2000s Beauty

It’s the last post of the Decades of Beauty series! It’s cool that it only took me five years to finish it, right? That’s not that long in the scheme of things. I mean, I covered nine decades in five years. That’s actually quite impressive.

This post will cover beauty trends up through 2010. That decade is called the “aughts”, which is a weird word. It sounds like something a person trying to be cool would say. Like “Bro, you remember that time in the aughts?” I personally prefer “the early 2000s” or “the previous decade.”

Anything after 2010 is part of the decade we are in, so I can’t write about that for another three years. Maybe I’ll be on schedule for that post. Maybe.

Although I lived through it and started my career as a makeup artist during the previous decade, it is difficult to write about in a way because we are not far away removed from that decade to see all of what was cheesy, weird or trendy. Some of what became popular 10 or 15 years ago is still popular today. But other trends–zig zag parts, anyone?–were short-lived enough to easily write about. So I’m gonna give this a go.

Ten years made a big difference in what was considered an attractive skin tone for Caucasian women. In the early 90s, pale skin was attractive. Even if foundation made your skin a little lighter, that was no big deal. By the early 2000s, tanning beds, self tanner and bronzer were mad popular. Bronzed beauties (that’s the magazine world’s term, not mine) like Jennifer Lopez and supermodel Gisele Bundchen were emulated. Self tanner and bronzer continued to get less orange-y and better formulated, which is a positive. But the rise of tanning beds/booths brought about “tanorexics,” or people addicted to the tan they got from those machines. In the areas of the country I lived in between 2000-2010, there were tanning salons in every section of each city. Melanoma occurrences increased significantly between 1990 and 2010, which I think could be partly due to fake tanning. Those who were lucky enough to not get skin cancer from regular fake tanning almost certainly have some skin damage today. I am kicking myself for tanning in high school and college. I didn’t do it regularly, but I’ve had five pre-cancerous moles removed in the last six years, and I think tanning booths/beds played some part in that.

Okay, off my soapbox. My point is that tanned skin became a desirable look in the early 2000s and is still part of the beauty world today. If it was out of fashion, there would be a much smaller self tanner market and spray tan techs would be struggling. I get it–I am one of those people who likes to (safely) look tan. I get a spray tan a couple times a year, and I’m a pretty regular Jergens Natural Glow user. I say it’s because I think tan skin looks better with my coloring–dark eyes, hair and eyebrows–but maybe I’m more influenced by the tan trend that I thought.

For women of color, ten years made a huge difference in what was available for foundation shades. More lines developed shades that would match all skintones. Some lines, like IMAN Cosmetics, were specifically created for darker skin. There are still some companies today that need to catch the hell up and add some darker colors to their lines, but the options have definitely improved and continue to grow.

Mineral makeup became big around 2005 due to the success of the bareMinerals line by Bare Escentuals. It seemed like for a while there, everyone was swirling, tapping and buffing. I always ask clients what they normally use for foundation and although I still hear “bareMinerals,” I hear it less than I did a few years ago. I think that’s because women are getting less afraid of liquid foundation, as there are so many great ones now on the market. (Some gals have also gone down the BB or CC cream routes.) In the last decade, we said goodbye to the days of only full coverage, all pink-undertoned shades available.

The trendy eyebrow of 2000 was a lot thinner than the trendy eyebrow of 2010. It was fuller than the early 90s brow, but not quite Cara Delevingne level. One of the big differences between the brows of ten years ago and today is the level of brow powder or pencil used. Filling in brows wasn’t a thing for the average woman in 2006, but as you may have noticed if you’ve ever been on Instagram, it’s almost standard now.

Whatchu know about the smokey eye? This trend became extremely popular in 2007 and stuck around for several years. It was hands down the biggest request I got when I started working as a professional makeup artist in 2008.  I still get the request, but now it’s more like “Can you make my eye makeup a little smokey?” A true smokey eye is shades of eye makeup done on a gradient. So the darkest color is closest to the lashline and the colors used get lighter as you move towards the crease. (On the lower lashline, it’s darker at the lashline with a lighter color or colors under that.) The smokey eye started in the 1920s, so this trend, like many others, is a recycle of something that’s already been done. The difference between 2007’s smokey eye and 1927’s smokey eye was that a) There were many more eyeshadow colors and textures to choose from in 2007 and b) Brows weren’t the thin, low, drawn-in brows of the Jazz Age, and brow style makes a huge difference in how a smokey eye looks.

Lashes started getting a lot of love (and sometimes, abuse) by the end of the early 2000s. False lashes have been around since the 1920s, but other than a resurgence in the mid 1960s had been mostly the domain of models and celebrities. I don’t know the exact statistics on this, but I feel confident that false lash sales have increased dramatically since 2010. Lash extensions are also very popular and using Latisse to increase lash growth had its moment. New mascaras that promise the world come out every day, and the creation of new, supposedly groundbreaking mascara wands–many of them garbage–started around 2006. The desire for long, full lashes became so strong that cosmetic companies were using false lashes in their mascara ads and got called out on it. That is true false advertising. (Ohhhh! Killed it.) Companies now have to put disclaimers on ads saying the model is wearing “lash inserts.” I think that happened because I bitched about it so much on Facebook and this blog…

Your lipgloss be poppin’? You know it was if you were under 35 between 2000-2010. The glossy lips trend gained traction in the late 90s and went strong up until the past few years. The trend now is matte lips, although I keep seeing runway trends of glossy lips trying to be a thing again. (It’s all cyclical, folks.) Nude lips were also very popular during the previous decade, especially when paired with a smokey eye.

