cosmetics

   In stark contrast to the ultra-sophisticated faces of the 1950s, the so-called ‘dollybird’ look of the 1960s placed the emphasis on looking young, even childlike, with eyes made up to be permanently agog. The 1960s also saw the development of customer beauty counters, where people could experiment. Furthermore, the marketing of cosmetics completely changed in the 1960s. Previously advertising had been earnest and dull, with lengthy descriptions of the quality of the product, very similar to the scientific information given in the mid- to late 1990s, however; in the 1960s cosmetics were publicized as sexual enhancers. Innuendoes flowed freely and explicit erotic images were employed to sell the apparent sexual advantages of make-up and perfume. The most important cosmetic item was eyeshadow, aimed at the younger consumer who had gained financial power in the 1960s. The Saturday morning shopper was a teenager, and department stores were concerned with gaining their custom, which was easily achieved with every new shade and fabulous packaging. Mary Quant was the key figure in revolutionizing cosmetics in the 1960s. False eyelashes and neon-frosted colours were a necessary part of the contemporary image. Quant continued to hold a dominant position, and in the late 1990s she headed a thriving make-up business and a string of retail outlets in Japan, where the young gave her cosmetics cult status. The 1960s also the emergence of age-oriented skin creams, specifically Revlons Eterna 27 for the over-thirties market.
   After the idealistic and ebullient 1960s came the limping and cynical 1970s. Make-up was often natural, but more frequently it was very colourful with heavily emphasized features and pencil-thin eyebrows. The face painting of the 1960s continued to some degree, heavily influenced by David Bowie. Cosmetic products went ‘back to nature’, seemingly including lemons, avocados or apples in every cosmetic recipe. There was also the aggressive war paint of the punk rocker (see punk rock). Advertisers relied heavily on the Belle Epoque for inspiration and many companies, like Yardley, often used reproductions of work by artists such as Klimt to enhance packaging.
   The soft focus of the 1970s contrasted sharply with the vibrancy of 1980s make-up. There was also renewed interest in anti-ageing skin products, and many companies joined the race to develop the most beneficial anti-wrinkle cream. The 1980s was the era of power breakfasts, power walking and power dressing, and make-up had to be equally ostentatious. However, Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, provided a welcome alternative to women who found the boom era make-up a trifle fussy. She was responsible for developing natural skin products and cosmetics, and has made a substantial difference to the production and marketing of cosmetics.
   After the standardization of the groomed look in the 1980s, came the relief of experimentation and individuality in the 1990s. The 1990s consumer was far more sophisticated and educated in the techniques of cosmetics application. Products were expected to be environment and animal friendly, and the agenda was to enhance the individual’s natural look without masking her own beauty or her personality.
   See also: accessories; lesbian chic
   Further reading
    Mulvey, K. and Richards, M. (1998) Decades of Beauty: The Changing Face of Women 1890s-1990s, London: Hamlyn.
   FATIMA FERNANDES

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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