Future nostalgia: The beauty trends coming back from the past
By Delaney Loane
Digital Beauty Editor / July 21 2021
Backsliding, beauty style
By Delaney Loane
Digital Beauty Editor / July 21 2021
If you’ve ever listened to a Lana Del Rey song, screened era-defining flicks from Clueless to Casablanca, or done your damnedest to dress just like one of the OG Charlie’s Angels (not Kristen, not even Drew, we’re talking Farrah), one thing is clear: Throwbacks are elite.
But while pulling inspo from the past is nothing new (‘90s nudes have been reigning supreme now for like, longer than they were actually popular in the ‘90s), the 2021 takes on our favourite vintage trends come with a welcome twist. Said twist? How far the beauty industry has actually come in the meantime.
Let’s just say it’ll be a whole lot easier to nail these nostalgic vibes with modern formulas (and us, duh) on your side.
We’re only advocating for the worthy winners, as well, and leaving the bad stuff (bright blue up-to-your-eyebrow eyeshadow, we’ll need another decade to forgive you) back where it belongs.
So in the name of making what’s nostalgic new again (again), here are the top trends we’re bringing into the new age of beauty. Get ready to become a living, breathing, unbelievably chic period piece…
The ‘50s: Lacquer lips
When you think ’50s you think bold, bright matte red lippy right? Wrong. Well, kind of. The colour was there (and we’re sure mattes had their moment), but during the decade of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (a sentiment we’d argue against, FYI; your hair colour is your call), a bunch of our favourite glamazons actually preferred a lacquered latex-esque lip finish. It wasn’t all about the classic cherry colour we associate with the era, either – brick was big back in the ‘50s, so don’t be afraid to lean a little more orange if you're so inclined. Marilyn Monroe, we promise to do you and your lacquered lips proud.
The ‘60s: Mod makeup
Ariana Grande’s seal of approval was just the beginning: The Twiggy eye is back (back, back; back again) and better than ever. Yep, the mod makeup look may never die (which is fine by us, because neither will our love for it) – it's exactly the overcorrection we were craving post 2020’s mandatory minimalism. Need a refresher? It’s all about wispy upper and lower lashes paired with sweeping shadow shapes bordered by floating cut-creases. The best bit, though, is that it’s a trend governed by a general doll-like aesthetic and no specific shade family, so go for whatever colour you’re comfortable with, from wintry white to pastel peppermint.
The ‘70s: Bouffant blow-dry
Blow-dries never really went anywhere, no, but we’ve definitely leant toward a lower level of volume lately (both in terms of less overall, and starting the volume lower down on the head). Now, the ‘70s bouffant style is back in all its gravity-defying glory, with curls and height starting at the crown and not stopping until the very end. Here are the facts on the Farrah flip: You’ll want to become best friends with your blow-dryer, round brush and rollers (or try heat-free options; retro rags are back in a big way), and a set of curtain bangs certainly won’t hurt. Gen-Z was on the right track for 2021’s hair vibe, too: You’re going to need to master the middle part pronto.
The ‘80s: Neon nails
‘80s neons have been trying to nudge their way back into beauty since they left – they’re loud like that. Though they did have a bit of a makeup moment in 2019, this year they’re taking up a prideful permanent place on our manicures. Any fluorescent, fabulously bright hues will work a treat, but bonus nostalgia points for pinks, purples, teals and yellows that look straight off of a Sunset Strip club sign. Don’t feel like you’re limited to just brazen colours, either – abstract art was as massive in the ‘80s as parachute pants, so swirls, stripes, shapes and stickers are all fair game. It was an era of statement everything.
The ‘90s: Barely-there brows
Thin brows are basically the beauty equivalent of low-rise jeans; a trend we hoped would never return because they are a friend to absolutely nobody. Or so we thought. As it turns out, they are in fact friends to some faces. If a super fluffy, full brow suits you best, great, go on as you were. But if you prefer a slim, more defined arch, take solace in the fact that the trend is starting to swing back your way. We’re still over over-plucking, but (as our eternal beauty idol Rihanna proves) a slender, sculpted brow can be as chic as any other once sparse spots are filled in. Basically, brow shaming is over – shape and shade as you wish.
The ‘00s: Galactic gloss
Mattes and the ‘00s went together like Aaron Samuels and Regina George – AKA like, not well at all. Instead the era was all about the gloss; the stickier, shinier and shimmery-ier the better. We’re taking that brilliantly gleaming brief and running with it (though blessedly, the stick-factor has since improved), incorporating iridescent cotton candy-coloured sheen into everything from our lip gloss choices to our highlight ones. And no, shine doesn't need to stop at shimmer – sparkle certainly isn’t off limits. Glitter? Go for it. Gemstones? Just fabulous. Live it up like you’re heading to your Year 7 disco – it’s what our ‘00s gloss queen Paris Hilton would want.