80s Makeup Looks

80s makeup

80s makeup looks ran the gamut from colorful and zany to all-out glam. Women and girls were often influenced by the big stars of the day, so it's not surprising to look back and see so many Madonna wanna-bes copying her look. While the makeup of this particular decade makes some women cringe, you can incorporate some of the most popular 80s trends and still look modern.

Typical 80s Makeup Looks

For many women in the 80s, their mantra seemed to be "the more color, the better!" This involved everything from hair to clothing to cosmetics. Bubble gum pink and sky blue seemed to carry over from the 70s. Because neon was such a popular trend in clothing, women also wore neon-bright makeup. It wasn't unusual to see women sporting rainbow hues all over their faces.

When it came to more serious 80s makeup, it was easy to see how nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty influenced fans. Plenty of contoured eye shadow, heavy blush and a ton of glossy red lipstick were seen everywhere, from the boardroom to the classroom. One thing 80s makeup wasn't and that was subtle!

80's look

Translating to Today

While makeup from the 80s seems too wild and outdated for the modern woman, you can actually take some of those decades-old cosmetic trends and translate them into looks suitable for today.


80s eye makeup involved a lot of color, and not all of it was flattering. Instead of neon pink, green and electric yellow, opt for richer, deeper colors. You'll find lines such as MAC that contain highly-pigmented shadows that you can apply with a light hand, but still enjoy plenty of drama. Copy the contouring look from the 80s to create sultry bedroom eyes, but focus on more realistic shades such as chocolate brown, charcoal and pearl. If you go for bright colors like blue, choose a deep electric blue instead of pale blue -- unless, of course, you're going to an 80s party and everyone will be wearing neon.

One 80s trend that easily translates is the sexy eye look. Bold looks like cat eye makeup and smoky eyes are just as appropriate today as they were decades ago. Make sure you blend well and use more natural shades to bring these trends into the modern era.

Close up of female eye with beautiful make-up


Blending wasn't an 80s art, which is why makeup pictures from the era reveal women wearing plenty of obvious blush. If you want to make your high cheekbones the focus of your face, you can do so without sacrificing subtlety. Rose, red and pink are always good choices for introducing a natural flush, but you can also use peach or even bronzer. The trick to making it work for today is blending, so don't just apply your color and let it sit on your cheeks.

Women with bright makeup


Makeup's main concern in the 80s clearly wasn't promoting a natural look, so popular lipstick colors included cherry red, orange, fuchsia and even purple. Lip gloss was plentiful, cheap and everywhere. The late 80s saw a shift toward more matte makeup and darker lip colors such as burgundy and reddish brown. Adopt a happy medium between the two trends instead of going for super-glossy or too matte. Lips should have a sheer glow to look their most kissable, so a light layer of gloss is almost always welcome.

Red Glossy Lips


Even if you love everything retro, the savvy woman knows how to incorporate yesterday's style without looking like a throwback. Take what works from 80s makeup looks and update it, but leave rainbow eye shadow, too much gloss and unnatural matte makeup behind. That way, you can be retro-inspired and very today at the same time.

Closeup portrait of young beautiful woman with bright pink smokey eyes and lips
80s Makeup Looks