Life Style

32 Vintage-Inspired Makeup Looks That Are Officially Back in Style


While we’re always looking for the next trend here at Byrdie, there’s nothing we love more than gathering inspiration from the beauty world archives. Between the flushed cheeks of the ’30s and the gothic-grunge vibes of the ’90s, many of the makeup looks that defined decades are still giving us tons of inspiration today. So, let’s go back in a virtual time machine and revisit all the makeup looks of yesteryear that are still totally prevalent now (or simply slowly making their way back in style—looking at you, straight brows from the ’30s). Keep reading for all the vintage makeup inspiration you need in 2022.

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From the ’30s: Penciled Brows

woman with soft makeup

The heavily penciled-in brows were a staple of the ’30s, along with a stick-thin shape. For a more modern twist on the trend, simply fill in your brows slightly darker than your normal color (and keep the shape as thick or as thin as you’d like).

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From the ’30s: Eyeliner-less Smoky Eye

woman with soft pink eyeshadow

Before dramatic winged eyeliner, women in the ’30s opted for simple eyeshadow looks. No matter the decade, a simple smoky eye paired with nothing but a few sweeps of mascara will always look chic.

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From the ’30s: Straight Brows

woman with soft natural makeup

Although they’re slightly tricky to pull off, straight brows are great for giving added intensity to your look (or just updating your shape if your natural one is feeling stale).

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From the ’30s: Heavy Blush

Model wears old Hollywood-inspired makeup look with bright blush, thin brows, and red lipstick

The flushed, healthy look was huge in the ’30s. And while modern-day makeup-wearers traditionally opt for a more subtle finish, it’s more on-trend than ever to go slightly heavy-handed with your blush brush.

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From the ’30s: Blush Contouring

Contrary to popular belief, contouring wasn’t invented by the Kardashians. In fact, women have been using the hack for years—and in the ’30s, they’d use blush to accentuate their features and facial structure. Here, the blush-contouring look technique gets a modern, monochrome update.

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From the ’30s: Overdrawn Lips

woman with soft glam makeup

Before injectables even entered the public lexicon, Old Hollywood starlets would draw outside of their lip lines to give the illusion of fuller pouts for years. And because they were innovative queens, we see the trend everywhere (and it’s way easier than it sounds).

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From the ’40s: Berry Lipstick

Model wearing berry lipstick and neutral eyeshadow

Deep berry lipsticks were all the rage back in the ’40s. (Purple shades have a knack for making skin look glowier.) Now, we see plum and grape hues everywhere—and it still feels fresh.

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From the ’40s: Coral Blush

woman with soft brown smoky eyeshadow

Healthy, glowing skin was all the rage back in the ’40s (and today, of course). To get the look, a coral, peachy blush was a mainstay in as many vanities back then as it is today.

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From the ’40s: Orange-Red Lipstick

woman with bright red lipstick

Orange lips are flattering on every skin tone, which makeup lovers discovered early on in the 1940s. Pair ’em today with toned-down eye makeup and dewy skin.

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From the ’40s: Matte Skin

woman with winged smoky makeup look with matte skin

Have you ever seen dewy skin on an Old Hollywood portrait? Of course not. That’s because pressed powder was ultra-popular back then, giving starlets the illusion of perfectly matte skin. And while we love a dramatic highlighter moment, sometimes matte skin (that’s hydrated and radiant rather than dry and flaky) takes the cake.

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From the ’40s: White Liner

dramatic green and pink makeup look with black and white eyeliner

Turns out, the white-eyeliner hack is one of the oldest tricks in the book—women have been using the hue to make their eyes look brighter and bigger for decades now. Here, the magical trick is updated for 2021 with a dramatic eye makeup look.

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From the ’50s: Coral Lips

Before makeup got more experimental, coral lipstick was the perfect bright-yet-subtle shade in the ’50s. Now, we love coral the most when it’s paired with matching cheeks and eyes for a magical monochromatic moment.

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From the ’50s: Beauty Marks

woman with winged eyeliner, nude lipstick, and beauty mark

Marilyn Monroe, anyone? Give your everyday look an extra dose of glam and drama with an enhanced (or totally fake) beauty mark.

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From the ’50s: Focus on the Eyes

Woman with multicolored afro and long eyelashes

Makeup remained fairly simple in the ’50s. It was known for being primarily minimal, other than a major focus on the eyes—just some top eyeliner and spidery lashes will do (like the modern update seen here).

