"Blue shadow looks so dated."
I probably should have tackled that statement as a BSB Beauty Mythbuster article! But you know, in all honesty I am sure it would have resulted in a "plausible" rating.
Blessed Cursed with possibly the worst rep in the beauty biz, blue eye shadow has had its heyday several times in the last sixty or seventy years. I'm willing to bet we'll be seeing it for decades to come.
I wanted to take a look at the various incarnations of blue shadow fashions (minus "Crazy Cat Lady", which is essentially a personalized blend of any of the following and with a heavy, albeit gin-soaked and unsteady, hand).
The introduction of blue into the modern woman's makeup repertoire. This was when men were men, and women wore perfect makeup to clean the house. Your look wasn't complete without your pearls and red lipstick. Blue eye makeup wasn't required, but certainly helped. Most often it was confined to the lids and put on carefully before topping with a perfectly rounded brow and precisely placed mascara.
Makeup got bolder in the Sixties as society loosened up a bit. In the Mod look (not the only trend, but the one most identified as being from the era) eyeliner and mascara were the king and queen, crowning a brightly painted lid. Lips were most often a very chalky pink and cheeks were "bronzed" a "healthy" orange.
Blue makeup got the sideeye from this decade's hippie chicks, who favored long, center-parted hair and minimal embellishments (though sometimes a peace sign would be painted on a smiling cheek!). Blue liner made some appearances, a nice accent to the heavily bronzed orange cheeks that were hallmarks of the "healthy look" that was so popular. The latter part of the Seventies brought disco, in all its glory. The hip hustled to grab glitter and sequins and bold colors for their dancing dress and eye makeup alike.
The Eighties, Part One
I picked two Eighties looks because they were so vastly different. The Seventies stranglehold on fashion left many denim-clad women still standing with a minimalistic approach to beauty but a yearning for more. Taking eyeliner and sponge applicator firmly in hand, they doused their eyes with blue faster than you could say Berlin Wall. The blues were bright and the liner heavy-handed. This look took hold and stayed put for years for many women, just like feathered hair. Were we the only ones who called them "wings"?
The Eighties, Part Two
Pop, Punk, New Wave and Heavy Metal. These musical movements had a strong influence on makeup. Boundaries were being pushed everywhere, and excess was In. Color wasn't confined any more than anything else was, resulting in bright stripes, blocks of colors, and makeup that left the lid and cheekbones and traveled... well, everywhere! Colors didn't have to match your mohawk or jelly bracelets. In fact, it was probably better if they clashed.
I always think of the Nineties as MAC's makeup era. Sure, the brand started in '85, but they were everywhere by the time Bill Clinton famously ordered that pizza. For those not rocking the grunge look (read: Hot Mess.) (Editor's Note: me), makeup was getting reigned in, sort of. As a delicate counterpoint to an extension of the structured shoulderpads and carefully coiffured hair, cheeks were being chisled and eyes were getting shaped. MAC artists taught us how to contour, and we ran with it. Browns were "natural", despite their orangey tones, and we put them on eyes, cheeks and lips in the early part of the decade. But blue was there, too, with much layering and blending and shaping. And let us not fail to point out that this was the era of the darker lipliner and lighter fill-in. Those were dark days, indeed...
Turn of the Century - "The Aughts"
Pendulums swing, and as we left the sculpted 90's we entered a reactive era of... more sculpting. But this time it was a bit more natural. In fact, some things were almost erased! The 90's lived on for most of us, and we kept blending and shading and playing with color, but thanks to fashion trends and makeup advances we were learning how to downplay, too. Gone was the muddy contouring and shimmery highlighting of the previous decade. Instead, we modeled ourselves after the runway models and nude'd our lips and played up our smokey eyes. Or, conversely, we bolded our lips and all but erased our eyes. We also played with the past, bringing a little of this and a little of that into our fashion, music, art and makeup. Reality TV and dermal fillers impacted our fight against aging and our need to have the smoothest skin, the most arched eyes, and the whitest teeth. At least we could do our blue smokey eyes to bring out our happy fish faces for our MySpace profiles!
I'm not sure where things are going to go, but with the hi-def trend firmly in place it may continue to lean towards the uber-natural. On TV we can see every line, wrinkle and blemish. We're already terrified of aging, though in my opinion that fear is loosening a bit. My prediction? In another ten years we'll be focused even more on Healthy instead of Fighting Aging. Wrinkles will be accepted, if not embraced, and we'll be getting them later as we reap the rewards of our careful use of SPFs. (Except, of course, for Snookie and the gang, who will find their aging guido years a bit more rough, I suspect).
This is how I'm currently rocking blue eye shadow: with a grounding taupe or brown and in a greyed-blue shade that complements my skintone. It accents my eyes without drawing attention away from my skin and my natural-ish my-lips-but-better lipstick. Moderate gloss, please. How do you wear blue now?