When I think of the 1960s, I think of the iconic events that shaped the era — Woodstock, the moon landing, the start of the Cold War. Indeed, the swinging sixties created some of the most iconic makeup trends of all time. From Elizabeth Taylor to Sophia Loren, the exaggerated cat-eye to the minimalist face, here are the most iconic ’60s makeup looks from an even more iconic decade.
Brigitte Bardot: The ’60s Siren
Mention the ’60s, and I instantly think of French actress Brigitte Bardot. She was the star of many movies in her day, but she was perhaps best known for her iconic cat-eye makeup look (and her undone blonde updo). Sun-kissed glam became her trademark, and it has never gone out of style.
To recreate Bardot’s stunning siren beauty look, focus first on the eyes. You’ll want to create a striking cat-eye that draws attention without overbalancing the rest of the face. The key here is properly blending out your smoky eyeshadow.
- Start by lightly applying a matte black eyeshadow across your entire eyelid, focusing on the crease and outer corner of your eyes — you’ll want those areas to be darkest. Then, take a blending brush and blend that shadow up and out in the shape of a classic cat-eye. The goal is a soft finish rather than any sharp lines.
- Next, grab a small angled brush and apply that same black eyeshadow to your lower lashline, extending it upwards into the smoky eye you’ve created.
- Staying close to your upper lashline, trace over that eyeshadow with a deep black eyeliner. (Take your time with this step — eyeliner can be tricky, and the key to Bardot’s trademark look is an eyeliner flick that really creates that cat-eye.)
- Once you’ve let your eyeliner dry, grab your blending brush again, and finish blending out your eyeshadow.
- Finally, add mascara (or even a set of false lashes, if you’re feeling bold) — the more dramatic your lashes look, the better.
Aside from a dramatic dark eye, Bardot tended to stick with pale lips and eyebrows paired with a glowy, tan complexion. Finish your look by dusting on some soft highlighter and a natural lip gloss, and voilà — you’ve nailed the French bombshell’s iconic look.
Twiggy’s Mod Makeup
Beauty trends recycle just like fashion trends do, and one look that’s come back time and again is Twiggy’s bold and wide-eyed mod makeup. Pastel eyeshadow, a clearly-defined cut crease, and striking eyelashes dominate this face for a doe-eyed look that’s flattering on every woman, no matter her age. (Though, of course, all of these looks should be modified so as not to date you.)
- According to famed makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, the best way to start is by tracing the crease of your eye sockets with a dark shadow.
- Feel where the bone of your eye socket is, and use a liner brush to trace just underneath that with a dark but soft eyeshadow — I prefer dark brown to get a really authentic Twiggy eye.
- Next, grab your favorite liquid eyeliner, and trace a thick line from the inside corner of your eye all the way out past your lash line into a near-cat eye. Although not quite as dramatic as the Bardot smoky eye, the eyeliner should extend past your upper lashes to almost connect with the dark cut crease you created earlier.
- Finish the look with a generous helping of mascara. Apply mascara to both your upper and lower lashes, and use the mascara wand to group the lashes together.
Few women have made such a mark on the makeup world as Twiggy. Now it’s your turn to rock this retro makeup look!
Sophia Loren’s Bold Beauty
Sophia Loren may have lived at the same time as Twiggy and Bardot, but her makeup look was peerless. Bold yet simple, Loren preferred strong brows, red lipstick, and a classic smoky eye — a flattering look on women of all ages.
- To copy Loren’s iconic ’60s glam, start with your eyebrows. Find an eyebrow pencil in the shade of your brows and fill them in — think thick, but natural. You can use the spoolie at the end of the eyebrow pencil to comb your eyebrows and corral them into your desired shape if needed.
- Next, apply a dark shimmer to your eyelid, either brown or gray (gray will make blue or brown eyes pop, while brown is best for hazel and green eyes). You’ll want to use an eyeshadow with a slight shimmer to it rather than matte because it’s easier to blend. As you can see, Loren wore a much more subtle smoky eye than Bardot’s dramatic cat-eye.
- Finish off the smoky eye with a touch of black liner and mascara.
- Now the lips… Choose your favorite red lip color and apply it carefully.
With that, you’ve accomplished yet another iconic 1960s makeup look — and maybe the most classic one, at that. After all, a smoky eye and red lip are always in style.
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
A lot of makeup looks are great for everyday wear, but others were made for the silver screen. That’s the truth for the the iconic blue eyeshadow and striking eyeliner Elizabeth Taylor wore for her role as the infamous Egyptian pharaoh in the 1963 film Cleopatra. This look may not be practical for everyday makeup, but I firmly believe that each woman should try it out at least once in her life — if only to feel like a queen.
- To copy Taylor’s Cleopatra look, start by creating dark and bold eyebrows, à la Sophia Loren. Focus on creating a sharp tail on your eyebrows — eventually, you’ll nearly connect your eyeliner with the ends of your brows.
- Next, apply a bright blue eyeshadow all over your eyelid, blending upwards so that your entire lid is a pastel blue from lashline to eyebrow. Make sure that the color is even and not too pale, or else it will be overpowered by the eyeliner.
- Take a black liquid eyeliner, and trace a dark line on your upper lashline.
- Then create Taylor’s infamous bold wing by drawing out the liner on your upper lashline almost all the way to the tail of your eyebrow. Don’t forget the Q-tips and makeup remover — this may take a couple of tries! (The key to nailing Taylor’s eye makeup is to create that cat-eye flick just a bit further out from the eyelid than you normally would. You essentially want to extend your eyeliner an extra quarter inch past the end of your eyelid, then create a thick flick that almost connects to your eyebrow.)
- Finally, use a dark eyeshadow to line your entire bottom lash and glue on a set of falsies to nail the silver-screen siren look.
Aretha Franklin’s Iconic Wings
Apparently winged eyeliner was ALL the rage in the swinging sixties, because here’s yet another iconic makeup look focused on that particular style. You might think of Aretha Franklin and picture her trademark beehive hairstyle, but she also rocked a retro makeup look that everyone emulated.
- To mimic Franklin’s ’60s style, use your eyebrow pencil to create dark arched eyebrows, and match them with dark eyeliner. Rather than creating a cat-eye, though, you’ll want to drag the eyeliner all the way out past your lashline. The line should be nearly parallel with your eyebrows and taper off to a thin point, just like a classic cat-eye.
It might take some fiddling around to nail the angle and thickness that is most flattering on your eye shape, but once you do, the rest is easy — just look for a chrome orange lip color that suits your skin tone, and you’ve nailed the Aretha Franklin look!
Jane Birkin’s Minimalist Soft Glam
Most ’60s makeup looks are all about drama — high arched brows, red lips, a dark cut crease, and dramatic pastel eyeshadow. But the most practical look from the tumultuous decade is soft and sweet.
To get a ’60s makeup look more suited for everyday wear, take a page out of model Jane Birkin’s book. Aside from her bangs, the fashion icon was known for a neutral or pink lip, soft blush, and a wide, doe-eyed gaze, courtesy of a good mascara.
- Start by using a fan brush to generously apply blush (with just a bit of shimmer) high across your cheekbones.
- Curl your lashes and apply mascara or falsies, and top off the whole look with a soft pink lip gloss.
It might be dramatically different than the other retro looks, but it is still authentically sixties (and a lot easier to replicate than the era’s other looks).
Into the Swing of Things
The 1960s were an amazing time for makeup. Whether you want to amp up the drama with a pastel eye and bold eyeshadow, or take a more casual approach with a soft lip and wide doe-eye, there’s a ’60s makeup look for you.