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From the ’50s: Red Lips

Red lips have been around for eons, but they’re still the ultimate classic statement in 2021 (and we’ll never listen to anyone who tells us otherwise).

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From the ’60s: Cut Crease Eyeshadow

Woman with pink cut-crease eyeshadow, winged liner, red lip, and highlighter

You might associate cut-crease eyeshadow with the beauty YouTubers of today, but make no mistake: Celebrities like Diahann Carroll and Twiggy were sporting the look before present-day makeup vloggers were even born.

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From the ’60s: Long False Lashes

Woman with full eyelashes and red lipstick

Speaking of Twiggy, we can thank her for the long, spidery lashes that began in the 1960s in large part due to the supermodel’s massive makeup influence. And today, we go to great lengths to get the look.

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From the ’60s: Winged Liner

Woman with neutral makeup look and dramatic winged eyeliner

One could argue that winged eyeliner was the ultimate makeup statement in the 1960s. That still rings true today—and the beauty of it is that there are tons of different variations to the cat eye now, no matter what look you’re going for.

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From the ’60s: Prominent Bottom Lashes

Maya Hawke wears a minimal makeup look with prominent bottom lashes

Nothing pairs with a ’60s shift dress better than prominent bottom lashes—and the technique is still an amazing way to make your eyes look brighter, wider, and straight-up incredible.

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From the ’60s: Bushy Brows

Lily Collins wears gold winged eyeliner, long lashes, and her signature strong eyebrows

Women in the ’60s knew when to put down the tweezers. Their brows were thick, lush, full, and perfectly face-framing, and we love the undone look of them today.

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From the ’60s: Spiky Lashes

Suki Waterhouse wears a '60s-inspired makeup look with spiky lashes

“Clumpy” lashes today get a bad rap—but back in the day, having spidery, spiky lashes was totally chic, and we’re seeing a major resurgence lately. Suki Waterhouse’s look is perfection.

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From the ’70s: Face Gems

Sarah Novio wears a rhinestone eye makeup look

Putting sparkles on your face was obviously a disco necessity back in the ’70s. Today, they’re just as glam and statement-making—but made wearable when focused around the eye.

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From the ’70s: Graphic Liner

Woman with an abstract, vintage-inspired makeup look

The ’70s were marked by tons of experimentation in the makeup department—especially when the punk-rock movement began to take hold. The daring graphic eyeliner looks that took off then are already back in style today.

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From the ’70s: Subtly Sun-Kissed

Sun-kissed bombshells of the ’70s (like Farrah Fawcett) paved the way for the glowy, no-makeup makeup we see today.

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From the ’70s: Pastel Eyeshadow

We have the ’70s to thank for the saturated, soft-pastel eyeshadow looks we see everywhere today.

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From the ’80s: Natural Brows

fluffy brows natural makeup look

Untouched brows began taking off in the ’80s after previous decades that celebrated ultra-thin, over-plucked ones. Of course, there’s nothing we love more now than gorgeous natural arches (subtle filling and shaping, optional).

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From the ’80s: Orange Eyeshadow

woman with orange eyeshadow and neutral makeup

Of course, the decade known for neon and knee-highs bequeathed us with the orange eyeshadow looks—including in iterations like copper and rust—we still see today. Bright, punchy makeup hues were all the rage back in the ’80s.

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From the ’80s: Purple Eyeshadow

Woman with purple eyeshadow and spider lashes

Deep jewel tones took off in the ’80s, and purple eyeshadow became a major makeup player. Today, we still obsess over how universally flattering the hue is.

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From the ’80s: Metallic Eyeshadow

Woman with rainbow metallic eyeshadow

Shimmery, glossy eyeshadow looks began to take hold in the ’80s—and we still haven’t managed to quit them today.

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From the ’90s: Deep Matte Lips

Cara Santana wears deep burgundy lips and natural lashes

Bold, matte lips paired with barely there face makeup created the look in the ’90s. Today, it feels as grungy and “It-girl” as ever.

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From the ’90s: Blue Eyeshadow

Woman with smoky blue eyeshadow

If you grew up in the ’90s, you definitely remember the blue-eyeshadow trend (which many of us experimented with, to often-questionable results). Although our azure eyelids may have raised some eyebrows at 13 years old, they’re straight-up striking when done with the blending skills we’ve since acquired.

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From the ’90s: Nude Lips

Woman wears '90s-inspired nude makeup look

The ’90s were a decade marked by influential supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, who ushered in the chic, nude lip look that quickly became ubiquitous. We love the glossy formula here paired with a metallic smoky eye.


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