50S Makeup Look


The 1950s was a transformative era that saw significant shifts in fashion and beauty trends. Post-war optimism, economic prosperity, and the rise of Hollywood glamour influenced the way people presented themselves.

This period is often remembered for its sophisticated and polished aesthetic, with women aspiring to emulate the iconic style of Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn. Central to achieving this look was the art of makeup, which played a crucial role in enhancing natural features and creating a flawless complexion.

Brief Overview of the 1950s Era

The 1950s marked a departure from the austerity and rationing experienced during World War II. With economies recovering and new technologies emerging, society underwent a cultural transformation. The concept of “the American dream” became increasingly pervasive as people sought to embody a glamorous lifestyle.

This newfound affluence allowed for greater personal expression through fashion and beauty choices. Fashion designers such as Christian Dior revolutionized women’s clothing by reintroducing feminine silhouettes characterized by nipped-in waists and full skirts.

The hourglass figure became highly coveted, emphasizing curves while maintaining an air of elegance. This sartorial shift influenced makeup trends by placing emphasis on enhancing facial features that complemented these new clothing styles.

The influence of 1950s fashion extended beyond clothing; it impacted every aspect of personal style, including cosmetics. Makeup was deemed essential for women to achieve an impeccable appearance in line with societal expectations.

The goal was not merely to look presentable but rather to exude elegance, poise, and femininity. The beauty ideals celebrated during this era revolved around luminous skin, defined eyes framed by arched brows, luscious lips painted in vibrant hues like red or pink, and flawlessly manicured nails.

Women dedicated time to perfecting their appearance, and the application of makeup became an art form in itself. The meticulous attention to detail displayed in 50s beauty routines demonstrated women’s commitment to projecting a polished and put-together image.

Importance of Makeup in Achieving the Iconic 50s Look

Makeup was an integral part of achieving the iconic 50s look as it allowed women to transform themselves into paragons of elegance. The emphasis on flawless skin acted as a canvas upon which other features could be enhanced.

The application of foundation, powder, and blush aimed to create a smooth, porcelain-like complexion that radiated youthfulness and sophistication. Furthermore, accentuating the eyes through carefully applied eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, and false lashes was paramount.

Winged eyeliner became synonymous with this era, while softly blended eyeshadows in pastel shades added depth and dimension. Brows were defined with precision to frame the face gracefully.

Bold statement lips were a focal point of 1950s makeup looks. Vibrant lipsticks in shades like classic red or vibrant pink adorned lips that were meticulously shaped for symmetry.

This emphasis on well-defined lips contributed to an overall glamorous aesthetic that defined the era. The 1950s marked a transformative period for fashion and beauty trends where makeup played an essential role in achieving the iconic look.

Women sought to embody elegance and femininity through flawless complexions, defined eyes framed by arched brows, and bold statement lips. By understanding the historical context and beauty ideals of this era, we gain insight into how makeup served as a vehicle for self-expression during this influential time period.

Foundation and Complexion

Flawless, porcelain-like skin as the base for 50s makeup

The 1950s was an era known for its emphasis on a flawless complexion as the foundation of any makeup look. The ideal beauty standard of the time celebrated a porcelain-like skin with an immaculate finish.

Achieving this look required careful attention to skincare, as well as the use of specific foundation products and techniques. Women aimed for a smooth and even complexion, which served as a canvas for creating the iconic 50s makeup.

In the 1950s, various foundation products were available to help women achieve that coveted porcelain-like skin. One popular option was pancake or cream foundations.

These were thick formulas that provided excellent coverage and could be applied using a damp sponge or brush. Pancake foundations were often preferred by actresses and those who desired a more glamorous appearance.

Another commonly used product was tinted moisturizer, which helped achieve a natural-looking yet even complexion. It provided light coverage while keeping the skin hydrated, giving off an effortless glow.

For those seeking more lightweight options, liquid foundations gained popularity during this period due to their ease of application and ability to create a smooth finish. They offered buildable coverage and allowed for easier blending compared to other formulas.

Emphasis on a matte finish to create a polished appearance

In line with the fashion trends of the time, achieving matte skin was highly desirable in 50s makeup looks. A matte finish created an air of sophistication and elegance while enhancing facial features without excessive shine or dewiness.

To obtain this matte effect, loose powder played a crucial role in setting the foundation in place and controlling oiliness throughout the day. Translucent powders were often used to prevent altering the color of the foundation.

Women would gently dust the powder on their face, focusing on the T-zone and any areas prone to oiliness, to ensure a long-lasting matte appearance. Moreover, blotting papers were frequently employed to combat shine throughout the day.

