The History of Make Up

From Egyptian kohl eyeliner to Kylie Lip Kits, makeup has been through a lot of changes over the years. Each decade brings a new style and trend to the next generation of makeup lovers. Whether you are a makeup enthusiast, history buff, or just seeking some inspiration for your next costume party, here are some of the most popular trends from the past century.

By: Kendall Williams



Some of the earliest trends in makeup started around the same time as silent films. In the 1920s, makeup was used to highlight and emphasize the expressions of the silent film actors because they could not speak. Popular features included rosy cheeks, thin penciled on eyebrows, and dark lips. Because of the fame surrounding silent film stars, these looks became incredibly popular with the women of the times. If you want to bring this look to modern day I would highly recommend rocking a berry lip, bold brows, and a rosy blush.

After the 20s, makeup seemed to fall in popularity with the public. This could be due to the fact that America was fighting in WWII, and many working class American’s also suffered in the Great Depression. Resources were tight, and makeup was not a priority for many women. However, makeup returned in the 1950s with prominent movie stars and models such as Marilyn Monroe, popularizing the classic red lip, and black cat eye. In today’s culture, this look is still seen very often. To modernize it, I would keep the look sleek and focus on the red lip, with minimal to no eye makeup.

When the swinging 60s came around, pop culture diverged into two main factions: mod and hippie. The mod movement had the limelight during the 1960s. One of the most recognized people of this fashion movement was none other than the model Twiggy. Twiggy was famous for her graphic eyeliner that emphasized her large, doe-like eyes. This worked especially well because it photographed so beautifully. Since graphic eyeliner still holds a place in the makeup world today, I would suggest rocking some black graphic liner, or a bold colored eyelid, with a nude lip to evoke the feeling of the 60s mod movement.


Of course the 1970s was a time of free love, hippies, and natural makeup. Most trends were centered on colorful eye shadow and full lashes. There was not as much of an emphasis on makeup, because the hippie movement of the time was anti-capitalism. This overall looks and style was perpetuated by singers such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Janis Joplin. If you want to take some inspiration from this decade, I would suggest keeping it simple with a pastel colored lid, mascara, and nude lip.

The 80s was the complete opposite of the 70s. With the rise of rock music, makeup was highly influenced by bands like KISS, Queen, and Van Halen. Women who were a part of the rock movement would go to concerts wearing looks that were very bold, colorful, and a bit out there. If you want to wear a look inspired by 80s rock, I would suggest wearing a dark eye shadow, colorful eyeliner, and bold lip.


The main cultural movement in the 90s was grunge. This involved a distaste for the status quo. Many bands of the time used this style, and reflected in their music. Examples include Nirvana, Green Day, and Pearl Jam. The makeup of the times reflected that by focusing on dark colors and messy lines. The general population wore smudged eyeliner and dark lipstick. They portrayed an alternative lifestyle that showed how little they cared about appearances. Taking inspiration from this decade, I would focus on a smoked out eye shadow and liner, and either keep the lip neutral or bold depending on your personal style.


Now if you were born in the 90s, like me, then you probably remember the makeup and style of the 2000s. As many on social media like to say, the 2000s was full of iconic looks. These looks were mainly popularized by famous actresses and singers such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Paris Hilton. The makeup trends in the early 2000s included blue shimmer eye shadow, glossy lips, and glitter. While this decade is not as far removed as several of the others mentioned, this look is definitely different from the makeup we wear now. However, if you are heavily inspired by the early 2000s, I would recommend popping a light blue eye shadow on your eyelid, adding on a frosty highlighter, and bringing out that nude glossy lip.

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