1950s Makeup: The Best Tricks

1950s makeup is surprisingly different than makeup today. If there is a polar opposite to a beauty guru, that would be me. I’ve only used makeup a handful of times in all my years of life and never figured out the art behind it. Any time I use face powder or foundation, the result either makes me look like The Blob or Mr. Sandman. Even so, 1950s makeup guides have fallen into my line of sight and piqued my interest.

While vintage makeup more or less follows the same steps as modern makeup, there are a few steps that are quite interesting and produce very different results. Keep reading and learn more about the 1950s makeup look below.

What Is 1950s Makeup?

As with everything else in the aesthetic realm of the 1950s, the goal was to have that put-together look. Many women would put on a full face of makeup and get fully dressed before even leaving their bedrooms. Makeup was not only a way for a woman to present herself to the world but it also helped to make her feel better about herself.

Makeup in the 50s tended to be much simpler compared to makeup today. You might find plenty of “1950s makeup tutorials” online, but a lot of these are not wholly authentic and verge more towards the Rockabilly niche. True 1950s makeup is quite minimal and places heavy importance on matching colors.

1950s Makeup: The Face

The first step is to put foundation on a clean face. Your face should be moisturized before you put anything on it, otherwise, your makeup might crease. The foundation used at the time was usually creamy and meant to match the skin rather than make it lighter or darker. Cream rouge (blush) was also important. While powder blush existed at the time, it was usually not necessary.

The rouge would be blended along the top of the cheekbone to give more definition to the face. This was used in place of bronzer and was used sparingly to give a natural, rosy complexion. On occasion, women would use their rouge to contour their noses or foreheads.

The next step would be to use powder. In the 1950s and before, women used a LOT of powder. Truth be told, a lot of old tutorials from the time made it look like you needed a whole cup of flour dumped on your face to get the right look. Translucent powder such as those made by Coty or Max Factor was especially popular.

You can apply powder to your entire face, but pay special attention to the undereye area and eyelids. After applying the powder, wait a moment and then wipe off the excess with a powder puff or a delicate brush. The powder will function to smooth out your pores and give you an airbrushed look.

The Eyes

1950s eye makeup was not as heavy as eye makeup is today. Back then, they used a few swipes of cake mascara on the top eyelashes only. Eyeliner was also used sparingly, although it started to become more popular during the late 50s and early 60s. Some women used their eyebrow pencils for their eyeliner. Others experimented with the new “cat-eye” look.

Eyeshadow was not often worn during the day. If it was, it would usually match the wearer’s eyes and would only be dabbled at the bottom of the top eyelid. More potent eyeshadow could be worn in the evening. The eyebrows were usually arched and penciled in slightly to give a more defined look. Black would never be used for the eyebrows.

To give the eyebrows a bit of extra definition, some women would brush Vaseline onto them. Eyeshadow was hardly ever used on the lower lid of the eye since it made the wearer look exhausted (according to magazines and makeup brands at the time).

1950s makeup with Sophia Loren.

The Lips

The lips in the 1950s were especially important for a woman’s overall look. This had not changed much from the previous decades when red lipstick was an everyday item for almost all women. Red lipstick remained popular during the 50s but pinks and coral shades also caught the spotlight.

More women also started using lip liners to get the perfect line on their lips, especially when overdrawing. All lipstick was matte back then since glossy lipstick wouldn’t come around until years later. Women would moisturize their lips before putting on their lipstick, usually with Vaseline.

At the end of the day, a woman would take off her makeup with cold cream which would also keep the skin soft. It would also help keep the skin moisturized for the next morning when it would be time to put on makeup again.

What do you think about 1950s makeup and how it compares to modern makeup? Leave your comments below! Or, to get some high-quality makeup of your own, click here.

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