How beauty trends have evolved over the last 50 years

27 Aug 2021 | Indulge
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Beauty standards have drastically changed over the decades. 

Today, the global beauty industry is a $532bn (£388bn) market, with the US currently holding the world’s largest beauty market at a 20% share. It’s an industry that is rapidly expanding, with more and more advanced products and procedures becoming available each year.

But while there have been countless looks over the past 50 years, one common denominator within society’s beauty standards remains firmly unchanged – and that is our global obsession to looking and feeling younger. 

Transform Hospital Group recently looked into the evolution of beauty trends across the last century, exploring the impact that global events, celebrities, and social media have had on the development of popular trends, products, and treatments. Here’s what they discovered.


The 1970s brought us bright iridescent eye shadows in tones mainly consisting of green, blue, and purple. False lashes went out the window in the 70s with the arrival of mascara wands. Heavy bottom lashes became a statement of this era along with more natural ingredients being used within beauty products.


We saw the first ever introduction of anti-aging products in the 1980s, as collagen was discovered and advertised far and wide for those who sought a rejuvenated, more youthful glow to their skin. Singers such as Madonna and Blondie had a big impact on make-up trends around this time, with bright contrasting eye shadows paired with exaggerated hairstyles.


Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Anniston, Kate Moss and the Spice Girls are just a select few of our iconic 90s babes who inspired beauty in this decade.  A slight smoky eye with a strong burgundy lip was a universal look back then. 


The noughties brought us the arrival of better skincare with natural active ingredients such as hyaluronic acids being used in moisturiser to aid further with anti-aging. Soft, feminine makeup looks consisting of glossy lips and shimmery eyeshadows took the world by storm around this time. Think classic Britney in “Oops!... I Did It Again.”


2010 was the year that Instagram boomed and with it came full glam ‘grammable’ looks. Celebrities such as the Kardashians and make up artist Jeffree Star had a huge influence on the makeup world as contouring took the beauty world by storm, while supermodel Cara Delevingne inspired many of us to stop plucking and embrace bigger brows.


In this day and age, we’ve never been more obsessed with looking youthful. With a whole host of skincare treatments available and the science to back up new ingredients to give us a rejuvenated look, beauty standards are supporting our need for perfection. Non-surgical procedures such as lip fillers and rhinoplasty and have become widely popular. In a recent survey, 59% of Gen Z respondents said they viewed procedures such as fillers comparable to getting a haircut or manicure. 

So, if there’s one thing we can deduct from our glimpse through the ages, it’s that (rightly or wrongly) beauty products and procedures are becoming more and more advanced, and new research is constantly being carried out to give us next level treatments to feed society’s global need for perfection.