How to create the 1940’s Beauty Look!


Cinched in waists, elegant silhouettes, statement hats and fabulous hair – welcome to beauty and glamour in the 1940’s!

As a lover of the style of this era myself, I take great pleasure in sharing tips and tricks to recreate this look today. I’d like to begin this journey with a quick look at the 40’s makeup look and what techniques work today…

Beautiful starlets like Lauren Bacall and Rita Hayworth demonstrate the Hollywood glamour look perfectly and often the most striking aspect of their makeup is in the eyes; mascara really came into its own in this era! Moving away from the smoky eyes of the 20’s and the plucked eyebrows of the 30’s, the 40’s celebrated the allure and elegance of the woman’s eye!

There was also more guidance available on how to match your eye’s shape with that of your face… clever! This aspect can get as technical as you like, but the basic premise is to transform the features you have to match that traditionally ‘perfect’ shape – so if you have deep set eyes; you’ll want to bring them out. Round eyes? You’ll want to create the more desirable almond shape using shadows and eyeliner.

I will add a caveat now – bear in mind that each of us are perfect in our own way and although this article is about creating that traditionally  beautiful look, don’t forget to enhance your own features as you like! After all, our beauty is in our variety!

Eye makeup of the 40’s focused on a well-shaped eye. Brows plucked to shape, but not as sleek as the 30’s! You’ll want to mirror the cupid’s bow of your lips; create a clear defined arch on the outside edge of the brow with your brush, then fill in for a natural, yet structured look. Avoid creating too much of a square edge on the inner side.

efa76b4105f14913fb39d0f066155b8bKeep eyeshadow light in colour; use natural colours for the day or a bit of gold or darker brown for evening looks. Add a light colour all over, but keep that fairly natural – the look of the era focused more on the sockets and less on the area below the brow. Create the winged look of the film noir using darker eyeshadow along the lash line and on the socket line. Use black or dark brown eyeliner neatly along the lash line leading to a slight point; don’t go too big or you’ll be venturing into the 50’s realm!

And don’t forget the black mascara! Get those lashes flashing! Don’t fear incorporating false lashes, but keep them subtle and natural looking.

The 40’s look was much paler than the sun kissed look of today so keep foundation close to your natural colour and opt for one that gives you a flawless finish. Powder cake foundation was popular at the time, but liquid and cream formulas were also available. I always like to finish my look off with some loose powder to set my makeup and combat shine.

For your cheeks, again you want natural, but enhanced – dust your chosen colour onto the apples of your cheeks and then brush gently up to the cheek bones. This cheery, healthy look was often achieved using bright coral pinks or crimson or rose reds.

And finally, but by all means not least, your lips! Opt for a classic red in matte for the film star 40’s look. Create that Cupid’s bow arch on your top lip with lip liner or a matte lipgloss style lip colour. Then fill in with your chosen red. Use a little technique called ‘overdrawing’ to add more shape and volume to your lips; especially if you have thinner of uneven lips. Remember to keep it natural looking though, don’t go too far! Don’t be too scared of the red – it’s meant to ‘pop’!

For lighter skin tones, use brighter shades and for warmer tones, try more orange or brown based reds. Mature skin may also be more comfortable with a darker, deeper red. Just experiment until you find one that suits your skin tone and that you feel comfortable with!

Now you’re ready to go! And remember – practice makes perfect!gene-tierney-makeup-1940s

Top Tips:

Eyebrows – enhance that natural arch!

Try BrowPow from theBalm in your preferred colour – use an angled brush to apply

Eyes – apply light, natural eye shadow shades – focus on the lash line and socket for the darker shades. Definitely Mascara! And go for black, subtle eyeliner along the lash line

theBalm Schwing liquid eyeliner is precise and neat and try the natural, cat eye look false lashes in ‘Betty’ from The Vintage Cosmetic Company

Face – keep tones natural and flawless!

I use theBalm TimeBalm foundation in ‘light’ for my flawless look.

Use Boots Natural Collection loose powder to seal your look – at £1.99 you can’t go wrong!

Cheeks – apply a light rouge on apples of cheeks – brushed up towards check bones

Again, the Boots Natural Collection blusher is a value for money option, or try ‘How About Them Apples’ or Instain from theBalm

Lips – Go for a matte red. Overdraw your lips for shape

I swear by Meet Matt(e) Hughes in Loyal or Devoted by theBalm – a lipgloss application and matte finish – and it lasts for hours!

Above makeup from theBalm and The Vintage Cosmetic Company available at