Blue eyeshadow: The good, the bad & the ugly vintage makeup

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.

Blue eyeshadow - vintage makeup

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.

Evening eyes, by Kurlash

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.

Max Factor's  new powder eye shadow (1962)

3. Maybelline eyeshadow (1962)

“Glorify your eyes,” they said. You’ll have “the most beautiful eyes in the world,” they said. Wishful thinking.

Maybelline eyeshadow (1962)

4. Helena Rubinstein fashion matte eyeshadow (1965)

We think she’s laughing because she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.

MORE: Fantastic, fashionable and flamboyant eye makeup from 1965

Helena Rubinstein fashion matte eyeshadow (1965)

5. Aziza Creme Stick Eye Shadow (1966)

These eyeshadow sticks were said to be “color-keyed to the season’s fashions.” The copy also says their “come-alive shades… begin your transformation.” Into what?

Aziza Creme Stick Eye Shadow (1966)

6. Max Factor Eyes Bazazz Eye Makeup (1966)

They marketed these shadows as being uninhibited, unlimited, and even “unresistable.”

Max Factor Eyes Bazazz Eye Makeup 1966


Max Factor Eyes Bazazz Eye Makeup (1966)

7. Revlon Maxim-Eyes (1967)

“Makes eyes look played up, not made up.” Apparently, it can be both.

MORE: False eyelashes are here to stay! (1967)

Revlon Maxim-Eyes (1967)

8. Corn Silk blue eye compact (1969)

Because the light blue eyeshadow on the brow bone doesn’t help anything.

Corn Silk blue eyeshadow 1969

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.

Max Factor makeup blue eyeshadow 1960s

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.

Glimmerick Sunshine Pales (1969)

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.

Almay Softlight eye shadow duo 1969

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.

Yardley's China Brights (1972)

13. Bright blue French eyeshadow (1972)

1972 was apparently quite the year for bold looks involving blue eye makeup.

Bright blue eyeshadow - 1972

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.”

MORE: How to do makeup from the ’70s: Soft pastel eyes (1972)

1972 Avon makeup blue eyeshadow

15. Yardley Patches O’Blue (1973)

Makeup to match your jeans? Why not! Here are some blue eyeshadows that included a shade to match your denim. The three sets: Aqua Bells, Periwink Slims & Eye-Hugger Blues.

Yardley Patches O'Blue (1973)

16. Maybelline powder-twist eyeshadow (1973)

Pre-measured applications don’t necessarily mean you’re getting the right amount to look good on you… especially when the color range looks like this.

MORE: How to use makeup crayons to get a vintage ’70s look (1974)

Maybelline powder-twist eyeshadow

17. Aziza eye makeup for eyeglasses (1975)

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.

Aziza eye makeup for eyeglasses from 1975

18. Actionproof automatic Cream-On Shadow (1976-1977)

It may well be “actionproof” like the ad says — but do they mean you’re not going to get any action when you’re wearing this stuff?


19. Cover Girl 9-Hour Eye Polish (1975)

After Cover Girl invented the this Eye Polish, people looked like this for the entire workday. Well, at least someone wearing it would never have to say, “Hey — my eyes are up here.”

Cover Girl 9-Hour Eye Polish (1975)

20. Pearly ultra frost blue eyeshadow (1976)

If you’re going to wear blue, this is how to do it.

Pearly ultra frost blue eyeshadow (1976

21. Another look at pearly ultra frost blue eyeshadow (1976)

If you’re going to wear blue, this probably isn’t how to do it.

Pearly ultra frost blue eyeshadow (May 1976)

22. Maybelline Ultra Velvet and Ultra Frost

Maybe these powdered shadows from the ’70s were inspired by Crayola?

Maybelline Ultra Velvet and Ultra Frost

23. Aziza moisturizing creme shadows (1976/1977)

“What we demonstrate here are Blue and Pink Lustre… and their pretty porcelain hues last and last.” Just, no, Aziza.

MORE: Get a ’70s makeover: Step-by-step guide to a new you (1978)

Aziza blue eye shadow vintage

24. Many shades of blue eyeshadow

The bright red lipstick combined with the overdose of bold eyeshadow is oh-so-seventies.

Blue eyeshadow from the 1970s

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.

Yardley blue eyeshadow 70s

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.

Cover Girl Re-freshable Shadows

27. But that… that’s not how it works (1985)

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