Acrylic nails, particularly with a French manicure, were the go-to look for nails up to about halfway through the previous decade. By 2010, 63% of nail salons were offering the new popular nail polish option–gel manicures. This type of polish, if you can even call it that, was invented in the 1980s but due to some product flaws and limited education on the service, faded out for 20 years. From what I can tell–and this could just be the part of the country I live in–gel manicures are now considerably more popular than acrylic nails. In the almost 40 weddings I have personally done this year, I have seen acrylic nails exactly twice. Everyone else has had gel manicures, which tells me this 2010 trend is still going strong.

What was hair looking like in the last decade? Up through 2005, chunky highlights, zig zag hair parts and two-toned hair–think Cristina Aguilera during her “Dirty” era–were big. Flat iron mania hit around 2008. The flat iron itself had existed for over 100 years, but with its ceramic plates and adjustable heat settings, the flat irons of the later part of the last decade were far superior to their predecessors. And so, flat ironed hair became popular. Smooth, sleek and shiny was the goal, and a good flat iron and the right products could deliver.

Hair extensions had been used on models and actresses forever, but during this decade, that secret came out and they became mainstream. African American women had been getting weaves (sewn or braided-in extensions) for years, but the hair extensions I’m referring to were mostly clip-in, glued-in or taped-in extensions. Extensions are still popular today. Just ask the legions of guys who have put their hands through their girl’s hair and felt a clip, bead or tape.

While having a lot of hair on your head was a good thing during this decade, having hair elsewhere became undesirable to many. Chances are you never even heard of a Brazilian Wax–unless it’s some type of candle I don’t know about–before 2000. But starting around the beginning of this century, it became a common service offered by many salons and spa. Laser hair removal, which can be done on any body part, became popular. The majority of hair removal service clients are women, but some men have jumped on board too. Steve Carell’s chest waxing scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin comes to mind…

Injectables like Botox, Juviderm and Restylane became mainstream in the middle of the last decade. Chemical peels and lasers that reduce pigmentation also grew in popularity. More dermatologists and estheticians came out with their own skincare lines and regular facials became more commonplace. A greater emphasis was placed on clear, youthful skin during this decade, and that has only increased in recent years.

There are a lot of other areas related areas I could get into–YouTube beauty tutorials, the creation of Instagram and its influence on the beauty industry, the effect of HD filming, the start of the extreme retouching era, etc.–but I suspect you’ve had enough.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and any of the other Decades posts you may have read. I love learning about the trends and backstories of those trends from different decades. But when it comes to trends, I say don’t follow them because you feel you should. Choose products, looks and styles that best flatter and work with your features, skintone, coloring, hair type, etc. Looking and feeling your best will always be in style.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


1990s Beauty

Ah, sweet victory. It was late August of 1994 and I had won the biggest battle of my life so far: my parents had finally allowed me to wear makeup to school. And wear it I did. I did not go with a “no makeup-makeup” look. I had been stocking up at CVS for years and I was ready to show the world that I was someone who could and would wear makeup (and lots of it). The 1990s was my new favorite decade.

This Beauty Decades post is the first one I can write about from experience. I was born in the 80s but as a child, I didn’t really know what was going on with hair and makeup trends. (Which is fine, because I wouldn’t have wanted my formative beauty years to be based in 80s looks.) But my teenage years–aka when you try all the makeup and make all the mistakes–were in the 90s, a decade that my brain still thinks was about 8 years ago.

In the early 90s, matte makeup was the thing. Brown and wine colored lipsticks were in (I’m looking at you, Revlon Coffee Bean and Blackberry), and lipliner was a must. I’m talking two-shades-darker-than-your-lipstick lipliner. There was also a trend of wearing dark lipliner with a light beige lipstick and I was definitely feelin’ that one. By the late 90s, lipsticks were frostier and lip glosses were everywhere.

Foundations had improved since the 80s, but the majority of them still had a pink undertone. Although more and more formulations hit the market every day, they were usually matte and medium or full coverage in the early and mid 90s. Tinted moisturizer become popular in the late 90s, finally giving an option to women who wanted some coverage but not a full face of foundation.

Blush didn’t get much love in the 90s. It was probably because most of it had been striped on people’s cheekbones in the 80s, or maybe snorted up by accident.

Early 90s eyeshadows were primarily warm matte browns. Black eyeliner was the go-to color. In the mid to late 90s, shimmery white and opalescent shadows were popular, particularly with teens and young women. And if you went to high school between 1996-2000 and claim that you never wore white eyeliner on your top lashline, you’re lying.

Colored mascara had its moment, but other than that, there wasn’t a huge emphasis on lashes. False lashes were not popular and although lash extensions were invented in 1916, they didn’t hit the mainstream market until after the 90s.

Thin eyebrows were the bomb in the 90s. Sure, you saw the occasional Cindy Crawford full and arched brow, but most were tweezed into thin little lines. It personally was too much work for me to get my brows that thin, as they are robust, Italian brows, but looking back at my photos from middle school and high school, I see that many of my friends were tweezer-happy. Brows got thicker and more stylized in the late 90s but were still on the thin side, at least compared to today.

