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posted on 25th Aug 2017

Ingrid Bergman

We continue our series of posts about the beauty styles of the 1940’s, a brilliant decade for style. It was a time of glamour, and many of the beauty trends of the period are still popular today.

Red Lips and Red Nails

The full red lips popular today were first made a statement beauty look in the 1940s. The 1920s and 1930s had both emphasised a girly underlined lip and dark vampy lipsticks, while the 1940s did away with this style; popularising a full red lip.

Matte red lipsticks were the most popular weapon in the beauty arsenal of a 1940’s woman. Beyond the lipstick, women also overlined the lips in a matching liner to give the illusion of fuller lips. A light gloss or slick of vaseline was added to the lips to give a dewy finish.

Nail polishWith the outbreak of the Second World War, many women were needed to work in the factories, as the men left to fight. Makeup was seen as a way to keep up morale and to help boost women’s feeling of femininity and glamour as they worked hard in stereotypically male roles.

While women embraced glamour to keep up spirits, makeup was sparser and less elaborate than in previous times due to the social, political and economic climate. Makeup was often rationed, but was seen as important by both men and women for keeping up everyone’s spirits during the war, so supplies were kept available. As mentioned, red lipstick was the most popular item for women during this period – it could easily transform a woman’s look with minimal time and effort on their part and could double up as cheek colour when blush was hard to come by. Women would often send letters sealed with a lipstick kiss to the men at war in order to boost their spirits.

Red nail polish was also popular, and women styled their nails using a half-moon shape,  where they left the top tip of the nails bare, while colouring the bottom half with a bright nail lacquer.

Face Makeup

While in the 1930s and 1920s pale, matte powder base makeup was popular, by the 40s women were looking for a more natural, healthier look, as You Queen note:

“Prior to the mid 1920’s, women frequently chose the palest face powders possible, as fair skin was thought to be a sign of wealth and refinement. By the 1940’s, foundation was widely available, making it easy for women of the day to create a perfect, bronzed canvas without so much as setting foot in the sun. Foundation was generally set with face powder, either in the form of loose powder or the popular pressed compact. Women who wanted to achieve a rosy glow often applied a foundation a shade darker than their natural skin tone followed by a face powder that was one shade lighter.”

Women followed up their bases with some rouge in a healthy natural tone of either pink or red; rouge was often powdered. Blush was applied to the apples of the cheeks in layers of colour, for a bold yet natural look.

The 1940’s look can easily be recreated with healthy, tanned skin, a natural rouged cheek and of course, a slick of the classic red lipstick.

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