History of Makeup: The 80s Makeup Look

Immerse yourself in the electric world of 80s makeup with celebrity makeup artist Sofia Tilbury.

Darlings, from bright lips to bold eyeshadow and big hair beyond compare – the 80s were a masterclass in more-is-more! The 80s makeup era pushed the boundaries of makeup artistry with experimental styles and new-wave colours taking over pop culture.

My talented niece – celebrity makeup artist Sofia Tilbury – has created a quintessential, high-impact 80s makeup look that captures the flamboyance and fearlessness of the decade. Discover beauty secrets that made 80s makeup looks so distinctively iconic including colourful, eye-catching eyeshadows and dramatic blush draping, then brush along to express yourself in true 80s style.

80s Makeup Looks: An Overview

The 1980s bent the rules of modern makeup, encouraging everyone, everywhere to play with colour and to think big when it came to makeup, hair and fashion. It was an era of the boldest, brightest, most electric makeup looks with many icons of the time being known as chameleons and risk-takers with their personal style.

There was nothing tame about 80s makeup – statement-making, jaw-dropping trends were worn with total confidence. Colour was one of the most defining features of the decade whether that was a playful pop on the eyes or a rush of rouge on the lips and cheeks. Vibrant eyeliners, neon eyeshadows, and coloured mascaras were used to create dramatic, larger-than-life 80s eye makeup and lipstick colours like fuchsia, plum and bubblegum pink were lacquered onto the lips to create vivid 80s pouts.

Everything looked lifted and dynamic in the 80s, especially when it came to blush. 80s makeup is famous for its liberal use of blush and the high placement that was popular throughout the decade. Hot pinks and reds took over the cheeks and you could never apply too much, darlings. Pigmented powder blushes were draped all the way from the apples of the cheeks onto the temples, creating a colourful blushscape that often blended into the edges of eyeshadow looks and even into the hairline.

How To Get An 80s Makeup Look

Darlings, brush along with Sofia to create a bold, bright, electric 80s makeup look.

  1. Step 1 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: prep skin with skincare

    Step 1: Prep Skin with Skincare

    Darlings, always prep your skin with supercharged skincare before applying makeup! Reaching for hydrating, glow-boosting products will help your skin to look smoother and more flawless while helping makeup to glide on effortlessly. Before creating this 80s makeup look, use my Glow Toner as a radiant, pore-refining toner that leaves skin feeling baby soft, then apply Magic Eye Rescue to the under eyes to help nourish the eye area and brighten the appearance of dark circles. Massage a few drops of Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir into the skin as a hydrating, youth-boosting step, then follow with Charlotte’s Magic Water Cream to immediately drench and revive the appearance of skin.

    Discover how to prep your skin

  2. Step 2 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply Hollywood Flawless Filter

    Step 2: Illuminate and Colour Correct

    Once you’ve prepped your skin with skincare, you can use makeup to create a luminous, even-looking canvas for your 80s makeup look. My iconic glow booster, Hollywood Flawless Filter, is perfect for illuminating the look of the complexion; swipe the doe-foot applicator onto the high points of the face and blend with the large end of my Hollywood Complexion Brush. Then, apply Magic Vanish colour-correcting concealer, using the peachy tone to brighten and conceal the appearance of darkness or dullness around the eyes.

    Discover my guide to colour correcting

  3. Step 3 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s makeup look tutorial: applying foundation

    Step 3: Perfect with Foundation, Concealer and Powder

    Since 80s makeup is all about colour, it’s important to use foundation, concealer and powder to create a beautiful, blank canvas that lets eyeshadows, lipsticks and blushes pop. With my Magic Complexion Brush, buff Charlotte’s Beautiful Skin Foundation into the skin to create a medium-coverage, radiant base, then build coverage with Charlotte’s Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer. Apply concealer under the eyes and around the mouth, then blend upwards with the tapered end of my Hollywood Complexion Brush to create a flattering lift effect. Add a light veil of AIRbrush Flawless Finish pressed powder to set, lightly pressing it into the skin with my Powder & Sculpt Brush and focusing on the T-zone and underneath the eyes.

    Tilbury Tip: Do you love the look of bright, highlighted under eyes, darling? I created AIRbrush Brightening Flawless Finish as a beautifying, brightening pressed powder that behaves like a ring light, capturing light in the centre of your face and lifting the look of your complexion.

    Discover how to apply pressed powder

  4. Step 4 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply eyeshadow to create a defined crease

    Step 4: Create a Beautiful, Blown-Out Crease with Eyeshadow

    To create an 80s eye makeup look, start by laying down a vibrant cream eyeshadow base in a punchy pink shade, then use a deep, purple eyeshadow to create the beautiful, blown-out crease that was everywhere in the 80s. I recommend the ENHANCE shade from The Vintage Vamp Luxury Palette which is a sultry aubergine colour that creates the most magical 80s-style crease. After perfecting your shape, use my Eye Blender Brush to blend the outer corners of your eyeshadow look upwards and outwards towards the temples.

    Shop The Vintage Vamp Luxury Palette

  5. Step 5 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply eyeshadow to the lash line

    Step 5: Define the Lash Line with Eyeshadow

    While bold, punchy colours are the showstoppers in every 80s eye makeup look, you can use darker eyeshadows to add dimension and definition to your 80s makeup look. Tap into the SMOKE shade in The Vintage Vamp Luxury Palette with my Eye Liner Brush then trace along the upper and lower lash line to build intensity. These dark colours are perfect for giving your 80s makeup look a smokey, after-dark feel, darlings!

