Aside from older women wearing very discreet touches of makeup to keep up appearances, women rarely wore makeup prior to the 1920s. In fact, it was considered “indecent” for women in the Victorian Era to exaggerate their features with rouge and lipstick. The act of “painting one’s face” was only done by stage performers or floozies - it just wasn’t something respectable women did. During the Roaring Twenties, however, all of that changed. To create an authentic flapper look
, take a look at unique popular 1920s makeup trends.
Makeup and the Roaring Twenties
The Roaring Twenties was an era of excess. Not to mention, women were finally casting off and openly defying traditional gender norms. This meant cutting their hair, wearing short skirts
, and wearing makeup in public. By the mid-1920s, nearly every pharmacy and department store had makeup counters where women could sample powders, mascaras, and lipsticks before taking them home. What truly made makeup a mainstay in society was the rise of the movie industry. Not unlike today, young women in the 1920s wanted to emulate their favorite celebrities. The increased need for cosmetics in Hollywood also meant more products were being developed by famous names like Max Factor and Elizabeth Arden, which were eventually sold to the public.
Popular Jazz Age Makeup Trends
Throughout most of the 1920s, dark red lipsticks were all the rage. Many women used lip color to make their mouth look smaller and rounder. A heart-shaped “Cupid’s Bow” lip was arguably the decade’s most popular makeup trend.
Just like today, women loved creating a mysterious smoky eye with the help of black or dark brown eye shadows. They often paired dark eye-shadow with heavily lined upper and lower lids for a more dramatic effect. This statement-making look was typically reserved for going out to bars, clubs, or parties. During the day, face powder was used to highlight their eyes in a more subtle and sophisticated way.
Because dramatic eyes were all the rage, it makes sense that mascara was a staple in every flapper’s makeup bag. A company called Maybelline was the industry leader when it came to advertising mascara to the masses. In 1923, the eyelash curler was also introduced to the public. Its original design is almost identical to eye lash curlers still sold today.
We call it “blush” today, but in the 1920s the product used to deepen or darken the cheeks was called “rouge.” Rouge was usually a tinted paste or cream that came packaged in little metal tins. At the start of the 1920s, only 3 color options (light, medium, and dark) were offered at makeup counters. By the end of the decade, women had a wider range of pink and coral shades to choose from.
The Art Deco movement was inspired Egyptian artwork made popular due to the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb. It makes sense, then, that thick eyeliner inspired by Cleopatra became popular with flappers. After all, it paired perfectly with their love of smoky eye looks.
How women wore their eye brows was heavily influenced by silver screen actresses. Long, thin eyebrows were all the rage, so women started plucking and filling in their brows to make their faces look more “doe eyed.” Some women even shaved their eyebrows off completely so they could draw (and erase) long, thin lines when necessary.