The Harley Medical Group

Beauty through the ages - 1980s

Retro is huge at the moment and you’ll not find a more fun decade to recreate than the 1980s. Can you believe that just 30 years ago we were donning neon legging warmers, brighter than bright makeup and big big perms?

When you consider the 80s, so many icons spring to mind; from Madonna to Cyndi Lauper, one thing’s for sure – girls just wanted to have fun!

1980s inspirations

Much of the 1980s took its inspiration from popular musicians at the time. Madonna’s love of fashion really took off and women everywhere started to copy her ‘more is more’ style of leggings, bustier tops, large jewellery, fishnet gloves and hair bows.

The punk trend that was so huge the previous decade continued into the 1980s with many favouring Doc Martens, leather studded belts and tartan.

The casual sporty look became the norm, with people wearing tracksuits, baggy sweatshirts and leg warmers both in and out of the gym, in contrast to the ‘power dressing’ look which became the look of professionals and included colourful suits and shoulder pads.

Key style icons

  • Madonna

The famous pop singer has always rocked an iconic look but one which really stands out as 80s is her grown out roots, beauty spot and bright red lipstick.

  • Dolly Parton

With her huge mane of curls, false lashed and big painted on lips, Dolly Parton is the epitome of the ‘no room for subtlety’ mantra of the 1980s – and let’s face it, it’s a look she owned.

  • Cyndi Lauper

The ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ singer was known for sporting rainbow hair, bold eyes and bright lips – she couldn’t get more 80s if she tried!

  • Tina Turner

Another fan of huge 80s hair, Tina’s look of the decade was her iconic shaggy mullet – although she was known for changing her hairstyle a lot.

Iconic 1980s beauty trends

Many trends came from the 1980s – and while some still reign today, there were a few which we’re pleased remain a mere hazy memory:

  • Dark brows, blonde hair

Ladies, we have Madonna to thank for the dyed blonde hair and dark brown eyebrows look. There’s no more obvious way to let people know you’re not a natural blonde than with this two-tone look.

  • Orange frosting

We’re not talking about fake tan here ladies – no, we mean the love of bright orange from head to toe! From her eyeshadow to her lipstick and blusher, Joan Collins was a big fan of this brighter than bright shade.

  • Un-tweezed brows

It’s official – big brows are in... but while we’re all about the Cara brow, unkempt and un-groomed brows are definitely a look to leave in the 1980s.


The bigger, the better

Big was definitely a word we’d use to describe the look of the 1980s. From the hair to the shoulder pads, the loud and proud colours to the big bushy eyebrows, it was definitely a case of ‘go big or go home’.

  • Hair

Whether you sported a mullet or a perm, big hair was a huge part of the 80s look; think back to Madonna, Tina Turner and Dolly Parton! Teased, permed or blown out, hair needed to be noticeable.

  • Eyebrows

When it came to eyebrows, women preferred a natural look. Eyebrows were intended to play a dominant part of the look. For those who weren’t blessed with big brows, coloured in eyebrows became the thing.

Recreating the look

  • Eyes

Think bold, bright colours! Neon pink, blue, green and electric yellow (combined) was a massive hit in the 80s. Another favourite eye look was the smoky and sultry cat eye – this was matched with a bright pink lip. Eyeshadow was applied to the brow bone for a bold, dramatic look. Eyeliner had to be worn on both the upper and lower lids, particularly on the waterline to define lower lashes.

  • Blusher

Subtlety just wasn’t known in the 80s – and this could be seen with the blusher trend, which was applied in a heavy-handed fashion all the way up to the hairline. Blending just wasn’t the done thing in the 1980s.

  • Lips

Women went crazy for bold lips, and as lip gloss was cheap and available in just about every colour, it’s easy to see why. Towards the end of the decade, brighter lips were shunned in favour of darker muted tones such as reddish brown and burgundy.

If you want to recreate the look for yourself, follow this step by step guide.


We love the crazy beauty trends of the 1980s but if you’re interested in another decade, take a look at our Beauty Through The Ages infographic where you’ll find information on iconic trends and beauty products of the time.



Posted July 18, 2020
Book a free consultationRequest a callback

Sign-up for our newsletter

Be the first to receive our latest news and offers as well as information on our treatments and procedures.

© 2020 LCHMG Ltd.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram