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11 Drama 316B Historical Make-up Paper Looks in the 1950s 1950s was a time to celebrate and rejoice the end of World War II. It was also a great period where industry was developing at exponential rates, leading to the baby boom and country wide economic growth. With new resources at hand, makeup companies started to experiment with color, shades and descriptive names of these new colors to attract a new consumer base young girls. As a result, it increased the number of available products for purchase and produced lighter, more natural shades and colors in the mainstream. From these available resources, the main themes that developed were a matte face, dark arched eyebrows, winged dow eyes, and bright full lips, (Bjork 49). By the 1950s, there were many commercial products such as lipstick in a tube, eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil, mascara, liquid foundation and even false lashes that were commercially available for purchase in stores. Women were exposed to popular upper market brands such as Max Factor, Helena Rubinstein, Yardley and Elizabeth Arden and some lower market brands such as Ponds (Angeloglou 131). Dior, Orland and Lancme are only some of the lengthy list of high end designer make up brands that were available to the affluent. For example, in 1959, a Max Factor Eyeshadow stick could be purchased for $1.25 and A Show-Case lipstick by DuBarry, in 1957, was available in 10 different shades for $1.25 (The average income during the 1950s was roughly about $5000), (Corson, 537). As shorter hairdos were becoming more fashionable, more emphasis on the face was becoming eminent. As Helena Rubinstein, a makeup designer, was quoted saying, With the short hairdo, there is more of the face So naturally, there is more of the eyes, (Corson,

534).She proposed to emphasize and create more exotic doe eyes with shadow, mascara and pencils. Eyebrows were thick, dark dramatically arched, and well-manicured. Even blondes would darken their brows for a more dramatic effect (Bjork 54). Eyes were fully lined with a thin unbroken line drawn as close to the lash line as possible and fanned outward and upward toward the temple from the outer corner of the eye. Eyeshadow if applied, in the early 50s, was used unsparingly, most likely with frosty, silvery colors on the lid and along the crease line. It was also blended slightly upward from the outer edge of the eye towards the temple. To touch off the doe eyed look, mascara was used to create full, soft looking lashes.As for Lipstick, it is advised to use a somewhat more intense shade, starting by drawing a V at the bow and then applying firmly with a brush. However, during the mid-50s, television and movies switched to influence the Natural Look, where eyes and eyebrows were accented, but not painted. Lips were still painted, but in a lighter shade. This was to focus more on a girl next door look. With more creative and enticing names for products, such as Double Peony, Calypso, Red Banana or Elizabeth Ardens Surprise Lipstick, which claimed to contain the come-hither of pink, the persuasiveness of rose, the courage of red, young girls were becoming the new target (Corson 535). Many brands were becoming aware of the fact that social customs of makeup on young girls were loosening and that the potential of the teen-age market was largely untapped and growing, (Corson, 535). Also, makeup companies understood that these products are here to staying for good. They recognized that it is something that every woman wants to buy and needs. For instance, Martin Revson, the vice-president to Revlon was quoted saying, Women are living longer, and they are no longer satisfied with being Whistlers MotherMost women lead lives of dullness, of quiet desperation. Cosmetics are a wonderful escape from it...

we [give] the idea that Revlon girls only go out at night, (Corson, 538).Makeup companies were using enhancement of sex appeal to market to the women, with the notions of being able to melt men or make him yours. The idea of enhancement of sexual appeal through make up was further enhanced with the first issue of Playboy. It was also during this period that Dior introduced the H, A, and Y line styles along with the empire dress, that has now become a classic. These styles were popular amongst teens who looked childlike in the style, hence the name baby doll dress. The full skirt and high waisted designs emphasized more feminine lines to create a glamorous feel and look. After World War II, women were craving the luxuries of glamour, style and femininity from the previous years that they were accustomed to. They took the advantage of the economic prosperity, industrial growth, and the new overflowing resources of makeup to express themselves in a manner that flaunted femininity. This focused on themes of a matte face, dark arched eyebrows, winged dow eyes, and bright full lips, (Bjork 49). Overall, I can understand why women in the 50s wore this make up. The emphasis on the eyes and brows gave strength to character and a serious tone. It felt as if they still wanted to remind men of part that women played in during the war and that they are to be taken seriously. However, at the same time, the lip color brought back the idea of femininity and sexual desire. I really enjoy watching classical films from this era, especially of Audrey Hepburn due to the makeup and fashion combinationit looks very timeless and classic.


Angeloglou, Maggie. A History of Make-up. Great Britain: Macmillan Company, 1970. Print.

Bjork, Angela, and Daniela Turudich. Vintage Face; Period Looks From the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s & 1950s. Canada: Streamline Press, 2001. Print.

Bradly, Becky. American Cultural History; 1950-1959. Lone Star College Kingswood. July 2010. July 11 2011. <>

Corson, Richard. Fashions in Makeup; from Ancient to Modern Times. London: Peter Owen, 1972. Print.