Makeup 1950s: Glamour, Trends & Techniques

Makeup 1950s: Glamour, Trends & Techniques

The 1950s marked a significant turning point in the world of makeup, as it emerged from the shadow of World War II and embraced a newfound sense of optimism. With the war’s end came a surge of economic prosperity, leading to an increased focus on fashion and beauty. Women eagerly sought ways to express themselves through their appearance, and makeup became a powerful tool for self-expression.

As society recovered from the trauma of war, there was an undeniable shift in fashion and beauty trends. The somber tones that had dominated during wartime gave way to vibrant colors and bold styles.

The post-war optimism seeped into every aspect of life, including cosmetics. Women craved glamour, sophistication, and elegance. The rise of Hollywood glamour and its influence on makeup styles

Hollywood played a pivotal role in shaping the beauty standards of the 1950s. Movie stars like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Grace Kelly captivated audiences with their dazzling looks both on-screen and off. Their impeccable style became aspirational for women around the world.

Hollywood’s influence was not limited to fashion alone; it extended into makeup trends as well. Actresses were styled by talented makeup artists who honed their craft to create ethereal looks that highlighted their natural features while exuding elegance.

The glamorous aesthetics showcased on movie screens spilled over into everyday life, influencing how women approached their own beauty routines. The combination of post-war optimism and Hollywood’s allure created a perfect storm for cosmetics companies to thrive in the 1950s.

They seized the opportunity by introducing innovative products that allowed women to achieve flawless complexions, dramatic eyes, and captivating lips. The 1950s became a golden era for makeup, forever leaving its mark on the world of beauty.

Foundation and Complexion

The popular use of heavy, full-coverage foundation to achieve a flawless complexion

In the 1950s, achieving a flawless complexion was the holy grail of makeup. Women embraced heavy, full-coverage foundation as their secret weapon for perfect skin.

This era saw the rise of various foundation formulas, from creamy liquids to pancake powders. These foundations were designed to provide maximum coverage, hiding any blemishes or imperfections that dared to disrupt the illusion of flawlessness.

One popular foundation during this time was Max Factor’s Pan-Cake makeup. This revolutionary product came in a powder form that could be applied wet or dry, making it versatile for different levels of coverage.

It had a matte finish and offered excellent camouflage for discoloration or acne scars. Women would dampen a sponge and apply the powder evenly onto their skin, building up layers until they achieved the desired level of coverage.

The introduction of new powder formulas for a matte finish

The 1950s also witnessed advancements in powder formulas that catered specifically to those who preferred a matte finish. Powders became an essential step in every woman’s makeup routine as they helped set the foundation in place and control shine throughout the day.

Brands like Coty and Revlon introduced pressed powders that were finely milled and offered long-lasting staying power without compromising on comfort. These powders had lightweight textures that didn’t feel heavy on the skin while still providing excellent oil absorption properties.

To apply these powders, women used fluffy powder brushes or powder puffs to dust them all over their faces gently. They focused on areas prone to shine like the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) while leaving other areas with a luminous sheen—a delicate balance between matte perfection and natural radiance.

Contouring techniques to create sculpted cheekbones

The 1950s marked the era when contouring techniques gained significant popularity, primarily due to the influential makeup looks seen on Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly. Women sought to emulate their chiseled cheekbones and defined facial features, leading to the widespread adoption of contouring methods. Contouring in the 1950s involved using a matte bronzer or a cool-toned taupe shade to create shadows and enhance bone structure.

Women would strategically apply these shades beneath the cheekbones, along the jawline, and on the temples to create an illusion of depth and sculpt their features. This technique added an extra touch of sophistication to their makeup looks.

To blend these contour shades seamlessly, women used clean brushes or their fingertips, gently diffusing any harsh lines for a natural-looking result. The goal was not only to achieve flawless skin but also to have perfectly contoured facial contours worthy of any silver screen siren.

Achieving a flawless complexion in the 1950s involved heavy, full-coverage foundation that concealed imperfections. Powder formulations were introduced for those who preferred a matte finish, providing long-lasting coverage without compromising comfort.

Contouring became popular during this era as women aimed for sculpted cheekbones akin to their favorite Hollywood icons. These makeup trends exemplified the pursuit of perfection while adding an element of glamour and artistry to women’s daily routines during this golden age of beauty.

Eyes and Eyebrows

Winged Eyeliner: Channeling Audrey Hepburn’s Timeless Glamour

When we think of the 1950s, one name that instantly comes to mind is the incomparable Audrey Hepburn. Her impeccable style and captivating beauty made her an icon for generations to come. One of the most significant contributions she made to the world of makeup was popularizing the signature winged eyeliner look.

