Women Over 50 Reveal The Most Toxic Beauty Trends From Back In The Day

Let's forget the oil-and-foil approach to tanning ever existed.
A lot of mistakes were made in the ’80s.
izusek via Getty Images
A lot of mistakes were made in the ’80s.

They say trends are cyclical, but when it comes to beauty and makeup fads, some really need to be put to bed. Supersized Flock of Seagulls-esque hair and skinny eyebrows? They can go, though Gen Z seems dead set on reviving the latter, for reasons we don’t fully understand.

And we definitely need to say goodbye to tanning beds, given what we know about skin cancer.

In the spirit of letting go of legitimately bad trends, we asked ladies over 50 to share the style and beauty trends they’re glad no longer exist (or at least seem to be on the way out.) See what they had to say below.

1. Using orange juice cans as hair rollers

“In the days before blow dryers and round brushes, we made our own beauty products! We would slather our hair with Dippity-Do and roll it on repurposed frozen orange juice cans. Have you ever slept on metal rollers? There are two possible positions: face down, or with your head hanging over the side of the bed. I would take the rollers out in the early morning hours, smooth my hair down and lie on my back trying not to move, then try to sleep.” ― Jennifer Ebelhar, a 69-year-old style coach and @theStyleEquation on TikTok

2. The oil-and-foil approach to tanning

“Oil and foil is the first beauty trend I’m thrilled is gone. If you’re too young to know, this is how we used to get a tan back in the ’60s: You’d oil up your skin and put foil nearby to reflect the sun. Yes, it’s nuts.” ― Sonia Lovett, a 71-year-old who runs the fashion blog Style Beyond Age

“We used to slather baby oil all over our body when we were younger. In fact, when I was in college at UCLA, we had a tanning competition, where we would put a small sticker on our body as a baseline for comparison and then slather on the baby oil and bake all day. I nearly won the dubious event and had my damaged skin as the prize! And we’d never wear sunscreen. I was one of the few people I knew who wore 15 SPF and people thought I was nuts.” ― Cynthia Gouw, a 60-year-old broadcast journalist and beauty influencer

"We had a tanning competition, where we would put a small sticker on our body as a baseline for comparison and then slather on the baby oil and bake all day," said Cynthia Gouw, a 60-year-old broadcast journalist and a beauty influencer.
Romano Cagnoni/RETIRED via Getty Images
"We had a tanning competition, where we would put a small sticker on our body as a baseline for comparison and then slather on the baby oil and bake all day," said Cynthia Gouw, a 60-year-old broadcast journalist and a beauty influencer.

3. Overplucking eyebrows

“Please don’t wax or pluck them yourself like I did. Like countless others, they just never grew back! In the ’90s, extremely thin and arched eyebrows were considered fashionable, and many women, myself included, resorted to excessive tweezing or waxing to achieve this look.

“I have resorted to buying so many eyebrow pencils, gels, powders, not to mention the huge amount of money I have spent on microblading, micro-feathering and any new eyebrow products I see on Instagram. I have learnt how to fill and fluff them to the best of my ability and they look OK, but if I could tell the younger me anything, it would be, ‘Leave them alone!’” ― Violet Trikilis, a model and style influencer

4. Asymmetrical hairstyles with bleached bangs

“I’m 57 years young now. But when I was in high school, Madonna was huge! We all wanted to be her with our neon pink lace skirts and ripped sweatshirts that fell off our shoulders. And we all wanted to have hair just like her, including my girlfriend and I. So, what did two idiot teenagers do? We grabbed a pair of scissors and cut each other’s hair in an asymmetrical shape. Then we found some hair bleach, took a chunk of our bangs, and bleached them. For reference, my natural hair color is dark brown. Well, we both ended up with orange bangs … not Madonna!

