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Beauty By The Decades: 1940’s Glam

By Sheila Arkee

A reader recently suggested a series of makeup tutorials based on retro makeup styles and I couldn’t say no. Fabulous idea, right? To kick off this series I wanted to start with one of my favorite eras, 1940’s glam.

When I was in high school back in the olden days/early 1990’s, we didn’t have Internet, there were no cell phones, and social networking meant sitting at a different table during lunchtime. Frankly, I feel kind of ripped off, but we made do!  My Neanderthal version of Pinterest involved trips to the library and change for the photocopy machine.




At the time I was extremely obsessed with “Old Hollywood”, aka the golden era of cinema, and made copies of the glamorous stars of the day to keep in a three ring binder. As much as I love shimmery, bright color cosmetics, there is something extremely alluring about this type of makeup – the skin is always creamy, the eyes gleam, and the lips are bright.  Recreating these types of looks is easy and it still makes for a beautiful look today.

To recreate 1940’s glam, here are some things to keep in mind-

Focus on your skin – make sure your skin is exfoliated, well-moisturized, and use a full-coverage foundation.

The lips have it – Red, satin, opaque with matching lip liner. Work it!

No shimmer, embrace the mattes – to stay true to the era, put down the glitter! 

Play up mascara and brows, but not so much shadow – eyeshadow wasn’t really used much at the time – browns and greys mostly, so focus on sculpting your brows, add a bit of black liner, and make sure your lashes are curled and coated with mascara.

Here’s exactly what I used to make the 1940’s glam look happen –


To create a creamy, matte, full-coverage effect I used Make Up For Ever HD Foundation in shade 153, MAC Concealer in NW25 and Studio Careblend Powder.


For the cheeks, a dab of Illamasqua’s Hussy, a lovely pink, on the apples of the cheek.


I applied Milani Powder Shadow in Brown Stone in the outer corners of my eyes with a fluffy blending brush and Milani’s French Vanilla on the lid and browbone. The eye was completed with Lavera’s Kohl in black very close to the lid with Jordana’s Best Lash Extreme mascara and Sante America’s brow pencil to finish of the lashes and brows.


I used a light touch of MAC’s Mahogany liner to help keep the lipstick within my lips and Sonia Kashuk’s Classic Red lipstick.

Easy as pie! As much as I love and embrace the more colorful side of beauty, there’s nothing like a classic, 1940’s glam face.

  • http://lolassecretbeautyblog.blogspot.com lola seicento

    What a gorgeous look! I love the makeup from that era!

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Thanks, Lola!

  • http://www.geniabeme.com Eugenia

    You look great with red lips!

  • Monika

    The best thing about this look is that IT’S EASY! I can put this look together in 10 minutes flat (not including hair, that adds on, like, 2 hours.) Plus it really is flattering on everyone. It’s classy to boot.