic makeup looks, don’t be afraid to grab a brush and blend some dark colors into your eyelids to help you stand out from the crowd.
9. Bushy Eyebrows
This fashion trend surprised a lot of the older generation during the eighties, as most older women had spent their youths plucking their eyebrows away until they no longer existed.
Thanks to Brooke Shields, the teens of the ‘80s learned that big brows are just as beautiful.
Not only were eyebrows being outgrown during this time, but people were beginning to color them in with makeup pencils to make them thicker and more prominent.
Some would even color their eyebrows in unusual, bright colors to match their makeup.
Nowadays, bushy eyebrows are bigger and better than ever; a big, personal thanks due to Cara Delevingne, who returned them to the forefront of fashion in the early 2010s.
But while we take bushy eyebrows for granted nowadays, we should all remember that it was the brave celebrities of the 1980s who made them cool in the first place.
10. Red Lipstick
Last but not least, we have a 1980s staple that will never go away. In fact, we can’t remember a time when this wasn’t an iconic makeup choice that improved almost all outfits.
Red lipstick is a bold choice, and is not for the faint of heart. If you can pull it off, all the more power to you. If you’re scared that you may not be able to pull it off, try it anyway!
You would be surprised the power and confidence that red lipstick can give a person.
This particular color has been popularly used for lip wear since makeup was originally invented, so this is by no means an eighties original.
However, it was worn by pretty much every single person alive during this decade, which is why we count it in this list.
We encourage everyone to give red lipstick a try at least some point in their lives. It will enhance your makeup, your outfit, and even your ego!
From colorful eye makeup to glossy, vibrant lips, makeup was something to have fun with during the 1980s.
And there is no reason that you shouldn’t have the same fun with makeup today! Grab some brushes, imagine your face is a blank canvas, and get colorful.
We hope you found this guide helpful.