20 Modern-Day Makeup Looks Inspired By The 1920s

We may be in the midst of the 2020s, but it's time to take our makeup back to the 1920s. TikToker and trend forecaster, Marissa Spagnoli, thinks that 1920s makeup is about to come back, per Allure. It's possible, though, that it's already here, seeing as the hashtag #1920smakeup currently has over 63 million likes on TikTok, and TikTok is basically our go-to beauty guru at this point. 

Spagnoli explains, "Where I see this trend going is people trying subtle versions of 1920s beauty. I've seen creators doing downturned eye shadow looks, or that super snatched, pulled-back blush look, or a little star, pearl, or diamond detail on the inner eye — that's where the subtle ['20s] inspiration comes in." While we may not be ready to go full-on flapper, we are definitely here for some subtle '20s makeup inspo. We've got plenty of 1920s-inspired makeup looks and techniques to give you the perfect mix of nostalgia and fashion-forward. 

Dark shades

Dark shades are key to giving your makeup a 1920s boost. According to hair trend authority Rachael Gibson AKA @thehairhistorian, there's an interesting reason why dramatic makeup looks are just as ideal in the 2020s as they were in the 1920s (via Allure). Gibson explains, "In the same way that dark lips, peroxide hair, and vampy eye makeup were impactful in black-and-white movies, we're now obsessed with dramatic beauty transformations and high-impact, HD looks that look great on social media." So, don't be afraid to pair a dark eye look with dark lips; it's all about the drama. 

High definition

As dark makeup added necessary contrast in black and white movies, so did highly defined features. Consequently, 1920s makeup looks relied heavily on definition. This may be contrary to the no-makeup makeup trends of the past few years, but it's time to amp up the sharp lines and contrasting hues in your beauty routine. Board-certified permanent makeup artist, Kristin Peck, told Byrdie, "While images are black and white, you can see the drama and emphasis put on the eyebrow—defined and thin..." In addition to brows, add extra definition to your cheekbones and lip shape. 

Thin brows

As the '90s and Y2K trends take over, thin brows are back. Yet, this look initially comes from the '20s. Makeup artist, Shanzey Al-Amin, told Byrdie, "1920 was an era of sophisticated thin, yet rounded brows that emoted a whimsical and childlike awe to the face." Per the Zoe Report, brow expert, Jared Bailey, explains, "Today's modern twist on the thin brow is much more proportionate to [someone's] facial features. Even though the shape has slimmed in width since the Cara Delevingne brow craze, filling them in and giving them density regardless of their size is key." 

Thick upper liner

Thick and dark eyeliner was all the rage in the '20s. In fact, according to Byrdie, women in the 1920s often made their own heavy liners at home by mixing soot and petroleum jelly. Luckily, in 2020, we have plenty of options when it comes to heavy liners that don't require DIY. To pay homage to the super-committed at-home eyeliner-making folks of yesteryear, we love the idea of pumping up the thickness of our upper eyeliner. It's simple and subtle but adds a bit of extra pop to our eyes and drama to our look. 


Per Byrdie, pearls were all the rage in the '20s. This aligns perfectly with today when peal-studded eye makeup looks are making the rounds (via Glamour). According to renowned makeup artist Philippa Louise, "The pearl makeup trend sweeping Instagram is all to do with being creative with little effort by drawing attention to the eyes in a new and interesting way. Whenever you put pearls — or anything sparkly by the eyes, it's going to help them stand out – it's simple and effective.." Just use a little lash glue to apply your pearls, and you've gone full-glam. 

Vampy lipstick

Time to revamp your lip routine... literally. Vampy lips in deep reds, plums, and even blacks added a perfect bit of drama for those black-and-white movies. Hair aficionado, Rachael Gibson, told Allure, "Things tend to creep up slowly and subtly, so while we might not suddenly see everyone with a swingy box bob or vampish lips, we are seeing a return of more graphic haircuts post-pandemic, and the desire to get made up again." Well, bob hairstyles are certainly back, so vampy lips must be up next. Go bold and add extra pigment to your pout. 

Bleached brows

If the thought of thin brows was too risky for you, you might want to look away or this next trend. From Lizzo to Bella Hadid, bleached brows are everywhere, per Glamour. Yes –- this trend is daunting for many of us mere makeup mortals, but celeb eyebrow expert, Joey Healy, calls it "a very fashion-focused look, and while it can be difficult to pull off, people are ready to take a bold stride and step outside the box." Be wary of the risks of bleach, of course, but otherwise, don't be afraid of this bold look. 

Heavy, all-around eyeliner

While we may be looking forward to using the 1920s as our beauty inspo, folks in the '20s had makeup inspiration of their own. According to the Hair & Makeup Artist Handbook, in 1922, Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered, which made ancient Egyptian styles all-the-rage. In particular, appreciation for ancient Egyptian styles made eyes outlined entirely in kohl eyeliner on-trend. Sure –– nowadays, this might give you flashbacks to Avril Lavigne in the early aughts, but since the '90s and Y2K revival in the fashion and beauty worlds is in full force, we love the idea of bringing this back.

Winged liner

Another 1920s beauty trend that was inspired by King Tut himself? The classic winged liner. Who knew we had King Tut to thank for so many parts of our beauty routines? According to Mirth Films, the ancient Egyptian mummies discovered in the '20s were found sporting winged liner, which prompted the 1920s trend cycle to revamp the cat eye. This trend pretty much never went away entirely since then, so if you're looking for a reason to attempt the perfect winged eyeliner, it's time to pair your cat eye with a bold lip and get going. 