Bronzer of the Oompa Lompa variety was popular in the mid to late 90s. A rise in the popularity of tanning booths soon followed. Those evil machines have been the cause of so much skin cancer and skin damage and are surely one of the most deadly and damaging beauty trends of the 20th and 21st centuries. I understand the desire to look tan and I definitely went in tanning booths before proms and spring breaks. But I didn’t know how bad they were, and I cringe at the thought of them now. On the positive side, this obsession with looking tan forced the market to create better self tanning products, bronzers and the spray tan. Jergens Natural Glow was created in the 90s and it’s still a popular product today.

The grunge scene had a huge impact on makeup, particularly in the early 90s. It was all about dark, thick, smudgy eyeliner rimming the eyes and in the waterline and greasy or bedhead hair. Mascara was swiped on like the wearer was in a rush to go to a Pearl Jam concert. If foundation was used it was the same color or slightly lighter than skintone. Blush and bronzer did not exist in this world. Lips were either bare or dark and matte.

The hip hop culture of the 90s heavily influenced the beauty and fashion worlds (at least in my life). Dark lipliner around the lips filled in with light lipstick was a big look, as Kim Mathers can attest to. The black pencil eyeliner at the lower lashline was about the same thickness as the popular over-tweezed brows. High, tight ponytails gave an instant facelift. Curls were gelled to within a crunchy inch of their life.  Baggy jeans and a tight top or an oversized Fila or Looney Toons t-shirt really brought the look home, in case you want the full picture.

Skincare became more important in the mid to late 90s. Facials and spa treatments–once reserved for wealthy women only–became more accessible. Estheticians and dermatologists were frequently interviewed for magazine beauty articles and the general realization that good skincare was key emerged.

Nail polish was big in the 90s. Hard Candy and Essie were crazy popular and the Chanel Vamp shade was often sold out. Deep, dark colors were in but really any matte color had its moment. Acrylic nails and French manicures were for the classy ladies. And you want to put some rhinestones on those claws? Do it to it, homegirl.

Streaky highlights were so 90s. The Rachel, the cut Jennifer Aniston had on Friends, was everywhere. Frosted tips on short hair–for women and men–were in. Zig zag parts were super popular, as were plastic accordion headbands and blingy (I hate that word) barrettes. In the early to mid 90s, there were a lot of scrunchies and baby barrettes being sold.

I think the 1990s is when our culture became truly celebrity-obsessed, which had a major impact on the beauty industry. Between magazines and the new Internet thing, people were seeing more celebrity faces outside of film and television. Celebrity endorsements of beauty products became commonplace and instead of models on magazine covers, you saw actresses. In interviews in women’s magazines, it was pretty standard that an actress would be asked about her beauty routine. Whether she answered honestly or not was one thing, but you better believe if Jennifer Lopez said she used a certain bronzer, that company’s sales were about to go through the roof.

As cheesy as some of the looks were, 90s beauty was in my opinion–which is correct–a lot better than 80s beauty. It was more flattering and less-in-your-face than the previous decade and product technology improved in a huge way over those 10 years. There was a marked difference between the foundation choices available in 1999 versus 1990.  And the beginning of the shift towards taking care of your skin instead of just using makeup to (try to) hide imperfections and damage was a game changer.

I hold a special place in my heart for the 90s, my coming-of-age years. This was when my childhood love for beauty products blossomed, as I finally had a small income and was allowed to wear makeup to school. Most importantly, I was able to experiment with different looks. The past few decades had made this possible. If I was a teen in the 40s, I would have had pretty strict rules about which colors to wear, which haircut was best for my face shape, how much makeup a “classy” girl wore, etc. But the country changed in the 60s (read about it here http://wp.me/pZuuY-v1), allowing women to have some choice over a lot of things, including how they looked. That continued into the 70s (http://wp.me/pZuuY-vB), where the free-spirited hippy and later disco cultures encouraged people to play around with their looks. That brought us into the 80s (http://wp.me/pZuuY-AJ), where self expression and an anything-goes take on colors was the norm. I’m grateful that I grew up in a decade where I had the freedom to try different looks and figure out what worked for me. (Frosted blue lipstick and shimmery lilac eyeshadow does not.) So thank you 90s for this and for what I consider the Golden Age of Hip Hop.

Have a beautiful day 🙂




1980s Beauty

I was born in the 80s but I’m not an 80s Girl. The music, the clothes, the hair, the makeup–not my thing. I like some movies from that era, but if you send me a Facebook invite for an 80s party, I have to Ignore.

So, have I been excited to write this post? What do you think?

The one thing I have to give the 80s beauty props for is the try-anything philosophy. Neon green eyeshadow and electric blue eyeliner with fuschia lipstick? Sprayed-until-crunchy permed hair? Boy George? People were playing with their looks and into self expression and for that, I can not fault them. But esthetically, the 80s were not a pretty place. So many unflattering looks and styles on so many people. The term “cringe-worthy” comes to mind.

Which color eyeshadows were popular in the 1980s? All of them. Often at the same time. Purple, pink, green, blue and make them frosted. Orange? That’s cool too. If you want to do an 80s makeup look, make sure to apply your eyeshadow up to the browbone and throw some color blocking in to keep it interesting.

