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Saturday 18 May 2013

1940s Austerity Makeup

I have been fascinated with the 1940s for years, pretty much forever. I know a lot about my family at that period, my Mum's, Mum's parents were busy working in factories, doing essential war work, and my Grandma lived with her Grandma during the week so they could pull 12hr shifts. My Grandpa's Mum is German and had moved to the UK in 1933. Almost all of her family died either before, or during the war, and her husband signed up and spent the war in Canada and the Azores of all places - he didn't even have to touch a gun the whole war. And my Dad's Dad was a Navy Medic during the war but fell down stairs and broke his leg early on and by the time he'd recovered, the war was over. Yeah, my family was super dull :) No Battle of Britain pilots of anything but, trust me, it was still enough to get me hooked.

Anyway, I've been humming and harring over entering the NYX Face Awards Beauty Blogger contest for a while. Will I be too tired? Will it use up too many spoons? Is it a waste of time to even think about it if, in the long run, there is no way my health would allow me to go all the way through to the end? Finally I decided, screw it, I was just going to go for it and see what happened. So, with just over a week till the deadline I had to come up with a concept, film it, edit it and upload it.
Yeah, I know. I'm bonkers and it totally exhausted me but it was loads of fun.
I decided on 1940s makeup, but honestly, I didn't want to the same thing everyone else has done. No, old Hollywood or pin up looks. I wanted to do austerity makeup.
In 1940s Britain there were a lot of substitutions and unusual ways to make things go further. You could make mock-marzipan out of potato and almond essence, carrot, a little almond essence and plum jam made an apricot tart filling and you were supposed to eat a pound of potatoes per person at meal times to make the food go further. I wanted to do a makeup look as real women would have worn it at the time including all the crazy substitutions. So I did :)
Here is the video if you want to watch it but this post is basically the info etc that I found.
Above is an image of Rosie the riveter. If you really look, you'll notice she is wearing lipstick, nail polish and even, what are probably false lashes. And I know she was American, and I know they didn't have rationing the same way we did in the UK but she is still the best demonstration of 1940s women you are likely to see. Strong, kick ass and unbelievably beautifully made up. Oh, and also supposed to still look after the kids and do 90%+ of the cooking. It was a different era.
Anyway this is the look I did and I'll work through it step by step.

Right skin first. So in the 1940s cleansers meant cold cream. Cold cream is, I'm pretty sure, like a mixture of a cleansing milk and a cleansing balm. Lets just put it this way, the substitute people made was a mixture of lard, full fat milk and witch hazel. I'm not even kidding.
Right, and then it was foundation, which obviously not everyone used. Foundation hadn't been commercially available for very long and it still had a little bit of a stigma attached to it. Foundation was largely cream foundation or Max Factor's Pan Cake foundation but they did also have liquid foundation so that's what I went for.
They would then have applied eyeshadow. Eyeshadow was mostly brown and grey powders. They did have other colours - primarily blues, greens and golds - but they were considered kind of tacky. You have to put this in context. It was not that long since makeup was just for "whores, harlots and actresses" and it was an 'under-the-counter' good that you would pretend you didn't own/use. It was becoming more acceptable as it was seen to be used in movies (women in movies powdering publicly was, believe it or not, a huge break-though as far as the history of makeup goes) but it still wasn't for everyone. My mum and I are basically the first people in my family to wear makeup and my grandma was young in the 60s!
Anyway, eyeshadow in natural colours. You would have often added shine which is basically Vaseline but, ewww! I'm sorry but my eyelids are greasy enough as is!
If you didn't have eyeshadow you could create a substitute by holding a saucer under a candle until there was a sooty residue, and then mix Vaseline in with this... I've tried it, it's gross and modern candles are, realistically, too clean to get a good amount of soot. I literally had to hold the saucer in the flame. But candles then were fattier and sootier etc so it would have been even grosser.... the lengths women will go to for fashion :)
So....oh yeah. Blush, or as they called it, Rouge. Rouge was kind of like cream blush. It came in reds and pinks mostly, sometimes also in purples but again, this was considered to be kinda tacky. Cause it was. But blush was used in a 'tri-dot' system - so there wasn't too much product, you were suppost to blend until it was essentially invisable - and it served the dual purpose of blush and contour. There were guides in makeup manuals, magazines, adverts and in newspapers on 'how to apply rouge to suit your face shape'. Powder rouge did exist (bourjois little round pots have been around, practically since the dawn of time) but it wasn't supposed to be used on it's was like a top up if you used too much powder. Plus most people didn't have a lot of makup brushes so powder blush was unrealistic. If you are interested in how you should apply your blush I recommend checking out the 1940s, vintage makeup guides over at glamour daze. They cost money, yes, but they are really really funny, very interesting and pretty much anything I say on this will just be repeating the info in the guide.

Okay, so then they powdered. And they powdered, aaaand they powdered. And yet despite all this powdering, powdering at the time was comparatively light and that was because they swept off most of the powder once they'd applied it with, either a tissue, the powder puff or a sweeping brush. I kid you not. I mean, it wasn't ACTUALLY a sweeping brush, it was a powder brush, but it looks just like a sweeping brush. I wonder how they transitioned from that to real powder brushes.... You could make your powder go further by adding talc or 'fuller's earth' which was used as dry shampoo and is some form of clay extract - I don't know the full details.
Anyway, then it was brows which were done in a brown or a black pencil. These were relatively natural and about as far from the preceding brow trends as it is possible to get (1920s and 30s brows were strong, thin, practically round and done with one strong line). 1940s brows were done with short strokes, holding the pencil parallel to the face, as we do now. They were darker, stronger and thinner because the history of brows was different but its the same basic principal.
So finally there was lipstick, which obviously was very, very red! In America where makeup wasn't rationed it was considered patriotic to wear a red lipstick and in the UK it was a way to not intimidated the crap out of men whilst you were being insanely bad-ass. I'm also pretty sure it was the only lipstick colour available at the time. But it was considered to be patriotic, to the extent that women who didn't have any would use beetroot juice or food colouring to stain their lips red.
That's pretty much the end of this post. I'm going to do a quick self-promote but this is it.
Please please please go like my video. And follow me on twitter if you like

P.S. they also used mascara (i forgot) which was a cake mascara - water activated and then brushed on. Women used to spit in it to activate it which is majourly gross, even worse than the vasaline eyeshadow. If they were out of mascara, burnt cork was used as an alternative and water activated like normal. Or they would have used charred matchsticks but that was very old fashioned and was really more 1800-1910 makeup.

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