Chiseled Cheeks and Color: Secrets of the '80s Makeup Look

Looks from the '80s are so totally rad right now.
Looks from the '80s are so totally rad right now.

No phrase sums up the 1980s better than "greed is good," famously said by Gordon Gekko, the character from "Wall Street" who strove for both success and excess. The '80s were for material girls (and guys) who just wanted to have fun, and this played itself out in big hair, clothes with massive shoulder pads and lots of bright makeup.

The excess of the '80s could be taken at face value, literally. When it came to makeup, both women and men chose vibrant reds, pinks, blues and neons for their eyes, cheeks and lips. Eyelids became intricate palettes with multiple colors artfully shaded in a patchwork-like design. The look was complete with plenty of eyeliner, particularly lining the inside of the lower eyelid. Thanks to Brooke Shields, natural, bushy eyebrows were in vogue. But it wasn't all about the eyes. Bright, often caked-on, blush was essential for cheeks, and vivid pink or red lipstick was also part of the mandatory makeup uniform.

The trends of today are bringing back whispers of the '80s, particularly in fashion's use of bright colors, which is carrying over into makeup. However, you don't have to pretend you're living 30 years ago to go along with today's styles.

The first secret of an '80s-inspired look is to not be afraid of color. That doesn't mean you should rush out and buy five shades of blue eye shadow for everyday wear. Adding one bold hue to your eyelids can enhance them. Use mascara to draw more attention to your eyes, and when you use eyeliner, smudge it a bit with a soft makeup brush to decrease the harshness of the lines. To complete your eye look, keep your eyebrows natural, yet groomed. Over-plucking them will look passé.

Also, you don't want to overdo the look. Use a softer shade of blush to bring out your cheekbones. Add a bit of color to the apples of your cheeks and brush it up slightly toward your temples.

Lastly, lips can be bright and beautiful, but keep it appropriate for today's look. If you're wearing stand-out eye shadow, consider using a softer shade on your lips so you don't look too dated, particularly if you're wearing blue eye shadow. When you want to draw attention to your lips, line and fill them in with a liner pencil, and choose a lipstick with a little gloss in it to help them look bright and full.

Many makeup brands have gotten on board with the trend toward brighter colors. Look for outrageous hues from NARS or glorious metallic shades from Bobbi Brown. Shu Uemura also makes makeup in colors that will go with anything in your wardrobe. Try these and other brands to create a look that evokes a memorable decade in history, yet remains firmly planted in modern times.

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  • InStyle. "How to Get the '80s Look Now." (June 3, 2012),,20337040_20292895_20647215,00.html
  • MSN. "Make Me Up: lessons to learn from '80s beauty moments." 2012. (June 3, 2012)!
  • Now Magazine. "Nelly Furtado's 80s make up." (June 3, 2012)
  • Self. "We Tried It Thursday - 80s Makeup." Nov. 5, 2009. (June 3, 2012)
  • Sullivan, Kate. "Ashley Greene on Her Favorite '80s Look, Makeup Musts, and How She Learned to Love Beauty." Allure. May 16, 2011. (June 3, 2012)
  • Thomas, Bobbie. "Bobbie's Buzz: Totally '80s flair." Today. Feb. 24, 2012. (June 3, 2012)

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