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What types of beauty products have improved the most since you started wearing makeup?

I think it’s really easy to get colorful, long-wearing eyeliner across price points, and it didn’t always seem that way (it felt like more budget-friendly options were in your standard black/brown range). While nowhere near where they should be, many brands have expanded and started to release foundations in greater shade ranges (but many are still quite behind!). I think matte lipstick has improved, but if you want the really flat, matte finish, then maybe a little less in the way of improvement.

— Christine


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Nancy T Avatar

Just about EVERYTHING!!! And yes, I’m serious. I began wearing makeup in 1972, at 13 y.o. Makeup back then wasn’t anything near what we have today. Not the shade ranges, not the quality either. Foundation usually only came in perhaps 5-6 shades unless you went more HE, then perhaps 10-12. If you had darker skin than today’s NC37, you were out of luck unless you could get Fashion Fair. We didn’t even have eye shadow primer, so God help you if you had oily and hooded eyes! I endured many an eye shadow turning into a nasty, greasey line running through where my imaginary crease was supposed to be! Plus, there weren’t very many colors of eyeshadow to get all that creative with until the late 70’s.
I am so grateful for all the improvements I’ve witnessed, still room for improvement, though!

Debbie Avatar

I’m a year older than you, and you pretty much covered it. And yes I totally concur with your answer. I remember using face powder on my lids to make my eye shadow last, and lighting up those brow pencils.

Donya Avatar

Was it late 80s or early 90s? Clinique came out with “touch base” but they never hyped it enough, imo. It is one of the best shadow primers, still, to this day. They need to change the packaging tho so it doesn’t dry out. I had oily skin back then and it worked for me.

Erica Avatar

Foundations have improved for sure. Maybe more improvement is needed for color ranges but formulas are definitely better. Matte/ liquid lip are better than before too. You for sure can get comfortable and non drying matte lipsticks!

Holly Avatar

Everything! Especially eyeliner, they all used to smear all over my face. Foundation has come a long way too, it used to make me so oily and uncomfortable and I hated wearing it. Now I have several that I like. There are also so many more choices in eyeshadow colors, particularly from the drug store. I still wish I could find a good concealed, they all crease! I am still using powder to conceal under my eyes like I always have, at least powders are better now too, I have to use talc free formulas.

Jennifer Avatar

Although they’re still far from perfect, drugstore eyeshadows have been really impressive in pigmentation over the past few years.

More recently, I’ve been really impressed with drugstore matte lipsticks, particularly the ones from Jordana and Milani (sister companies, go figure!) 🙂

Rachel R. Avatar

At my age, pretty much everything! I’ve been wearing some kind of makeup for nearly 35 years. Pencil eyeliners are MUCH better than when I started wearing them in the early 1980s, especially drug store. Blacks and dark colors would transfer like mad from the top lids onto my hoods. A lot of liner pencils would be stiff, and fashion magazines/makeup artists told women to warm them up slightly with a lighter before applying. I used black liquid liner on my top lids to avoid the transferring and stiff formula issues, but I still had to deal with pencils to get the purples and blues I wanted on my lower lashes. Drug Store eyeshadows were pretty uniformly horrible (and most still are pretty crappy). But at least now there are some really good DS-priced eyeshadows available now (Wet n Wild, Sleek, Makeup Revolution, e.l.f., Profusion, City Color Cosmetics, Hard Candy, Nyx, bhCosmetics, Coastal Scents, Morphe, Shany). For me at least, blushes are much longer lasting and don’t turn hot pink or bright orange on me like they used to. Color selection and variety of products of all types and price ranges has dramatically improved over even the last 10 years, let alone the last 30. Indie brands are so good and so much more available now days, too.

Face and eye primers didn’t exist when I first started wearing makeup, but I’m so glad the industry developed them. I’m glad there are so many different types now. Face and eyeshadow primers were life-changing for me when they came out ( I want to say in the mid- to-late 1990s). I could wear so many more products and brands.

Rachel R. Avatar

Yes! I think the L’oreal one was the first one I used. I don’t remember any eye primers in the 80’s, but maybe they just weren’t on my radar. I used stick concealer with setting powder on top back then, which was better than nothing. Then in the ’90s I switched to bareEscentuals/bareMinerals now) shadows, and I put those over the Original Foundation and Mineral Veil, and they lasted longer than anything until the eye primers came along. In the 90s bareEscentuals/bareMinerals came out with Prime Time face and eye primers, so I used those.

