#TBT Makeup Through the Decades: Part One

I am thrilled to introduce to you the first article of a three part series that outlines the evolution of makeup trends through the decades.

I am fascinated with woman of the past; the way they responded to things going on in their world; and, in researching them further, I was reminded of the influence society has on the definition of beauty. I applaud those who are able to find beauty in themselves, regardless of the current “look” that is gracing the cover of Vogue.

From decades behind us and decades to come, woman will always want to feel beautiful. Makeup is a tool that can be used to express ourselves, or to give off a persona of someone we wish to be. Join me on this journey as we follow the makeup trends of the 1920’s through 2000’s, and let it be an inspiration to find what is unique about your beauty.


The roaring twenties were dominated by a new breed of woman labeled “Flappers.” They were notorious for their unapologetic rebellion of the previous notion that women had limited roles in society. They wore short dresses and short hair, drove cars, smoked, drank, and wore loud makeup. Females were granted the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was passed by congress in 1919. This sparked an era of boldness and liberalism in women which was expressed in the application of their makeup.

Eyes were heavily rimmed in dramatic kohl; eyebrows were thin, dark, and rounded with a high arch; complexion was lightened, complimented by strong pink pigment on the apples of the cheeks; the lips were painted with one of the limited reds that were available, stopping the color just short of the corners of the mouth and intensely defining the bow.

1920's Maybelline Ads 001

1920 photo


When the depression began with the crash of the stock market in 1929, woman no longer had the money to dress their face as lavishly as in the previous decade. Consequently, makeup trends became conservative and glamorously refined.

In the 1920’s, the idolization of celebrities such as Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor, and Ginger Rogers, built the perfect platform for Max Factor Sr. to transform faces in films and photographs. He was a true forerunner of the industry, creating the term “makeup,” which is derived from the concept to “make up” one’s face. A wax-like complexion was highly coveted, so blush was often omitted (some woman who could not afford foundation still applied rouge.) The eyebrows thinned out as popularized by Jean Harlow. Brighter eye shadow (along with subtle shimmer,) full lashes, and brown eyeliner took precedence above the overdramatized eyes of the 1920’s. Lips were still bold in color, but had softer lines around the bow.

Max_Factor_Pancake2 1935

glamourdaze -1930s lipstick3

Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow


This was the first era where natural beauty was desired. However, despite the war, glamour was not vacant; just taken down a notch. The eyebrows which, up to this point, had been shaved off and drawn on, were now filled in close to their natural shape.

Lips took the stage in this era. The upper lip was overdrawn, and color was brought all the way to the outer corners to create a full and plump pout. Many woman embraced this revolutionary shape (along with new colors and formulas) which quickly replaced the delicate bow of the 20’s and 30’s. With woman exponentially infiltrating the workplace, the convenience of lipstick in a tube was alluring. Supported by growing cosmetic companies and numerous marketing ads, lipsticks undoubtedly became the “must have” accessory in every woman’s handbag.

lipstick_stencil 1940


This entry was posted in The Spa MentaliTEA Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *