Beauty Blasts from the Past

Beauty Blasts from the Past

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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 Instyle.com, 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 collegefashion.net, “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 Mintel.com, “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.

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Riding the Natural Wave: Understanding the Natural Hair Movement

Riding the Natural Wave: Understanding the Natural Hair Movement

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Curls, kinks and coils, oh my! The natural hair phenomenon is sweeping the nation; over the past few years, hair relaxer sales have decreased by at least 26 percent. It seems that African-American women are ditching their relaxers and chemical straightening kits to embrace their naturally-curly hair textures.

But what exactly does “going natural” mean? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word natural as “not having any extra substances or chemicals added: not containing anything artificial.” The meaning of the phrase may differ from one woman to the next, but most agree on this: natural hair is hair that is no longer straightened through the use of chemical relaxers. The hair is as close to its original state and texture as possible.

Donning an afro and natural styles like it is no new concept of course. Natural hair was especially popular back in the 1960’s and 70’s. According to “The History of Natural Black Hair,” an article published by Bustle.com, the afro was about making a political statement. Within that statement was the goal of reclaiming black power and reiterating the message that black is beautiful.

But why are afros, rolls, and two-strand twists making such a comeback among black women? Why now? And how does this new wave of “naturalness” differ from that of the 60’s and 70’s?

“I feel that the reason people wanna go natural now is because they just wanna be themselves and feel more comfortable in their own skin,” said beauty and natural hair blogger Jasmine Spells. “As African-Americans, we’re known to get perms [or relaxers] because our hair is ‘nappy.’ Our hair is not nappy!”

“I feel that people are now seeing how healthy and how pretty their hair is being natural,” she said.


With the decision to ban chemical straightening agents from the hair came the hopes of having healthier tresses altogether. Another catalyst in the shift toward natural textures was the want by many women to remove previous damage to their hair caused by relaxers, hair extensions and heat.

“I wore a lot of weaves growing up,” said Shnequa Mixon, who has been natural for almost three years now. “I just kind of got tired of always having to put in a new weave to cover up my hair, so I just cut it all off. I just wanted to start over.”

Unlike maintaining relaxed or straight hair, naturally-curly hair needs to be tended to much more often. “What You Should Know About Natural Hair” by Blacknaps.org suggests that natural hair be handled delicately and moisturized daily, as curly hair tends to lose moisture faster than straight hair.

“Trying to figure out what to do with my head was the most difficult part,” said Akosua Wiafe. “It’s time consuming and my hair never dries. It needs about two days.”

Although styling hair in a way that’s flattering when dealing with uniquely-textured hair can be difficult, many women are still opting to rock their natural locks.

“I think that people are starting to realize that we don’t have to submit our hair to a certain standard,” Mixon said. “I think people are starting to embrace that their hair grows towards the sky. It doesn’t fall.”

Not only has the natural hair phenomenon affected the way African-American women view their hair, but it has also affected the hair care industry and the number of products available for those with ethnic hair. A number of hair care brands like L’Oreal, Pantene, Crème of Nature and Dark and Lovely have created collections tailored specifically for curly and natural hair textures.

“No one is really losing here,” said Tai Carter-Roman, a hair stylist in the Atlanta area who has experience doing natural hair. “It [natural hair] has only affected the stubborn hair companies; the companies that only used to make relaxers. Now, they have products that cater to all hair types and textures.”

Roman also reiterated that this new wave of naturalness simply isn’t fueled by fascination or the “black is beautiful” mantra.

“Women are starting to realize that with a flat iron and a blow dryer, they can achieve the relaxed look without all the chemicals,” she said. “It’s more of a health concern thing now.”

No matter the reason for going natural or the negative stigmas that come with it, African-American women have found a love for their kinky, curly hair like never before. Whether it’s a passing phase or one that will stick, it’s sure to have a lasting impact on the traditional standards of African-American beauty.

“I love my hair ‘cuz I’m happy to be nappy,” said Wiafe with a giggle. “It grows out of my head. I have no choice but to love it. If you don’t love it, you’re stuck with it, so you might as well learn to.”