The Chola Makeup: Not Just a Look — A Movement Too

 What do you get when you combine gold nameplates, hoop earrings, ornate acrylic nails and bold eyebrows and eyes? You’ve got one of the most iconic makeup looks and styles of all time — the Chola.

Characterized by the dark makeup, penciled eyebrows and dark lip liners, the chola makeup look is a gorgeous blend of glamor and feminine strength that pay tribute to a unique subculture, particularly Mexican-American roots. More than just a fashion statement, it is a look that celebrates individuality, culture and more.

The Chola look has been a popular part of fashion for decades. It has been worn by popular celebrities too (e.g. Selena Quintanilla). So, if you’re interested in this look, here’s everything you need to know.

Where Does Chola Makeup Come From?

For some people, the word Chola immediately means women with pencil-thin eyebrows and tattoos or women who are like Flocka from Orange is the New Black. But Chola makeup, Chola outfits and the overall aesthetic come from a long history.

The Origin of the Word

For starters, the word “cholo” stems from “Xoloitzcuintli,” which is a Nahuatl word (aka the language of the Aztecs). The word “xolo” refers to the “Peruvian Hairless Dog,” which is an indigenous breed and can also represent racism. It wasn’t a word chosen by the people, but when the Spaniards invaded Latin America, they created a racial caste system that placed the invaders on top and the invaded at the bottom.

They used the word “cholo” to refer to mixed indigenous people at the bottom.

The Age of the Pachucos

In the 1940s, people of Mexican descent living in the US were referred to as Pachucos. These Mexican-American citizens wore zoot suits to represent the Pachuca style. Most of them also lived in the east part of Los Angeles.

During this time, the US was suffering from the effects of World War II. Pachuca women (also known as Las Mujeres) were infamous for breaking the “prim and proper wife” stereotype, which was a popular role during the war. Instead of just waiting for their husbands at home, they formed girl gangs, flaunted large bouffant hairstyles and wore zoot suits. They protested following the assimilated gender roles in the United States.

The Cholas: The Newer Generation

American cops targeting young Pachucos in 1943 encouraged Pachucas to raise their voices. This eventually led to the Chola culture we know. The 1950s and 1960s marked the grand entrance of the Cholas, aka the children of the Pachucas. They had a different look but plenty of attitudes.

The Chola represented herself via the tattoos on her body, flannel shirts, big earrings and the trademark Chola eyeliner. They also rocked dickies pants, bandanas, working-class migrant clothes and flannel shirts.

What are the Different Types of Chola Makeup?

chola makeup
There are different types of chola looks to try (Photo from Pinterest)

There’s no such thing as just one Chola look. The Chola style depicts the feminine struggle and indignance of those who formed this fashion statement. If you’re interested in trying the Chola look, here are some of your options.

Glam Chola Makeup

The glam look is often used by women who love to party or work in the entertainment industry. With a glam Chola look, there’s less of the intimidating Chola eyebrow and more of a softer look. In terms of hairstyles, braids complete the glam Chola look.

90s Chola Makeup

Half-hair updos and bouffant hairstyles are the classic looks of 90s Chola. The makeup is also cuter and lighter compared to today’s Chola looks. Women still draw their thin eyebrows and wear a darker color of lipliner to perfect the Chola look.

Latina Gangster Chola Makeup

This is a combination of Chola and gangster. Although the makeup is the same as any Chola style, the outfits are often dickies pants and flank tops. A teardrop tattoo under the eye always completes the style.

Chola Clown Makeup

This is probably one of the most Instagram-worthy trends out of all the Chola looks. Influencers have taken the Chola look to the next level by exaggerating the basic Chola look with bolder lines and more colors.

Mexican Chola Makeup

The traditional Chola makeup comprises black eye makeup, highly arched eyebrows and accessories. Also, your lips have to be the glossiest they’ve ever been. Cap off your look with big hoop earrings and a bandana.

How Do You Put Makeup On Like a Chola?

Now that you have an idea of the different types of Chola looks, it’s time to create your art. Perfecting the art of the Chola makeup is a step-by-step process. It seems difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can look Chola every day.

Step 1: The Foundation

The Chola look is famous for its generosity with a foundation for the sake of highlights. Start by making your foundation prominent. Apply powder or liquid evenly on your nose, cheeks and forehead before blending everything with a makeup sponge. Work with a long-lasting foundation so you wouldn’t have to worry about smudging.

Step 2: The Chola Eyebrows

Thinly drawn eyebrows are the essence of the Chola style. If you want to perfect the shape, you can do one of two things: shave your eyebrows and draw over them OR hide them by applying foundation over them. This way, you’ll have a blank canvass to work with. Use an eyebrow pencil or eyeliner gel to draw thin arched eyebrows.

Step 3: The Chola Eye Makeup

Apply primer on your eyelids to ensure the makeup lasts longer. To exaggerate the appearance of the eyes, draw the upper lash line using a liner. Next, apply silver eyeshadow over your eyelids then draw over the crease of your eyes. Blend the black and silver together. Complete the look by curling your lashes.

Step 4: The Chola Lips

Apply moisturizer first. Next, choose the darkest lip liner in your makeup back. The best colors are berry, burgundy or black. Outline your lips with your chosen color before filling it with dark lipstick. The lipstick should be two shades lighter than your liner. Cap the lip off with a generous dollop of lip gloss.


In terms of accessories, the Chola basics are simple: wide pants, flank white top, shirt, huge hoop earrings, a bouffant hairstyle, rings and plenty of chains.


The Chola makeup isn’t just a style; it’s a movement and an attitude. While it’s cool to dress up like a Chola, it pays to know the meaning behind makeup. Only then will you appreciate the art behind the Chola look.

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