Heavy bottom lash eyeliner in navy and hunter green were work appropriate in the 80s. Thick brows, a la Brooke Shields, were also in. These brows were soft but thick, different than the heavy and defined Instagram brow trending (for better or worse) now. Blush was bright, heavy and striped onto the cheekbones. Foundations were full coverage and often lighter than the person’s skintone, with the goal of creating a blank canvas.  Lipliner liner was a girl’s best friend in the 80s and overlining the lips was totally rad. Fuschia and hot pink lipsticks were popular, as were orange reds.  The 70s punk makeup–lots of black liner and light foundation–continued into the 80s and got heavier than the previous decade.

Nails were long, squoval and often fake (what up, Lee Press On’s?). Neon polish colors were popular with the younger crowd, while frosted raspberries and mauves spoke to the more mature ladies.

80s hair was sprayed with AquaNet and bangs were tall. Perms were popular, as was crimped hair and side ponytails. On women with short hair, the slicked back with gel look was en vogue.  Hair bows, headbands, banana clips and scrunchies were all the rage. Things were a little better in the punk scene, with asymmetrical cuts. Mohawks were also very punk.

“Natural” was not the keyword of the 1980s. I think “cocaine” was. The idea seemed to be to play up every feature at once, but not in a flattering way. I think 80s hair and makeup looks are helpful because they show us what not to do.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

1970s Beauty


When I asked my mother how my father proposed, she said “I don’t know, honey. It was the 70s. We just kind of talked about it.” And that, I think, sums up the 70s…

No, I don’t mean that. There was a lot going on in the 1970s! The 1960s had brought controversy over racial relations, women’s lib, environmental concerns and involvement in the Vietnam War. These issues were intensified in the 70s, with tumultuous political issues and widespread distrust of the government.  The freedom that people started to fight for in the 60s tipped all the way to hedonism for some.

Seems a bit silly to talk about beauty after that last paragraph, huh? But this a beauty blog, not a history course. And hair, makeup and fashion looks are a part of history.  If you disagree, imagine any of the well known period piece films showing actors with modern hair, makeup and wardrobe. It just wouldn’t work.

So let’s get to it, (wo)man.

The soft and natural look, a la Farrah Fawcett, reigned throughout the decade. Sunkissed skin and tawny lips complimented the earth-toned eye makeup that was a go-to look for many women.

Frosted makeup was popular for lips, eyes and cheeks. And in the 70s, it wasn’t uncommon to see it used on all three areas at the same time. Shine bright like a disco ball…

Contoured eye shadow fell out of fashion in the 70s. There might have been some browbone highlight, but a defined crease–which had been popular in the 60s–was not on trend. White eyeliner was on trend in the 70s. It was worn on the top lashline, sometimes on its own, sometimes above a dark eyeliner. Obvious liner at the lower lashline was not as popular. If a woman wasn’t wearing a natural eyeshadow, there was a good chance she had on a pastel purple, green or blue.

Cake mascara was a thing of the past. All mascara came in tubes and colors like raspberry, turquoise and lavender were popular. It wasn’t applied as heavily as it had been in the 60s and with the exception of the Disco and Punk looks, it was concentrated on the top lashes. Typical mascara application was more fluttery and long than thick and layered. False lashes were not as popular as they had been in the 60s.

Eyebrows were on the thin side. In the early 70s, there was a revival of the 1920s look, thanks to films like Cabaret and The Great Gatsby. Your average 70s woman tweezed maybe a littttttle too much, and would opt for lighter over darker brows.

Pastel, peach and pink lipsticks, often with a shimmer or frost finish, were worn throughout the decade. Lips tended to be more glossy than matte. Red lips came into fashion during a 1940s look trend. Lipliners were not as popular as they had been in years past.

Blush was soft and natural until mid 70s. Then it became more prominent, striped on the cheekbones and not well blended. It came in powder, gel and cream formulations in compact, tube and stick packaging.

With disco music and dance clubs came a whole new type of makeup. It was shimmery, glittery and anything but natural. Smokey eyes and a dark red lip were de riguer at places like Studio 54, as were jewel toned eye shadows and shimmery cheek colors. Hair was big and soft and often center-parted.

Punk music and its subculture came on the scene in the late 70s. For makeup, heavy black eyeliner for men and women was a must. It was often drawn in a cat eye shape with an exaggerated flick. Red or black lipstick, often shaped into a point on the top lip was oh-so-punk. Bold striped blush was applied–screw the blending. If foundation was used, it was usually on the pale side.

The 1970s brought about lots of nail options. The French Manicure was created in mid 70s and plastic press on nails came onto the market. Rounded tips were the norm but square tips came into fashion later in the 70s. Some women applied white pencil under the tips of their fingernails–something my mother still does.

Feathered hair was popular, with its big curls flicked or winged out. Long, straight and center parted hair was popular in the early and mid 70s. The Shag, the Afro and the Pageboy were popular, as were cornrows, perms and wedge cuts.

Tans–both real and fake–were hugely popular. Tanning beds, baby oil and foil reflectors made deep, dark tans easily accessible. (My collagen is recoiling in horror as I think about foil reflectors.)

Revlon, Max Factor, Coty, Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, Maybelline, Bourjois, Rimmel, Yardley, CoverGirl, Maybelline and Biba were the biggest cosmetic companies. Avon was the first mainstream makeup company to expand its color line to cover all skintones. Unfortunately, some cosmetic companies today still have not caught up.

