How to get awesome & authentic 80s eye makeup, like multicolored eyeshadow

80s eye makeup at Click Americana

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Step into our time machine — not literally, of course! — but through the magical pages of vintage fashion magazines. You will discover a treasure trove of neon, shimmer, and all the retro vibes that come with ’80s eye makeup.

Woman with multicolored eyeshadow and big 80s earrings

Take a look back at some vintage how-to guides (the TikToks and the Instagram reels of yesteryear) plus ads from the biggest cosmetic companies of the decade, demonstrating the hottest looks and trendiest techniques back then.

Putting on eye makeup in 1984

Even if you weren’t around for the original eighties experience, this is a style revival you won’t want to miss (and yes, blue eyeshadow seems to have made a comeback). And if you’re a modern-day retro beauty enthusiast, these tips and pictures will help you capture that authentic signature ’80s eye makeup look the way it actually was.

Now it’s time to grab that Caboodle and let’s get nostalgic!

Retro 80s Maybelline Blooming Colors eyeshadow sets (1985)

How to get the trendy ’80s eye makeup looks

From an article by Jerie Jayne, Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) Sept 19, 1980

80s eye makeup: How to apply eyeshadow

The new look in eyeshadow is the way it is being applied. Use three colors of eyeshadow. Blend each vertically in a fan shape. Starting with the inside of the eyelid nearest the nose with dark color, apply with an upward motion. Next, apply a light highlighter and then a darker color again. Contemporary colors are browns and muted sages.

Flame Glo professional 80s eyeshadow kit (1984)

“Whether you use a cream or powder depends on what you want to do,” says Ida Stewart, vice president of Estee Lauder Inc., a worldwide perfume and cosmetic company. “Creams blend better and more brilliant in color. Powders are more subtle.”

Start with a gentle eye makeup remover, and let it set to make sure the eye is clean. Apply shadow lightly and carefully, then reapply and daub with loose powder.

80s rainbow eye makeup in Mademoiselle from June 1985

Eyelashes and mascara

Next is mascara. Today’s look is a combination. On the bottom of the upper lash, apply blue mascara with quick strokes upward. On the top use brown or black to give the eye shape and form.

“Blue makes the white of the eye look softer and bluer. It also makes blue eyes stand out more,” she said. On the bottom lashes, use black or brown. Thickness of mascara is a matter of preference and what is appropriate for the occasion. There is a difference between a party and the office.

Retro 80s eye makeup palettes with multiple colors

How to use eyeliner, ’80s-style

Eyeliner (pencil or liquid) uses the same principle. The purpose of eyeliner is to shape the eye. The eyeliner should be applied in a fine line at the base of the lashes to make lashes look thicker. Use blue with the lower ones because it reflects light, and black or brown with the top ones.

Vintage 80s Almay hypo-allergenic 8-hour eye color (1986)

ALSO SEE: Do you remember these shampoos & conditioners from the ’80s?

Removing eye makeup is essential. Knowing the right way can prevent wrinkles. Use a cream eye makeup remover. Most women put it on and scrub back and forth. The only thing they do is stretch their skin and smear the product into the eyeball.

Work from bone to bone. Put the cleanser on fingertips, spread the cream down from the eyebrow to underneath the eye. Hold the cream for a few moments on lashes to let it work. Wipe up until the eye is clean.

Vintage 1985 fashion makeup

How to get those ’80s brows

Eyebrows should be crisp, thin and neat. The wild and woolly look is out. Women with glasses should avoid eyebrow pencil because it can give them a double rim look. When using an eyebrow pencil, the color should be no darker than the darkest part of the hair.

Retro 80s Aziza eyeshadow colors from 1984

To draw an eyebrow, hold the pencil at the side of the nose. Start where the point hits. Dot the eyebrow, following a natural arch as the pencil is moved across the eyebrow. Always keep the base of the pencil on the side of the nose. Stop when the pencil point reaches the end of the eye.

Wild 1980s eyeshadow and shaped eyebrows

Cosmetics are good manners

For women with dark circles, creams work best. Try to match the color of the face and blend in cream to hide circles. For sparse eyelashes, try false eyelashes. Today’s are natural-looking and easy to apply.

