The Modern Take On 60s Make-Up
The Modern Take On 60s Make-Up

The Modern Take On 60s Make-Up

5 minutes read

The 1960s was a new era, with innovations spanning all areas of life – some more life-altering than others. Highlights include humankind’s first exploration into outer space, the first computer chips, LED lights and lava lamps. The beauty trends were just as inventive too. ’60s make-up was about self-expression – probably the most experimental time in the history of make-up until then.  

The ’60s girl knew that make-up was playful. Today, we couldn’t agree more, so it only makes sense to look at the swinging sixties for inspiration again. In fashion, the SS22 runways showcased tons of ’60s nostalgia – miniskirts at Tod’s and Versace, go-go boots at Courrèges, bold geometric prints at Etro… So, how do we borrow from the decade in terms of beauty?   

‘60s make-up: the mood

The ‘mod look’ – the one most people associate with the ’60s – originated in London sometime in the late ’50s. Geometric prints covered the clothes. Everything was fun and colourful, encapsulating the cheerful spirit of the baby boomers who were coming of age around this time.  

The beauty reflected a similar style. It was experimental. White, black and pastel tones dominated the colour palette.  

The skin was matte, especially in the first half of the decade. The powder was applied liberally to set the make-up and minimise shine. Some retro tutorials even suggest using it with tufts of cotton. The brows were defined – neither too thick nor too thin. Blush was natural, applied on the centre of the cheek and blended out towards the temples. The lip was pale and often peachy.  

But the highlight of the 1960s? The eyes.  

1960s eye make-up 

A step-by-step guide to the iconic 1960s eye look featuring pale lids, a dramatic cut crease and big, bold lashes: 

  • Apply an eyeshadow in a light shade across the lids. This could be a cream or white. Or you could play around with pastel tones: powder blue, mint or lavender. 
  • Now, the iconic floating liner. Draw along the socket line using a darker eyeshadow (a black or charcoal, ideally) on a small brush. Create a curved line that follows the natural crease of your eye. 
  • Next, use your black eyeliner to trace along the lash line. Create a thick or thin line (depending on your preference) from the inner to the outer corners. You could stop there or create a small, straight wing.  
  • Give your lashes a good curl and coat them in mascara. Use something that offers maximum volume – the Supra Volume Mascara, £25, is perfect for this. Add two coats on both top and bottom lashes. Clarins mascara for volume
  • If you want to mimic an authentic 1960s eye, reach for false eyelashes. You can choose a strip lash (the ’60s girl sometimes wore two to three sets of strip lashes at a time) or stick some individual falsies for a more natural look. You could even glue some smaller lashes along the lower lash line for a dramatic effect.  
  • Swipe a flesh-toned eyeliner along the lower waterline to complete the doe-eyed look. 

The skin

In the 1960s, a youthful, fresh complexion was the trend. The look emphasised a matte finish, contrasting the dewy styles of the previous decade, and powder foundations were popular to achieve a smooth, flawless base. Overall, the 1960s favoured a polished and refined appearance, often associated with iconic figures like Twiggy.

The lips

A typical 1960s lip look featured a bold, defined pout, as well as lighter, paler hues. Popular shades included everything from pale pinks to vibrant reds and corals, and lips were often accentuated with crisp lip liners to create a distinct outline. The focus was on a polished, structured mouth, complementing the mod and glamorous fashion trends of the era.

The brows

The 1960s brow look was characterised by a defined yet natural shape. Brows were often softly arched and slightly thicker than the pencil-thin styles of the previous decade. Emphasis was on a groomed appearance, with brow pencils and powders used to enhance and fill in brows for a polished finish.

The hair

1960s hair looks were diverse, featuring both sleek, structured styles and tousled, voluminous looks. Popular hairstyles included the bouffant, beehive, and mod bob. The decade embraced short, geometric cuts and playful textures, and iconic figures like Jackie Kennedy and Brigitte Bardot influenced the era’s dynamic and ever-evolving hair trends.

Modern takes on the ’60s eye

The way to make a classic ’60s look modern? Switch matte skin for a more radiant base and ditch the pale lipstick favouring a subtly tinted lip balm. In terms of the eyes, take inspiration from the shapes and colours and pick one or two elements to play with.  

Here are three fresh ways to do it: 

A minimal floating liner 

floating '60s eyeliner
Elie Saab Spring 2018 Couture; Instagram: @thefashionspotofficial

Floating eyeliner drawn just above the socket line has been trending for years. Ever wondered where the inspiration came from? The ’60s cut crease. Switch dark black liners for mellow metallic shades for a subtler look. 

Smudged and smokey eyes 

Smokey 1960s makeup
Instagram: @hungvanngo

This look that make-up artist Hung Vanngo created follows the same rules as the original look, but with a warmer colour palette and a lot more blending. The result is very sultry, but also extremely wearable. 

A vibrant cat-eye 

colourful cat-eye
Versace Spring/Summer 2022; Instagram: @thefashionspotofficial

Switch the pastel tones for more vibrant hues like this look from the Versace Spring/Summer 2022 runway. It uses a similar shape as the mod look but is extended to look more cat-eye-like. A thin coat of mascara replaces the bold lashes, and the nude lip isn’t matte but coated with a layer of gloss.  

Next read: Retro Make-Up: 70s Disco Is Back

Cover image: Emilia Wickstead Spring/Summer 2022​​​​​​​​; Instagram: @emiliawickstead

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