‘60s Makeup Is Back — With A Fresh Twist

Move aside ‘90s — these days, it’s all about the “modern mod.”

by Jessica Ourisman
60s makeup

What the ‘60s did for fashion and beauty was nothing short of transformative. Muses like Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick brought shorter lengths to both hemlines and haircuts, securing mini skirts and choppy pixie cuts as lasting trends still seen on runways today. The makeup looks of the time are especially timeless, with an emphasis on the eyes — from feathery lashes to defined cut-creases. "The era is an endless inspiration for me," says celebrity makeup artist Jo Baker. "The stark, bold, and playful shapes and tones always lure me in.” She notes an “exaggerated femininity and almost cartoon-like artfulness” about ‘60s makeup that always feels fresh, whether on a red carpet or as a TikTok trend. This brings us to the biggest makeup trend of 2022: modern mod — an aesthetic which some say never left.

"I have pulled inspiration from the ‘60s for as long as I can remember," celebrity makeup artist Ash K. Holm tells TZR. She notes that floating lines in the crease, separated eyelashes, black wing liner, and pinky blush are among her favorite looks from the era, and that she gets particularly excited when her clients like Ariana Grande and Maude Apatow request ‘60s-inspired glam. "Anything with a cut crease, bold lines, and interesting eyelashes has my attention,” she says. “I have always been mesmerized by Twiggy, Brigitte Bardot, and Diana Ross."

There are a few different ways that the modern mod makeup trend is playing out currently. Celebrity makeup artist Zara Kaplan notices that some artists prefer to transfer the classically ‘60s aesthetic onto modern muses, while others put their own spin on the trends. "I’ve noticed a big focus on ‘60s makeup trends but with a modern spin on the style through color choices, finishes, and inspirations," she says.

Milan-based fashion makeup artist Giuly Valent also notices the ‘60s makeup aesthetic in Europe, on runways and off. "The modern mod looks I happen to see are characterized by eyeliner along the edging of the eye, particularly in the middle, a defined cut crease, and lower lashes coated in mascara," she says. Modern touches to these classic ‘60s makeup aesthetics are reflected via color selection, placement, shimmery finishes, and glistening textures (as opposed to matte). "Alternatively, some looks highlight lashes laden with mascara and a less graphic crease, in nude or greige colors,” she notes.

Ahead, TZR breaks down the biggest modern mod makeup trends seen on runways, celebrities, and beyond.

Trend #1: Razor-Sharp Lines

Distinct, clear cut lines and graphic liner are characteristic of ‘60s makeup; Holm modernizes the look by adding defined cut creases and sharp wings. This can be seen in her look on Maude Apatow, which modernizes the classic ‘60s cat eye. "We knew we wanted to incorporate her cats in this shoot, so I thought, why not make the eye makeup extra catty?" she says.

She created a sharp cut crease paired with a dramatic wing liner, opting to draw white and black spikes on the outer corners of the lower lash for more animated eye drama. "I felt that the graphic lower lash line and rosy lips would modernize this look to make it more 2022, but with the essence of the ‘60s," Holm says.

Achieving Holm's level of sharpness takes practice, patience, and the right tools — in this case, both an angled and pointed detail eye brush. (She recommends Brush 26 and Brush 30 from her collection with Sculpt by Spectrum.) To create the floating line, she sketched it using the pointed brush before thickening it with the angled brush. For the wings, she used a gel liner with the angled brush, noting that either a gel liner or pen is a necessity.

The last step is to clean up the edges into sharp wings. "My favorite pro tip is to take a Kylie Cosmetics Makeup Wipe or Garnier Micellar Water and saturate a cotton round, then saturate the angled brush in the round, and use it to sharpen and clean up the edges of your winged liner," she says. "Pinch the brush in more makeup remover each time you clean up the wing for a crisp, clean line each time."

Trend #2: Doe Eyes

Mod makeup is all about the eyes with a major emphasis on the lashes, both top and bottom. Sometimes this means mascara, with Exa ten18 Lash Amplifying Mascara being an excellent new option. Kaplan loves Tower28 MakeWaves Mascara and celebrity makeup artist Katrina Klein recommends Byredo Mascara or Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara as luxury options.

To amp up the ‘60s factor, opt for faux lashes. "For a wispy lash, I love Kiss Falscara Lengthening Wisps and Falscara Bottom Lash Wisps," says Holm. Because false lashes can close the eye, Holm recommends also using a white or nude liner such as Victoria Beckham Instant Brightening Waterline Pencil in the waterline or between the lower lashes to help open the eyes back up.

On hooded eyes or monolids, celebrity makeup artist and photographer Robin Black recommends using an eyeliner pen to draw on embellishments to the lower lashes à la Twiggy. As Kaplan points out, artists are also using playful colors to modernize their ‘60s graphic eyes, like metallic silver and electric blue.

Trend #3: Go-Go Hues

Instead of classic beige and black hues, makeup artists are opting for more playful hues and finishes reminiscent of the go-go girls of the ‘60s. "Silvers and royal blues are giving classic ‘60s makeup a 21st century, almost sci-fi look," celebrity makeup artist Omayma Ramzy says. Powder blues, lavender, greens, limes, and yellows were popular on the lids over black liner in the ‘60s, but 2022 is differentiating itself with its color choices and finishes. Valent notes Off-White’s "electric" royal blue shadow (instead of classic black) in a modern twist for its runway show.

Another way that the modern mod look is taking place is through its textures and finishes — artists are opting for shimmering shadows as opposed to matte, glints of highlighter on the cheekbones, and dewy foundation finishes. "Classic beauty trend eras will always come in and out over time — what really changes with the years is the texture and development of products," Baker explains. "Brands are producing the tones that made these looks classic and appealing, but with new, updated, fresh textures." For a splash of electric blue shimmer on your lids, Violette FR Yeux Paint in the shade Twinkling will do the trick, while the Off-White Imprint Maze pencil can recreate the royal blue runway look.

Trend #4: Hybrid Mod

Hybrid styles are the most exciting, blending elements of multiple influences. Whereas matte, powdered skin was typical in the ‘60s, modern makeup trends call for creamier textures and natural finishes. "I love that we have blended the minimal skin of modern makeup with a graphic mod moment," Kaplan says. "It's like the clean aesthetic blended with a designer eye, or a bold lip, or with a striking element.” She calls the technique of transforming the face with different graphic eyes a "total mod move." Valent and Kaplan both reference space-age vibes that are communicated via metallic color palettes, and even crystals, sequins, and glitter added to looks, often at the inner corner.

Dior Beauty

The mod-meets-grunge style came through during Fashion Month both on and off the runways. Christian Dior's S/S 2023 RTW look featured smudgy, smoky black liner that eschewed the crisp, distinct look of the ‘60s. This was paired with clean skin, a natural lip, and laid-back, low double ponytails or the occasional shaggy pixie. "At Givenchy, grunge met mod with upper and lower lashes loaded with mascara," adds Valent.

The key to incorporating ‘60s makeup into the modern age seems to be letting inspiration guide you and making it your own. You can just as easily find your inspiration in a doe-eyed ‘60s housewife with a perfectly coiffed bouffant as you can a brightly bedecked go-go girl. “Bold and adventurous color play and unexpected eyeliner — mod makeup is here to stay,” says Baker.