These thin sheets of absorbent paper helped remove excess oil without disturbing the makeup underneath, allowing women to maintain their polished look effortlessly. Achieving a flawless complexion was at the forefront of 50s makeup.

Women used various foundation products like pancake foundations and tinted moisturizers to create an even base for their makeup looks. The emphasis was on a matte finish, achieved through loose powders and blotting papers, lending an elegant and refined touch to the overall appearance.

Dramatic Winged Eyeliner: A Signature Feature of 50s Makeup

The 1950s were renowned for their iconic winged eyeliner, known as the cat-eye flick. This timeless technique continues to be celebrated for its ability to instantly enhance and elongate the eyes.

The cat-eye flick involves creating a bold and precise line that extends beyond the outer corner of the eye, mimicking the shape of a feline’s eye. This fluttery, alluring look was popularized by actresses such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, who epitomized 50s glamour.

Techniques for Achieving the Perfect Cat-Eye Flick

Achieving a flawless cat-eye flick requires practice and precision. Begin by using a high-quality liquid or gel eyeliner with a fine-tip brush that allows for precise application.

Start from the inner corner of your upper lash line, gradually building up thickness as you move towards the outer corner. To achieve symmetry, it can be helpful to mark out where your wing will end with a small dot or pencil before connecting it to your lash line.

To create a symmetrical look between both eyes, take note of your natural eye shape and follow its curvature when applying liner. For beginners or those wanting a more subtle winged effect, consider using an angled brush and dark eyeshadow instead of liquid liner; this allows for greater control over thickness and shape while still achieving a defined look.

Eyeliner Products Commonly Used in the 50s

In the 1950s, two main types of eyeliners were commonly used: cake liners and liquid liner pens. Cake liners came in solid form within small compacts and needed to be activated with water before use.

They provided intense color payoff but required steady hands and skillful application techniques. Liquid liner pens became increasingly popular during the 50s due to their convenience and ease of use.

These pens featured a fine brush tip soaked in liquid liner, allowing for precise application and a consistent flow of product. They provided effortless control, making it easier to achieve the desired cat-eye flick.

The 50s embraced both soft pastels for daytime femininity and shimmering metallic shadows for evening glamour. Soft pastel shades like pinks, blues, and greens were commonly used to create a delicate, romantic look. These colors were applied on the lids, swept upwards towards the brow bone using fluffy blending brushes.

To create depth and dimension in eye makeup during this era, contouring shades were used strategically. Deeper matte shades were applied along the crease to create a sense of dimensionality while adding definition to the eyes.

This technique helped accentuate natural eye shape while still maintaining a soft aesthetic. In the evenings or special occasions, shimmering metallic eyeshadows took center stage.

Golds, silvers, bronzes, and other metallic hues added drama and elegance to eye makeup looks. These shadows were often applied on the lid or as an accent color on the inner corners of the eyes for an extra touch of glamour.

The eye makeup trends of the 1950s offered women an array of choices that celebrated femininity and elegance. Whether opting for a subtle cat-eye flick or embracing bold shimmering shades, these techniques allowed women to enhance their natural beauty while embracing their own unique style.

Brows and Lashes

Well-groomed, arched eyebrows to frame the eyes

During the 1950s, well-groomed eyebrows were considered essential in achieving the iconic 50s makeup look. The emphasis was on creating a natural arch that beautifully framed the eyes. To shape eyebrows to achieve that classic arch, tweezing was the preferred method.

Women would carefully pluck stray hairs using tweezers, following the natural shape of their brows. It was crucial to create a clean and defined line for a polished appearance.

Techniques for shaping brows to achieve that classic arch

To shape brows in a way that complemented the 50s makeup look, women followed specific techniques. First, they would determine where their brow should start by holding an eyebrow pencil vertically against their nose’s outer edge towards the inner corner of their eye. Then they would mark that point and pluck any hairs beyond it.

Next, they determined where the brow should arch by holding the pencil alongside their nostril and angling it so it passed through their pupil towards the outer corner of their eye. Again, marking this point helped ensure a harmonious arch.

They determined where their brow should end by extending an imaginary line from their nostril past the outer corner of their eye towards the end of their eyebrow. By following these careful measurements with precision during plucking or filling in sparse areas with makeup products later on, women achieved symmetrical and well-defined eyebrows that beautifully framed their eyes.

Products used to fill in sparse areas or enhance natural brow shape

In order to enhance natural brow shapes or fill in sparse areas for a more defined look, women turned to various products available during this time period. Pencils were commonly used to fill in gaps with short feathery strokes mimicking hair.

These pencils were often available in shades that matched different hair colors, allowing for a more natural and seamless look. Additionally, brow powders or shadows were applied with an angled brush to add depth and dimension to the brows.

