What type of makeup did women wear in the 60s?

Updated November 21, 2016

Frosty pastel shades dominated the '60s make-up palette, and pale lips were often played down.

If you're tempted to bring back this look, it's best when reinterpreted -- not taken literally. Make-up artists often borrow retro elements, but combine them with modern techniques, new product formulations and more flattering colours. The pros at Mac Cosmetics created 1960s-inspired looks for the models at the Alberta Ferretti Fall 2011 fashion show in Milan, and make-up artist Lucia Pieroni created a similar look for fashion designer Vera Wang's Spring 2011 show.


Dramatic '60s Eyes

All attention was on the eyes during this decade. Baby blue and mint green eyeshadow, although sometimes unflattering for many skin tones, was applied on the entire lid up to the brow. Powder eye shadows were often sheer, iridescent or metallic formulas. White stick highlighter crayons were used around the eyes and under the lash line.

Several coats of heavily applied mascara gave lashes a long, spiky look -- with or without the help of false eyelashes. Women spent time using metal curlers, trying to achieve a wide-eyed look like '60s iconic fashion model Twiggy.

Lots of bold, black liquid eyeliner was applied with precision, using small, pointy brushes. "Cat-eye" looks were created by applying liner all around the eye along the top and bottom lash lines, then extending both lines out -- until coming to a dramatic point near the outer corner of the eye.

The Pale Lip

Pale lips offset the '60s dramatic eyes. Frosty baby pink, peach and nude were popular colours, and creamy lipsticks were worn much more than gloss. Lipstick was packaged in traditional twist-up barrels. Some lipstick was shiny, but matt pastel shades, such as Max Factor's "No-Shine" lipsticks, were very trendy. Lipliner wasn't typically worn.

Sheer Formulas for the Face

Face make-up in the '60s was minimal and meant to look sheer and invisible. Liquid foundation products were thin, light and translucent, for a natural look. Freckles were embraced, not covered up.

Face powders were important in the '60s, because the matt face was ideal -- not shiny skin. Pressed and loose powders helped to give the skin a porcelain finish, but they were never heavy or cakey. Matt peach or pink powder blush gave the apples of the cheeks a subtle, natural glow.

Popular Brands

Many of the same types of cosmetics that are used today were used in the '60s. In addition to traditional mascara, Maybelline and other brands still sold solid and cream mascaras. Both types were applied with a tiny brush that had a single row of stiff bristles. The solid mascara was similar to a rectangular matchbook, and the colour adhered to the brush after rubbing it. Cream mascara was squeezed out of a small tube.

Make-up colours were very different. Some popular products sold during the '60s include: Max Factor's "Brightenings" Eye Shadow Sticks in pearly iridescent colours; Avon's Ultra-Sheer line of translucent foundation; Helena Rubinstein's "Metallic Rage," which included eye shadow and lipstick in gold, silver and bronze shades; and Revlon's "Un-Lipstick" by Natural Wonder, which was available in 24 frosty pastel shades.

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