This elegant and sophisticated technique involved extending the eyeliner beyond the outer corner of the eye, creating a subtle flick that accentuated the eyes’ shape. Inspired by her timeless glamour, women around the world embraced this trend, transforming their everyday makeup into a statement of chic femininity.

Pastel Eyeshadow: Embracing Softness and Femininity

As post-war optimism swept through society, makeup trends shifted towards softer and more delicate looks. Pastel eyeshadow colors became all the rage during this era, emphasizing a sense of softness and femininity. Shades like baby blue, pale pink, lavender, and mint green were adorning eyelids everywhere.

These gentle hues beautifully complemented various eye colors while evoking a youthful innocence that was highly sought after in the 1950s. To achieve this ethereal look, women would delicately apply their pastel eyeshadow to their lids using small brushes or even their fingers for a more natural finish.

The goal was not to create bold statements but rather enhance one’s features subtly. Pastel eyeshadows provided just enough color without overpowering other aspects of one’s makeup.

Fuller Eyebrows: The Power of Penciling and Brow Powders

In stark contrast to today’s obsession with perfectly shaped but ultra-thin eyebrows, fuller brows were all the rage in the 1950s. Women sought to achieve a more natural, youthful appearance by enhancing their brows with penciling or brow powders.

To get those luscious, well-defined brows, women would use pencils or powders in shades that matched their hair color. They gently filled in any sparse areas while subtly accentuating the arch and shape of their eyebrows.

This meticulous process required patience and precision but resulted in a powerful frame for the eyes, creating an overall polished and sophisticated look. Not only did fuller eyebrows beautifully complement the winged eyeliner trend of the time, but they also added depth to the face, accentuating one’s facial expressions and providing a sense of effortless elegance that defined 1950s beauty standards.

Lips and Cheeks

Classic Red Lips: The Epitome of 1950s Glamour

When you think of the 1950s, one beauty trend that immediately comes to mind is the classic red lip. It was a staple for women of all ages, from vibrant cherry shades to sultry deep burgundies.

This bold and confident look became synonymous with the era’s glamour and sophistication. Actresses like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were often seen flaunting their mesmerizing red pouts on the silver screen, solidifying this trend’s popularity.

Achieving the perfect 1950s red lip required precision and patience. Women would carefully line their lips with a matching lip liner, ensuring a crisp outline.

Then they would fill in their lips with a highly pigmented lipstick, using a lip brush for meticulous application. Popular lipstick brands like Revlon, Max Factor, and Elizabeth Arden offered an array of captivating red shades to choose from.

A Rosy Glow: Blush as the Secret to Youthful Radiance

In addition to bold lips, achieving a youthful and radiant complexion was paramount in the 1950s. Blush played a crucial role in creating that coveted rosy glow that epitomized youthful charm.

Soft pink or peach blushes were applied generously on the apples of the cheeks to achieve a flushed look reminiscent of innocence and vitality. Applying blush in the 1950s involved using fluffy brushes made specifically for this purpose.

Women would gently tap off any excess powder before lightly sweeping it onto their cheeks in upward strokes. The goal was to create a natural flush that looked as if one had just returned from a brisk walk outdoors.

Women also turned to cream-based blushes for their ability to provide an extra dewy finish, enhancing their overall radiant appearance. Brands such as Coty and Helena Rubinstein were popular choices for blushes, offering a wide range of shades to suit different skin tones.

Embrace Your Inner 1950s Icon

In the era of glamorous red lips and rosy cheeks, women in the 1950s embraced their femininity and elegance. The classic red lip, with its remarkable range of shades, allowed them to make a bold statement and exude confidence. Meanwhile, blush became their secret weapon for achieving a youthful and radiant complexion.

If you want to channel your inner 1950s icon today, experiment with various shades of red lipstick until you find the perfect match for your skin tone. Don’t be afraid to go bold!

Pair it with a touch of blush applied generously on the apples of your cheeks for that youthful and rosy glow. Embrace the timeless beauty trends that defined an era, and let your inner Marilyn or Audrey shine through.

Beauty Icons of the makeup 1950s

Marilyn Monroe: The Eternal Beauty Symbol

When it comes to discussing beauty in the 1950s, one cannot ignore the mesmerizing allure of Marilyn Monroe. With her sultry red lips and perfectly winged eyeliner, Monroe became the epitome of glamour and sensuality. Her iconic look continues to inspire and captivate people even today.

One of her go-to lipstick shades was “Ruby Woo” by Max Factor, a bold and vibrant color that accentuated her luscious pout. This shade became synonymous with her glamorous persona, leading it to become an instant classic that remains popular to this day.

Apart from her statement lips, Monroe also had a secret weapon for achieving radiant skin – Vaseline! Yes, you heard it right.

