Along with a clear complexion and shaped brows, the cornerstone of 1940s make-up was a set of full, bright red lips. Aside from the lips, make-up colours were muted, with natural tones being the order of the day. Max Factor Pan-Cake foundation was very popular: activated with water, it gave a smooth, long-lasting finish, although it did make the complexion appear somewhat ‘ flat’. Remember that the eyeliner of the 1940s – if applied – was not flicked. Eyeliner flicks only came in the 1950s.
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All types of red were available at the time – cherry red, scarlet and orange red. Cosmetics companies frequently used Hollywood stars to promote their products. The advertisements of the time usually mentioned the stars’ latest lm release, and suggested that you too could look like a movie star if you wore the latest lip colour.
Eyes were mostly kept natural: just cake mascara on the top lashes, brow pencil and perhaps some eye pencil to line the eyes. Eyeshadow, if worn, was grey or brown and used conservatively on the top lid. However, the eye make-up of movie stars, designed by the lm studios, was more glamorous and involved a more extravagant use of shadow, although blue, grey and warm brown continued to be the most popular shades.
The classic 1940s make-up look is probably one of the most instantly recognizable, and it can seem just as fresh and glamorous today as it did during that iconic decade. It was actually quite a simple look compared to those of other eras and it is easy to adapt a typical daytime make-up look, as worn every day by young women at the time, to create a more glamorous evening version, or even one fitting for a bride. With interpretations of it frequently seen at red-carpet events today, this elegant make-up look has stood the test of time and suits women of all ages. Our reference picture is of Gene Tierney.
Foundation: Apply foundation, followed by concealer and powder.
Brows: Use an angled brush and a matte eyeshadow or brow powder to colour in and shape the eyebrows. The shape of the brows is important), and the ideal was a natural, rounded arch, rather than an extreme arch.
Eyeshadow: Using a tapered shadow brush, apply a matte, soft, mid- brown powder shadow to the lid and blend. On some evening looks, the shadow was taken a little higher up towards the eyebrow and blended, with different shades being used.
Mascara: Apply dark brown mascara to the top lashes only. I used cake mascara for this look.
Eyeliner: Apply eyeliner to define the top lid. I used a cake liner in dark brown. Keep it close to the upper lash line and don’t flick it out at the corners. Eyeliner was not always applied; when it was, pencils were sometimes used, but it was never flicked out at the corners – flicks belong in the 1950s.
Blusher: Apply blusher in a coral shade to the apples of the cheeks and blend it out onto the cheekbones, using a soft brush, to give the face warmth and shape.
Lipstick: An essential for a 1940s look, lipstick came in various shades of red and was worn by all ages. The shape is important, with the top lip slightly overdrawn and rounding from the outer corners to give a full appearance. Use a pencil in the same shade as the lipstick to draw the outline, then fill in with lipstick using a brush.
With a few tweaks, the basic set shown opposite can be made into a whole range of glamorous 1940s hairstyles.
Set the hair in the direction you want the waves to go. This may sound obvious, but the key to the success of the style is the set being correct in the first place. The crown of the head is kept at and medium rollers (2cm/3⁄4 inch) are placed in
a curved horseshoe shape around the base of the head. (Pin curls would have been used at the time for many styles, but we use heated rollers now.)
Set the front and side rollers, as shown above right. Spray setting lotion on each section of hair before rolling.
The side rollers go up and slightly back at an angle away from the face. The front-to-side rollers are slightly angled to blend in with the sides. Make sure all the ends are rolled in neatly, otherwise they will not give a smooth look when the hair is brushed out. Remove the rollers when they are cool.
To style the wave at the front, brush through the front section, push the hair forward and the wave should the form automatically. The hair can then be pinned into position and the back styled as required (see variations on the following pages). If the hair is very long, a fine net or a snood can be used to shorten the back without using grips.