'70s Beauty Is Trending—Here’s How to Make It Feel Modern

We asked hair, makeup, and nail experts for tips.

70s makeup


In This Article

The 1970s was an iconic era for more reasons than we can type. Besides the monumental rise of disco music, the entertainment industry exploded with notable beauty trends led by a series of household names. To date, people still try to recreate Diana Ross’s exaggerated eyelashes, Donna Summer’s fierce red nails, and Farrah Fawcett’s signature flipped hairdo. 

"The '70s was such an incredible decade for both fashion and beauty inspiration," shares makeup artist Ashley Rebecca. We couldn’t agree more with her sentiment. In fact, some of our favorite celebrities—like Saweetie and Rihanna— have recently paid tribute to the groovy vibes of yesteryear with 70s-inspired glam. And who can blame them? Flipping through the nostalgic photos can make anyone want to go back in time.

From curtain bangs and playful eyeshadow to long, intricately designed nails, we spoke to several beauty professionals to learn why these 70s trends should be on your radar, as well as how you can achieve the look at home.  

Meet the Expert

'70s Hair 

Hairstylists Mischa G and Cherie Amor both agree that the beauty of the '70s was natural, effortless, and chic. "When it comes to ‘70s hair, it was all about freedom through self-expression," hairstylist Mischa G explains about the more relaxed beauty time. "It’s timeless and never truly goes out of style," adds Amor.  

The Shag Haircut

According to Mischa, the shag haircut is a great example of the aforementioned. "The shag is the perfect cut for when you want a look, but with minimal effort," she tells us. "Having a good shape with the initial cut can allow room for growth after a few months. If needed, style the shorter fringe and side bits by hand, and let the rest of the hair flow."

The Farrah Fawcett Hairdo

One may think that recreating Farrah Fawcett’s signature curls is impossible. However, Mischa quickly dismisses this notion with her quick at-home solution. "Pop in some hot rollers and let them set for an hour (or more depending on your hair type)," the hairstylist shares. "Take the rollers out, brush your hair, and you’ll easily have a set that will last several days."

The Afro

The Afro has long been a cultural and political statement worn by iconic Black women like activist Angela Davis, actress Pam Grier, and singer Nina Simone. Today, it still represents pride and beauty, and lucky for us, it’s easily achievable. Below, Cherie Amor takes us through the steps to obtaining the perfect ‘fro. 

  • Start with freshly washed hair: Try a volumizing shampoo like Aveda Pure Abundance Volumizing Shampoo ($27).
  • Dry your hair: You can use a blow dryer or air dry; either work fine. 
  • Create jumbo twists: This is fairly simple, section your hair and take two strands, then twist together. Add your favorite curl pudding for an extra curly Afro.
  • Fluff your ‘fro: All the magic starts with the pick. Pick out your Afro until you achieve the height and shape you desire. Set your 'fro in place with your favorite holding spray or pomade. 

Free-Flowing Curls

For those with curly hair, Mischa encourages you to "let your curls be curls," much like Chaka Khan.

Face-Framing Tresses

For those with straight hair, the Mischa suggests framing your face by adding a slight bend to your tresses. To do so, the hairstylist suggests doing the following while completing your morning routine: "Mold the hair into a swoop by using a pin curl clip to shape your hair. Allow it to set until dry." 

Tips For Maintaining Healthy Hair

For Mischa, the most important thing to remember when trying to live out your ‘70s hair fantasy is hair health. She insists, "If you take steps to keep your hair healthy, nourished, and happy, your hair will style itself."  

To achieve effortlessly healthy hair, Mischa offers these tips:

  • Detoxify your scalp: Just like the rest of your body, the scalp needs an occasional detox, she says. Our extensive guide provides tips on improving your overall hair health. 
  • Lather up: After detoxing your scalp, Mischa suggests following up with a pH balancing shampoo and conditioner like Act & Acre Hair Cleanse + Conditioner ($50).
  • Use good products: For extra volume, Mischa suggests keeping things simple by using holding products that actually work. She personally loves working with Cult + King Balm ($40) and Jelly ($35) for a "touchable hold and plenty of body."

'70s Makeup

Many makeup artists agree that looking back at past decades is the perfect way to find new inspiration—especially when you're willing to experiment and have fun.

"Colorful eyeshadow, soft blush, and nude lips were all the rage during the 70s," Elate Cosmetics founder Melodie Reynolds explains. "Emphasizing the eyes is key, so think color, shimmer, and lots of lashes. These looks translate well today while we are all wearing masks." Ahead, Reynolds and Rebecca provide step-by-step tips on how to achieve disco-inspired makeup.

You'll want to start with your complexion makeup. Pick a foundation that has a radiant finish for dreamy results. Rebecca swears by the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($65). Next, you'll want to move on to your eyeshadow. When recreating the 70s look, choosing the proper eyeshadow is important. To stay on-trend, opt for palettes with either dreamy pastels or bold jewel-toned hues. To add that extra disco flare, be sure to emphasize your eyes with sparkles or glitter pigments like the Lemonhead LA Spacepaste ($22).

When it comes to lashes, the bigger, the better. Exaggerated lashes were everything during this era, so there’s no better time than now to pull out your most dramatic falsies and own the room. To make your eyes really pop, apply volumizing mascara to the top and bottom lashes. Reynolds swears by the Elate Essential Mascara ($30). She highly recommends it for bottom lash application.

Lastly, you'll want to add some glow to your cheeks. To add some extra disco dazzle, apply a shimmery highlighter like the RMS Beauty Living Luminizer ($38) along the top of the cheekbone. 

'70s Nails

Nail artist and Chief Educator at Paintbox Evelyn Lim explains, there is no better time than now to play around with fun and funky nail art. "More people are expressing themselves through the color, design, length, and shape of their nails," she tells us.

When it comes to acing the 70’s-inspired nails trend, Lim feels that there is no right or wrong way to achieve the look. Instead, she insists that the hardest part is choosing which design you want to rock. Ahead, you'll find a few looks to get you inspired.

This vibrant manicure is fully reminiscent of the 70s. The wavy, organic shapes and warm hues are what make this nail design so fun.

You can never go wrong with a multi-colored manicure. Looking at the rainbow hues instantly puts us in a good mood.

This floral manicure transported us right back to the 70s. From the intricate flower designs to the glitter polish, we love everything about this nail art.

To achieve these fun and creative looks at home, Lim highly suggests purchasing a striper tool for precision. She also suggests shopping for earth tone polishes including latte brown, burnt orange, mustard, chocolate brown, pearl, and mauve when you go in for an authentic mani. 

It is important to note that there are not many colors and shapes that we strongly associate with the time. However, Lim encourages everyone to dare to be different by adding a new flair to the old aesthetic. 

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