The natural look is a style of cosmetics use made to create the illusion of not wearing any beauty products at all. This style was first popular in the 1970s, when there was a desire articulated across the fashion world to return to a more simple and innocent time, with many designers looking to traditional and folk dress for inspiration. In turn, a wide variety of more subtle tones of lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow, and blusher appeared on the market. Untinted or subtly shaded lip gloss appeared on the market in 1971. Hairstyling was also a factor in this overall look. Many women began to wear their hair straight and long, a dramatic change from the bouffant and beehive styles popular in the 1960s. Although there was not a single defining trend in makeup during the 1970s, the natural look became very popular with women across a variety of population segments. The irony is that to correctly achieve this un–made up look, a lot of makeup must be used. Similarly, the natural style of hair worn long, loose, and straight was not possible for many women, and they used clothing irons to press the curls and waves out of their hair to achieve the desired natural look. African American women were encouraged to grow their hair into an Afro, a style that also appeared casual and careless but took a great deal of time and effort to achieve.
The natural look fell out of favor in the 1980s, when the trend focused on fluorescent colors, bright pastels, and anything that sparkled. By the mid 1990s, a more casual look was in favor. With the advent of casual Fridays, grunge, and shabby chic, and a revival of the Bohemian look, heavy makeup for women once more gave way to neutral shades of eye shadow and paler lipstick colors. Mascara ceased to be available in electric blue, purple, and hot pink; instead a wide variety of brown to black hues were sold.
In today’s market, the natural look is once again popular. Tinted moisturizers and barely there shades create a minimalist look. Maybelline recently created a line of eye shadow sets intended to compliment and enhance the eye color instead of drawing attention to the makeup itself. Actress Drew Barrymore scolded the advertising audience that their “makeup was showing” in a 2008 television advertisement for CoverGirl, further telling them that they should “see the difference, not the makeup.”
The natural look is also more than just an un–made up style; it also incorporates the use of natural products. Companies like Burt’s Bees, Physician’s Formula, and Bare Escentuals have made a name for themselves by providing natural-looking cosmetic styling created from minerals and organic ingredients. Because of their origins, these products have less variety of available colors and often do not provide the finish or lasting wear that many women desire in makeup. To bridge this gap, many mainstream cosmetics companies such as CoverGirl, Avon, L’Oréal, and Mary Kay Cosmetics have all launched mineral makeup lines or have added minerals to many of their existing products.
Today, the use of makeup is still required to achieve that natural look, but cosmetics companies have made great strides in creating makeup that is the next best thing to nothing at all. From natural minerals to mousse foundations, the idea is to use makeup to create a flawless complexion that looks like a woman is wearing nothing at all.