While makeup in the 1920s marked the beginning of an era, cosmetic styles during the 30s were more restrained. This decade endured the brunt of the Great Depression, and though cosmetic companies like Max Factor and Elizabeth Arden become more well-known, women had less money to spend on items like lipstick and rouge.
During the 1920s, women rimmed their eyes in kohl and drew exaggerated bow-shaped lips, but the 1930s saw the rise of practicality and more feminine styles. When you have to budget for and carefully choose which cosmetic items to purchase, it becomes easier to embrace a more natural style.
Eyebrows were plucked severely, leaving only a thin line to frame the face, and mascara became more commonly used on lower lashes, too. Eye shadow colors were lighter and softer, contrasting with dark eyelashes, but offering a more natural look overall. Favorite colors included pinks and blues. Rouge or blush, which was heavily applied in the 1920s, went on with a light hand in the 1930s, and the contouring of cheeks became popular, too. Foundation became more widely used during the 1930s, and a soft, ivory complexion was the style, as seen in many publicity photos of actresses during the time period. The 1930s’ lip changed dramatically as lipstick became more common, and the natural shape of a woman’s lip was favored over the Cupid’s Bow popular during the 1920s. Darker shades were still very popular.
Interestingly, cosmetic sales during the Great Depression rose significantly, and this is a trend that can still be seen during tough economic times. Sometimes dubbed “The Lipstick Index,” it’s a controversial phenomenon that has been studied by economists for years. Some studies find that, in times of economic hardship, sales of inexpensive cosmetics like lipstick and many drugstore products increase, perhaps due to their accessibility and the reward of instant gratification.
This theory definitely holds true for the cosmetic styles of the 1930s, and more women embraced the glamorous trends of Hollywood actresses as makeup became available to them.
When I decided to do a riff on the 1930’s, I knew I wanted to attempt to finger wave my hair because it became quite popular during this decade. The problem was, I had no idea how to go about it. So of course I Googled, “how to finger wave diy” and I found the most amazing video (here) by two women who call themselves the Scarlet Ladies. It was seriously one of the best produced vintage/retro videos I have seen in a while. What I want to know is why they have only done one video? Um hello! I want more! I basically followed their directions (after running to the beauty supply store to get the right clips) and voila! Finger waves!
If I decided to do this style again, I would have heeded their advice and used a spray setting lotion. I have setting lotion, but not in a spray form. I used some of that and then lots of hairspray. Unfortunately I used my super sticky spray to set the waves instead of my light hairspray, which would of been a better choice. The waves ended up being too crunchy for my taste, but I made the best of it.
For my makeup I decided to not darken in the crease of my eye, which I normally do. I just used a highlighter shadow on the brow and then a light pink shadow on the lid. I penciled in my brows and at first I drew them extra long, but it was just too costumey, so I erased that part. I used false lashes because I was going out “fancy” so I added a little bit of liner, which if you look in the period photos, isn’t very 1930’s. As for the lipstick, I kept my usual red lippy. I looked around my makeup for a more berry color, but didn’t really find anything I liked. As I mentioned in my 20’s beauty post, it was very strange seeing myself in a totally different look! I wasn’t as insecure this time around as I was with the frizzy Deco hair, but it was definitely weird seeing myself in the mirror with finger waves. With that said, I do think it is important to occasionally break out of your beauty routine and try something new, even if you don’t feel comfortable in it. Variety is the spice of life, and you never know what you can achieve until you try something you have never tried before.
Before I end this post, I wanted to make sure you ladies all know about the most amazing website called GlamourDaze. Here you can find anything you want to know about vintage makeup and hair from the turn of the century through the 1960’s. You can even purchase eBooks on each decade which go into glorious detail on the beauty of the past. If you are interested in the eBooks, I suggest purchasing the bundle which includes the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s for $20! If you buy each one separately it would cost you $40, so you are getting a great deal! In addition, if you go though this link (here) and buy a book (or books), I get a commission. Woo-hoo! So be sure to check out GlamourDaze because it is no joke, an amazing vintage resource.
Today’s post is a collaboration with Catherine Harper of Walking With Cake and myself. Catherine will be joining us each week as we explore the different makeup looks of each period.