'80s makeup is trending and these are the iconic looks we're still crazy about

Surprise: 80s makeup is back! Here's how to wear the decade's best looks now

best 80s makeup trends on Madonna, Iman, Brooke shields
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'80s makeup trends were unapologetically bold and beautiful. Punk and new wave superstars took over our inspiration boards and everybody wanted Madonna's blush, Grace Jones' lips and Cyndi Lauper's...well,  everything. Women ditched their tweezers in solidarity with brow legend Brooke Shields and Princess Diana had us going gaga over preppy sloane ranger styles such as feathered bobs, a day-glo tan and frosty gloss.

Just as many unforgettable fashion trends from the decade of excess have seen a revival (puffy sleeves, chunky trainers, neon brights—to name just a few) it seems that 80s makeup is once again having its turn in the spotlight. From easy makeup looks to over-the-top glam, what once was maligned as being 'too much' is now, in today's self-expressive times, just right. 

According to Geneva Fong, creative director and makeup artist for Dome Beauty, 80s blusher is back in business. “We’re seeing that fully flushed blush that extends from the high points of the cheekbones down and across the nose,” says Fong, a look that can be recreated using the best cream blush. Not into blush? Not a problem. We've charted every iconic ‘80s makeup look to try now—from colorful mascara and glossy lips to the best foundation contouring hacks. 

'80s makeup: six looks we love

1. Bushy brows

Brook Shields 80s makeup

Brooke Shields and her beautiful bushy brows

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After Brooke Shields made waves in her 1980 movie Blue Lagoon, everyone became brow-obsessed—and with good reason too. Her naturally bushy brows were a welcome break from the super-groomed arches dominating '70s makeup looks. They were also on-brand for the era's take on excess. 

Fuller, untweezed brows became the signature look for the entirety of the decade, with some even considerably darkening their arches with eyebrow tinting at home to achieve the look.

Make it modern...

80s makeup Cara Delevingne brows

Modern brow icon Cara Delevingne 

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To recreate a brushed-up brow similar to Cara Delevingne's modern-day version, master how to shape eyebrows and fill in any sparse areas using one of the best eyebrow pencils. "Next, take a clear soap and a wet mascara spoolie to really brush up the hairs and hold them in place," says Geneva. You can also use a long-lasting eyebrow gel for this. 

Recreate the look with...

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BBB London Ultimate Arch Definer | RRP: $36/£22

Available in seven shades, this triangular pencil expertly fills in sparse areas for a defined finish. Use the oval-shaped brush at the other end to blend. 


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Lurrose Brow Styling Soap Kit | RRP: $8/£6.79

Create the bushy look of your dreams with a soap brow kit. First, fill in any sparse areas, then apply the gel formula using the included spoolie to brush brows in an upward direction for a pushed-up look. 


2. Bold eyeshadow

Cyndi Lauper 80s makeup

Cyndi Lauper in her trademark 80s makeup look

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Cyndi Lauper's punk-pop image was quintessentially '80s, and teens the world over embraced the American musician's unconventional beauty choices during the height of her career. Cyndi's' fun, eccentric true colors did indeed come shining through, particularly in her choice of electric eyeshadow looks and bold, now-iconic Manic Panic hair color.

Make it modern...

80s makeup

Margot Robbie with beautiful burnt orange eyeshadow

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“Colorful eyes are making a comeback, but with muted tones on the lips and cheeks to balance the look,” says Geneva. “Violet, sky blues, and bright orange tones are really popular for this.”

To create an '80s makeup eyeshadow look with a refined twist Geneva suggests taking an orange eyeshadow from one of the best makeup palettes, and applying it all over the lid. Next, mix in a deeper shade on the outer corners with a crease brush. Finish with several coats of the best volumizing mascara.

Recreate the look with...

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Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Mascara | RRP: $24/£23

Load up lashes with Fenty's lightweight, ultra-black formula that can be built up from a natural flutter to full-on '80s glam. Use the 'Fat' side to lift and the 'Flat' side to define and curl. 


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NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette in Brights | RRP: $18/£16

Talk about major bang for your buck: This 16-shade palette has all the peppy '80s makeup colors you could possibly need and boasts of a bright payoff to rival a Dynasty star's glam.



3. Colored mascara

Boy George wearing colorful mascara with Joan Collins and Joan Rivers

Boy George tops off his iconic '80s makeup with vibrant blue mascara

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Boy George may just be the ultimate 80s makeup icon. His daring eye looks, bold pops of blush, and ability to pull off the best red lipstick on top of everything else are the epitome of more is more beauty. 

As such the musician has been responsible for some of the more avant-garde '80s beauty trends hitting mainstream vernacular—colored mascara, beautifully defined brows and lacquered lipstick to name just a few.

Make it modern...

Lupita Nyong'o wearing 80s makeup

Lupita Nyong'o with beautiful blue mascara

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"Colored mascara is one of the easiest ways to play around with '80s makeup," says New York based makeup artist Dana Arcidy. Lupita Nyong'o demonstrates how a simple wash of color on the lashes can make a huge impact, giving just the right hint of '80s pop to an otherwise pared-back look.

“Bright blue mascara still looks good today, but there are so many other options as well,” says Dana. “Lately, I have been loving a pop of neon orange on top and bottom lashes. For a more subtle look, navy blue or burgundy mascara is also really pretty. It adds a hint of color to the eyes and isn't noticeable until someone comes close to you.” Beauty ed's tip: Apply a white eyelash primer before colored mascara to maximize color payoff.

Recreate the look with...

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YSL Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils in Burgundy | RRP: $29/£28

For a subtle take on this '80s trend, try applying a deep burgundy mascara like this best-seller from YSL. Zig-zag the brush from root to tip for volumized, thick lashes that make a statement. 



