It doesn’t matter the year you were born, you know ’80s beauty. The big hair, the crunchy bangs, the blue eyeshadow, the balls-to-the-walls blush: the era was all about more is more is more. For many of us who lived it (and have the yearbook photos to prove it), we swore off the firm-hold hairspray years ago. Slowly but surely though, the eighties have been making their way back to the forefront of pop culture—from television (like Stranger Things) to fashion (hello, 1982’s Leg o’ Mutton sleeves) and now to beauty. And dare we say it, after seasons of “nothing” hair and makeup being the thing, that maximalist approach to beauty is really starting to look fun.
But…where to start? That’s where the girls of GLOW come in. As stars in a hit series about women wrestlers in the ’80s, which drops its second season on Netflix this Friday, these ladies can tell you all about how to pull off real looks—like aquamarine cream eyeshadow—and make it fresh. The trick? Go big on color in rich, glossy textures and own it. (And maybe swap the Aqua Net for a dry texturizer or wax spray—no crunch!) If you’re looking to switch things up for summer, or just never got in on the unabashed glamour of the decade in the first place, then pay attention: These are the new ways to get your glow on.
SHOP THE LOOK
How would you describe this look?
Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2. Before I knew what a vision board was, I made one in my mind when I watched her [in this movie] as a 7-year-old. I knew I needed to be her.
What part of this look do you love the most?
I love the hair. Sylvia [Wheeler, the hairstylist] was saying, “Let me know if it’s too high or if the teasing’s too much,” and I was like, “After GLOW, this is a sensible, modern day look.” I wish that I knew how to do this myself because I would do it all the time. Having voluminous hair, it makes life more like an exciting memoir than when I have limp, sad hair in my daily life. I’ve always been really uncomfortable with having my picture taken; I always look like I’m mid-sneeze. And so much of being an actress involves taking photos, so when you feel like you’re in character, it’s easier to play into. You can pretend to be a person who loves getting their picture taken, and it’s way more fun.
Were you ever drawn to ’80s looks and colors before the show?
Yeah. As the owner of boobs the size of mixing bowls, and—I don’t know what Irish ancestor is responsible for the booty and thighs and breasts, but I’ve been scouring photos of my ancestors being like, “Who did this to me?”—modern clothes are not made for ladies with curves, and being on GLOW, it’s so nice to wear clothes that allow for boobs and butt. I’ve always gazed at pictures of ladies in the ’80s with Jordache jeans, and now I’m living my dream.
Is there a certain ’80s makeup trend that you just live for?
Having blush on my forehead, because it just says today is going to be fun and wild. You’re not going to be depressed on the couch if you’re putting blush on your forehead.
What do you think about the bold red lips with the shine?
Definitely with the red lip you can’t eat anything. Or kiss anyone. Or put anything over your head, or experience wind, rain, or air because then it’s all over your teeth and face and sandwich. But there’s a sort of pageantry to it that I love. With a red lip you’re sort of trumpeting that you’ve entered the room. You have things to say. It’s also sort of timeless.
How have the ’80s shaped your beauty perspective?
I definitely go into a GLOW detox, beauty-wise, after we wrap, or on the weekends when we’re not shooting. I don’t look in the mirror. I don’t even put lotion on my face. I try to plug myself into the wall charger of reality and give my skin a break. It’s so much makeup for so long when you’re shooting 16-hour days. But having big, weird, brave choices on my face feels like permission to be big, weird, and brave in my acting. It sort of matches.
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What do you think about this look?
I’m loving the hair, because I shaved my head for Black Panther, and I miss it. My natural hair was a couple inches shorter than my jawline, and it was nice and big, and now I have a mini Afro. Makeup-wise, I like wearing bright colors so I pop. The only time I wear gray and black is when I go to the grocery store and don’t want to be seen—and this look is for when you want to be seen. It’s like a rainbow of red on my face, and I love it.
And what about the bold lip? Is that something you do normally?
No. When I do my own makeup, I do foundation, eyebrows, and mascara. I may add some blush and a little bit of eyeshadow if I’m feeling funky, but I really can’t do my own makeup, so I hardly do anything bold. For some reason it never looks right, but when other people do my makeup, I’m like, “Go ahead!”
Talk to us about your mom’s look from the ‘80s and what you remember most about what she wore.
Purple is my mom’s favorite color, so it was thrown in everywhere—nails, eyeliner, lipstick. She had shorter hair, but it was big and curly. Now my mom has long dreads. Her look is so different from the ’80s! When she sees this, she’s going to be like, “That’s me!”
How have the ’80s shaped your beauty perspective?
My mom entered me in a pageant when I was like 9 or 10, and I won a full scholarship to John Casablancas modeling school. I had to do a look book, which [was based on] people that looked like me and those I admired. But I was literally the only black person in my class and it was hard for me to find that inspiration. The whole thing ended up being mostly of Iman and Naomi Campbell in the ’80s. They were the only two public figures I could find who had my skin color. In this world and in this industry, people view darker-skinned women as [looking] more harsh, while women with lighter skin are more accepted. That’s not the case at all. But you have to know how to apply [makeup on women of color] and know what shades and tones work. I used to say I could never pull off a red lip. Even when I would get ready for premieres and stuff, I’d be like, “No red lips. They don’t look good on me.”
What changed for you?
Somebody put their foot down and was like, “I’m going to put a red lip on you!” and then I realized, Oh! It does look good. I still go to sets sometimes where artists don’t know how to do my hair or makeup, and it’s always terrifying. I literally think, Will this person know how to do my hair? Will this person know the right foundation for my skin tone? I even carry extra foundation just in case it happens, because it always happens.