She used this versatile petroleum jelly as a highlighter to add a subtle sheen to her complexion. By applying a tiny amount on strategic areas such as the cheekbones and brow bone, she effortlessly achieved a youthful glow that remains coveted by many beauty enthusiasts.

Audrey Hepburn: Timeless Elegance

Audrey Hepburn, known for her timeless elegance and natural beauty, left an indelible mark on 1950s makeup trends. Unlike other actresses of that era who embraced heavier looks, Hepburn preferred a more understated approach while maintaining an undeniable charm.

A key element in her routine was mascara, which helped define her eyes and create those iconic doe-like lashes. Her favorite mascara was “Cake Mascara” by Helena Rubinstein – a unique formula applied with a wet brush for precise control over the product’s intensity.

Hepburn’s commitment to keeping things au naturel extended beyond makeup application; she also emphasized proper care for removing makeup at night. Contrary to common techniques using harsh chemicals or cleansing wipes, she opted for a gentle and soothing approach.

Hepburn would use baby oil to delicately remove her makeup, ensuring her skin remained healthy and radiant. This simple yet effective method demonstrated her commitment to nurturing her natural beauty.

Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn were undoubtedly two of the most iconic beauty figures of the 1950s. Their distinct styles and preferences in makeup continue to influence trends even today.

Whether it was Monroe’s vixen-like red lips or Hepburn’s understated elegance, their choices have become immortalized in the cosmetic industry. By embracing their unique approaches, we can draw inspiration from these timeless icons while adding our own personal touch to create modern interpretations of their legendary looks.

The Role of Cosmetics Brands in the Makeup 1950s


In the 1950s, one cosmetics brand that had a significant impact on the beauty industry was Estée. Founded by Estée Lauder, a fierce and visionary entrepreneur, the brand quickly gained popularity for its high-quality products.

Estée Lauder herself was known for her exceptional understanding of skincare and beauty formulations. She introduced groundbreaking concepts like the importance of a skincare routine and the use of serums.

One iconic product that contributed to Estée’s success was their “Youth-Dew” fragrance, initially launched as a bath oil but later expanded into other cosmetics. The scent became a sensation, and women all over embraced it as a symbol of femininity and sophistication.

Estée Lauder also revolutionized makeup packaging by introducing elegant gold compacts and lipstick cases that exuded luxury. Their commitment to innovation and quality allowed them to establish themselves as one of the leading brands in the industry during this era.


The 1950s marked an extraordinary period in the history of makeup, where fashion and beauty trends underwent remarkable transformations. From foundation choices to eyebrow styles, every aspect evolved to reflect the changing times.

The rise of influential icons like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn further propelled these trends into popular culture. Cosmetics brands played an instrumental role in shaping these beauty standards through their innovative products and marketing strategies.

Companies like Estée Lauder paved the way for modern skincare routines while offering luxurious experiences with their fragrances and packaging. As we look back on this glamorous era, it’s apparent that makeup 1950s not only enhanced physical appearances but also empowered women to express themselves confidently.

It serves as a reminder that beauty is not defined solely by external features but by self-expression, individuality, and embracing one’s unique style. So let’s draw inspiration from the past and celebrate the timeless allure of makeup, making it a tool to enhance our natural beauty and radiate self-assurance.


  • The popular makeup trends in the 1950s included a flawless complexion, sculpted brows, dramatic eyes, rosy cheeks, and bold lips.

How did women achieve a flawless complexion in the 1950s?

  • Women achieved a flawless complexion in the 1950s by cleansing their faces thoroughly, applying a toner to balance the pH level of their skin, moisturizing their faces, and using foundations with a matte finish and pink undertone. They also used powder compacts to set the foundation and give the skin a smooth texture.

What techniques were used for sculpted brows in the 1950s?

  • The techniques used for sculpted brows in the makeup 1950s included brushing the eyebrows upward and outward, filling in sparse areas with an eyebrow pencil, blending the color with a spoolie brush, and using a concealer or highlighter to clean up and define the edges of the brows.

How did women create dramatic eyes in the 1950s?

  • Women created dramatic eyes in the makeup 1950s by using black liquid eyeliner to create a cat-eye or winged eyeliner look, applying multiple coats of mascara to achieve long and thick lashes, and using soft and pastel eyeshadows in shades of pinks, blues, and greens to enhance the depth and dimension of the eyes.
1. What were the popular makeup trends in the 1950s?

In the 1950s, popular makeup trends included red lipstick, winged eyeliner, rosy blush, and defined eyebrows.

2. What makeup brands were popular in the 1950s?

Some popular makeup brands from the 1950s include Max Factor, Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, and Maybelline.

3. How did women achieve the classic 1950s makeup look?

Women in the 1950s achieved the look with foundation, powder, eyeliner, mascara, red lipstick, and careful contouring.

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