From 60s beehives to 80s big hair to the spray-tan abusing 00s, the worst beauty trends of the past 50 years. For all of the plucking and primping ladies (and plenty of men) indulge in, there is definitely a science to looking good. Want to score a mate? All you need to project are "full lips, clear skin, smooth skin, clear eyes, lustrous hair, good muscle tone and body fat distribution," says one distinguished evolutionary psychologist.
Want to kick butt at work? A recent study shows a little makeup goes a long way in terms of conveying competency on the job. Still, evidence alone doesn't seem to prevent us from testing the parameters of gorgeousity via wacky new ways to style our hair and paint our faces, which seem to deliberately contradict the rules of natural selection. Behold, the worst beauty trends to have emerged over the last half century.
The Beehive AKA "B-52"-1960
Talk about a bomber. After an Illinois hairstylist created this style for "Modern Beauty Salon," the hives seriously started buzzing and the style came to epitomize the early '60s for style icons and housewives alike. While the fun (and the hair) finally died down as the Flower Children emerged, the kitschy 'do has been spotted more recently on Jean Paul Gaultier's couture runway collection, which paid homage to the late bee(hive) keeper, Amy Winehouse. But if "lustrous hair" is a symbol of attraction, what does ultra lacquered hair say besides "stiff"?
Blue Eye Shadow-circa 1972
This look is so reviled, beauty expert Paula Begoun even wrote a book about it ("Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal," for the uninitiated). While shades of blue worn on the eyes can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians who used minerals to make pigment, the craze for blue shadow seems to have peaked in the 70s, as ascertained by the eventual rise of disco, multiple cosmetic ads at the time and one Farrah Fawcett. We know the look of large eyes may imply youth and fertility, but an eye shadow O.D. looks more little old lady.
"Business in the front, party in the back" helps to describe this infamous haircut that somehow managed to look sort of cool on early adopters like David Bowie and Paul McCartney and then went horribly, horribly wrong. While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, as we now know, sometimes mimicry can totally backfire, seen here in the case of Joyce DeWitt, who played Janet on "Three's Company." Other noted 70s mullets include Florence Henderson (Carol Brady, on "The Brady Bunch") and David Cassidy.
Big Hair-circa 1983
You can thank big stars like Dolly Parton, a little known TV show that went by the name of "Dallas," and later, various hair metal band members, for a trend that seems to have as many different iterations as it did cans of hairspray. We're not really sure how mankind evolved away from this look, though we suspect it could have had something to do with all that backcombing, which is sure to thin hair, an undesirable trait in a potential mate.
The Perm-circa 1983
Perms can be traced as far back as 1872, and they were commonly used to beautify women's hair from the 1920s on. But anyone who lived through the 80s can attest to the all-out craze the home perm became, and just how wrong they tended to turn out, frying both our tresses and pride in the process. The crazy curly look certainly came and went, which is a good thing, considering all you have to do is close your eyes and think back to that accompanying extremely unpleasant aroma. Who could smell pheromones over that mess?
Crimped Hair-circa 1985
Close, kinky cousin of the perm, those who lived to tell the tale couldn't forget the ubiquitous 80s styling tool that was the crimping iron. Many a cheek, neck and ear were maimed in the name of achieving MTV rock star-esque hairstyles, until eventually Barbie herself emerged with a crimped, crackly head of hair. Barbie, like the rest of us, was smart enough to walk away (eventually) from this unfortunate craze that seriously damaged and dried out hair, which also happens to be an indicator of age.
Speaking of major cultural references, we're going to have to call Madonna out on this unfortunate trend. Sure, the Queen of Pop was born with a healthy set of full eye frames, but even if you're royalty, brows thin as we age. That still doesn't explain why she made them look so thin for her notorious Girlie Show tour. We love Madge, but we not only prefer her all-out bushy-browed and proud, now that they're restored, we suspect the feature could help explain the fact that she seems to be aging backwards.
Dark Lip liner/Light Lipstick combo-circa 1999
Was it Kim Mathers, Eminem's klassy sweetheart? Or perhaps, more likely, the media's sudden fascination with "chola" subculture? At any rate, this distinct look is wrong on so many levels-namely the two that don't match, the outline of your lip and your lips themselves. Men are extremely attracted to women's lips, but red seems to steal the male gaze, not flesh tones surrounded by coffee brown.
We simply have no choice but to connect the apex of the glossy, glistening Oompa Loompa-skinned trend to the one and only Lindsay Lohan. This was the year her $35 spray tan launched, and though its success was not to be-the subsequent lawsuits were messier than a leaked bottle of bronzer-countless stars and pedestrians have gone a la orange in the name of glamour. Sadly, the chemical component that darkens skin, DHA, has been shown to cause contact dermatitis in sensitive folks. Glamorous, indeed!
- by Violet Owens
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