Beauty in the 1900s- 1900-1960

When you really start to dig, beauty is a truly fascinating subject. Our looks have always been something we’ve been interested in and something we have spent time over, working to make the best out of our assets. Even 5000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians wore kohl liner and darkened the lips to enhance their appearance.

Beauty really started to develop and become exciting in the 1900s, developing into the mainstream with mass production and celebrities having a large impact on the industry. As far as we are concerned, the 20th century was the most exciting in beauty.

The early 1900s

In the early 1900s a pale look was very popular- which would later be changed by Coco Chanel, lemon juice was applied to the skin like a toner, to try and make the skin paler, as if you had a tan this would imply you were of a low class.

In the early 1900s makeup was very much a DIY job, with the objective being to create youthful and natural look. To be seen wearing make-up was reserved for women of the stage and prostitutes, so makeup had to be natural and barely there.

1900s makeup

Makeup innovations…

The first makeup brands to start mass producing products were Maybelline and Max Factor, making makeup products readily available to the masses for the first time ever around 1910. Basic products like mascara, eyeshadow and lipsticks were now available to buy from drug stores.


1920s makeup was very different to just ten years ago. In the ‘20s the first artificial makeup look was created, with dark eyes with lots of mascara, red lips with a strong cupids bow, plucked brows drawn downwards towards the temple and a pale complexion with circular blusher applied to the cheeks. Finally the big name in nails of the time was Revlon and the ‘moon manicure’ was popular, where only the tip would be painted.

1920s & ‘40s…

Movie stars were greatly influential on beauty looks in the ‘30s. Pencil thin eyebrows was the standout feature in the ‘30s, with some women plucking the brows off completely and drawing them back on every morning. Contouring came in for the first time in the ‘30s, women would define their cheekbones using blusher underneath them and coourful eyeshadows were used.

Along with Max Factor and Maybelline, Elisabeth Arden became a popular name in beauty in the ‘40s. Hair was worn up in the ‘40s with prominent arched brows and redder than red lipstick and nails.

Gene Tierney makeup 1940s

1950s & ‘60s

The 1950s saw unknown models start to rival the big Hollywood names in becoming the faces of the big beauty brands. Post war beauty icons had a big impact on 1950s beauty, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Winged eyeliner became popular in the 1950s, and is still one of the most popular eye looks today.

The ‘60s was an amazing era for makeup, brows became thicker, eyeliner was the most important makeup tool, false lashes would be applied to both the top and bottom lids and lips were pale pink. Twiggy was an iconic face of the ‘60s.


From applying lemon juice to the skin to create a pale took, to false lashes, bold brow looks and bright lipstick, it’s safe to say makeup was really embraced in the 1900s, and our development into the beauty boom began!

What are your favourite beauty looks? Comment and let us know. We can help you look stylish throughout your career in beauty, with our beauty tunics and beauty uniforms.

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