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1970s Styles: Disco Makeup, Retro Hair and Bell Bottom Fashions

Wednesday Jul 6, 2011

The Sixties left the coming decade with an taste for the natural, and the Seventies era particularized the “Natural Look” to makeup and hair. Hair was long, smooth, often very straight, but ideally with a flip on the ends. Think the Mary Tyler Moore show, and you’ve got the early to middle ’70s in a nutshell.

The longer hairstyles still required the large curlers (which could really damage your hair with daily use) used in the ’60s to create big waves, but electric curling irons were added to the mix when Farrah Fawcett Majors became on of the decade’s “It” girls. The flicked up hair cuts worn to some extent by all of Charlie’s Angels was applied to bangs or wings on the sides of the head. Farrah combined flicks on both sides with a high lofted center and amazing, wavy curls in streaky golden hair. Never mind that the fabulous Angel had stylists galore to keep her look fresh and “natural”; everybody wanted to look like that. And ‘that’ entailed more than a superb and constantly-renewed layered haircut: it meant hours with the curling iron, plenty of hair spray or mousse and strict avoidance of anything athletic, outdoorsy or the least bit—well, you know—natural.

1970′s make-up styles had a natural, surfer appeal

Along with the “natural” hair of the ’70s came a natural look in skin and cosmetics. Earlier decades had made fashionable the dead white complexion, the flawless matte of a movie star skin, and the rosy blush of innocence through the magic of foundation. In the Seventies, it was cool to resemble to surfers at Venice Beach: an all over tan, a golden glow around the face, and minimal looking make up were the things to strive for. Bronzers made an appearance, fake tanning fluids turned thousands of young women bright orange, and women who today look with alarm at the spots appearing on middle aged skin laid out all summer covered all too lightly in a bikini and a slick coat of baby oil.

70s makeup mavens lightened up on the eye makeup, with mascara nearly disappearing for daywear except for something to lengthen, not necessarily thicken the eyelashes. White or pale blue eyeliner was sometimes used on the inside lid to make the eyes appear larger, but dark eyeliners were out of fashion. Pearlescent colors were popular for eye shadow, nail polish and lipstick, and liquid eye shadows became the rage. When foundation was worn at all, it was not matted down with powder, but left alone to shine a bit.

Updated skin care and skin appearances in the 70’s

Skin care became more of a concept in the Seventies. In earlier decades, women were concerned about keeping their skin clean and moisturized: most women’s skin care arsenal consisted of a bar of soap and a big jar of vintage Ponds cold cream. In the Seventies, products that had been available in spas were being sold to the general public; face masks, toners, astringents and a thousand other cosmetic skin care preparations found their way onto women’s shelves—and into their faces. Natural products like oatmeal, avocado and milk were popularized as the public was made more aware of how what they put on their skin might affect their overall health.

Disco Fashions, Seventies Hair and Cosmetics that Danced the Night Away

Just a wee bit off the mainstream, ethnic inspired fashions were making statements on the street, at school and even at work. Afros were popular for African Americans, showing a new pride in natural hair that had often been suppressed by ironing or chemical straighteners. In solidarity, some Caucasian men wore Afros, too. Clothing fashions for women included turbans, tunics worn over lounge pants, chunky beaded jewelry and woven handbags.

Disco was big in the ’70s, and the film Saturday Night Live helped create a subculture that sent some young people to discos in micro-minis, heels too clunky to dance in and blinding white disco costumes. Makeup was essentially the same, as was women’s hair; it was the disco clothing styles that made it all happen, man. The classic retro ’70′s outfit for men is still the white disco suit, open-necked, with gold chains.

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