7 Beauty Trends Throughout The Decades

There’s no doubt that eyebrows à la Cara Delevigne are on fleek. But before we watched everyone whip and naenae, other trends commanded our attention and wallets. But do you know the history behind some of America’s most popular beauty trends of days past? Check out our list of biggest beauty fads throughout the decades.


1940s The Curl Wave


The curl wave was a precursor to the modern-day perm. At the height of war in the 1940s, while the men went to war, women took their place in the factories. Long hair was hazardous when operating machinery and caused a lot of unfortunate accidents. As a result, women were encouraged to cut their hair to avoid getting it caught in machinery, and a curl wave added some style in an otherwise boring cut.

This was also the first time American women started to wear pants because dresses also proved to be hazardous around the equipment.


1950s Cat Eye Glasses


Following wartime in the 1940s, women moved from working in the factories back to working the home and searched for the hyper-feminine styles they were devoid of for so long. Enter cat eye glasses. These sexy specs were designed in order to beautify women’s eyeglasses in a feminine way by having the frame of the glasses made to accentuate the shape of women’s eyes, making them feline in appearance.


1960s Prominent Eyelashes

As the sultry eyewear of the 1950s silently dissolved, emphasis on eye lashes began to emerge from its ashes. By the mid 1960s, the British-born Mod style made its way to the U.S., and makeup was quickly adapting to keep pace with shorter skirts and loose clothing that mirrored the sex movement of the time. The look catered itself to teenagers and young women who rebelled against the heavily made up face of the fifties and favored a more natural look with large eyes. A lot of fake lashes on the market were even made from human hair.


1970s Shimmer


Shine bright like a diamond… or disco ball. The political and economic liberty of women advanced significantly in the 70s, with women’s liberation groups throughout the world demanding changes for women in all aspects of life. Women were in the spotlight, and their shimmer mirrored their strive for change and attention. Disco beauty trends stomped on the sixties’ simple and demure styles, and instead splashed on the shine, color and maximum glamour. Disco divas piled on black mascara, shimmery eye shadow and white eyeliner.


1980s Bold Eyeshadow

Female empowerment continued throughout the ’80s as women made a statement of power, self-respect and being taken seriously at the workplace. The two defining makeup elements in the ’80s face were bold eyes and blush that was meant to accentuate the cheek bones. Eyes were colored in bold shades of eye shadow in dark hues of blue, green, purple, and layers and layers of eyeliner was applied.

Women in the eighties era carried their makeup into their workplaces—it was exaggerated, huge and bold, the same attitude women carried into the workforce.

1990s Face-Framing Tendrils


The nineties were all about girl power and spicing up your life. The phrase “girl power” as a term of empowerment, was first made popular by Riot Grrrl Bands and then later the Spice Girls in the mid-to-late 1990s, who let’s face it, embodied the original #squadgoals.

Nineties women wanted to look sexy without giving the appearance of trying so hard. Enter tendrils, those two little strips of hair you pulled out from your ponytail or updo for a more effortless look. Tendrils represented the way women sought to manifest themselves in ambition and assertiveness, just like the inspired female warriors on TV and movies (such as Jessica Alba in “Dark Angel” and the “Charlie’s Angels” reboot)—looking effortlessly sexy and kicking ass.

2000s Chunky Highlights


After the events of 9/11, fashion and beauty trends became more conservative, forgoing the futuristic styles leading into the millennium. Feel-good fashion was the mantra for the early 2000s runways where color and comfort took preference. Soon boldness in color made its way to hair via those zebra-like chunky highlights.

Who could forget Kelly Clarkson’s classic American Idol look? However, as more war and economic turmoil entered the 2000s landscape, the chunky highlights trend took to the grave and blended highlights took their place as a less expensive and more easily managed alternative.


Would you wear any of these fads of past today? Let us know @litdarling

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