Gen Z teens are bringing back ’80s makeup. Don’t be afraid.


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Growing up, there was a picture hanging on the wall of my aunt and uncle’s house that always caught my eye. It was a professional portrait taken sometime in the late 80s, the kind of photo you get dressed up to take. The picture always stood out to me for one particular reason: my aunt’s pastel blue eyeshadow.

The light blue hue was a hot ‘80s makeup trend, but viewing the photo in the early 2000s made the shade read as dated. As a preteen, I remember thinking, Who would ever wear pastel blue eyeshadow?

Fast forward about two decades to 2020, and the unthinkable has happened. Blue eyeshadow is back, and so are countless other ‘80s beauty trends. And Gen Z teens are at the helm of the resurgence.

From intense blush to graphic eyeliner looks, teens of today are riffing off of ‘80s beauty trends to create a modern aesthetic. Remember Kardashsian-esque nude lipstick and intense smoky eyes? Those looks have been replaced with trends on the total opposite side of the beauty spectrum, including neon, glitter and super saturated products.

These seven Gen Z beauty trends have roots in the ‘80s, throwing it back to a beauty era you thought would never return. Grab your pastel blue shadow and turn up your Cyndi Lauper playlist.

Bold Blush

Gen Z teens, especially e-girls, are infatuated with saturated, draped blush. In fact, blush arguably hasn’t had this much of a moment since the heavily flushed cheeks of 1980. Many teens of today wear heavy blush to purposefully look “sick,” riffing off of Japanese “hangover” makeup for the technique.

Shop Milk Makeup Lip and Cheek in Quickie for $28, Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff for $18 and PÜR Skin Perfecting Blushing Act in Berry Beautiful for $26.

Pastel Blue Shadow

Pastel blue shadow was the pinnacle of ‘80s beauty. The hue was undoubtedly the most popular shadow shade of the era, often worn singularly on the lids. Gen Z teens are bringing back that monochromatic trend, using pastel blue shadow for a statement eye look.

Shop Kosas 10-Second Liquid Eyeshadow in Nitrogen for $28, Nars Eyeshadow in Baby Jane for $19 and Stila Suede Shade Liquid Eyeshadow in Sky Blue for $24.

Hot Pink Lipstick

Look at any lip line coming out in 2020 and you’re likely to see a hot pink hue. The shade teens avoided after the ‘80s in favor of more nude hues has made quite a comeback, along with many neon trends. The color is popular among e-girls and teens looking to make a statement with their lip look.

Shop Melt Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick in Fiesta for $19, Nars Lipstick in Schiap for $26 and Mac Matte Lipstick in Breathing Fire in $19.

Neon Shadows

If you were particularly bold in the ‘80s, you swapped simple pastel blue shadow for a neon eye look. And the same can be said of teens today. Whereas nude palettes ruled the past several decades, now beauty brands are coming out with super saturated neon palettes to cater to the trend. The most popular hue in the neon trend? A yellowy-green color that Billie Eilish is known for loving.

Shop Huda Beauty’s Neon Obsessions Palette in Neon Orange for $29, Urban Decay’s Wired Pressed Pigment Eyeshadow Palette for $39 and Lemonhead.LAs Glowjam Mini UV Glitter Balm Squad for $62.

Coral Lipstick

If you weren’t wearing hot pink lipstick in the ‘80s, you were wearing coral. And the orangey-pink hue is making a comeback in 2020 as the it-color for soft girls. Soft girls, for those who don’t know, are a sort of happy medium between VSCO girls and e-girls. Think Ariana Grande.

Shop Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Tiger Tiny for $34, Charlotte Tilbury Kissing Lipstick in Coachella Coral for $34 and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Pink in the Afternoon for $8.49.

Bushy Brows

Eyebrows started getting thinner in the ’80s, a precursor to the pencil-thin brows of the ‘90s. But Brooke Shields was known for her thick, bushy brows that were the pinnacle of beauty. Bold brows have been a trend for a few years now, recovering from the “comma brows” of the 2000s. Gen Z teens are taking brushy brows to the extreme, making unibrows and unkempt brows a trend.

Shop Benefit Cosmetic Gimme Brow Volumizing Eyebrow Gel for $24, Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade for $21 and Grande Cosmetics GrandeBROW Brow Enhancing Serum for $70.

Graphic Liner

An alternative makeup trend in the ‘80s, graphic eyeliner was for the experimental. And today, the same is relatively true. The look gained popularity on “Euphoria,” with looks like Jules’ cloud eyeliner and Maddy’s thick wings. But, to be honest, Boy George did it first.

Shop Dior Diorshow On Stage Liquid Eyeliner for $30.50, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Jolt for $22 and Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner for $21.

If you liked this story, check out how e-girls are bringing back blush like it’s the ’80s.

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