A Step Back in Time

  Hi everyone,

I hope you are all well! As we celebrated International Women’s Day this week I thought I would take a look back at how women’s use of makeup and fashion has changed over the last few decades and what influenced the looks of the time. Starting with the 1920’s I thought I would write a series of posts, each focusing on a different decade and including my favourite parts of the look from that time. I hope you find it interesting and maybe it will inspire you to recreate some aspects of past trends yourself!

                              Foundation / Powder

Foundations became increasingly more natural in the 1920’s as opposed to the pale powders of previous times and sun lamps were occasionally used to develop a tan by people that couldn’t afford expensive holidays abroad. This trend was inspired by Cocoa Chanel who supposedly developed a tan after falling asleep in the sun whilst on holiday. I don’t tan very easily so if this happened to me the look would have been more lobster than tanned goddess!

Rouge / Blusher

Popular colours for rouge in the 20’s were orange, fuchsias and berry colours which were applied liberally in a deliberate circle shape to the apples of the cheeks. Creams, liquids and even paper rouges were available but powder became the most popular due to the invention of the compact. I have seen some very bright blushers around at the moment which would be ideal for recreating this look. The 'Blush by 3' palettes from Sleek, particularly in Pumpkin and Lace, are very bright and daring colours which would work perfectly for putting a modern twist on a 1920’s classic.

A signature look of the 20’s and one of my favourite aspects of makeup from this time is the cupids bow in bright red lipstick. Maurice Levy invented the metal lipstick container in 1915 allowing for more precise application and the popularity of lipstick increased from there on. Red was the only colour which was readily available and so is key to this feature of the 1920’s style. If you want to create this look a little more subtly why not try emphasising your cupids bow but bringing the lipstick to the edge of your lips rather than stopping dramatically as they did in the 20’s? Mac lipstick in Russian Red or Revlon Super Lustrous are good ones if you’re recreating this trend.


Dark eyes are also vital to achieving a 1920’s look as Kohl was often used to outline the eyes and then smudged outwards to create a dramatic finish. Mascara came in the form of a block which was heated up and applied using a stick, often teamed with a pair of false lashes which were also popular during this time. Eyebrows in the 20’s were worn extremely thin and sometimes women would even pluck out the entire eyebrow and redraw it on, higher than the original brows. Smoky eyes are very much still around today and I love experimenting with dark eye shadows and eye liners for a night out. The Urban Decay Naked eye shadow palette is a favourite of mine and is great for creating a dramatic finish.

Nail Varnish

Painting the nails became highly popular in the 1920’s and it was custom to match your polish to your outfit or accessories. Nails were grown long and only the centre section was painted leaving the cuticle and the tip of the nail natural. Painting your nails in this way is a subtle and simple way of including a hint of the 1920’s influence in your everyday life. If your hand isn’t so steady try using two nail guides across top and bottom of your nails and painting in between them.

Advances in the production of cosmetics combined with changes in the way makeup was viewed socially, meant that the 1920’s saw big changes in the way women used makeup. Cosmetics were more readily available and advances in production meant that beauty products were far safer and easier to use. Instead of hiding their makeup away women wore it proudly and openly. I love the 1920’s style and think you can easily adapt aspects of it to include it in your look today.

Thanks for reading,

Images taken from:
Nail Polish - Old Rose nail polish hues from Cosmopolitan Magazine, December 1936
Cupid's Bow -
Clara Bow-
Flapper Girl -

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