Vintage make up: Decades of beauty

From the precision grooming of the 1940s, the Hollywood glamour of the 1950s to the experimentation of the 1960s, we're looking at how to recreate the some of the most famous beauty trademarks from these decades, with a little help from our friend Jess at Powder Puffs and Pin Curls.

The 1940s


 1940's make up cropped
1940s make up was precise and clean with the main emphasis on cheekbones and the lips


  • For 1940s make up, start off with a clean matt base for the foundation.
  • Then apply loose powder in a thin arch from the top of your cheekbone up toward the temples. The idea is to get a true triangle effect!
  • For the eyes, add a soft grey and brown matt eyeshadow and add a simple black eyeliner to the upper eyelids so the eyes remain fairly natural, then finish with some black mascara for the lashes. Eyeshadow techniques for the early 1940s concentrated on the sockets and left the brows untouched, but you can use brown liquid liner and swoop your eyebrows in to a nice arch to complete the look.
  • Finally the lips, the main beauty trademark of red lips with different hues of red and pink used.

See our collection of 1940s dresses here

The 1950s


Marilyn Monroe

1950s make up was more glamorous with emphasis on the eyebrows being well groomed and defined.


  • Start off with a light foundation, the 1950s was all about a lighter skin tone so ditch the bronzer!
  • Next add a translucent pressed powder to the cheeks for a nice powdery, pale finish.
  • For the eyes, add a pale eyeshadow right up to the brow and then fill in the eye socket with a darker shade from about half way along the eye and down to the outer corner of the eye. then blend with your finger. Make sure you define the eyebrows by using a brown/black eye pencil and don't be scared about raising those arches!
  • For the ultimate 1950s beauty trademark use a black liquid eyeliner to achieve the signature 50s swoosh or flick.
  • Add your pillarbox red lipstick to acheieve the hollywood glamour look, and finish off with a little beauty spot on your cheek (using liquid liner) to be like Marilyn...

See our full collection of 1950s styles here


The 1960s



The 1960s was more adventurous using white eye shadows and pastel colours


  • As with the 1950s, apply a lighter foundation and add a light beige translucent powder to the cheeks to get a paler look.
  • Eyeliner was the trademark makeup tool of the 1960s. Instead of cats eye effect (from the 50s), black liner was doubled up at the end of the lid with white eyeliner drawn down over upper lid to inner corner of eye.
  • Eyeshadow – the popular palette was blue,grey and white. For eyelashes you can experiment with adding mascara on both the top and bottom lashes for a real retro ‘flapper’ effect. As favourited by Twiggy.
  • For the lips, moving forward from the big red lips of the 1940s and 1950s, the 1960s were all about a pale lipsticks with a darker pencil around the lips, to emphasize the shape.

See our collection of 1960s styles here.


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