how makeup has changed over time

How Makeup Has Changed Over Time

Makeup fads are constantly changing, much like fashion trends. And, over the last century, society’s perception of what constitutes an ideal makeup face has changed a lot.

Lips, for example, were the focal point of the face in the early 1900s and were often lined in sharp shapes. By the 1950s, however, women were more likely to sport rounded pouts in bright red colour. Similarly, popular eye makeup has evolved dramatically; in the 1930s, minimal colours were preferred and in the 1980s, pastel eye shadow was popular.

Here’s a look back at what the perfect face of makeup has looked like over the last 100 years, from the early 1900s to the 2000s.

How Makeup Has Changed Over Time

1900: Pale Skin and Rosy Cheeks

Women wore makeup in 1900, but they preferred it not to stand out. Since it was normal for sex workers to wear makeup, other women preferred to keep their use of makeup a secret so as not to draw any negative comparisons. Pale skin was very common, and women would apply powder to their cheeks and use a light blush.

The 1910s: Light makeup & bare faced appearance

The look: Makeup had come a long way by 1910. The most telling indication of this was the launch of Max Factor’s own studio. During this time, the first blush compact was sold. While makeup was still mainly an actress and theatre hobby – or for prostitutes – and not yet common, powder and blush were a major hit.

Despite the fact, there were only a handful of customers at the time, the cosmetics industry made significant progress. In 1909, Max Factor founded his beauty lab to produce cosmetics for celebrities, and in 1915, the first metal-tube lipstick was invented.

In the early 1900s, each of these trends had an influence on society’s preferred beauty looks. Women who wore makeup favored pale, powdered skin and stained lips throughout the decade.

The 20s: Dark eyeshadow, thick mascara, and bright lips.

By the 1920s, the makeup game had totally shifted. With the birth of the freedom-loving Flapper, Louise Brooksa, glam look swept the industry. Women started wearing visible makeup that was markedly different from the softer looks of previous decades in order to imitate the looks of their favorite silver screen idols. Deep red lipstick, as well as black smoky eyes and mascara, became the style.

Face powder and cream-rouge compacts were common at the time because complexion products were still synonymous with movie stars.

Red lipstick, applied in a rounded form on the bottom lip and dramatically on the top to accentuate the cupid’s bow, was an essential part of the perfect makeup face in the 1920s.

With a young, attention-getting makeup look, flappers like Louise Brooks made a bold fashion statement in the 1920s. Pond’s vanishing cream, which gave the skin a pearly sheen, was one of the first commercial face creams to be developed.

The 30s: Soft eyeshadow, short hair, and pencil-thin brows

In the 1930s, it was all about the brows. Women started to notice a pattern among actresses in the 1930s and soon followed suit: super-thin eyebrows. During this time, the practice of shaving one’s brows and drawing them in became common. Eyeshadow in pastel tones, dark pink lipsticks, and blush completed the look.

Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, and Marlene Dietrich influenced a bold new look—very thin brows—that was said to look better on film in the 1930s. Beauty salons began using electrical currents with pulsating microwaves for facial treatments in the 1930s to tighten and heal the skin.

The 40s: Light eyeshadow, mascara, red lips

During the 1940s, World War II broke out, and women entered the workforce in ways they had never done before. As a result of this, and wartime rationing that made excess seem inappropriate, the makeup began to take on a more realistic appearance. The days of smoky eyes and dark lips were long gone. Light eye makeup, such as a light brown eyeshadow and light mascara, was favored by women.

In 1940, famous skincare products like Palmer’s success ointment were used to achieve a flawless, fresh complexion. Due to the scarcity of many items during the war, homemade formulas became popular. With brands like Max Factor, Elizabeth Arden, and Maybelline developing new lines of bold lipsticks, Having Victory red lipstick was a must.

The 50s: Winged eyeliner and bright lips

Most women wore winged eyeliner and red lipstick by 1950.

After the strictures of the war, women decided to have a little more fun with their makeup and personal expression at the end of WWII. Although some women had previously worn winged eyeliner, Marilyn Monroe popularised it after starring in the 1950 film The Asphalt Jungle. Creamy foundations, rather than powder, were also common at the time, as was red or pink lipstick.

According to GlamourDaze, women in the 1950s wanted to look sexy and piled on heavy cosmetics to create a perfect look. For example, cream foundations were commonly worn under powder foundations.