Smokey eye

Another classic makeup look we can thank the beauty influencers of a century ago for? The smokey eye. Celebrity MUA and smokey eye specialist Hung Vanngo says that layering is key to perfecting this look: "all the layers create so much dimension. You may wonder, why do I need to do a pencil first and then the shadow, and then another shadow?' But it's for the depth that you create. It shows through in the pictures you take, and it's beautiful. Basically, you craft a gradient from really dark and fade it out" (via Glamour). 

Plum eyeshadow

While '20s beauty gurus loved a dark eye makeup look, that doesn't mean they were boxed in to exclusively shades of blacks and browns. According to the Hair & Makeup Artist Handbook, shades of plum eyeshadow were a popular way to achieve the dark eyeshadow look while still getting that pop of color. We love the idea of a plum smokey eye, but the plum eye look would also pair well with other '20s trends, like bold eyeliner or even a cool-toned dark lip. 

Matching lipstick and blush

Per the Hair & Makeup Artist Handbook, a major '20s trend was matching your blush (or as they liked to call it, "rouge") with your lip color. Pinks and corals were popular colors to choose from when matching, and they'll give you a fresh-faced, youthful glow. We love the idea of bringing back that perfectly matching lip and cheek color because it ties your whole makeup look together and gives you a naturally flushed vibe that makes us all feel just a little bit fresher. 


This next look requires a super-quick history lesson. Per the Hair & Makeup Artist Handbook, tanning first became a popular beauty strategy during the '20s, courtesy of Coco Chanel and a particularly fashion-forward sunburn she got on the French Riviera. Of course, tanning has come a long way since then, and there are plenty of ways to get that perfect sun-kissed look with makeup alone. Heavily moisturized and dewy skin plus light and subtle all-over bronzer will give you that just-back-from-the-beach glow. Don't forget a bit of rosy blush, subtle highlighter, and maybe even some faux freckles. 

Fake tan contour

With the rise of the fashionable tan, the 1920s welcomed the first fake tanning products, per the Hair & Makeup Artist Handbook. Of course, fake tanning products are still popular, and contouring with self-tanner has overtaken TikTok. If you're ready to try this trend, tanning specialist to the stars Jules von Hep recommends exfoliating the day before (via Beauty Bay). Then, use self-tanner on a makeup sponge, and apply like you would your usual contour "remember, less is more here, and you want this to look completely undetectable when the tan has fully developed on the skin." 

Accentuated cupid's bow

While recent trend cycles may have leaned towards a full, pouty, rounded upper lip, the '20s were all about the cupid's bow. Per Wardrobe Shop, an accentuated cupid's bow was one of the most prominent makeup trends of the decade, as were small, heart-shaped lips. While we love the idea of the classic heart-shaped pout, this may be a bit drastic. Instead, try simply accentuating your cupid's bow. Over line to make the heart shape of your lips a bit more drastic. A good lip liner and extra shiny gloss will help you get the look. 

Undereye eye shadow

As we've learned, 1920s makeup was all about looking dramatic. Believe it or not, according to Eye Makeup Through The Ages, a goal of many '20s makeup looks was actually to appear sad. One way folks achieved this was by putting dark eyeshadow or liner on their lower lids to make their eyes look more downturned. To replicate this look, you may want to try a reverse cat eye or just buff some dark eyeshadow into and around your lower lash line. 

Puppy liner

Another way to replicate bottom-heavy 1920s eye makeup is to ace the celeb-approved 'puppy' liner look. This inventive eyeliner trend is all over TikTok and the faces of it-girls like Billie Eilish. Makeup artist, Jennifer Villanueva, told Gulf News, "As opposed to the classic feline flick, which goes up at the end, "puppy" liner curves downwards, so the triangle tail sits in your crease and is joined to the bottom lash line. To create, you need to make a line that doesn't go past the crease and join it up with your bottom lash line." 

Curled lashes

Back in the '20s, curly lashes were the ultimate lash goals. According to Wardrobe Shop, the eyelash curler was invented in 1923, and this beauty tool hasn't changed much since way back then. If you need a few tips on how to use this century-old go-to instrument, makeup artist, Meri Palevic-Desevic, advises, "The best way to use the lash curler is to hold it close enough to the base without pulling on your eye or pinching the skin. Hold it for five seconds and let go by completely opening the curler." (via Glamour). 

Go heavy on the blush

To channel the '20s while giving your makeup look a little extra dimension, take a more-is-more approach to your blush. According to the Hair & Makeup Artist Handbook, blush was a hugely important part of 1920s beauty routines, and it-girls of the time didn't feel the need to use it sparingly. They applied blush not only heavily on the apples of their cheeks, but even under their eyes to keep dark circles concealed. To get the look, go heavy on the blush, particularly in pinks, corals, and shades of orange. 

20s art-inspired makeup

Because '20s beauty revolved around a love of experimenting with makeup, we think this year is a perfect time to get inspired by some of the decade's bolder trends. Do your own experimenting based on classic 1920s looks, and see what you love that you may not have otherwise tried. From extra bold eye looks to unusual brow and lip shapes, you may be surprised at which 1920s trends make for a cool graphic, artistic look in the 2020s.