8 ways we got our beauty inspo before the Internet

8 ways we got our beauty inspo before the Internet

Kickin' it old school

Text: Angelyn Kwek

Before YouTube gurus and influencers, these were beauty bibles for the makeup addicts in the pre-Internet age

If the idea of leafing through periodicals for clippings is an idea as foreign to you as the concept of living life without social media, well then, 'ye young millennials have a thing or two to learn. Dialing back just a mere two decades before the digital age and this little thing known as Instagram, makeup junkies got creative with their daily beauty fix by picking up inspiration from different sources to fuel their obsession. So imagine this scenario: Instead of pulling up a browser, loading Google and hitting enter, what do you do when your usual three-step solution — and your indispensible hack to life — ceases to function permanently?

The sheer horror of not having cat videos and memes aside, here's to looking good in a World Wide Web apocalypse with eight ways that kick it old school:

1. Fashion magazines
Vogue was the powerhouse glossy for everything fashion and beauty, and it automatically qualified you for the cool kids table. Beauty pages were subsequently ripped out to plaster above the vanity table as a collage wall. If you were slightly younger, titles like Seventeen, and the now defunct YM, Jane and Sassy might have dictated the trends. Now that's Pinterest, the print edition.

A 1925 issue of Vogue magazine

2. Albums and vinyls
Everyone from Madonna to David Bowie served up inspiration with daring hair and makeup looks (and were the original KOLs before the term first rolled around). Everything from glitter to bleached blonde to rainbow tresses have all been done before. Music was bought as much for their tracks as for the album sleeves, which were religiously dissected from cover to cover for everything from song lyrics to exclusive images.
Madonna Bedtime Stories album

3. TV shows and movies
Let us refresh (or educate) you on the time when Jennifer Aniston as Friends' Rachel Green incited women everywhere to ask their hairstylist for 'The Rachel'. Or the time when Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction had beauty junkies buying out wine red lipsticks and painting their nails in Chanel's red-black Vamp. Urban Decay even had a limited edition Pulp Fiction makeup collection inspired by Thurman's character. All hail the enduring influence of television and film.

Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green in Friends

4. Mums and assorted friends and family
Makeup junkies will fondly remember watching mum doing her makeup in the mirror, and then the subsequent raiding of the vanity to road test lipsticks or perfumes — with or without permission. Older sisters, cousins and friends (or similar role models) were also enablers that got us experimenting with kid's makeup and with tweezing our eyebrows, and look how that childhood first step snowballed.

5. Makeup counters
The beauty advisors at your local makeup counters were the closest equivalent to today's makeup gurus, trained and informed on the latest trends straight from the runways, and backed by product knowledge. It was a one-stop shop to learn how to nail that new-fangled eyeshadow look and pick up a new foundation while you're at it.

Beauty inspirations before the Internet

6. Makeup books
If makeup were a curriculum, the booklist would contain Kevyn Aucoin's acclaimed Making Faces, a volume that details his innovative tips and techniques on tricking out your face and featured astonishing transformations on everyone from Courtney Love to Gwyneth Paltrow. Never before had we seen so much step-by-step contouring detailed on print. Don't own this? Cue the book hunt as we hit every brick-and mortar-bookstore in order to get our hands on this beauty manuscript. No Amazon, remember?

Kevyn Aucoin's best-selling Making Faces was a beauty bible for many

7. Drag queens
RuPaul's Drag Race may be a household name now but before the Emmy-nominated series launched the sub-culture into the spotlight, makeup junkies were looking to drag queens for baking and heavy contouring in the '90s. Yes, best wrap your millennial minds around that — it was the drag queens, not the Kardashians who started this trend.

In the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, RuPaul held court with Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana

8. Old Hollywood starlets
An oldie but a goodie. Hollywood has churned out many a silver screen siren and consequently, beauty looks that defined an era. Take legendary actress Bette Davis whose pencil-thin brows had women reaching for their tweezers in the 1930s, and Audrey Hepburn who later popularised bold, thick brows (50 years ahead of Cara Delevingne, FYI). And who could forget Brigitte Bardot: Cat-eye liner, fluttery lashes, sexy bed hair and an ever-present pout; the de facto look worn by just about every influencer.
Bette Davis' skinny brows, spider lashes and metallic, blood red lips were on point in 1930 and again in 2017
Read the Digital Millenial guide on how to survive without the Internet