Kylie5 Avatar

Hello Rachel the Pink lipstick you Are wearing on the Photo is so beautiful, what is the Name and the Brand
Concerning the question the only thing I am using every day for many years now is foundation and powder. And nail polish. But I cannot say that foundation and powder have improved. Maybe it is because I am older but I Even think that it is more complicated to find a good foundation. I Used the Same foundation for more than 10 years and then it was discontinued. Now I am searching for a foundation that is as good for about 2 years now. I have still some Backup but this won’t Last forever. I cannot See an improvement concerning powder as well. Nail polish is now free of some ingredients which Are unhealthy and there Are more colours and finishes. But the quality for me has also not improved. It lasts as Long als before and still does not smell good.
So unfortunately no improvements that have impressed me.
Where is the foundation, powder or anything which really mattifies ?

sleepybird Avatar

Everything has gotten better across the board in the oast thirty (wince) years BUT if I had to pick one I would say eyeliner. As garish as makeup could be in the 80’s, for eyeliner the choices were black black/brown, and occasionally blue. The formula is also so much better. No more using a flame to soften up your liner! The same liner btw that would somehow also melt in your purse on the first warm day!

Mariella Avatar

I would have to say foundations. I’m considerably older than most here so I’ve been wearing makeup for a long time. I remember when foundation was only liquid or cream and was heavy, greasy and came in a very limited and not very realistic range of colours. Now, there are water foundations, powder foundations, mineral foundations, gels and more and the range of shades is so extensive and come in pink, neutral, yellow based shades. And there are BB and CC creams as well as tinted moisturizers. It’s really amazing when I compare what is out there now in all price ranges to what was around when I was 14 or so….

Olivia M. Avatar

You may be surprised by the number of us that are considerably older here. Suffice to say my first makeup was by Yardley during the Jean Shrimpton campaign.

Mariella Avatar

Then we are contemporaries because I remember those Jean Shrimpton campaign products, including “Londonderry Hair” stuff! And the “Slickers” lipglosses (some with a key chain attached and a mirror on the outside of the tube!)

Joyce Avatar

Definitely drugstore foundations. They would always oxidize very orange on me, but I don’t really have that problem anymore. And they always felt heavy, but maybe my poor application skills were to blame for that one 😀

Maybe quality affordable makeup brushes too? I live off of Real Techniques, EcoTools, and elf right now. I have some nice ones, but I have to invest in MAC, Zoeva, or Suqqu.

Ami Avatar

Yeah I agree. Especially drugstore foundations. For a long time they were only really reliable for people who needed minimal coverage, but these days I could shop a whole face in drugstores without stressing too much. Foundation especially. I just picked up three to try, all of which got top marks in reviews, and I’m not disappointed at all. And as a plus, most drugstore packaging is travel ready. Lightweight, small and sturdy being the trifecta of course.

Cat Avatar

Since I first started wearing makeup? I think everything has improved! So many colors, textures, finishes… and all at various price ranges. The improvements in base products (concealer, foundation, and powder) are the ones I appreciate most, especially now that I’m getting older. (The new MUFE concealers are amazing!)

Pigmented eyeshadow in every finish that goes on smoothly with no fallout? We’ve got it!
Mascara that really does volumize and/or lengthen? We’ve got it!
Foundation and powder that doesn’t settle into lines or cake up, lasts all day and helps prevent shine? We’ve got it!

Now, if these companies would just stop putting aloe into so many things I’d like to try…

Marta Avatar

It’s just a personal feeling and probably not true if you include the high end makeup into the view. But years ago I had no idea about the high end makeup and all lipsticks to me were gross smelling and drying. It was just lip glosses (sticky but at least smelling better) and some tinted balms back when I was a teenager. Now I prefer to use a hydrating lipstick than lip balms – they last longer and do the hydrating job better. Even matte lipsticks are now better quality than the old regular ones (Maybelline Color Sensational Mattes).

Eileen Avatar

I started wearing makeup in 1958–yikes! And believe me, everything has changed dramatically primarily because of advancements in cosmetic chemistry which has resulted in a huge evolution in formulations. Also, the color spectrum and shade range has expanded to the point where if you can imagine it, it can be replicated–and I’m not just talking about adding more foundation shades. I’m talking about the mind-boggling assortment of colors available in all types of cosmetics.

Lulle Avatar

Definitely matte lipstick, it was very hard to find a matte lipstick that wasn’t horribly drying back in the day. Pencil liners too, it’s much easier to find soft, creamy and highly pigmented liners now. Foundations have a better range of shades with more options for different undertones. And lately I’ve been really impressed by a handful of lip products that are extremely lightweight, very comfortable and yet wear much longer than I expected (Lancome Shine Lover and Juicy Shaker, YSL Glossy Stain in the Pop Water version and their new Oil-In-Stick Volupte Shine, Paul & Joe Glossy Lip Color, etc…). It seems like before, if you were going for a sheer, light lipcolor, it wouldn’t last more than an hour or two, but that’s not true anymore.