    Discover my makeup brush buying guide

  6. Step 6 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply eyeshadow to highlight inner corners of the eyes

    Step 6: Highlight the Brow Bone and Inner Corners

    Makeup is all about light and shade, darlings. To give your 80s eye makeup symphonic shimmer, use sparkling shades that help eyes to look more open and ready to party. The PRIME and POP shades in The Vintage Vamp Luxury Palette will give your 80s makeup look a glistening disco glow that would look fabulous at the roller rink or on the runway. Using the Eye Blender Brush, sweep the golden POP shade all-over the lid, then lightly highlight the brow bone and inner corners with the sheer, glimmering PRIME shade.

    Discover the best inner corner highlighter colours

  7. Step 7 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply colourful eyeliner

    Step 7: Add Colourful Eyeliner

    80s beauties were always looking for new ways to play with colour, and adding a vibrant, velvety eyeliner to your eye look is the perfect pop to set your 80s makeup apart. My Rock N Kohl eyeliner in Velvet Violet complements the moody purple tones in The Vintage Vamp Luxury Palette flawlessly and looks so impactful along the lash line. To apply, run the easy-glide formula as close to the lash line as possible to create a thin, eye-enhancing liner that provides the perfect pop of purple.

    Discover different eyeliner styles to try

  8. Step 8 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply mascara

    Step 8: Exaggerate Lashes with Mascara

    Mascara connects all the dots when it comes to eye makeup, darlings. In the spirit of 80s makeup being all about more-is-more, don’t be afraid to add an extra coat or two of mascara! Create stretched and lifted-looking lashes with my Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes! mascara; the formula is designed to give an instant push up-effect that leaves lashes looking lifted and full. The Super Black shade is perfect for giving your eye makeup the ultra-black, ultra-fluttery look that pops alongside colourful 80s makeup.

    Shop Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes! Mascara

  9. Step 9 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: create a bold eyebrow look

    Step 9: Bold Brows

    In the 80s, bold brows were just as common as bold lips and eyes. You can cheat the look of bushy, 80s brows with my Brow Cheat eyebrow pencil – it’s a super-fine brow pencil that effortlessly sculpts and shapes the look of the eyebrows. Use my brow secrets to create effortless 80s eyebrows; define the look of the tail of your brow with light, hair-like strokes, then brush up the inner portion of the brows to turn up the volume and perfect the fluffy 80s brow makeup look.

    Shop Brow Cheat

  10. Step 10 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply bold lipstick

    Step 10: Bright, Bold Lips

    Bright colours have never been more in vogue than they were in the 80s – no 80s makeup look is complete without a statement-making lip colour! Whether you love a red-hot red lip; the playfulness of a bright pink; or the drama of a bold berry or purple, find your perfect 80s lip combination in my lipstick line up and unlock 80s pout perfection! Try my Lip Cheat in Berry Naughty to overline and fill in the lips with purple-berry lip liner, then use Velvet Underground K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick to give your 80s look a shockwave of fuchsia with a sumptuous, satin finish. This lip duo is divine, darlings!

    Shop all lips

  11. Step 11 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply blush

    Step 11: Dialled-Up 80s Blush

    80s blush looks are famous for their use of bright, pigmented shades and heavy-handed, face-sculpting application. Blush was non-negotiable in the 80s, darlings, with pinks, reds and berry tones being used to give the cheeks an unapologetic rush of colour. To give the complexion an 80s flair, apply a small amount of liquid contour using my Hollywood Contour Wand and let blush do the rest of the talking. Two dots of Pinkgasm Beauty Light Wand onto the apples of the cheeks will make them blush and glow, and it will look fabulous topped with Cheek to Chic powder Blush in Love is the Drug. To apply, drape the Bronzer and Blusher Brush through the hollows of the cheeks and onto the temples to unlock 80s blush magic! These shimmering pink shades will mesh beautifully together, layering to create a head-turning 80s blush look.

    Discover how to apply powder blush

  12. Step 12 in Sofia Tilbury's 80s Makeup Look tutorial: apply setting spray

    Step 12: Finishing Touches

    Darlings, you’re ready to put the finishing touches on your 80s makeup look! Lock in your look with a spritz of my AIRbrush Flawless Setting Spray - my airbrush-effect setting spray will help your complexion to look smoother and blurred while setting your 80s makeup artistry into place.

    Shop AIRbrush Flawless Setting Spray

Darlings, it was acceptable in the 80s… and it looks fabulous to this day! The 80s was an iconic decade of makeup magic and this look that Sofia has created is fit for an 80s superstar! I hope you’re feeling inspired to experiment with a colourful 80s makeup look, darlings… Shop the look on CharlotteTilbury.com or in the Charlotte Tilbury App and tag me on Instagram @CharlotteTilbury. I can’t wait to see them!

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Author Details

Charlotte Tilbury

Founder, President, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty

With over 30 years experience, Charlotte Tilbury MBE is the world's number 1 makeup artist and British beauty entrepreneur. Charlotte established Charlotte Tilbury Beauty in 2013, which is now a record-breaking beauty brand that has won over 400 awards.

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