The 60s:  Lots of mascara and false lashes on the upper and lower lids.

Twiggy, a model who popularised the “London Look” in the 1960s, was known for her bold eyebrows, thick mascara, bright white eyeshadow, and bare lips. Makeup was mainly applied to the eyes, with little colour applied to the rest of the face.

Popular makeup from the early 1900s to the 1950s focused on the face, especially the lips, cheeks, and brows. According to Millihelen, eye makeup took centre stage in the 1960s.

Opaque eye shadow in pastel tones was the perfect face of makeup at the time. Some women used colour to cover their eyelids, while others used a cut crease technique to apply shadow, which is still common today.

In the 1960s, a cut-crease look was achieved by drawing a distinct line across the crease of one’s eyelid with pastel eye shadow or eyeliner. The look was usually finished with black winged eyeliner and more eyeliner on the lower lash line.

The 70s: Long, wavy hair

By the 1970s, everyone had had enough of the over-the-top eye makeup, and women returned to a more natural look. In reality, in the 1970s, it was not unusual for women to go without eyeshadow entirely. Mascara was still common at this period, but not in the same way it was in the 1960s. In the 1970s, light eyeshadow and blush with a sheer finish were very common.

It’s impossible to say what the perfect makeup face looked like in the 1970s. According to the Hair and Makeup Artist Handbook, some women were still wearing 1960s styles, while others preferred party styles. At the time, a small number of people were also playing with punk fashion.

Many women in the 1970s were active in the women’s liberation movement and often opposed beauty standards.

Cosmetic companies caught on to the trend and started releasing products with labels like “barely there” and “invisible.” According to Good Housekeeping, glowing skin was needed, and eye makeup was virtually non-existent, except for light mascara.

The 80s: Full face with bright blush, “punk” look with neon lipstick and bright eyeshadow, and tall, wild hair

The 1980s were a great decade for trying out new looks. Women would glam it up in exaggerated tones to catch their looks in saturated images when disco was still a thing. Male and female rock stars alike wore bright mascara, eyeshadow, and lipstick. Madonna, even more than anyone else, popularized the “clubbing” look in the 1980s by wearing neon eyeshadow and lipstick.

In the 1980s, the perfect face of makeup was as vivid and vibrant as the trend. According to Cosmopolitan, yellow, purple, and blue eye shadows were especially common, and pink blush was worn excessively across the cheeks.

The 90s: Neutral colours, polished and clean hair

The 1990s were all about having a new look.

Any time there is an intense makeup look during a decade, the next decade seems to be the polar opposite. The ’90s took a different approach to cosmetic trends than the ’80s when self-expression by makeup was a big deal. The use of foundation, neutral eyeshadows, and blushes became fashionable. The use of light mascara and fresh, subtle colours was important. Lipstick in nude shades, as well as pink and brown lip liner, became common among women.

Some beautiful patterns from previous decades, such as thin eyebrows and blue eye shadow, resurfaced in the 1990s. During the decade, however, several new developments altered the perfect face of makeup.

During the 1990s, for example, Shimmering lips were all the rage. Women will sometimes apply a glossy gloss over a frosted lipstick to achieve full shine. According to Cosmopolitan, deep browns and reds were among the most common colours at the time.

It was often fashionable to wear rhinestones above your brows or around your lips, as well as glitter gel across your shoulders and ears.

The 2000s:  False lashes, contoured face, and highlighted cheeks

how makeup has changed over time

Everyone upped their makeup game in the 2000s.

In the ever-changing 2000s, makeup patterns are constantly changing. The first decade of the new millennium was marked by a slight eyebrow obsession with most people opting for a manicured, arched appearance. The obsession appears to be growing, with brow shaping and fill-ins being more necessary than ever. Contouring has also become common. False lashes are all the rage, and a bold highlighter is a must-have. Who knows what patterns will emerge in the future?


Today, the ideal face of makeup is not limited to women alone. In the last 15 years, a lot of men started wearing makeup. Let’s be clear- makeup in men was not introduced in the last 15 years but the amount of men wearing makeup has certainly increased a lot. Male Artists Little Richard and Prince had all worn eyeliner decades before.

However, today’s artists helped bring the trend back to life and played a major role in shifting society’s perception of the ideal makeup face. Today, the perfect makeup look is constantly changing due to trends on Instagram and YouTube. These trends are constantly shifting as a result of beauty standards set by social media.