It’s my personal opinion the 1970s gave us the last original truly glamorous makeup with the disco look. Sure, some of that was tacky as hell, but there were some undeniably glamorous looks–hair, makeup and clothing–that came out of that era. And as far as I am concerned, that kind of glamour has died. So thank you, 1970s, for that gift. It gives a little makeup artist like me some inspiration.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


1960s Beauty

Because of the multitude of different looks, the 1960s is my favorite decade in terms of beauty. If you have any memory of high school history class, you know that the 1960s was an era of big changes. Civil rights, women’s rights, the sexual revolution, the start of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War–this was not a quiet decade. Political and social changes happened at a rapid pace, and the younger generation was heavily involved.

In terms of beauty and fashion, the sexual revolution and the re-emergence of the feminist movement strongly impacted the average woman. By the mid 60s, she no longer felt as constrained by the male’s definition of what she should look like. Hot pants and bikinis became popular, marking the first time women routinely showed that much skin in public. Many women felt they no longer needed to wear what their fathers or husbands deemed appropriate for them, so whether that meant miniskirts and go go boots or bell bottoms and paisley tunics, they didn’t all conform to a man’s standards.

The re-emergence of feminist movement effected women in two ways in regards to beauty. Some revolted and didn’t wear makeup at all, while others embraced makeup and wore it as a badge of honor, like many suffragettes had done some 50 years before.  In the 60s, it was finally up to women what they wanted to do. There were of course still trends, which many blindly followed, but it was unlike past decades because women did not feel they only had one or two options.

“The Single Girl,” a fashion photography look, was meant to represent movement. The Single Girl was young, single (duh), independent and active. She didn’t have to depend on a male for her financial or emotional needs. Empowering, right? Except for the part where she was also supposed to have an almost adolescent figure. Model Jean Shrimpton popularized this look.

In terms of hair and beauty, the early 60s looked like the late 50s, as is the way with the beginning of any decade. Just because the ball drops on New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean new hair, makeup and fashion trends immediately begin. So early 60s makeup brought in the black winged liner of the 50s, as well as the popular late 50s frosted eye shadows and coral lips. Hair, makeup and fashion were still very ladylike, inspired by women like Jackie Kennedy and Ann Margret. By the mid 60s, lips were often light, almost white beige. (They got darker at the end of the decade, with brown reds becoming popular.) There was a trend of pink lipstick on the bottom lip and red on top, but it didn’t become a huge look. Foundation was still used, but not as heavily as in the 50s. Blush was normally light pink or peach, but it wasn’t a standout part of most women’s looks.

The cut crease eyeshadow look was popularized by British model Twiggy, with her white shadow on the lid and dark shadow in the crease. Black eyeliner was used on top and bottom lashlines and was usually winged out on top. Mascara–often tube mascara but still sometimes block form–was loaded on top and bottom lashes, and sometimes bottom lashes were painted on with eyeliner. False lashes were extremely popular and used on both top and bottom. White eyeliner was often used on the bottom waterline to emphasize this doll-eye look. This cut crease, heavy-lashes eye makeup look was very popular in the mid 60s.

When it came to the all important eyebrow, some women threw out the brow pencil and went with a more natural look, while others did the opposite by shaving their eyebrows off and penciling them back in. From my research, it looks like more women (thankfully) chose the former. In the 1960s, you didn’t see much of the highly arched brows that were popular in the 50s.

French Actress Brigitte Bardot had a different take on 60s beauty. She did her own twist on a smokey eye with blacks and browns. Her skin was tan and not caked with foundation. Her cheeks were a light peach, and her lips were a pale matte color. She wore her hair long, wavy and teased. She was the sexpot of the 60s.

Another look that was en vogue for a lot of the younger population was the hippie look.  Hippies didn’t typically wear much (or any) traditional makeup, but often drew colorful flowers and peace signs on their faces. Their hair was usually long, straight and center-parted and maybe topped with a flower crown. The completely naturally hippie look, demonstrated by people like musician Janis Joplin, was a true no makeup-makeup and wash-and-go hair (with the washing part optional for some).

As far as the beauty industry, Max Factor, Revlon, CoverGirl, Coty, Maybelline and Yardley were the big players in the American market. Welsh clothing designer, Mary Quant, created a cosmetic line for her “miniskirt wearing customers.”Helena Rubenstein, Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden continued to rule the luxury cosmetics sector.

Polished, perfect hair reigned in the early 60s, but it was much bigger than it had been ten years before. Vidal Sassoon introduced the bob in 1963. Beehives (updo or half up style) and bouffants remained popular until the late 60s. Straight, center-parted hair (literally often ironed on an ironing board–ahem, Mom) became popular in the mid-late 60s. Wigs were popular, as were hair pieces to help pump up the volume. Many African American women started wearing their hair natural, and the Afro peaked late 60s through the early 70s. Head scarves were popular for much of the decade.

There was a drastic change in beauty and fashion from 1960 to 1969. The television series Mad Men did an excellent job of showing this transformation. The drastic changes in appearances coincided with the drastic changes in America at the time. There was upheaval  in many areas, and it was both an exciting and scary time for the country.

