The Biggest Beauty Trends From the Past 50 Years, from Farah Fawcett's Feathered Hair to Kardashian-Level Glam

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In celebration of PEOPLE’s 50th anniversary, we’re looking back at the hair and makeup moments that defined the last five decades

PEOPLE looks back at beauty trends from the past five decades in honor of the magazine
PEOPLE looks back at beauty trends from the past five decades in honor of the magazine's 50th anniversary

PEOPLE is celebrating our 50th anniversary, and in preparation for this milestone, we've been poring over our archives. The pages of the magazine are what Pinterest dreams are made of; a scrapbook of the biggest beauty trends of the last five decades as seen on the hottest celebrities of the time.

Since the magazine launched in 1974, we’ve documented the evolution of the most popular hair and makeup looks, from Farrah Fawcett’s iconic feathered haircut in the ‘70s to the perfectly contoured glam of the Kardashian sisters in the 2000s. Journey with us through each decade and the beauty moments that defined it.

Related: PEOPLE Is Celebrating Its 50th Anniversary in 2024 — Read Our Editor-in-Chief's Letter About the Milestone

1970s: Bronzed Skin, Pastel Eyeshadow and Farrah Fawcett Hair

<p>Cher on the cover of PEOPLE in 1975</p>

Cher on the cover of PEOPLE in 1975

You can’t talk about the beauty trends of the ‘70s without discussing Cher. The superstar, who at the time was co-starring with her then-husband on The Sonny & Cher Show, was known as much for her waist-length black hair as she was for her sun-kissed complexion. Bronzed skin was in thanks to the singer, who showed off her golden glow on her 1975 PEOPLE cover.

<p>Anthony Barboza/Getty; Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty </p> Diahann Caroll and Farah Fawcett

Anthony Barboza/Getty; Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty

Diahann Caroll and Farah Fawcett

Pastel eyes were also a big hit. Superstars including Diahann Carroll, Diana Ross (who covered PEOPLE in 1979) and Dolly Parton (who rose to the top of country charts with hits like "Jolene") often rocked eyeshadow in shades of light blue, lavender and pink.

When it came to hair in the '70s, it was all about Farrah Fawcett and her feathery layered cut. The actress sported voluminous Texas curls before Charlie’s Angels, but in 1976, celebrity hairstylist Allen Edwards gave the star the flipped-back waves that took off. Her fanned style has proven so iconic, it even inspired a 2013 song, “Farrah Fawcett Hair,” by Capital Cities (featuring André 3000).

1980s: Big Brows, Even Bigger Bangs and Bold Eyeshadow

Brooke Shields on the cover of PEOPLE in 1981
Brooke Shields on the cover of PEOPLE in 1981

When the ‘80s came along, everything from shoulder pads to eyebrows got bigger and bolder. Brooke Shields set the tone with her thick, dark arches, so much her signature that her mother, Teri, was adamant that they remain untouched and Time declared her and her brows "The '80s Look." (These days, "they're thinner, they're graying, the whole thing,” Shields, 58, told PEOPLE in January, sharing the no-fuss routine she uses to maintain them.)

<p>Barry King/WireImage; Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty</p> Cyndi Lauper and Molly Ringwald

Barry King/WireImage; Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Cyndi Lauper and Molly Ringwald

Even bangs were inflated, thanks to stars like Molly Ringwald who wore her curly fringe teased and sprayed in her hit '80s movies Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, and Jane Fonda whose bangs stayed in formation throughout even the most energetic aerobics class.

Makeup was electrifying in color and carefree in application. Rock stars such as Cyndi Lauper experimented with extreme effects that included the gilded smokey eye worn in her “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” music video and the glittery lids on her 1985 PEOPLE cover.

Looking back on that era decades later, Lauper recalled how much fun she had with fashion. “I wanted wild makeup for my first promo picture,” she told PEOPLE in 2020. “I got a guy who could draw anything; one time he did a check pattern on my eyelids. Some people thought I messed up fashion, but you’ve got to mix it up. You can’t always be conservative!”

1990s: Skinny Brows, Brown Lipstick and 'The Rachel' Haircut

Halle Berry on the cover of PEOPLE in 1996
Halle Berry on the cover of PEOPLE in 1996

The color of the moment was brown, especially when it came to lips. Models such as Tyra Banks, pop stars including Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham and A-list actresses like Halle Berry wore earth-and bronze-toned lipstick, gloss and liners, as seen on the cover of PEOPLE’s “The New Pop Divas” 1999 issue.

