Beauty Blasts from the Past

Beauty Blasts from the Past


Classic beauty trends are coming back in a big way as men and women seek re-create these old-school looks in their daily grooming routines.

Do you recall watching your favorite 90s sitcom and noticing the horrendous fashion trends of the time?  There were colorful hair scrunchies, floral bucket hats, crushed velvet mini-dresses, and of course we can’t forget those outrageous “hammer pants.” But as you flip through the channels on your TV, you can’t help but notice these very SAME fashions being worn by the famous family everyone loves to hate, the Kardashians.  Those trends aren’t so atrocious after all, huh?

Much like the world of fashion, beauty trends come and go – and come back again. Many of today’s mainstream beauty trends are actually old beauty trends that have resurfaced and regained popularity. From cat-eye eyeliner to the hi-top fade, both men and women’s beauty styles have seen modernized versions of these old-school trends. Remember when women were sporting the half-shaved head? Well, it’s back again!

Decades past have produced a number of memorable trends, but only a handful have survived the ever-changing world of beauty. Below is a list of classic beauty trends that have made their way back into the spotlight and onto the faces (and heads) of men and women alike.

Deep Wine Lipstick
Wildly popular during the 1920s and 30s, deep wine lipstick made a comeback last season on the fall and winter catwalk. According to, the deep hue is a dead ringer for the wine shade Anne Hathaway flaunted at the premiere of “Les Miserables” in New York City.

Darker shades like this one are usually worn during the cold winter months, but lately women have been donning them during the spring and summer seasons as well.

“I love dark lip shades, from berries all the way to black” said Tea Johnson, a student who loves doing her own makeup. “As far as the springtime, I love dark shades, as they can provide a nice contrast from the usual pastel and bright spring fashion trends. Think all white with a dark plum lip!”

Winged Eyeliner
If you want eyes that scream “look at me,” winged eyeliner will do the trick. The bold statement eye gained popularity back in the 1950s and has been the go-to look for an air of noire and dramatic flair ever since.

“My favorite old-school beauty trend to re-create would definitely have to be dramatic winged eye-liner,” Johnson said. “I live for a good cat eye! This beauty trend of graphic and dramatic eyeliner…is a staple in my makeup routine.”

Although winged or “cat-eye” eyeliner is a fun look to sport, it can be a bit cumbersome to achieve. Maintaining a steady hand to effortlessly  glide the eyeliner across your lid in a straight line can be tough and novice makeup enthusiasts often find themselves struggling to get the look just right on their first try. Simply put, re-creating this timeless beauty trend isn’t as easy as it looks.

To achieve a flawless cat eye, Johnson recommends deciding what kind of eyeliner works best for you: cream, gel or liquid. She also suggests looking at pictures or makeup tutorials to determine your ideal eye shape versus your actual eye shape.

“Practice! Practice! Practice!” she said. “Cat eyes and winged eyeliner take practice and even the pros mess up from time to time.”

Sleek, Straight Hair
Inspired by the hippies of the 60s, straight, polished hair has been a recurring look on the red carpet. According to an article published by, “the long, sleek hair seen on Marsha Brady of “The Brady Bunch” began to emerge as the sought after style” closer to the end of the decade.  Parted down the middle and flat-ironed for a smooth finish, this simple hairstyle is perfect for practically any occasion.

“When I want to rock a super straight, long, sleek look, I reach for my clip-ins,” Johnson said. “I usually do that when I’m going out on a date or just a night out with my friends.”

Makeup artist Tangi Taylor said she wears her hair in a sleek, straight style very sparingly.

“The last time I actually recall straightening my hair was literally a year ago today,” she said. “That was because I wanted a different look for a particular occasion. After that, I haven’t even attempted to straighten it again.”

Afros and Voluminous Natural Curls
Amid the flared out bell bottoms and deep V-necks of the disco era was the sky high afro. Acting as a model for hair-spiration during the 70s, singer Diana Ross shaped her natural curls into a neat, rounded fro. Today, afros and other natural hair styles provide women with a new level of versatility when it comes to hair styling.

The natural hair trend re-emerged among African-American women as they opted to ditch their chemical straightening agents or “relaxers” and embrace their natural hair texture.  According to a report by, “relaxers account for just 21 percent of black hair care sales” and the sector has seen a 26 percent decrease since 2008.

“I always found myself trying to go back and add body and curls that were literally already there before I chemically processed my hair,” Taylor said. “So, about seven years ago I said ‘why not?’ I’d been relaxed since I was very little and maybe trying something new wouldn’t hurt.”

