How did disco ever die? Call it generational ignorance, but it’s hard to see how the world could tire of disco balls, light-up floors, platform shoes, and big, beautiful hair bouncing along to the beat. That now-classic ’70s style might have been a punchline for a while, but now, finally, disco is more than just back—it’s been reborn.
The 2022 disco craze can be found in every facet of media, from explicitly referential music to subtle nods through makeup colors and clothing fabrics. The beauty world in particular is enjoying all things disco: think dancefloor-ready hair and sparkle-covered everything. TikTok is awash in flare pants-wearing users teaching each other to embrace the era’s most recognizable beauty motifs, and celebrities like Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and Jessica Chastain are bringing their best disco homages to the red carpet and beyond.
To help break down the most wearable (and best overall) disco beauty moments of the year, Byrdie turned to a team of celebrity experts who all happen to be big fans of the trend. Ahead, everything you need to know about nailing disco beauty in 2022.
To understand how we arrived at our current disco renaissance, it’s crucial to properly appreciate the original icons who paved the way. First and foremost, there’s Donna Summer, the (singular!) Queen of Disco. Not only are Summer’s fluffy, full curls, bold makeup, and sequined outfits instantly recognizable, but her larger-than-life music is still heard everywhere today, including Beyoncé’s newest disco-inspired album. Spend just 10 minutes on TikTok to realize what a grip disco group ABBA still has on teens and 20-somethings, both musically and with across-the-board feathered bangs and go-go boots.
Cher and Elton John are still on the charts today, but their Studio 54 eras alone are enough for a coffee table book’s worth of inspiration, and John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever power pose endures as disco’s calling card silhouette.
With so many pop culture touchstones birthed in a single decade, it’s no wonder the disco spirit is alive and well today. Plenty of stars of all ages are having fun with the vibe, even offering up their own distinct takes on the period. Doja Cat’s smash-hit discography is full of glossy, ’70s-inspired tracks, skating around a mirrorball-illuminated roller rink in the “Say So” video—same goes for Harry Styles, who’s pulled no punches about the sources of his aesthetic inspirations.
Then there are the most subtle disco-channeling stars like Zendaya, who never shies away from bright, metallic eyeshadow, voluminous updos, or avant-garde photoshoots. Finally, it would be remiss to not emphasize the impact Beyoncé’s Renaissance has already had on fashion, beauty, and music as a whole. Notably, Beyoncé’s visuals and songs have overtly referenced disco, but always through an outright futuristic lens—just think about “Alien Superstar.”
How To Do Disco Hair
The ’60s’ most impactful (and reverberating) social effect was a major emphasis on individuality and a distinct, overruling focus on the self. It makes sense, then, that the decade immediately following it would be loud, fun, personal, and defined by self-expression. “People began shedding the bouffant of the ’60s and going for more fluffy and flirty looks, like lots of picked-out curls, blowouts, or wearing your hair smooth and long with minimal layers and sometimes a fringe to match,” explains hairstylist Serina Battaglini, owner of Serina Styles Studio & Salon in Sola Salons. “Frizz and fluff were welcomed and encouraged within hairstyles instead of trying to smooth them away. It was a time to dance your heart out and stand out.”
Hair is far and away one of the easiest way to add major disco energy to any aesthetic, and there are plenty of throwback and contemporary haircuts that fit the bill. Battaglini lists the TikTok-famous butterfly haircut, the Barbie Ferreira-approved wolf cut, and the modern shag as newer hair trends that embody the disco vibe, but says a layered haircut styled with a classic blowout as the most universally appealing. “It’s customizable and can flatter everyone at different lengths and levels of volume.” No matter which ’70s-inspired cut you go for, though, Battaglini says all of the above are safe picks. “They’re incredibly cute haircuts that can be customized to any face shape or preference and with a good blowout, can provide the ’70s disco flair.”