But I’m not historian (just a bit of a history geek, if you can’t tell), so I’ll stick to what I know. As a makeup artist, I love doing 1960s looks both on clients and on myself. Big hair, black eyeliner, lots of lashes, pale lips–I can’t get enough of that Priscilla Presley look. There is some element of 1960s beauty that will appeal to almost anyone. So take some Swinging 60s inspiration and apply it your look. It’ll be boss, man.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

*Double click on the images above to see them in greater detail*

1950s Beauty

Ava GardnerAudrey Hepburn Debbie Reynolds Elizabeth Taylor Grace Kelly Jayne Mansfielddoris_day_1955-226x300Marilyn Monroe

The 1950s saw a boom in economic prosperity and business. America had proven to be a major world power in the past 50 years, and times were good (well, if you were a middle class or wealthy white male, anyway.) In terms of beauty and fashion, the 1940s, especially during the war, were very understated and no-nonsense for the average woman. In the 1950s, a huge increase in  marriage and birth rates turned the American woman’s focus back to being a wife and mother. Not just a wife and mother, but a model wife and mother.

The 1950s, more than any past decade, were about being the perfect housewife. There was an strong focus on femininity. Influenced by the pin up girl look, clothing was about creating the illusion of a narrow waist and a high, rounded bust. Corset-like undergarments became popular again. Women wore heels, not flats, even around the house (at least while their husbands or guests were there). Those stilettos meant there was a lot of baby-step walking going on. Dainty and ladylike was the ideal.

Makeup, seen as visual indicator of femininity, was not used sparingly. Most women used cream, liquid or pancake foundation, flesh toned setting powder, blush (then called rouge), eyeshadow, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, mascara, lipliner and lipstick. If primers and setting sprays had been around in the 1950s, you can bet those women would have included those in their daily regimens.

A pale complexion was en vogue, and the idea was to create and mask-like base. Rouge–usually soft peach or pink–was used sparingly. Lipstick was often a bold or bright color. Pink reds, true reds and corals were the most popular. The average woman used lipliner to follow their natural lipline but some actresses slightly overdrew their top lip. Women often matched their nail polish to their lipstick. The most common nail shape was oval, and long–but not too long–fingernails were considered classy and ladylike.

Eyeshadow was applied just to the lids, with contouring mainly used on actresses. Pastel shadows, particularly blues and greens, were popular. Frosted shadows entered the market in the late 50s. Eyeliner was normally black or brown and applied in a winged out line at the top lashline. The thickness of eyeliner lines varied, with the more natural look women tending towards thin lines and a smaller flick. Lower lashline eyeliner was not popular. Tube mascara was invented, although some women still chose to use cake or block mascara, which was applied with a small brush. Mascara was applied to top lashes, but not usually to the bottom lashes.

Eyebrows were thick to medium thick. They were groomed and generally highly arched, tapering at the ends. The inner corners were sometimes rounded, sometimes squared off. Some women preferred the thick, straight across brow a la Audrey Hepburn. No matter which brow shape they chose, brow pencil was often used to darken or thicken.

Revlon, Max Factor and Pond were the leaders in the beauty industry (in what we would today call the drugstore sector). Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein were the big luxury product lines.

1950s hair was typically very “done”–the opposite of today’s desired beachy waves and bedhead looks. There were several popular looks. Shorter hair (chin length or above) was most common. The Italian Cut, inspired by Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, was a short, structured cut with soft curls. High ponytails, with the ends often flipped out, were all the rage with teens. Pageboy or brushed under bobs were considered classy, while the gamine or pixie cut was more edgy. The bouffant became popular in the mid 50s, but didn’t reach the height of its popularity–pun intended–until the early 60s. Chemical relaxers became more readily available in the 1950s, which popularized straight hair for African American women. The 50s had one interesting hair fad that I was unaware of–temporary gold and silver streaks.  Metallic powders or spray were used to create these. Fake hair pieces for chignons and other styles also had a spike in popularity.

Hollywood actresses continued to have a major influence on hair and makeup looks. There was a divide between the looks of the decade–I call it The Good Girl vs The Bad Girl. On the Good Girl side of the spectrum, you had the more natural, girl-next-door actresses like Debbie Reynolds and Doris Day. Blonde Good Girl, Grace Kelly, was the ultimate in understated but elegant glamour. Audrey Hepburn was the brunette Good Girl, girl-like but womanly at the same time. Elizabeth Taylor was more of the glamorous Good Girl. On the Bad Girl side of the spectrum, you had the gorgeous Ava Gardner (she’s kind of my favorite), drinking, swearing and having a scandalous affair with and then marriage to Frank Sinatra. Italian star Gina Lollabrigida had that temptress thing going for her, and Jayne Mansfield did the blonde, sex kitten version of it. While the Good Girls wore pretty dresses that nipped in at the waist and flared at the hips, the Bad Girls favored styles that hugged the body. Marilyn Monroe had a look all her own. She was more done up than a Good Girl, but not as overtly sexy as a Bad Girl.

If I had to chose a word to sum up the look of the 1950s, it would be feminine. Whether a look was done in a cute, girl-next-door way, an elegant understated way, or a sultry, glamorous way, it was womanly and polished. At least one of these looks will speak to you, so why not give it a try?

