11 Mortifying '80s Beauty Fails We Wish We Could Forget (PHOTOS)

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Lisa Fogarty | Feb 28, 2014 Beauty & Style

As we grow older and start to spot a few gray hairs and signs of crow's feet -- not that any of us have crow's feet -- we sometimes hold on for dear life to memories of our younger selves. We re-imagine our teens and twenties as a time when we had perfect skin, style sense, and looked as doggone hot as we ever would.

Pure fantasy! The truth is, for those of us who lived one second of our lives in the 1980s, we were a hot mess. A total, complete, slouchy sock-wearing, contoured blush-sporting mess. If you're caught up in nostalgia and wishing you could turn back the hands of time, let these 11 examples of truly terrifying '80s beauty and fashion fails make you feel very, very fortunate that you are your age, living in this time.



Image via twitchery/Flickr

  • Contour Blush


    Image via twitchery/Flickr

    Never mind dabbing blush onto the "apples" of your cheeks -- in the 1980s, none of us wanted apple cheeks -- we wanted hollow, I'll-eat-you-for-lunch cheeks and the way to get them was by contouring and highlighting your face with blush. It made no difference that your pack of 3 blush shades (one of which was always way too dark for your face) came with one microscopic blush brush, you worked those three colors until your face had...well, three fetching stripes.

  • Swatch Watches -- Lots of Em


    Image via libertygrace0/Flickr

    Watches weren't for telling time -- they were for covering your arm from wrist to elbow to make you look like you were wearing a colorful, plastic cast. Swatch watches were the cream of the watch crop and, given the fact that they came in shades like hot-pink, lemon, and electric blue, perfectly matched our awful wardrobes.

  • Puffy Paint T-Shirts


    Image via Instagram

    We all fancied ourselves artists and fashion designers in the '80s. Two decades before ironic T-shirts could be purchased at every flea market in town, we put our own messages on shirts using rainbow-colored puffy paint. We'd create them the night before a big event and hang them out to dry -- nervous they wouldn't be ready to wear by the morning.

  • Blue Eyeshadow


    Image via Baylee_Farris/Flickr

    Blue eyeshadow is having a moment again. But, thank God, it looks NOTHING like the eye makeup we rocked in the '80s. There was no rhyme or reason to blue those days -- you just slathered on your shadow, inked both bottom and top lids with a darker blue pencil, and considered yourself fabulous.

  • T-Shirt Clips


    Image via Amazon.com

    What mad genius thought up these T-shirt clips anyway? Just at a time when we collectively agreed T-shirts had to be asymmetrical and show off a slice of our tummies, these giant, colorful, plastic clips came along and made our lives more complete.

  • Slouchy Socks


    Image via Miranda Footsies/Flickr

    It's as if we all wanted to look like our legs were being cut off at the calves. Slouchy socks -- the fatter and slouchier, the better -- were all the rage in the '80s and proved the perfect accessory to pair with skinny acid washed jeans and stirrup leggings.

  • Acid Washed Jeans


    Image via Qfamily/Flickr

    Acid Washed, or stonewashed jeans, made us look bad and tough and sort-of dirty in that I-come-from-the-suburbs-and-am-not-afraid-to-hang-out-until-10 p.m.-sort-of way.

  • Tapered Jeans


    Image via Etsy.com

    Tapered jeans and trousers are a great mystery, aren't they? They featured roomy hips and thighs and tight, tight ankles that could be rolled up and accessorized with colorful socks and Keds.

  • Sun-In, a.k.a. Orange Hair If Your Hair Isn't Already Blonde


    Image via Walgreens.com

    The models featured on bottles of Sun-In always sold us on the promise that we, too, could look California hot. Even in the dead of winter, we could spray our black-brown tresses, hold a ferociously hot blow dryer to them, and emerge from the bathroom looking like Tabby cats. Unless you were already born with blonde hair, there was basically no hope this product would work on you. On the upside, some of our horrified mothers took pity on us and paid for our first visits to the salon to correct the problem on our heads.

  • Crimped Hair


    Image via Instagram

    There were perms, body waves, and spiral perms in the '80s. But nothing was as special as crimped hair, which could be achieved at home with your very own crimping iron. I challenge you to think of one middle school dance in which you didn't crimp your hair prior to putting on your poof-sleeved party dress.

  • Your Socks HAD To Match Your Shirt


    Image via theogeo/Flickr

    The great thing about wearing a tie-dye T-shirt in the '80s was that you could almost surely match your florescent socks to one of the colors in your shirt. And THAT was an absolute fashion must.

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