70's Makeup & Fashion

Written by deborah walden
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70's Makeup & Fashion
Hair and make-up in the 1970s followed social and political trends. (Evening Standard/Valueline/Getty Images)

The hair and make-up styles of the 1970s sought to dress a new woman. On the heels of the rigidly stylised looks of the '50s and '60s, the quest for beauty in the '70s aimed for liberation. Envisioning a more carefree female populace, fashion in this decade demanded low-maintenance styles.

Long and Straight

The hairstyles of the '50s and '60s demanded that women tame and tightly curl their tresses. With the freedom embraced by early 1970s social revolutions like the hippie movement, women unleashed their locks. Long, straight hair evolved into a trademark of the '70s style. Embraced for its "natural" appearance, straight hair often required hard work. Unlike women today, fashionistas in the 1970s straightened without flat irons. Instead, they used regular cloth irons. This method required hours of dangerous straightening, often achieved with the help of a friend.

The Afro

Few 20th-century hairstyles made a more potent political statement than the Afro. Popularized through the "Black is Beautiful Movement," this style offered a bold expression on the beauty of natural African-American hair. Previous decades subjected women of colour to the expectation that their hair must be straightened. In the '70s, both men and women embraced this new coif as both a stylish signature and a cultural claim on beauty. Afro styles required teasing with a pick to maintain volume and form. The Afro made a resurgence in fashion in recent years and remains popular today.

Star Style

Popular entertainment stars in the '70s changed the course of fashion with iconic hairstyles. Farrah Fawcett rose to fame as an actress on "Charlie's Angels." The vivacious, feathered locks that framed her face allowed the starlet to take centre stage in American fashion. The hairstyle, now synonymous with the actress, lives on as "The Farrah." Dorothy Hamill later popularised the wedge haircut during her career as an Olympic figure skater. Characterised by stacked layers above the neck, this cut offered women a low-maintenance yet current style.

Natural Beauty

The hippie movement of the 1970s urged a return to nature in all aspects of life. Trends in make-up and skin care responded to the call with "the natural look." As with haircare, the natural look in make-up sometimes required hours of work. Peachy, healthy skin unseated more fussy looks, and tan, surfer-girl skin emerged as a new standard of beauty. Tanning oils and bronzers filled the closets and beach bags of young beauties. Blue eyeshadow, now a trademark of 70s style, complemented the natural look by brightening women's eyes and adding a hint of colour to bare skin.

Disco Fever

Disco offered a counterweight to the natural attitude embraced by the early 70s. Rising in the mid and late years of the decade, disco music and style grew out the dance nightclub scene. Since make-up styles posed the new demand of nighttime visibility under strobe lights and disco balls, glitter offered an exciting and playful solution. Blue eyeshadow remained popular in the disco era. In contrast to the natural, pastel shades favoured by hippie fashion, disco style opted for bolder blues with ample sparkle.

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