Solange Knowles, singer Janelle Monáe and Ross’ own daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, are just a few celebrities that can be seen rocking afros and voluminous natural hair.

The Hi-Top Fade
When it comes to beauty and grooming trends, of course we can’t forget about the guys. The hi-top fade was a unique hairJaredcut worn during the 1990s, made famous by rappers Big Daddy Kane and “Kid” of the hip-hop duo “Kid n’ Play.” Characterized by very low-cut hair on the sides and longer hair on the top, this box-shaped cut symbolized the height of hip-hop and urban music.

The style has now made a comeback particularly among young, African-American males.

“They see these trends worn by most of the NBA players and the rappers on TV,” said barber Mikchel Johnson. “That’s where they get it from. It seems like every few years the hi-top comes and goes.”

The Half-Shaved Head
Another popular hairstyle among women in the 90s was the half-shaved head. Celebrities like Cassie, singer Toni Braxton, Jada Pinkett Smith, and former Spice Girl Mel B are just a few women who have been seen rocking this trend as of late.

“I think that everything style-related is always on a perpetual recycling mode, and now is just the 90s time to make a reappearance,” Taylor said. “I think people are always searching for something new, something different, something cool, fresh and hip. Sometimes that ‘something new’ has already been done and it just has to be brought back to the forefront.”

In an article titled “Would you shave your head in the name of…fashion?” Herbal Essences celebrity stylist Charles Baker Strahan offers three key pieces of advice for those considering the unique hairstyle: consider the re-growth process, don’t rush into it and have fun with it.

Bold Brows
“Brows on fleek!”  You may have heard this expression lately, but what exactly does it mean? This new (and slightly annoying) phrase is used to describe an individual with flawless, manicured eyebrows.  But bold, defined brows have been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians, so why is the trend gaining so much attention now?

Fashion magazine Marie Claire credits model Cara Delevingne for the bold brow’s comeback.  So for those with naturally thick eyebrows, you’re in luck! Gone are the days of staring in the mirror plucking away at your brows or wincing through a waxing session at the beauty salon. According to today’s standard of beauty, the thicker the brow, the better.

“I only do my brows when I’m doing a full face of makeup,” said budding makeup artist Jasmine Spells. “I’m not the type of person who gets up, does her brows and walks out the door because I already have brows.  I just think they enhance my beauty.”

Spells said she does think people are beginning to go overboard with their brows, however.

“They’re starting not to look real,” she said. “I feel that your eyebrows can be defined and still look like eyebrows versus looking like you’ve just pasted them on.”

Full beards and Facial Hair
Times are changing and gentlemen are opting to no longer bear clean-shaven faces. A report published by Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) stated that the growth of facial hair among men has resulted in fewer consumers purchasing male grooming products.

This growing trend among men has gained momentum as celebrities like Idris Elba, Jake Gyllenhaal and George Clooney debut their new “mountain man” looks.

For average joes however, the full beard may not be a smart move and could even affect employability.

“For a lot of men in the work environment, their jobs require them to cut [their beards] off,” said Johnson. “It’s good to keep your facial hair lined up and groomed so it doesn’t look too crazy.”

When it comes to beauty and grooming trends, essentially everything is a remix. Trends may come and go, but there will always be a few that are here to stay.


Flawless: Challenging Society’s Myths of Beauty

Flawless: Challenging Society’s Myths of Beauty


In her smash hit “***Flawless,” Beyoncé asserts that she indeed woke up like this – flawless. Amid a hard-hitting baseline and tantalizing melody, the Grammy-winning singer boasts of her accomplishments and never-ending desire to succeed. She steps out on stage in her infamous bedazzled leotard, revealing a slender hourglass shape, full flowing honey blonde tresses and sculpted legs wrapped in shimmering pantyhose.

But did she really wake up like this? Probably not; however, she does have an image to maintain. But where do female entertainers and the media draw the line when it comes to promoting unrealistic beauty standards for women? Where did these standards originate in the first place?

High Heel Standards
The societal pressures women face regarding beauty and femininity have been around for quite some time. From the super-skinny models in the magazines to the “Real Housewives” reality TV series, today’s woman is expected to look and act a certain way. There’s a standard to look flawless, yet remain as natural as possible.

A panel discussion titled “I Woke Up Like This,” organized by the Center for Student Leadership at Kennesaw State University, sought to challenge these societal myths of beauty by facilitating discourse among students and staff.

“I think the assumption about college students is that they’re in a bubble, but they’re actually part of the real world,” said Dr. Nyasha Guramatunhucooper, assistant professor of leadership at KSU. “They’re in the society and they do feel those pressures. And they’re gonna go into jobs, into positions where the pressures are magnified. So it’s important to start at the college level to make a space for these pressures and to name them and interrogate them at their root because unfortunately, they don’t go away.”

