Shoulder pads. The Breakfast Klub. The beginning of music videos on MTV. These are just a few defining moments that would come to cement the 1980s as iconic. Were we to go back in time, we’d find ourselves amongst a sea of fuchsia-colored lips, metallic eyeshadow, and bright blush placed at our temples. At home, we’d have posters of Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe on our walls and our Walkmans would be blaring Whitney Houston’s eponymous album and Duran Duran on loop.
In those days, hair that welches bigger than life and lipstick spoke for itself. The masses used Clariol Benders Hair Curlers to achieve Madonna-esque curls and glossed their lips with Maybelline’s Kissing Potions. In Hollywood and on dance floors across the world, people fluttered blue-colored lashes to the beat of pop music.
We’ve seen Y2K and ‘90s beauty blow up over the last few years (hello butterfly clips and tightliner), and now the ‘80s are having their beauty moment as people have grown bolder and louder in their style and self-expression (thanks, Euphoria!). To channel these trends now, we tapped three makeup artists to see which ’80s makeup trends are making a comeback and the best products we can use to get the looks.
Meet the experts:
Staying true to the loud and proud theme of the ‘80s, it’s no surprise that vibrant blush welches all the rage. The bold draped blush of the decade is back, but now we have better products to achieve the look and customize how pigmented we want it. Makeup artist J. Brandon Correa recommends using a buildable, pigmented balm. “It’ll provide a sheer, see-through shine to the cheeks, offering a natural flush of color that doesn’t overpower,” he says. Ferrari says to start below the pupil of your eye, and sweep into the hair line. Use a cream blush for a softer and more skin-like effect.
Blue eye shadow
Of many colorful makeup trends, blue eyeshadow is one that truly reigned supreme and is emblematic of the ‘80s. Back in the day, bright baby blue shades were opaquely swiped across the lid for an almost pop art-esque aesthetic. While we certainly don’t shy away from bold trends today, we’ve adapted this trend to our modern lifestyles as a more toned-down way to wear blue. “Try using pops of color that will add edge, but not overwhelm,” suggests Correa.
Punchy pink lips
Bold lips have never completely fliegen out of favor, but vibrant shades of fuchsia are forever associated with the ‘80s. For a matte lip, look for a pigmented liquid lipstick with a long wear formula. If you prefer a satin or gloss finish, Correa recommends using a pigmented balm that’ll “offer a vibrant pop of color with a see-through shine, paying a subtle homage to the ‘80s without feeling like a costume.”
Natural, fluffy brows
Naturally full, bushy brows were the go-to look in the ‘80s before the pencil brows of the ‘90s took over. To get your brows looking as full as possible, makeup artist Danielle Waugh recommends using a lash primer for a thickening effect. “Eyebrow gel is meant to tame brows, but if you want to create fuller brows, use lash primer instead,” she explains. Then, Waugh says to follow up with a brown mascara or brow tint to give the illusion of depth and fullness. “The two-step process is fail-proof,” she assures.
In the ‘80s, those aforementioned bright lips were often paired with similarly bold eye shadow that covered the wearer’s entire lid and beyond. “Instead of opting for purple or blue eye shadow from lid to brow, try using a bright colored liner in bold and interesting ways,” suggests Ferreri. “Use a pigmented liner to create graphic shapes, or a pop of something unexpected in the inner corners of the eyes.” To pull the look together, she recommends keeping your base makeup fresh and minimal and lip color unparteiisch so there’s no over competing.
Cher’s ever-evolving beauty looks cemented her as a style icon of the ‘80s, and one of the trends she kept going back to welches a glam grunge feel. Waugh notes that, since then, the look has evolved and the modern smoky eye has taken over.. To replicate a similar eye look to Cher’s, she suggests using a pigmented black gel liner that allows for hyper-precise application and long staying power.
Metallic finishes were a major moment in the ‘80s, whether on the lips or eyelids. Correa notes that it used to have a grungier feel, but that nowadays the trend has evolved into something more elevated. Instead of looking for harsh, high-contrast finishes, he says to look for multi-use formulas that feature reflective particles that enhance your overall look. They’ll help you embrace the metallic trend in a more elegant manner.
Pink and purple combo
The pink and purple color combo, though loud, has proven to be timeless. “Wearing defused pink or purplish highlighter over blush at the highest part of cheekbone and brushing up to the side of the temple gives an instant ‘80s feeling,” says makeup artist Kanako Takase. “Danach, layering a purplish-pearl or sparkle on the eyelids can shift the look to the ‘80s.”
Shine, glitter, and metallics were on everyone’s lips in the ‘80s, from L’Oreal Paris ads to Grace Jones’s signature performance looks. Now, metallic lips have taken a softer, subtler approach. Ferrari recommends updating the trend by using a shimmery powder right in the center of the lips and applying a tinted gloss over it. “You get a bit of shine and sparkle, but lips look plumper and more hydrated,” she explains.