The Most Influential Beauty Trends, Decade by Decade
As the political and cultural climate changes, as well as technological advancements and societal norms, so follow beauty trends. Post-election, when women felt the glass ceiling looming and (unconsciously or otherwise) searched for an active way to rebel—buzz cuts cropped up on the heads of more female celebrities than we can count on one hand. Similarly, it's no surprise as high-tech, HD camera lenses continue to advance, facial injections are on the rise. It's all connected.
To better understand where these beauty movements come from, I reached out to top experts in various fields—skincare, makeup, and hair—to find out what eras they found most influential. Below, each one describes the trends that shaped history.
"History has it that Coco Chanel got sunburned on a cruise, and when she arrived back home to France, the tan she developed became trendy," says dermatologist and ethnic skin expert, William Kwan, MD. While it's not the healthiest of trends, it's still popular to this day.
"Retin-A was approved for acne in 1971," notes Kwan. "It was found to be helpful for acne and received approval for this condition. Since then, we've found the category of retinoids to be helpful for stimulating collagen, helping fine lines and wrinkles, and aiding in the appearance of stretch marks and scars. Dermatologists use Retin-A products every day for patients. Then, collagen was approved in 1981. Today's facial fillers, which are predominantly hyaluronic acid–based, were developed after many years of using injectable bovine collagen."
"Botox was approved for medical use many years before its cosmetic indications, but once it was FDA-approved for cosmetic use in 2002, the popularity of the product skyrocketed," notes Kwan. "It's so common that people use it as a noun and verb. Nothing works better for dynamic creases of the upper face."
While the mainstream fascination with California increased (think The O.C., Laguna Beach, and The Hills), popular barrel curls were nixed in favour of a more undone look. "Beachy waves give an effortless, tousled look to any style and are ideal for [modern women] because they don't have to be perfect to look good," says Aaron Grenia, Chase Kusero, Leo and Franck Izquierdo, the co-founders of IGK Hair Care.
While women of colour have been wearing their natural curls for centuries, Vernon François, celebrity hairstylist and founder of the Vernon François Collection, notes a shift. "Wearing curly hair loose and free—just letting it be—has shaped the last 10 years," he suggests. "Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Uzo Aduba, Alicia Keys, Shakira and Solange all own this so well. They're unapologetic for the volume. It's a must-wear style for women with big, curly hair."
Opening Image: Imaxtree