There’s no doubt these unrealistic beauty standards can take a toll on a woman’s self-esteem, but they also have the potential to negatively impact things like educational environments, relationships and even employability. Both panelists and students used the discussion to share their experiences and offer solutions to overcoming the pressures to be perfect.

What Not To Wear
As much as you would like to forget this period of your life, imagine you’re back in high school. You’ve got your studies to keep up with, extracurricular activities and pile of college applications to fill out. On top of all this, you’ve got to plan your outfit for the next day and make sure it adheres to the dress code.

Professor of education and panelist Dr. Shelbee Nguyen spoke on the fact that many times these standards to look a certain way are implemented in educational settings through school dress codes.

From the “three-fingers width” spaghetti strap rule to the “your skirt must be longer than your fingertips” rule, school dress codes seem to assert more control over what girls wear than what boys  wear. Some schools have even implemented a new “bend over” rule; if you bend over to touch your toes and the backs of your knee caps show, then your skirt is too short. And say goodbye to comfortable active wear, because yoga pants aren’t allowed either.

Nguyen also pointed out that these regulations inadvertedly shame girls by deeming their outward appearance “distracting to the learning environment.”

“We give girls all the responsibility over boy’s actions,” she said. “This is what I call the subjective objectivity of women.”

Offering a remedy to this issue, Nguyen referenced an ad campaign featuring a young girl that read “my shorts are higher than your test scores.”  She suggested teachers and school administrators spend more time focusing on improving academics overall, rather than worrying about what female students wear to school. This will better the learning environment for all students and relieve some of the pressure girls feel to look a certain way.

Blurred Lines
The saying holds true: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What one person considers beautiful, another might not. But this can pose a problem when you’re in a relationship and your standards of beauty differ from those of your partner. This was the case for Caroline Ofulah, a grad student at KSU and panelist at the discussion.

She described being in an interracial relationship upon first coming to America; her body image was intact until her boyfriend began making comments about her weight.

“He would say things like ‘you should come to the gym with me’ or ‘look how your thighs spread when you sit down,” she said.

When it came time to meet his parents, Ofulah could see from where these nitpicky comments came.

“Everyone was so tiny,” she said. “I was bigger than him, his mother, his sister. I was even bigger than his uncle! I literally felt like the elephant in the room.”

Ofulah went on to explain that in her native country of Kenya, curvy women are considered beautiful, whereas here in America, it’s the skinny women who turn heads. These conflicting views of beauty are present in other cultures around the world as well.

“Here in the United States, there’s a race toward thinness,” Yen Rodriguez said. “I come from a Caribbean culture where full figured people are much more attractive. I’m a pretty thin guy and every time I go around any family members, the first question out of their mouths is ‘Why are you not eating? Why are you so skinny?’ The same thing will be asked about a woman in this culture.”

You’re Hired, but…
Beauty and personal appearance standards exist in the workplace of course. A tidy, well-groomed image is of the utmost importance. Everything from your makeup, to your nails and clothing play a big part in how employers receive you. So can something as simple as a hairstyle compromise your employability? Sometimes, yes.

KSU student Toni Jenae revealed that she always feels the need to straighten her hair before going in for a job interview.

“I can’t go in there with my natural hair,” she said. “I know they’re looking for that ‘certain look.’”

Let’s say you’ve already got the job and decide to do something different with your hair. Panelist Nakia Richards described the reactions she received when she walked into work donning her natural hair texture. She heard everything from “how did you get your hair to do that” to “do you even wash your hair?”

Because today’s societal standards of beauty are heavily modeled after European standards of beauty, women of other races and ethnicities feel the need to appropriate the look in corporate and formal settings.

“I just don’t care anymore,” Cooper said. “You can always try to be the best version of what somebody else wants you to be, but it gets tiresome.

Flaws and All
Standards of beauty and femininity differ from one person to the next, yet remain the same in the fact that they determine what makes an individual beautiful. You have to be skinny. You’ve got to have long, straight hair. You must dress “like a lady” to keep from drawing unwanted attention to yourself.

“The only person I keep up with is me,” Cooper said. “Because at the end of the day, I need to be comfortable with who I am.”

So the next time you’re in the mirror trying to achieve those famous Kim K. eyebrows or at the gym sweating for J.Lo’s tiny waist, stop and ask yourself, “did I really wake up like this?” The answer is no, because you were already flawless.

Photo by Viktor Hanacek