Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A Short History of Makeup

Before the First World War, respectable women were assumed to wear no makeup, though they used powder, liquid powder, tinted lip salve and eyebrow pencils.

Lips were "bee-stung" (you were advised to apply “lip rouge” with your finger in the middle of your upper and lower lip, and blend it out to the corners, but women took the advice too literally). Eyebrows were low and straight – presumably so that they could be seen under the brim of your cloche hat. Cloche hats were pulled down very low and costume dramas always get this wrong. Women powdered their noses in public using a powder compact (a holder for solid powder) to avoid "shine". They powdered their back, shoulders and cleavage with a powder puff. And on stage they whitened all exposed areas with "wet white".

Lips were a Cupid’s bow with large gap in the middle. Stars like Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo plucked out their thick eyebrows and drew them in high up the forehead in a surprised shape. Beauty advisers began to tell you that you must NEVER pluck your eyebrows from the top (this mantra continued into the 60s and 70s).

40s Orange, coral and Chinese red lipstick. Lips in a Cupid’s bow (or, if you’re Bette Davies, obliterate your own cupid’s bow and turn your upper lip into a D-shape), painted-on cupid’s bow (see Joan Crawford). Eyebrows are thick, arched and pencilled.

50s Lipstick the colour of blackberry jam that came off on handkerchiefs, glasses, cigarettes and teeth, and bled into vertical lip wrinkles. Ivory foundation and powder. Thick, thick eyebrow pencil. Eyebrows thick near the nose, thin at the end. Peg Bracken, of I Hate to Housekeep, advised against brown eyeshadow as it made you look ill – blue and green were favourite.

Early 60s Coral, orange and pink lipstick. Thick, orange foundation and powder (that stops at the jawline, leaving a white neck). Grey, brown, green and blue eyeshadow (grey was rather avant garde). Cream eyeshadow and greasepaint eyeliner which ran together. You could still get Bourjois rouge in Woolworth's, in its 1900s packaging (a little round box).

Mid-60s Thin upper lip, very thick lower lip (Jean Shrimpton). Nude lipstick. Black eyeliner, white eyeliner. Aqua eyeshadow. Thick ivory or beige foundation (Panstik). Extended eyeliner (Ancient Egyptian). Some girls drew a line between their eyelid and brow bone. And some drew eyelashes under their eyes. False eyelashes were in.

Late 60s Nude and beige lipstick, also white and very pale pink (Mary Quant). Replaced by frosted lipstick which was a terrible mistake. Core Rimmel colours laid down: heather and coffee shimmer are still the best. Black eyeliner – in the early 60s you were told NEVER to put it on your bottom lid. In the late 60s, daringly, we did! Wow! Some went further and drew a thin line ALL the way round their eye. (Just seen a lady of my vintage on TV wearing this kind of eyeliner. She looks awful.) And some people put black eyeliner INSIDE their bottom eyelashes. (Is this fad it back 2015?) Pearlised makeup was invented (ground-up fish scales? mother of pearl?) and over-sold. You were supposed to put it on your “brow bone” after plucking your eyebrows to a thin line. It was always rather suburban (meeeow!), especially pearlised coral.

Late, late 60s Twiggy went Biba, plucking her eyebrows to a thin line and applying pearlised mauve eyeshadow right up to the brow bone. She wore purple lipstick, and stopped smiling. With it she wore a scarf tied round her forehead, with bits of hair sticking out at the sides. This was supposed to look vaguely 30s.

70s Dark blue eyeshadow. Foundation still too orange. Face shapers (darker powder that was supposed to sculpt your face). Wide mouth, rather thin lips, dark lipstick at beginning of decade (30s, 40s revival) Eyebrows began to be very plucked again a la the 30s.

80s Blusher – but applied in the hollow of the cheek as if it was a face shaper. It stayed there for far too long. Hot pink and pale pink lipstick revived. Sometimes frosted. Went with white face and black hair. Very thick eyebrows, brushed and gelled to look bushy.

90s Makeup used much less.

00s Either no makeup or the dear old orange foundation that stops at the jawline. Excessive mascara. Over-plucked eyebrows. There was a strange attempt to popularise white or bleached eyebrows. Yes, that caught on.

Teens The upper lip is the thing and people have terrible trout pout treatments (as in the 30s – see Gloria Grahame, Barbara Stanwick and... Humphrey Bogart?). Most women don’t wear much make-up any more, apart from the girls on Snog, Marry, Avoid who cover themselves in orange or brown foundation again. Nude lipstick is in, with an orange face. Eyebrows have gone utterly insane, especially in Cardiff and Liverpool – thick, black and ending in wedge shapes over the nose. “Scouse brows”. Too many older women with orange foundation and hot pink lipstick (and custard yellow hair). There's also a terrible trend for older women to dye their hair crimson or purple which clashes even worse with the orange foundation and pink lipstick.

2014 Nude lipstick has gone and orange may be back, also my favourite ashes of roses. Older women are STILL wearing orange foundation that stops at the jaw-line but this time it’s “BB cream” – more like tinted moisturiser. They don’t even blend the makeup up to their hairline, so it looks like an orange mask.

2015 “Contouring” is back, and over-use of black mascara and eyeliner.

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