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L'Oreal Voluminous Original Mascara in Cobalt Blue | RRP: $7.99/£14.99

Clump-resistant and fullness-boosting, this best-selling formula is a must-have in its own right. Add to that this electrifying blue shade, and you've got a winner.


4. Contoured cheeks

80s makeup Madonna

Madonna at the 1987 AMAs is peak '80s contour

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Anyone who thinks contouring was invented by the Kardashians could benefit from a makeup history lesson. Contouring was one of the most popular '80s makeup trends, as seen on Madonna, Debbie Harry and Diana Ross. Sculpting your facial features to seem larger-than-life onstage was almost second nature to celebrities—and they have makeup artist Way Bandy to thank for this technique. 

This, coupled with pops of color and campy accents such as Madonna's beauty mark, set the tone for the aesthetic of the era's tail-end and style-forward types began to learn how to contour to recreate the look at home too. 

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80s makeup on Constance Wu

Constance Wu with beautifully contoured cheekbones

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Back then, celebrity makeup artist Douglas Otero says contouring looks were achieved with some help from the best blushers in both light and dark tones. Nowadays, Douglas explains—"both the best bronzer and blush are used together to create a seamless, naturally flushed contoured look," as seen on actress Constance Wu. 

To create an '80s-inspired contoured blush look, celebrity makeup artist Jenny Patinkin recommends using a dense brush such as her Luxury Vegan Complexion Brush. Then, sweep a soft line of blush underneath your cheekbone towards the outer corner of your eye, extending to the front of the ear and diffused near the temple. This technique of using blush to contour is called blush draping and results in a subtle and flattering contour technique, rather than bold stripes.

Recreate the look with...

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Glossier Solar Paint | RRP: $20/£17

Available in four flattering shades, this lightweight creamy bronzer is designed to "capture the warm glow you get from spending a day in the sunshine." Dot onto the hollows of your cheekbones, around the face, and along the jawline and blend in with fingertips for a sculpted finish. 


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NARS Blush in Orgasm | RRP: $30/£25

The universally flattering NARS Orgasm is, coincidentally, in an '80s makeup-approved shade of coral peach yet is chic and finely-milled enough for subtle modern looks.


5. Lip liner

Grace Jones

Artist Grace Jones teams bold lip liner with punchy red gloss

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The androgynous movement of the 1980s found its exuberant heroine in model, musician, and flamboyant Studio 54 muse Grace Jones, whose penchant for gender-bending style influenced a slew of future iconoclasts like Annie Lennox, Solange, and Lady Gaga

Her striking features were (and still are) the perfect foil for makeup's fun, theatrical appeal, which she often played to the hilt with the best lip liner, razor-sharp eyeshadow, and even body paint.

Make it modern...

80s makeup on Lizzo

Artist Lizzo with perfectly contoured lip liner

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Lip liner is making a comeback. "Only now, it’s being worn in a more subtle, monochromatic way than it was back in the '80s," Jenny says. Nowadays lip liner and lipstick are usually in the same color family for a subtle, lip-contouring effect, as seen here on Grammy-winning artist Lizzo. 

“Taupe and brown lip pencils, like Make Up Forever Artist Color Pencil, can be used with any lipstick or gloss,” she says. “Instead of leaving it obvious and unblended around the mouth, simply use your pinky or a small downed brush to soften and diffuse.”

Recreate the look with...

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Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Nude | RRP: $38/£26

Match your lip liner to your lipstick and try this medium brownish pink from Bobbi Brown. Comfortable yet full-coverage, this bullet instantly gives lips a polished look.


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Make Up For Ever Artist Color Pencil: Eye, Lip & Brow Pencil in Limitless Brown | RRP: $20/£15

For a true '80s feel, rock a monochromatic look by using the same shade of lip liner on the eyes as well. This versatile medium brown is highly versatile and sets off both cool and warm lipstick colors.


6. Frosty lips

80s makeup on Princess Diana

Princess Diana's iconic frosted lip look

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What did your average, small-town American mallrat and British country club blueblood have in common in the '80s? A penchant for the frosted lip, of course. Call it the great equalizer. Women from all sections of society flocked to the creamy, frosted lipstick trend and its irrepressible younger sister frosted gloss like moths to a flame. 

It comes as no surprise that this naturally unnatural lipstick formula—composed of a creamy lip color commonly in hues of orange, mauve, and peach with a metallic finish—took the beauty industry by storm. If it's good enough for the trendsetting royal Princess Diana (who, by the way, was totally ahead of the blue eyeliner curve), who are we to argue?

Make it modern...

80s makeup on Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez proving frosted lipstick can be flattering and modern

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Frosted lips exploded in the '80snbut they had pretty solid staying power, too: This '80s makeup trend, which had a foothold in the latter part of the decade, carried over to club-happy '90s makeup trends too. 

These days, frosty lips are worn in the guise of nude lipstick with pale 80s-referencing undertones and a modern glossy finish. Think creamy sheen rather than metallic gleam. 

Recreate the look with...

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Urban Decay Hi-Fi Shine Ultra Cushion Lipgloss | RRP: $10/£16

Go for gloss with Urban Decay's high-shine, metallic formula in the '80s it-shade: pale pink. Wear alone or layer on top of lipstick for extra staying power. 


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MAC Frost Lipstick in Fabby | RRP: $25/£17.50

MAC once again hits the nail on the cultural head with its Frost Lipstick collection. Fabby, a mauve with gold pearl shade is just the thing to cop if you're in the mood for that sweet and sassy semi-lustrous lip.


woman&home thanks Geneva Fong of dome BEAUTY (opens in new tab), Douglas Otero (opens in new tab), Jenny Patinkin (opens in new tab), and Dana Arcidy (opens in new tab) for their time and expertise.