Natural Wonder 8-hour pastel eyeshadow colors (1983)
Natural Wonder 8-hour pastel eyeshadow colors (1983)

“Makeup has become something a woman just doesn’t do without,” says Mrs Stewart. “It’s like deodorant. When people first started using it they wore it just when they went out. Now they wear it whether they go out or not…

“Cosmetics are becoming a whole part of living. You wouldn’t go out in old worn-out clothes. So why not dress your face up too? Cosmetics are just good manners.”

ALSO SEE: The most popular vintage perfumes from the ’80s

Revlon '80s makeup from 1986

A closer look at real 80s eye makeup: Multicolored eye shadow for the layered/rainbow look

By Shelly Kern, The Daily News (Lebanon, Pennsylvania) April 8, 1986

Eyes are the facial features that are noticed first. “That’s because one’s expressions and feelings are seen through the eyes and the mouth,” explains fashion and beauty authority, Christine Kunzelman. “And for centuries, large eyes have been considered a cherished asset.”

Actress/model Vanessa Williams with stylish 80s eye makeup
Actress/model Vanessa Williams with stylish 80s eye makeup

Real 80s eye makeup: How to get big 80s eyes

To enhance and create the illusion of large eyes, Kunzelman offers these tips:

— To mask dark circles near the eye, dot eye disguise (opaque, light-colored coverup) with a fingertip. Use outward motions from the edge of the eye.

— With a large make-up brush, dust all around the eye with loose translucent powder. This will set the eye makeup and prevent creasing.

— With a navy-blue eye pencil, line the inside rim of the eye. This will make the whites of the eye appear whiter. Omit this step if you wear soft contact lenses.

— With an eyeliner brush, apply medium-shade eye shadow. Apply as close to the lashline as possible following the natural contour of the eye. This will make eyelashes appear thicker and darker. Use only powder eyeshadows and avoid ones that are frosted. They will make the eyes appear puffy.

1982 eyeshadow - Makeup for women
Eyeshadow look from 1982

— With an eyeshadow brush apply a soft pink, peach or yellow powder eyeshadow to eyelid — only up to the eye crease. This will make the eye appear more open.

— With an eyeshadow brush, apply a medium gray or neutral powder eyeshadow into and slightly above the eye crease following the natural contour of the eye.

Vintage Almay 80s eye makeup (1986)

— With mascara applicator, move from the inside corner of the eye with a sideward stroke and apply black mascara. Light and colored shades of mascara do not make eyes look larger. Note that this year it is fashionable to use lavender mascara at the base of the eyelashes. The rest of the eyelash should be black. This will enhance one’s eye color.

— With an eyeshadow brush, apply dark or bright-colored powder eyeshadow at the corner of the eye to form a “C” shape.

— With a dark shade eye pencil, Stay as Close to the lashline as possible. Follow the “C” shape at the outer corner of the eye. This will add definition to the eyes.

Paulina Porizkova for Revlon - '80s eye makeup tips

Kunzelman also suggests:

— Let each coat of mascara dry before reapplying.

— Use a different brush for each eyeshadow color.

— Clean brush after each application. Clean by wiping brush with an alcohol-moistened tissue.

— Do not match eyeshadow to eye color. Contrasting colors will intensify one’s eye color.

Vintage 80s Maxi Max Factor color eyeshadow singles (1984)

How to get hot eighties hair & makeup (1982)

Gradational eyelids: Marbled 80s eye makeup in shadow compacts (1986)

From the Los Angeles Times (California) December 5, 1986

We are living in the dawn of a new age of eye shadow. First, there was the kohl age — Cleopatra and all that. Then there was the grease and crayon age, which reached its height during the Twiggy era.

Vintage Q-Tips swabs as eye makeup applicators (1983)
Vintage Q-Tips swabs as eye makeup applicators (1983)

Then there was the pressed-powder age, with all its endless variations on the same old theme. “Here are the new colors for fall!” “Here are the new mix-and-match compacts for spring!” Right. Frankly, it was getting to be a bit of a rut. But wait.

Cover Girl Christie Brinkley with 80s eyeshadow (1984)

The newest & most fashionable eyeshadows for ’86

Astute readers of fashion magazine advertisements will notice a truly new look in the world of eye shadow in the next few weeks.

The latest pressed powders are dappled and stippled in the case, like little tablets of multicolored granite. Or two or three shades are blurred together like runny watercolors.

Retro 80s rainbow eyeshadow 1986

The real newness of all this is more in the presentation than in what it looks like on your eyelid. Once brushed on, the colors all smudge together for a smoky effect with subtle highlights.