Have a beautiful day 🙂





1940s Beauty

Ah, the simple glamour of the 1940s. From the working woman of the war to the femme fatale of film noir, the 1940s were about minimal makeup and a natural look. During this time, women were expected to look put together, but never overdone. During WWII, they took on new roles in America, working in factories or taking part in war efforts. The new roles brought forth a new look, and the theme was practical yet polished.

In the early 1940s, the cosmetics available to women were limited due to war time rationing. Ingredients necessary for products like mascara and eyeliner were needed for war materials, so those products were off the market. Resourceful women used boot black as mascara, shoe polish to color eyebrows and rose petals soaked in alcohol as liquid blush. Castor oil, a main ingredient in lipstick, was needed for war materials, but somehow lipsticks were still available. In fact, lipsticks became the number one most popular product of that decade–it’s estimated that 90% of women at that time wore lipstick daily. Women in the military were expected to wear lipstick, and Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden even created specific reds to match or compliment uniforms.

As far as face makeup was concerned, the idea was to make it undetectable. Foundations were applied lightly, and minimal rouge (if any) was used. Powder, one of the makeup products not affected by war time rationing, was still widely used. The 1940s skin was matte, and that stayed constant throughout the decade.

When eyeshadows were used, they were natural and well blended. Eyeliner was used on the the top lashline only, and the line was very thin. When mascara became available again, it was used sparingly, in staying with the minimal makeup look. Gone were the shaved off and re-drawn eyebrows of the 1930s. 1940s brows were usually naturally shaped and only stray hairs were tweezed.

If a woman had a thin top lip, it was often overdrawn to be equal in size to the bottom lip. Reds were popular for the early and middle part of the decade, but pinks started to become popular in the late 1940s. The lipstick was the only real noticeable makeup on the face.

1940s hair was often in soft curls and parted to the side. Victory rolls–think Rosie the Riveter–were popular during the war, especially with working women. Many women wore their hair longer in the 1940s, as a show of femininity during a time when many of the products and clothing they were used to were not accessible.

The film noir femme fatale came about after the war. Her makeup was still pretty natural, no huge departure for the war time look. It is my opinion that the lighting, styling, acting and general cinematography of film noir is what gave these women their seductive looks. It wasn’t about a smokey eye or shimmery bronzed skin. The 1940s femme fatale look had less to do with makeup and more to do with those other factors.

I think 1940s makeup was beautiful, and I love the refined styles of the time. The makeup is classic, and for those of you who want to try it, it is certainly day-time appropriate. The thought of wearing a matte red lip scares a lot of people, but I think it is classy and instantly brightens you up. And the eye makeup and brows are simple and natural, two things I have found that a lot of people like. Give it a try–I think you’ll like it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

1930s Beauty

In the 1930s, the country was dealing with the aftermath of the Great Depression, but the film industry continued to grow. And along with it came new beauty icons. More than ever before, the public needed distraction–and films delivered. Remember, this was a time before television and Internet, so film stars were really the only public figures that everyone could see.

Looks changed as the decade went on, and certain film stars had their own signature look, but there were some similarities and trends that are thought to be classic 1930s. Eyebrows were very thin, rounded, usually drawn on and extended down towards the temples. Many women tweezed or completely shaved off their eyebrows, drew in new, thin brows and applied a layer of petroleum jelly to make them shine. The petroleum jelly was also sometimes used on bare lids to give a sheen to the area. But eyeshadows themselves were still matte. The classic Hollywood look used shadows in natural colors to highlight and contour the eye, but “everyday” women often wore shadows in shades that matched their eye color. A slightly downturned, sleepy eye was a popular shape for onscreen sirens. One mascara trend was to use brown on the lashes, with black added on the tips. False lashes were popular and they tended to be long, light and feathery as opposed to dark, full and heavy.

Pale skin and foundations with pink undertones were in vogue. In the early 30s, light pink cheek colors were most common, but the colors got deeper as the decade progressed. The popular lip shape was an overdrawn top lip that was rounded and extended at the corners. This elongated bow shape, most dramatically worn by Joan Crawford, was referred to as the “Crawford Smear,” “Rosebud Mouth,” or the “Cruller.” The vampy purple reds from the 1920s were traded in for light rose, raspberry and later in the 30s, red shades.

When it came to hair, gone were the bangs of the 1920s. Hair was slightly longer, styled in waves and usually pushed back from the face or side parted. Finger waves were popular throughout the decade. Jean Harlow, the first platinum blonde, started a frenzy for lightened locks. Hair color formulas were far from perfected at this point, so many women damaged their hair using harsh bleaches and color kits. When brunette Hedy Lamarr came on the scene in 1938, women started to color their hair brown to emulate her. Just thinking about the drastic hair changes many women made in the 30s makes me want to deep condition my hair…

Nails were often painted to match dress colors. Sometimes a silvery topcoat was added. The polish was applied to the center of the nails leaving the half moons and tips bare. (A girl like me who has no visible half moons would have had to fake it!) Towards the end of the decade, women started painting the nail tips as well.

Compacts became popular, so women could openly touch up powder and lipstick while showing off an accessory. There were many beautiful compacts made, and I love the look of them. I think there is something so ladylike and classy about the vintage compacts. To me, modern makeup packaging just doesn’t have that “ooh la la!” factor.