How does this look make you feel?
It makes me feel beautiful. Like, literally, as they were doing my hair and makeup and nails, I felt more beautiful, so by the time I got in front of the camera with the music on, I transformed into a different person.
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What did you love about whole?
It’s really totally different from anything I do on the show. Zoya is so particular. She’s a dark character with a black lip and the Zoya hair. There’s nothing feminine about it, so it’s kind of a treat to get an extremely feminine look.
Do you feel like we’ve lost a playfulness that the ’80s used to have?
Yes, it was a lot more fun. It was the age of excess. Now you’ll do a big hair look, but then pair it with minimal makeup and really minimal clothes. But the ’80s was just more, more, more. Do a lip, do a cheek, do an eye, do a bang! Crimp your hair! Put color in it! Maybe it’s too much, but people looked really killer just going out to dinner. I don’t get very dressed up; I feel like I live in basics, and that’s a very safe space to be.
What about your look right now would you wear in everyday life?
The hair is not so crazy! To be honest, I think I’m just going to wipe off a little bit, take the blush down a touch, and then go about the rest of my day. How often do I get to wear this?
Is there any ’80s hair or makeup trend that you wish would be more present today?
Having had a permed shag on the show for two years, I’m surprised that it’s not more prevalent today. It’s actually super low-maintenance once you get it. Your hair is curly all the time, and you don’t even need to blow dry it. Just let it air dry into these curls. It’s every straight-haired girl’s answer to that body we’ve been looking for our whole lives.
You’ve been embracing the ’80s now for two seasons: What do you appreciate about the decade more than ever?
We spend a lot of time in leotards on the show, and I think in general, that has given me a greater love for my body. Now I kind of live in body suits and high-waisted jeans. And the high top sneakers. I’ve always liked them, and I think they are coming back. A cool statement sneaker is a woman’s answer to looking amazing without having to suffer in painful heels. I also started tucking my jeans into my socks, which actually is great when it’s cold out.
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Let’s talk about this makeup, because wow!
Oooh. What I love about the makeup is that it’s colorful and it makes my eyes pop. I love how they weren’t afraid to go beyond just the eye and go kinda into my face a little bit more. And what would I incorporate? The hair. I really like the hair. It’s super cute.
If you could write ’80s makeup a love letter, what would you say?
Dear ’80s, I appreciate your use of color and that you’re not afraid to go for what is bold. Love, Britney. Signed with a heart.
Has ’80s makeup shaped your beauty perspective at all?
For me, I don’t think it’s shaped my beauty perspective, only because in my own life I’m very light on makeup. But I love that in the ’80s, they really went for it. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you’re wearing too much makeup.’ It was, ‘Oh, I love the shading, I love the color, I love the contour.’ I appreciate it. And I think we’re coming back into a time where we are putting the art back in makeup.
What was the best part about this shoot?
It’s like playing dress up, and it’s always fun when you’re doing it with your friends, and they see you like they’ve never seen you before. Alison, Betty, Sydelle, and Sunita have never seen me with this much makeup, so to see the look on their faces, like, “Oh my God, this is great,” that’s a good feeling. It’s like, “Yes! I actually do look beautiful right now.”
Is there anything from the ’80s that you use now?
I used to rock a mean scrunchie when I was younger, and I would love to now. I do use the claw clips a lot. And those little mini combs you use to push your hair back and keep it in place. My mom to this day still uses those. They’re very nostalgic to me.
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What do you love most about this look?
Oh boy. I loved my purple blazer! The color is so significant for me on the show. It keeps following me around, so it’s a good omen. And the makeup is incredible. This turquoise eye! Turquoise was my favorite stone back in high school, so I think this is fulfilling a fantasy for me. I get to be this person that I never was.
Would you wear the turquoise eyeshadow or a version of it out?
I don’t know about the bright blue as an everyday thing, but I’m definitely into a navy liner.
What do you love about ’80s makeup in general?
It’s almost like every day was a costume party. There was some futuristic geometry happening—a lot of shapes and a lot of insane lines. I think it’s really fun, and people weren’t afraid to play with bright colors like turquoise, purple, and pink. And the blush that comes up so high on the cheekbone up by the temple? That’s fun!
Do you feel different wearing this kind of makeup?
I feel playful. I have a playful personality, but that’s amped up [with this look]. In my daily life, I’m not someone who wears that much makeup because it makes me feel self-conscious. I’m constantly fidgeting with it. But ’80s makeup just feels fun, so I don’t care if it’s a bit overdone or imperfect.
What ’80s trend do you wish would come back?
That’s a good one. I feel like the baggy, high-waisted pant is back. And I love a scrunchie. Hair accessories are underrated. I have a lot of hair, so I [like that] I don’t have to futz with it as much. It’s like my hair has a belt on! I’m also a hat person. A good ‘ol baseball hat works great!
If you could write the ’80s a love letter, what would you say?
Dear hair of 1980, you’re a tumbleweed in a glittering wind. How much bigger will you get? I see you from 1990. You’re so big, you will go down in history.
Fashion Credits: On Gilpin: Juicy Couture Jumpsuit. Alexis Bittar earrings, $225. On Noel: ASOS top, $42. Vince Camuto earrings, $35. On Brie: Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet top, $350. On Young: Eloquii dress, $115. Fallon earrings: $175. On Mani: Topshop jacket, $110. Kenneth Jay Lane earrings, $60. Hair: Sylvia Wheeler for Oribe. Makeup: Grace Ahn for Marc Jacobs Beauty. Production: Viewfinders.