Women would choose a shade slightly darker than their natural hair color to create a gentle contrast, making their brows more noticeable yet still harmonious with their overall look. Some women even utilized petroleum jelly or clear mascara applied with a clean mascara wand to groom and set their brows in place, ensuring they stayed neat throughout the day.

Long, curled lashes to enhance eye shape

Long and curled lashes were another essential aspect of achieving the 50s makeup look. Mascara played a crucial role in enhancing the lashes and creating an illusion of wider, more captivating eyes. Women sought products that could provide length, volume, and curl.

Popular mascara brands during this era included Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara, and Revlon’s Love That Lash Waterproof Mascara. These mascaras often came with unique applicator brushes that allowed for precise application and separation of lashes.

To achieve the desired curl effect, lash curlers were used before applying mascara. Women would gently clamp down on their lashes close to the lash line for a few seconds to create an upward curl that opened up their eyes.

Use of false eyelashes to achieve a more dramatic look

For those seeking an even bolder statement or glamorously dramatic effect for special occasions or evening looks, false eyelashes were embraced during the 1950s. These artificial lashes came in various styles ranging from natural-looking enhancements to extravagant designs adorned with feathers or rhinestones. False eyelashes were carefully applied using specialized adhesive along the lash line for seamless integration with natural lashes.

This technique allowed women to instantly achieve fuller, longer lashes without relying solely on their natural ones. With the use of false eyelashes, women could elevate their 50s makeup look to new heights, adding a touch of allure and glamour that defined the era’s beauty standards.


Bold, vibrant lips as a focal point of the face

In the glamorous world of 1950s makeup, vibrant lips took center stage and became a defining feature of the era’s iconic look. The emphasis was on creating bold, attention-grabbing pouts that exuded confidence and femininity.

The lips were seen as a focal point of the face and were often exaggerated with rich, intense shades to complement the overall makeup style. This approach not only added a touch of drama but also enhanced the facial features, making them appear more pronounced and alluring.

When it came to lipstick shades in the 1950s, there was an abundance of choices that allowed women to express their individuality within the fashionable trends. While red was undoubtedly an enduring favorite during this time period, variations like cherry red or deep burgundy were particularly popular for creating a sophisticated look.

Pink tones ranging from soft pastels to bright fuchsias were also highly sought after for their sweet and feminine appeal. Coral hues provided a delightful blend between reds and pinks, offering a refreshing alternative for those seeking a slightly warmer tone.

Application techniques

Achieving impeccably applied lipstick in the 50s required precision and skill. One common technique involved using lip liner to define the natural shape of the lips before filling them in with color. This ensured clean lines and prevented any bleeding or smudging throughout the day.

The use of lip brushes was another preferred method as it allowed for more control during application while ensuring even coverage. To create that desired vintage-inspired look, women often opted for rounded Cupid’s bow-shaped lips rather than following their natural lip line.

This technique accentuated their pouts with an air of elegance reminiscent of Hollywood starlets. Applying lip balm beforehand helped to soften and moisturize the lips, ensuring a smooth canvas for the vibrant lipstick colors to shine.


The 1950s makeup look continues to captivate us with its timeless elegance and meticulous attention to detail. From flawless complexions to dramatic winged eyeliner, every aspect of this era’s beauty routine was carefully executed. The bold and vibrant lips that emerged as the focal point of the face embodied the spirit of femininity and glamour that defined this era.

Today, we can draw inspiration from the 50s makeup look and adapt it to our modern sensibilities while still honoring its classic charm. Whether it’s embracing a bold red lip or experimenting with different shades for a playful twist, incorporating elements of this iconic era into our beauty routines allows us to celebrate our own individuality while paying homage to a bygone era of sophistication.

So why not add a touch of vintage glamour to your makeup repertoire? Channel your inner 1950s starlet and let your lips become the ultimate expression of confidence and grace.

What defines the iconic 1950s makeup look?

The iconic 1950s makeup look is characterized by flawless, porcelain-like skin, arched eyebrows, cat-eye eyeliner, well-defined lashes with mascara, rosy cheeks, and vibrant red lips.

How do I achieve the perfect winged eyeliner in 50s style?

To create the classic winged eyeliner from the 1950s, use a liquid eyeliner or gel liner to create a sharp, extended line that follows the natural curve of your upper lash line, flicking it upwards at the outer corner.

What were the popular lip colors of the 1950s?

In the 1950s, popular lip colors included various shades of red, from true red to deep crimson. These bold and vibrant colors were often matte or satin finishes, enhancing the glamorous and polished look.

Leave a Reply

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