A Century of Beauty in Europe

Previously, we explored a century of beauty in Asia which included different videos created by the Seattle based production company, Cut.com. The company also created a video walkthrough of a century of beauty trends in European countries in its video channel WatchCut Video’s “100 Years of Beauty in 1 Min” video series. And let’s just say that the videos are as enchanting as its Asian series.

If there is anything that we learned by watching this series, it’s that beauty trends are prone to change. And these changes aren’t always due to the cultural trends of the time. They can be affected by political turmoil and even war. European beauty trends are no different. 

From short curly styles in 1910 Russia to bold lip colors in 20’s Germany and mascara lashings in North Ireland, take a trip back in time with us as we explore decades of beauty trends in Europe.


1910s Russia was all about the Art Nouveu style that was in vogue during the time. Iconic beauty looks included short curly bobs adorned with a pearl circlet and dark velvety lips. Fast forward to the 1930’s, and communist ideology gave way to a beauty trend that was less decorative and more practical in honor of a movement that expected Russian women to work. During the 1950’s and 60’s, Russia beauty standards took on a more rebellious stance with bold colors and shapes being prominent during the decades. The eighties were all about big hair while present day Russian beauty trends focus more on the natural look.


German beauty trends over the century were as turbulent as its history. The video splits into two frames when the country split into East and West Germany after World War II.

The video starts during a still unified Germany during the 1910s when beauty trends were low key and women usually left their hair lose with a touch of dark lipstick. Ten years later during the 1920’s, wavy bobs and red lips were considered the epitome of chic.

Beauty standards became divided when the country went splits-ville with each side having their own trends. For example, one of the most notable hairstyles in 50’s West Germany were short fringes with curly locks. The same look became more chic in East Germany when the locks peeked through a trendy headscarf.

1980’s East and West Germany were known for outrageous beauty trends. One of the most shocking being a punk style in the east which included a Cleopatra style winged eyeliner, which was applied to the whole eye, and purple lips. Makeup took on brighter tones in the west in which bright pink lipstick was considered a staple with shaggy fringes. Beauty looks became unified when the two nations did after 1989 with messy buns, brown smoky eye and dark liner being a typical look of the times.


Except for lipstick, Italian women kept their makeup was kept pretty subtle and piled their hair up high during the 1910’s. 20’s Italian beauty standards, however, were all about harsh features with thick brows, low buns and bold eyeliner being the norm. Hair and makeup was kept minimal, yet feminine, during the 40’s to complement the country’s booming fashion industry. Colorful makeup became the boldest accessory during the 70’s and bold makeup was used everywhere on the face. Gold makeup took over the fashion scene when Versace became popular in the 80’s. Everything from eye shadow to lipstick and hair accessories were gold. Present day Italian beauty standards are all about quirky hairdos while the makeup takes cue from the 70’s.


Beauty standards split when Ireland was divided into The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland during the 20’s. In the video, you will see two distinct beauty standards as depicted in both territories through the decades.

Women in Ireland opted for the natural look with no makeup, updos and hats being the staple choice of accessory. After the country split in the 20’s Northern Irish women started sporting red lips and accessorized with shawls while women in the Republic of Ireland kept to the natural look. The 40’s brought the glamour on in Southern Ireland as is reflected in the model’s bold eyebrows, vibrant red lips and long curly hair. The scarf came off for women in the North and Marilyn Monroe style curls were in vogue. Makeup trends during the swinging 60’s took on a more natural tone in the North and a Twiggy inspire crop hairstyle with lashings of mascara and blush were also popular

The punk rock look took both North and South Irish fashion by storm in the 80’s with punk hairstyles and garish makeup being a popular trend. Blunt fringes and smoky eye makeup, like smoky blue eye, took over Northern beauty standards during the 90’s   while Southern beauty picks included sticky lip gloss, complex hairdos and heavy makeup. The 2000’s were all about straight long hair and bright makeup on both sides.

Beauty ideals vary tremendously across Europe over the ages. A popular hairstyle that is popular in 80’s Ireland might raise eyebrows if it was seen a few decades earlier in the same country. This makes sense, especially if these standards are seen contextually.

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