Blue eyeshadow: The odds are not ever in your favor
All makeup benefits from being applied by an experienced hand, but blue eyeshadow is a particularly tricky thing. Whether you’re talking periwinkle, powder blue, turquoise, sky blue, cerulean or another cool shade, it’s just not the kind of color that works for everyone… or, if we’re honest, doesn’t even work for most people. (Any girl who grew up in the ’70s or ’80s probably figured this out the hard way.)
Below are more than two dozen vintage makeup ads showing the evolution of blue eyeshadow from the 1950s to the 1980s. There are a handful of winners in the bunch, but we bet that a lot of these ads prompted fashion fails — the kind that gave blue eyeshadow the tacky reputation that follows it to this day.
1. Evening eyes, by Kurlash (1959)
The ad copy calls this look “subtle” yet “dramatically shimmering.” We would have to disagree with that first part, but the drama is definitely there.
2. Max Factor’s new powder eye shadow (1962)
Of this blue mist powder eyeshadow, Max Factor said, “Your eyes whisper beautiful messages with this new softer look.” Well, if this shows the soft look, we don’t even want to imagine what the hard look was like.
3. Maybelline eyeshadow (1962)
“Glorify your eyes,” they said. You’ll have “the most beautiful eyes in the world,” they said. Wishful thinking.
4. Helena Rubinstein fashion matte eyeshadow (1965)
We think she’s laughing because she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.
Because the light blue eyeshadow on the brow bone doesn’t help anything.
9. Max Factor makeup in the ’60s
It’s hard to judge an overall look based just on one eye, but this model’s bright blue eyes at least helps the matching shadow look like it has a reason to be there.
10. Glimmerick Sunshine Pales (1969)
Glimmerick said of their eyeshadow, “Each shade so pale, so shimmerful, so fluttery with little lights, it’s like washing your lids with liquid sunshine.” Well, it’s not really eye shadow then, is it? But even more important: Pale, the color often sported by sick and malnourished folks, isn’t a good look for everyone.
11. Almay Softlight eye shadow duo (1969)
Almay’s late-sixties eye cosmetics included these high-sheen, super-gleam, powder-in-cream eye shadows — Softlight and Superlight. Not so sure about the makeup, but the “Fling of a Ring” by jewelry designer Lee Menichetti is pretty groovy.
12. Yardley’s China Brights (1972)
The China Brights eyeshadow — or “super-frosted eye gel” — from Yardley offered “Revved up Chinese colors… with high-powered luminescent glow.” Uh, yeah. It glows. Like Cherenkov radiation.
13. Bright blue French eyeshadow (1972)
1972 was apparently quite the year for bold looks involving blue eye makeup.
14. Eye makeup from her Avon lady (1972)
“I didn’t want my eyes to look too made up. But I did want them to look big. Enormous, in fact.”
They say that if you wore glasses, you apparently needed some extra eyeshadow zing to stand out. “So the trick is to exaggerate and build up the depth of color around your eyes…” Exaggeration accomplished, thanks to the Aziza Frosted Shadow Trios.
The bright red lipstick combined with the overdose of bold eyeshadow is oh-so-seventies.
25. Yardley Pot O’ Gloss Frost blue eyeshadow (70s)
Such a light color with almost no eyeliner almost makes it look like she is wearing pressed powder for her eye makeup.
26. Cover Girl Re-freshable Shadows (1981)
This ad from the eighties had to add a bright blue popsicle to make it look like this eyeshadow color might actually look good on normal people — but, see, you have to be a top model like Nancy DeWeir here to pull off anything like this.