MonicaP Avatar

Like ~ everything! From colors to textures .. especially foundation! I remember when the only foundation on the market was Cover Girl with Noxema – there were no foundations for acne prone skin or oily skin. And there weren’t any brands for young gals .. only old more mature women as if young gals didn’t need makeup. Ugh. Now it’s almost even .. lot’s of brands for women in different stages of life, but I can see that makeup is more targeted toward the young gals these days.


Claire L Avatar

I started wearing makeup in the 90’s, even then, foundation was almost impossible to match to my pale skin. It would always oxidise on me and look a fetching shade of light orange! I’m not even super pale either. The other thing that has improved is the range of eyelid primers. I used to have to put up with my eyeshadow and mascara all but sliding off a couple of hours after applying eyeshadow!

mishmash Avatar

Foundation, I used Chanel in the old days but now I’m able to get a really nice foundation in the drugstore…
however my current fav is Bobbie Brown Intensive Skin Serum Foundation SPF40 (not really drugstore) this is wonderful and sheer…
Also I’m so fair it’s much easier to get a match now, and the Body Shop new product allows me to correct mistakes

miekogirlie Avatar

Foundation & concealer & eye pencils & Matte lippies! The formulas are getting better, more variety of colors, more skin safe/skincare ingredients & for better prices!

Debutante Avatar

I think foundation definitely !.. As a teenager, I always remember Revlon eyeshadow being highly pigmented and silky smooth. Mascara was never an issue. Foundation always was because I was so light skinned, and so many foundations could have that nasty pink tinge to them, or easily turn orange once they were on the skin for an hour or so. I couldn’t afford department store foundation as a teenager.
Now, some drugstore foundations easily give department stores a run for their money.

Zoe Avatar

I feel like brushes are better quality and more easily accessible nowadays.
Color ranges for everything. General quality increase. Textures are much better.
I used to cringe at drugstore brands, and they have come a long way.
Primers, setting sprays, etc… being available and widely used.
Color quads are made more with the intent of things working together to make one look. Rather than a random assortment.

Rachel B Avatar

I think definitely eyeliner formulas. And of course the color range of many products has improved, specifically eyeliners and nail polish.

Genevieve Avatar

Just about everything!
1. Skincare products – wide range of products to suit different skin complaints and ages
2. Foundations – varied finishes, contain sunscreen, wider range of shades (not enough though), differentiate with undertones and improvement in quality at budget price points.
3. Eye shadows – great improvement in shade range, quality, pigmentation and finishes.
4. Eye pencils – crayons, creams and a greater range of shades.
Lipsticks, nail polishes, blush (which has undergone a revolution into contouring and strobing), finishing powders and illuminating powders.
Everything is much better now than when I first started wearing makeup.

Flaky Avatar

Cream eye shadow sticks. These used to be just awful & were guaranteed to crease. I still marvel every time I wea one of the “new” ones like my favorite Mally shadow sticks.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I agree that liners have improved in color and textures. While I think foundations still have a long way to go for color variations, the textures and longevity has improved dramatically since the 1960’s. Face powder and eye shadow is more finely milled. Mascara is leap years better.

Alecto Avatar

If less neutral, less natural, more bold (color-wise) is considered an improvement, then I have trouble picking any one product, as the rise of indies has given us pretty much any color in any type of makeup you can imagine. But I agree on the eyeliners, especially — I remember shopping for eyeliners as a teen and having exactly 5 variations: black, brown, green, blue, plum.

My real answer is foundation. Un. Be. Lievable. Foundation is so varied in formula now, and there are so many choices. I say that having never tried a high-end foundation when I was younger, but even the drugstore versions have changed dramatically. Also (for us lighter-skinned folk) a better shade range. I never used to be able to find a match because I’m much yellower than any foundation from 20, or even 10, years ago. The yellowest foundations always looked peach on me. Maybe in another 10 years we’ll have shade ranges that work for almost everyone.

Arpita Avatar

I think the most improvement has been in the base products.. Primer, foundation and concealers. We dont see the pancake makeup now which we used to see in the past. Also the ingredients, textures, shades have all improved to encompass more people. Besides; even the color products have improved a lot. We dont see very vibrant colors now.. Which was harmful to skin too. Instead we have both pastel and vibrant shades; in different textures… And keeping in mind the skin care factor of the masses. Even love the now available eyeliners in different forms and textures and colors. The most important thing.. Even drug store brands are coming up with these beauties.. So that beautiful makeup is not restricted only to the elite.

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