Worst Makeup Trends in the Last 100 Years
It’s no secret that makeup has done some major evolving over the last century. Like fashion, makeup trends are known to disappear and reappear. Bold lips, exaggerated brows, pretty pastels, and dewy skin are 2019’s biggest trends. They’ve made a powerful comeback—and for good reason. But there are many beauty mishaps that should disappear forever, and many beauty trends that we would just rather forget about entirely.
There’s nothing more painful than looking back at an old photo and seeing yourself “rocking” that unblended eyeshadow and bright pink blush. Or how about the outrageous amount of bronzer you used to blend your orangey self-tanner? If these outdated beauty trends are a crime, we suppose that first-hand embarrassment is punishment enough.
So, let’s reminisce together about the most questionable makeup trends of the last 100 years. It wasn’t just the ‘80s that were cringe-worthy.
The 1910s: Edwardian Makeup
By 1910, cosmetic counters were launching on every street corner. Finally, makeup wasn’t exclusively for movie stars. As women began experimenting with makeup, they agreed that less was more…except when it came to face powder.
Pale skin was considered to be a sign of youthfulness, beauty, and social class. Instead of choosing a shade that matched their skin tone, women would buy stark-white powder and pair it with blush and a brightly stained lip. And thus, Edwardian makeup was born!
The 1920s: Kohl Eyeshadow
Ah, the Roaring Twenties—the decade that gave birth to the “New Woman.” Flappers flaunted their newfound freedoms with bobbed hairdos, short skirts, and more makeup. We do have the 1920s to thank for the cupid’s bow lip-liner trend, but that’s about it.
Kohl, a black powder made of heavy metals like antimony and lead, became the go-to eye cosmetic. First, the ingredients sound dangerous. And second, women went a step further than the normal “smokey-eye.” Let’s just say that this darkly pigmented shadow is a product to use sparingly.
The 1930s: Overly Stylized Brows
Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, and Carole Lombard were three well-known film stars that were looked to for beauty inspiration in the 1930s. Kohl eyeshadow was traded for lighter shades and lips were lined to look bigger and fuller—but if only they could’ve done the same for their eyebrows.
Brows were purposefully over-plucked, allowing women to redraw them in arching lines that extended almost all the way to the temples. I wonder what these women would think about Cara Delevigne’s full, bushy brows.
The 1940s: Red and Orange Hues
The original lipsticks of the ‘40s were all about vibrant pigmentation. It wasn’t uncommon to see women wearing very little face makeup and a whole lot of lipstick. Any shade was acceptable to wear during this decade, but the most popular were the reddish-orange hues.
Unfortunately, this left ladies looking like circus-clowns. And the exaggerated upper lip didn’t help. These striking shades should’ve been traded in for the classic reds, plums, and pinks. Hindsight is 20/20…
The 1950s: Beauty Marks
The ‘50s were retro. And many of the retro makeup styles that came from this decade are still considered fashion-forward today…while some are not. Marilyn Monroe was the face of this era, and still remains to be an everlasting beauty icon. Her glossy pout, lengthy lashes, and signature beauty mark left their mark on the world.
But not everyone could pull off the faux beauty marks. These fancy fake moles didn’t suit everyone and to be quite frank, looked phony. Maybe it’s best to leave these to the women who are actually born with them.
The 1960s: Faux Lashes
Beauty in the 1960s relied heavily on lashes. And while some women believed that a tube of mascara and an eyelash curler were up to the task, others decided that these beauty tools weren’t able to create the bold look that they so desperately desired. So, wide eyes were achieved with the help of false lashes.
Lashes are still worn today, but leave women looking effortless and natural. The thick lashes that were worn in the ‘60s were purposefully unnatural and left women looking overdone. Honestly, it seems like too much work to apply lashes to both the top and bottom lash line anyway.
The 1970s: One-Shade Eyeshadow
Women’s liberation groups that formed in the ‘70s had an immense impact on the cosmetics industry. Instead of feeling forced to wear minimal makeup, women began to experiment with beauty trends. Disco became hot and so did colorful makeup.
Earth tones shadowed the eyes of women everywhere—blues, greens, and purples were clearly having a moment. While this color palette still remains popular, the ‘70s eyeshadow application process has improved. Done are the days of applying one shade to your entire eyelid!
The 1980s: Exaggerated Blush
What are the ‘80s without way too much makeup? For some reason, everyone had the bright idea that this was the decade to completely overdo it. Eyeliner was thick, eyeshadow was eccentric, and blush was bright—as in way too rosy.
Apparently, it was time to get cheeky. Pink hues filled faces with color. Draping, a technique created by makeup artist Way Brady, encouraged beauty gurus to apply blush on the cheekbone and drape toward the temples. Women started looking like David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album cover…
The 1990s: Too-Dark Lip Liner
Just when you thought frosted lips were the worst beauty trend of this decade, ‘90s women begin wearing light lipsticks with dark lip-liners. This is a makeup trend that we never want to see again.
There is no reason why lip-liner should be multiple shades darker than your lipstick. I’m not sure what they thought they were achieving by wearing visible lip-liner…but it’s not cute.
The 2000s: White Shimmery Eyeshadow
Frosted eyeshadow makes us nostalgic for the 2000s…okay not really, but it was a simpler time. Celebs were the ones to introduce beauty trends rather than social media influencers and everyone was willing to follow their lead.
Although almost all makeup trends during this decade were alarming, nothing is scarier than the bright white and extremely sparkly eyeshadow that covered the entire eyelid. I’m not sure if it was done in efforts to save time or money, but regardless, it was hideous. Let’s take a moment to be grateful for the evolution of beauty.
The 2010s: Extreme Highlighter
If used correctly, highlighter can add a subtle glow to your cheekbones and a dewy shimmer to your favorite features. But let’s remember that too much of a good thing can be excessive. Your daily beauty fix needs less shine than you may think.
Buying a new highlighter is exciting. The product comes in liquid, cream, and powder forms that are tempting to use. And while the 2010s have made highlighting palettes extremely popular, don’t forget that a little goes a long way.