Although power-dressing women wore suits and other garments that were traditionally considered masculine, their visages soared to new levels of saturated femininity. Like the cheek-consuming blush so closely associated with the 1980s, eyeshadow was generously applied, often up to the brow bone and in contrasting metallic, pastel, or neon tones. Eyeliner was worn around the whole eye, including waterlines, and could extend into a wing or cat eye. Thanks to Brooke Shields, people across America lusted after thick, natural brows.
Androgynous icons, such as Grace Jones and Boy George, reflected the decade’s gender fluidity, as well as its absolute and international embrace of cosmetics. Disseminating the latest trends, tabloids, fanzines, and MTV brought the mask-like makeup of punks, goths, and New Romantics into the mainstream. Instructional videos ranged from fitness to beauty, and in 1986, the famously blue-eyed actress Donna Mills released her own at-home makeup tutorial, The Eyes Have It.
While MAC’s 1984 founding in Toronto was intended to equip professionals with high-quality and high-pigment cosmetics, brands like Wet n Wild, which launched in 1979 with 99-cent cosmetics, made achieving the looks of Madonna, Paulina Porizkova, or even Princess Diana more attainable than ever.
Wet n Wild (American, founded 1979)
Eyeshadow Quad, ca. 1980
Duran Duran (British, formed 1978)
Capitol Records (American, founded 1942)
Rio Cassette, 1982
Cover Girl (American, founded 1961)
Shadow Art Palette, ca. 1983
Courtesy of Cover Girl Archive Collection, Coty Inc.
Hamlyn (British, founded 1950)
Christine Saunders, et al. (dates of life unknown)
Boy George Fashion & Make-up Book, 1984
Madonna (American, born 1958)
Sire Records (American, founded 1966)
Madonna: The First Album International Re-Release Cassette, 1985
Almay (American, founded 1931)
Vogue (American, founded 1882)
Hypo-Allergenic 8-Hour Eye Color Advertisement, January 1986
Donna Mills, Inc. & MCA Home Video, Inc. (American, 1983–1990)
Donna Mills: The Eyes Have It Betamax, 1986
Maybelline (Now Maybelline New York, American, founded 1915)
Blooming Colors Dual Color Eye Pencil in Blue Ice-on-Violet, ca. 1986
Graphics: Grace Jones by Richard Bernstein for the cover of Interview Magazine (October 1984); Max Factor Legendary Lash Mascara Advertisement, American Vogue (April 1986)