In the era of Instagram and YouTube where millions post their pictures and videos reflecting their inner soul, a portion of the population still view the use of cosmetics as a vain attempt to change who they are and the features they were born with. Make up is a personal choice. For some it’s therapeutic, some wear it to conceal their insecurities and look confident, and others solely to look pretty.
Makeup as an essential has evolved throughout the years. Men and women of the ancient world were often creative when it came to their intimate needs. Egyptians used metal, lead, copper, ash, and burnt almonds as ‘kohl’ to darken and enhance their eyes. From using beetles as a red tint on lips to getting thousands of lipstick shades to pick from, the advance products of the modern age have evolved in a way where you can conceal your pores, clear your skin tone, have purple eyelids and cheekbones like Benedict Cumberbatch.
Following the 40s wartime austerity, the 50s was a time of development and prosperity. The classic 1950s makeup consisted of intense and defined lips mostly in the hues of pink and red, brows were arched and a single neutral colour was used on the eyelids. Major winged eyeliner made an appearance towards the end of the era. Actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Waheeda Rahman still epitomize it for so many of us. From the all-natural look to the dramatic black and white eyes of the mod fashion of 1960s, a light, sherbet-toned lipstick shade became popular. Eyes took prominence over lips, from elegant cat eyes to bold geometric patterns and black eye crease look. Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra look being the classic example, the era evolved into a milder girlish style. The Mod Look typified by the likes of British models like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, united the youth all over the world. Vibrant eyeshadow with pale pink lips was the craze in the 60s.
Feminist Magazines sprung up from the Feminist Movement in the 1970s, aiming to provide more than just knitting patterns for household women. With the rise of the “hippie culture”, 70s beauty adopted a more free-spirited ethos. Brands came up with a more natura; fresh-looking makeup for consumers who believed that ‘beauty comes from within’. The tanned look became popular therefore bronzers were used for a sun-kissed look. Pastels were worn throughout the decade– being a part of the more natural look. Bright and glossy lips were worn by actresses and younger women globally.
The 1980s were filled with expressing through makeup, and was all about excess. Cheeks took the center stage, often bright pink or even deep plum. Bushy brows were popular and so the idea of clear brow gel came in business. As for the lips, women played around with striking pink and coral lipsticks with plenty of visible lip liner. This period had a rock and roll vibe to it, how can one forget Rekha with her metallic lips. Regardless of how different the 80s were from today, things like bold bushy brows and bold eyes are still in trend.
Though we love and miss a lot of things none more so than the cool, statement beauty looks of the time, the balance between eyes and lips defined 90s makeup as ‘fresh‘ and ‘mostly subtle‘. Clear matte skin, blue eyeshadow, natural blush was a statement. From dark lip liner to dark lipsticks, there was nothing coy or neutral about lip trends back then. Celebrities experimented and came up with new styles; Jennifer Aniston‘s iced coffee lip colour, Aishwarya Rai‘s mauvy lips, Julia Robert’s sexy arched brows, nude matte lips and Britney Spear‘s body glitter was one of our favourite 90s beauty trends and we’re living for its revival.
Makeup from the 2000s was just beginning to sprout where cosmetic brands were releasing bright and more striking colors for makeup lovers to test out. The eye shadow was frosty, the lip gloss was even frostier. The first decade of the Generation Z gave birth to some of the most iconic beauty looks. Actresses took more beauty risks for roles by wearing no makeup or going extreme like Natalie Portman in Black Swan. And for us 90s babies, the effervescent Kareena Kapoor Khan with ombre nude frosted lips and silvery smokey eyes was delightful.
From a flurry of low-maintenance, “no-makeup” makeup, to strong brows, contouring, and bold, bright hues, the new generation isn’t afraid to experiment with their looks. Simultaneously, they’re comfortable with their natural beauty and an authentic, “come as you are” vibe is much prevalent. We saw a deluge of smoky eye looks hit the makeup world as well. Instagram beauty moguls, YouTubers, celebs, and everyone at home became obsessed with Kardashian‘s contour and matte lips.
Fenty by Rihanna or Kay by Katrina, are popular brand faces who’ve turned their love for makeup into successful businesses express how makeup is so much more than just a tool to look attractive. A creative soul cannot be kept still for very long. The inherent need to create cannot be contained!
I believe that a face is a canvas, used to express yourself and try new things using makeup. A lot of us are hooked on to the makeup tutorials on the internet these days and it’s great that one can access tips and tricks from professionals all over the world which is why I consider it as a therapy tool to make a person open up about their feelings. However, I don’t believe that you need to be artistic to do makeup, as there is not a proper way to do it. For some following 10 steps of a tutorial is makeup and for some, even red lips is too much makeup!
Malaika Mumtaz Khan is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Shaireen Khan
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.