Pink and purple vintage 80s eyeshadow colors

But packaging is the heart and soul of makeup. Would you buy a new eye shadow if it came in a boring, generic box? You wouldn’t, and cosmetic companies never forget it.

80s Maybelline Shadow Stix waterproof eyeshadow (1983)

Also, these new gradation eye shadows help you achieve a gradational eyelid, and that’s a much fresher, more interesting look now than monochromatic sweeps of color.

1984 eyeshadow makeup styles - gradiation eyelid colors

“I was inspired by all the marbles in Milan,” says Geri Cusenza, creative director of the Woodland Hills-based Sebastian International, which manufactures cosmetics and hair products sold in beauty salons. “The textures of architecture are very important in fashion right now.”

Vintage 1980s eyeshadows from Maybelline - Blooming Colors Boutique sets

This trend is so strong that Sebastian sold all its 65,000 new eye shadow kits to salons within two weeks. They cost $40 for a palette of 12 shadows.

Professional tips for beautiful eyes: 80s eyeshadow

Cover Girl colored eyeliner makeup tips from the '80s with Christie Brinkley - 1987 (2)

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

1980s Aziza makeup for a wide-eyed look (1983)

Every one of our 21 Aziza trios gives you eyecolor in a light, a medium and a deep. That’s what makes these shadows blend together perfectly — which is the secret of the wide-eyed look.

To achieve this sensational look, just pick any Aziza trio, then apply all three tones just the way we do in our diagrams. Your eyes will look soft, luminous, more opened up and wider-set. In short, you’ll look wide-eyed.

1. The palest tone on inner half of eye from brow to lashline.
2. Medium tone on outer half of eye, browbone to lash-line. Extend color beyond eye.
3. Outline eye with darkest tone from center to beyond outer corner, bring color around and under.

1980s Aziza makeup for a wide-eyed look (1983)


More vintage ’80s eye makeup looks: Aziza’s eye Shadow Trio makeup

Aziza demonstrates how to get a weekend of eye looks with one Shadow Trio.

1982-Aziza eye Shadow Trio makeup

You can get terrific eye makeup mileage from just one Aziza Shadow Trio.

And it’s easy to use because the three shadow colors are coordinated to work together perfectly.

To see where each shadow color should go for the different eye looks, just follow the diagrams.

80s eye makeup how-to - Aziza eye shadow trio

Incidentally, for her Saturday night eyes, our model is wearing our Heather Plum Trio. It’s from a collection of 23 Aziza Shadow Trios, all smashing.

So go ahead. Pack a Trio you love and get a whole weekend of eye looks plus some others you invent yourself. And, of course, finish up with a beautiful mascara from Aziza.

How to wear multiple shades of eyeshadow for a stylish ’80s look (1985)

From the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) October 16, 1985

QUESTION: I’d love to wear several eyeshadow colors for an interesting makeup effect. Can you give me the basics?

ANSWER: Here’s a foolproof plan: Select three shadows in the same color family (preselected trio compacts are available at the cosmetics counter).

First, apply the medium tone on the entire lid area, from lashes to crease. Then brush the deepest shade into the crease for added depth and definition. The palest hue goes on the brow bone as a highlighter.

Flame Glow eye expressions shadow kit (1986)

The key to beautiful eye makeup 1s careful blending; you shouldn’t be able to see where one color ends and the next one begins. To create this soft, muted effect, gently smudge shadows with a clean cotton ball, or sweep over the lid area with a brush.

More on color: stick to the neutral color families until you’ve mastered makeup application. Vivid colors only multiply your mistakes. And never use white to highlight the browbone: it’s much too harsh. Instead, choose pale neutrals and pastels to complement the other shadow colors you’re wearing.

Maybelline makeup from 1985 - Purple eyeshadow

Cover Girl eyeshadow palettes – Professional Color Match (1989)

New Professional ColorMatch from Cover Girl. Shadows made to match your individual coloring. Introducing Professional ColorMatch. Shadow selection made foolproof.

The ColorMatch system translates your skin tone and hair color into your ideal shadow kit. A perfect palette of rich, lasting shades. Good riddance to guessing games, you’ve met your match. In 4 and 8 kits. Color sets shown: 1. Sonoma Sunset, 2. Santa Fe Sunrise, 3. Newport Twilight, 4. Malibu Mist.

Cover Girl eyeshadow palettes - Professional Color Match (1989)

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