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Evolution of Makeup: ICONIC Eye Looks Through History

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Exploring the evolution of makeup.

Throughout the course of history, eye makeup has been a reflection of technological, societal, cultural and economic changes. Melissa Evans is a professional makeup artist who has worked for remarkable companies such as Netflix, Sports Illustrated and FORD Robert Black Agency and is known for her remarkable detail and creativity, highlighting the techniques, products and practices that have transformed this art form over the decades. Here is a look at a few ICONIC eye makeup styles that revolutionized the makeup industry. 

The 1920s and 1930s were a time when film became predominant. Influenced by those on the screen, women began to practice at-home makeup and mimic the looks of glamorous stars. became a practice to make a statement. “The dramatic and dark eye look using eyeshadow and mascara was the beauty trend that dominated during this period,” Evans says.

1920s eye makeup look


As companies began noticing this trend, popular brands such as Lancome and Revlon became easily attainable. 


The silver screen alone didn’t influence makeup trends. Social issues also directly impacted them, and changes in fashion introduced new products and techniques to the market. 

Although the nation faced economic downturns during The Great Depression, cosmetics remained a steady industry. New makeup formulas were tested, leading to a product that revolutionized the industry– waterproof mascara. Helena Rubinstein developed it for the New York World Fair underwater ballet, and it was a smashing success. 

Flash forward to the 1960s and 1970s when bold eyeliner reached a peak in popularity. Following Elizabeth Taylor’s portrayal of Cleopatra, statement eye makeup became a trend. Eyeliner expanded to other areas of the eye, and people began demonstrating higher levels of artistry in their techniques. 

“The winged eyeliner technique was a go-to since BCE, but the ICONIC Twiggy eyeliner introduced something new and became a staple that defined this period,” Evans says.


Enter crease eyeliner, a technique that applies eyeliner to the base of the lash line with upper and lower lashes and lash paint on the lower lash—Twiggy’s signature style. 

1960s eye makeup look


When Twiggy was named “The Face Of 1966,” by the Daily Express it drew women to re-create this fashionable look and experiment with eyeliner on their own.

Modern makeup incorporates contemporary styles with hints of the past. The beauty industry has expanded in many ways, allowing one to achieve any look desired. Innovation with techniques, products, applicators and lighting contributes to the rich and unique makeup we see today, and the opportunities to experiment are endless. What new makeup look will you try?

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