Then there were the brows of the time. If you were to peek in a celebrity's makeup bag in the ‘90s, you’d likely find a pair of tweezers. That's because razor-sharp eyebrows so thin you could trace them with a pencil were all the rage. “I was with Playboy for a number of years and they just pluck those things right out,” Jenny McCarthy told PEOPLE in 2023.

These days, you'll hear pretty much every celebrity — from Charlize Theron (who once said she’s still “recovering from” her super-thin brow phase) to Amanda Seyfried (hers were "egregious") — say they regret that particular beauty phase. Even Julia Roberts says she would time travel to tell her younger self, "don’t pluck your eyebrows.”

<p>NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc</p> Jennifer Aniston and Jenny McCarthy

NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Jennifer Aniston and Jenny McCarthy

And while brows were ultra-minimal, hair was all about volume. “The Rachel” a.k.a. Jennifer Aniston’s generation-defining layered shoulder-grazing style, created by her hairstylist Chris McMillan for her character Rachel Green in Friends, became the most-wanted hair of the decade. Photographer Robert Trachtenberg went as far as calling it a “national phenomenon” in PEOPLE in 1995. Despite it's massive popularity, Aniston revealed that she was not a fan of the cut. "How do I say this? I think it was the ugliest haircut I've ever seen," she said.

2000s: Body Shimmer, Frosted Makeup and Side-Swept Bangs

Beyoncé on the cover of PEOPLE in 2008
Beyoncé on the cover of PEOPLE in 2008

One look at the cover of PEOPLE's 2004 “Best & Worst Dressed” issue featuring Beyoncé, Lindsay Lohan and Kirsten Dunst makes it apparent that choppy, side-swept bangs were having a moment in the '00s. They were also all over our televisions with trendsetting reality stars like Lauren Conrad and Nicole Richie rocking the style — perhaps offset with a wide scarf headband?

The new millennium also got off to a sparkly start, as stars including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Shakira enhanced their natural shine with roll-on body glitter, among other highly reflective cosmetics. Jessica Simpson even launched Dessert Beauty in 2004, which featured an edible “Powdered Sugar” body shimmer, among other cosmetics like lip gloss and body wash.

<p>KMazur/WireImage; Gareth Cattermole/Getty</p> Shakira and Rihanna in the 2000s rocking the hottest beauty trends.

KMazur/WireImage; Gareth Cattermole/Getty

Shakira and Rihanna in the 2000s rocking the hottest beauty trends.

Rihanna may have been a rising star in the '00s, but she was already setting beauty trends. She regularly rocked bright eyeliner that often coordinated with the colors in her outfit. The vibrant eye effect was the perfect complement to the ultra-glossy lips and highlighted cheekbones that were also hot at the time.

2010s: Contouring, Plump Lips and Ombré Hair

Drew Barrymore on the cover of PEOPLE in 2014
Drew Barrymore on the cover of PEOPLE in 2014

Experimenting with hair color was popular in the 2010s, as evidenced by Demi Lovato, who looked back on her hair evolution in PEOPLE’s 2013 “Gorgeous at any Age!” issue; it included six different hairstyles, including pink dip-dye, crimson curls and blonde waves in three years. Drew Barrymore, a longtime hair chameleon and 2007 PEOPLE cover star, made the trendy ombré look her signature in 2012 when she debuted brown roots that graduated slowly out to warm blonde tips. She kept the look for five years before going back to all blonde then settling on a rich auburn hue in 2020.

This decade is also best summed up by the term "full beat," which is beauty-speak for an elaborate makeup look that included foundation, contour and highlighter. The look was made popular by reality television's most famous face: Kim Kardashian. Keeping up with the Kardashians debuted in 2008, and as the show's audience grew, so did Kim’s sculpted and highlighted cheekbones, structured eyebrows, baked complexion (the powdering technique used to create a flawless base) and cut-crease eyeshadow — often done by her longtime makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic. Before long, every social media influencer was sporting Kim's signature heavy glam.

<p>Gerardo Mora/Getty; Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty</p> Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner

Gerardo Mora/Getty; Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty

Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner

Kim also loved a plump nude lip, but it was her sister Kylie Jenner who turned her signature over-lined look into a beauty empire, starting with Kylie Cosmetics' Lip Kits in 2015. "I never encouraged people to line their lips or wear lip liner, but I like it," she told PEOPLE of the brand's runaway success in 2015. "It was wild ... it's crazy because I don't realize how many people like the things that I do."

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