One of the best, most memorable aspects of the disco era were the way curls of all sorts were front and center. You absolutely can’t mention disco without calling to mind the coils of Diana Ross, Sylvester, and Gloria Gaynor. The ’70s were all about striking shapes and major volume, so amplify curls with the help of blowdryer diffusers, wide-toothed combs and picks, and plenty of moisture on days when you’re not styling. “I think curtain fringes are a super easy way to incorporate a touch of disco into your style on a day-to-day,” Battaglini says, and curly bangs—like the pair Lacy Redway just cut for Tessa Thompson—are a subtle way to evoke the ’70s. Shape and define the curls with curl creme or blow them out backward for an almost-feathered effect.
“Using a mousse at your roots for volume and either a blowdry brush or a round brush and blow dryer, create backward sweeping curls that can then be brushed out,” Battaglini instructs. “Even using Velcro rollers can help add that extra firmness to the curls and promote that fluffy style.”
How To Do Disco Makeup
Defined by bold, bright colors, sparkling finishes, and a more-is-more mentality, ’70s disco makeup is a freewheeling reprieve from office-approved neutrals. Celebrity makeup artist Kale Teter puts it best, explaining that the key is having fun with your routine, and celebrating the return of all things shimmery and saturated. “With that said,” he adds, “it doesn’t necessarily have to be over the top—it’s easy to keep it subtle for every day, or, if you want to go out, easy to create gorgeous glam.”
If it’s a full-on disco moment you’re going for, feel free to go full throttle—an all-over look of defined eyes, cheeks, lips, and skin, but tied together with cohesive finishes and some strategic blending. Teter says an easy trick is to opt for a jewel tone, like the rich amethyst and cobalt in the Sheglam Tropi-Cali Eyeshadow Palette ($10). For extra pop, smooth on a blendable stick-style cream eyeshadow first before layering a matching powder shadow over top. Blue eyeshadow in particular is an A-list favorite, recently seen on Lizzo, Kendall Jenner, and even Taylor Swift’s new album cover, as is disco ball-silver—Gemma Chan and Beyoncé have both recently loved quicksilver lids. “Also,” Teter says, “we see a lot of blush placed higher on the face, or even where one might usually place a bronzer or contour shade.
If bright blue eyeshadow isn’t quite your thing right now, there are plenty of ways to still participate in the disco makeup trends. Teter explains that adding a disco vibe to everyday makeup is all about balance. “Instead of pairing a brightly saturated eyeshadow with a full coverage lipstick, try opting for a soft touch of color on the lips with Sheglam’s Take-A-Hint Lip Tints ($5),” he says.
Conversely, play up the lips and add just a touch of ’70s energy into the eyes with a delicate wash of shimmer or a lid gloss. Most importantly, Teter tells Byrdie, it’s important to have fun. “People are being playful with makeup again in 2022, so now is the time to try something new.”
How To Do Disco Nails
To fully embody the ’70s spirit, embrace the trend from head to toe. Disco nails are absolutely a thing, and they’re a brilliant way to tie your entire look together. Just like with disco hair and makeup, the best ’70s party manicures are all about self-expression and fun. “Disco nails to me are long and fabulous, says Donna Charloff, Director of Service Operations from MiniLuxe. “Long nails with warm neutral tones were really popular in the 70s—and the French Manicure was born in the 70s and I love that as well for a disco nail.”
A shimmering finish with glitter, metallic, chrome, and foil nails are all quick ways to channel the disco vibe, along with extra-long oval or stiletto-shaped nails, Charloff says. “I see the trend of colored French manicures on elongated nails being huge for fall and winter,” she adds. “This is a type of nail art that is timeless and classic but with a new twist.” She also mentions the French manicure with glitter tips—so beloved by Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion—as here to stay.
If all this talk about glitter and expression and infectious beats put you in the mood for platform boots and a late night, you’re not alone. With the disco revival back in full force, do you think it’s only a matter of time before we reopen actual discos?