“My mom freaked out and brought me to get it fixed and I ended up with a pixie cut and almost jet-black hair because the bleach did so much damage. My Madonna dream hair ended that day!” ― Michele Baratta-Detwiler, a 57-year-old fashion and DIY content creator

Sadly, the Madonna look really only worked on Madonna.
Michael Putland via Getty Images
Sadly, the Madonna look really only worked on Madonna.

5. Cake-like makeup

“I also haven’t seen super matte setting powder in a while. Solid cake setting powder used to be in fashion. Now I look for a balance, you have to keep a little glow and glisten when you age, at the same time you don’t want to look like the tin man… so all of these very luminous products have to be used sparingly and in strategic spots rather than everywhere as we age gracefully.” Carla Rockmore, a designer and style influencer

6. Helmet head hair

“The days of Aqua Net and perfectly coiffed hair are thankfully gone, especially because I have never wanted to take too much time primping. Anything too obviously done does not read modern to me. I prefer a polished yet ‘je ne sais quoi’ to my look.” ― Lovett

Helmet hair, pictured here in a stock photo, was definitely a thing.
Jena Ardell via Getty Images
Helmet hair, pictured here in a stock photo, was definitely a thing.

7. Using milk of magnesia on oily skin

“The one beauty trend that made me grit my teeth was using MOM (milk of magnesia) on the face to control oil. This one really got under my skin because my skin is oily. In my beginning stages of wearing makeup I struggled with learning how to control the oil while wearing makeup. I tried everything, including this so-called hack. But after learning the potential risk to the skin and seeing actual makeup clients of mine suffer from the side effects, I emptied that bottle in the toilet. Now I’m an advocate for not following every trend without due diligence. I’ve recently seen younger women using Calamine lotion for the same reason. I hope this one fades as well.” ― Dorciah Sloane, a 53-year-old makeup artist and style influencer

8. Outrageous eyeshadow shades

The ’80s was the period for the most outrageous colors in eyeshadow and one simply could not get enough glitter! The brightest blues, yellow, orange, fuchsia donned our eyelids and at times all the colors of the rainbow balanced precariously on our eyelids. At the time, I worked as a makeup consultant and spent hours on applying my makeup that was so bright you could see it from the moon! In the 80s, eyeshadow and lipstick stayed on for days, it was so long lasting it was hard to remove ― probably due to the carcinogenic ingredients that went into the products.

“These days, I am happy with a more natural look with eyeshadow that enhances not takes over your face! I prefer mineral-based makeup and treatment ― makeup that cares for your skin.” ― Jayne Dalton, a 61-year-old style influencer

Did you really live in the '80s if you didn't have eyeshadow in every shade of the rainbow?
Rebecca Handler via Getty Images
Did you really live in the '80s if you didn't have eyeshadow in every shade of the rainbow?

9. Curled bangs

“You know what was awful? The ’80s curled bangs split horizontally with one half curled down toward your face and the other flowing back towards your crown made frozen by Aqua Net! As junior class president and vice president in high school, my twin sister and I were in charge of decorating the gym into a prom paradise! The night before our senior pictures we spent all night decorating and got about two hours of sleep in order to wake up at 5:30 a.m., dry our permed hair, and get our bangs just right! With tired eyes we got to school and stood in line to take pictures. The assistant to the photographer grabbed a comb and some Aqua Net and told us our hair would look better on camera if she fixed it. In a daze we agreed and took the shots! Later on between bells, we went into the bathroom and gazed in horror at the mall bangs she gave us. Granted, we did curl ours down, but never backwards, and now we sported that look in our senior pictures. To this day, we avoid bangs.” ― Tegan Higgins, a 51-year-old influencer who runs @tandttwintalk on Instagram and TikTok with her twin sister

10. Thinking makeup is a must

“I am glad that we’re starting to go more natural with our makeup trends, so we don’t see so much heavy contouring anymore. Pamela Anderson has set an example by showing up all nude. I like that. We should celebrate more natural looks and features as the new normal.” ― Mette S?rrig Andersen, a 53-year-old content creator

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