There was a luxurious feel to the 1930s beauty looks, thanks to the Hollywood stars and starlets of that decade. It was the beginning of the Golden Age of film, and the actresses who defined it were glamorous, sultry, beautiful, and alluring. There was nothing low maintenance or natural about these looks, but who says that’s bad thing?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

1920s Beauty

Photo: Robert Hare Photography / Makeup: Allison Barbera / Model: Alyssa McClellan / Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty

It’s taken me so long to get to the first Decades post because I keep learning more and more about the beauty looks from different eras. But then I reminded myself of two things 1) I can edit this post and add more info after it’s been published and 2) I’m not writing a friggin’ book here. So this is what I’ve got for now…

The Roaring Twenties, The Jazz Age, art deco, The Great Gatsby, flappers, Prohibition, silent films. These are the trigger words to help bring you into the right decade. Since history influences beauty and fashion, certain looks will make more sense if you know what was going on at the time. But this is a beauty blog, not a history, so I’ll keep it brief. WWI ended in 1918, bringing a sense of lightness and fun after years of death and sadness. By 1920, women in all states were finally allowed to vote, after nearly 40 years of the suffrage movement. As a result, women felt more free than ever before.

The first Miss American pageant was held in 1921, which was around the same time that mass production of beauty products exploded onto the market. John Robert Power opened the first modeling agency in 1923. In combination with the growing popularity of films, women of the 1920s became focused on how they looked and what was in style.

The long hair of years past was chopped into bobs, a rebellious move for many. Some wore this look with small curls gelled onto the face or pulled out from the popular headbands and ribbons of the time. Dresses became shorter, brushing the knee, and a thin, “boyish” figure was popular. Gone were the corsets and restricting clothes that had been the American woman’s wardrobe choices for so long.

As with any decade, there were a few different popular makeup looks during the 1920s. One of the most popular looks at the time was a dark eye makeup, whether it was made dark by kohl eyeliner or eyeshadow (which was often dark grey or green). Mascara, in cake or cream form, was applied liberally using a small brush or wand, as tube mascara was not invented yet. Eyebrows were rounded and super thin–sometimes shaved off and re-drawn–and low on the face. Face powder, which was previously only available in pale, pasty shades, become available in more flesh-toned shades. Blush (or “rouge”, as it was called), often in orange or rose tones, was applied in circles on the cheeks. Dark lip colors became popular, and lips had a very distinct shape. The top lip was rounded in a way that emphasized the cupid’s bow, and the length was shortened. The overall result was a big-eyed, almost doll-like face. Daytime makeup became less heavy by the late 1920s, but there was still an “anything goes” attitude towards nighttime makeup.

The legend goes that Coco Chanel made tanned skin popular by accidentally falling asleep in the sun. She then started purposely tanning, and for the first time in American history, pale skin was “out.” Tanned skin now symbolized that a woman was wealthy enough to summer in resort locations, playing tennis outdoors and sunbathing. In the past, pale skin signified the class level of a woman. If she was pale, she was rich enough to not have to work outside, and so paleness was desired (and often achieved by way of dangerous skin bleaching creams). Kind of makes you cringe, doesn’t it? I love learning about the looks from different eras, but I definitely don’t like the idea of any one skin color being “in fashion.”

I love 1920s beauty because it was such a departure from the looks that had been in style before that time. Long hair chopped into bobs; light, natural lips redrawn as small, bow shaped mouths in deep colors; bare eyes darkened and mascared to the max–real statement looks! If you look at the changes from the average woman in 1915, to the average woman in 1925, you won’t find many similarities. But it wasn’t just a change in appearances. It symbolized a change in American culture in regards to women. There would still be a long road ahead, but for the first time, women felt a sense of freedom they hadn’t experienced before. Love it!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Back In The Day

I’m a history geek. I’ve always loved learning about different time periods, I devour historical fiction books and I’m convinced I lived a past life in the 1920s. When my family talks about our relatives arriving at Ellis Island, or those who fought in WWII, or life growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I’m all ears. I love vintage jewelry and feel very much “myself” in retro styles from the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s.

My fascination with times past spills over into my makeup artistry. One of my favorite things to do as a makeup artist is to learn about and re-create looks from different time periods. I’ve been really into researching and re-creating period looks lately, so guess where that information is going to end up? This will be the first in a series of blog posts about beauty looks in America from the 1920s through today. I’ll concentrate more on makeup, since that’s my area of expertise, but will include info about hair styles when possible.

Cosmetics have been around for centuries–you can thank the ancient Egyptians for the black kohl liner look–but I’m going to focus on the 1920s and later. This is partially because cosmetics became more readily available after WWI and partially because there weren’t many pictures (and no color pictures) of beauty looks until well into the 20th century. I think it’ll be helpful to show pictures of beauty icons from different decades along with the posts, in case my writing is unclear or you’re not in the mood to read 🙂

Part of the reason I love learning about looks from different decades is because so much of what we see today takes its inspiration from the past. Celebrities like Adele, Gwen Stefani and Katy Perry wear some of the more obvious throwback looks, and you can see retro inspiration in runway shows each season. But little nuggets of retro-ness show up more subtly in many looks. It’s hard for me to do a cherry red lip without thinking of 1950s pinup girls, and a bright blush applied high on the cheekbones automatically reminds me of the 1980s.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading these posts as much as I’m sure I’ll enjoy writing them. Now time to decide what decade I want to be today…

Have a beautiful day 🙂