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Braun July
Braun July

How to Makeup Like a 50s Starlet!

14 June, 2020 - 02:38pm by - First Lady | 14 Comments

Article by BR Natalie

'I think your whole life shows in your face, and you should be proud of that.' - Lauren Bacall

As a teenager I didn't grow up watching American Pie, Scream or even 10 Things I Hate About You.  I grew up with the original teenagers and the epitome of melodrama; immersing myself in the films of Jimmy Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant.  I loved and still do, the 50s.  

My favourite 50s actress is Lauren Bacall - a true style and beauty icon.  She was feminine without being fragile, she was sexy without being explicit.  She was a woman who held her own in a man's world by blurring the line of masculinity. 

Bacall was not only a skilled thesp, she was also a skilled makeup artist - she'd often apply her own makeup for the screen, as well as pinning her own deeply parted waves.  She was the embodiment of what 50s makeup was about - women were embracing their 'lethal femininity' and showing the male dominated world that they weren't afraid to express their desires and wants through their appearance. 

Lauren Bacall Elizabeth Taylor

During the golden age of cinema and the birth of the starlet, makeup became a statement of empowerment; and women were no longer ashamed to buy, wear or discuss it.  And as always, where there is demand, companies will seek to fulfill it.

Max Factor invented Pan Cake, the first foundation to emulate the perfect skin of screen icons.  Revlon introduced the 'non smear' lipstick and two or three shade eyeshadow palettes so women could recreate specific looks. Maybelline had women applying mascara to both the upper and lower lashes (which had been out of fashion since the 20s) and in 1954 Avon's famous Ding Dong Avon Calling campaign opened up cosmetics to every woman in the comfort of their own home. Just three years later there were 100000 Avon reps!

Natalie Wood Dorothy Dandridge

Makeup of the 1950s.

  • Foundation.  A heavier, cream-ivory base was required to emulate the on screen skin of the starlets.  Liquid foundations were incredibly popular at this time, due the the buildability of the coverage.
  • Powders.  Flesh coloured powders were used to warm the ivories of the foundations.
  • Eyes.  Eye looks of the fifties were much more simplistic than previous decades.  Neutral shades with a hint of shimmer were all you needed.
  • Eyeliner.  Want to know who to blame for the endless quest for even wings?  Our 50s ladies brought the look in to everyday life.
  • Eyebrows.  Eyebrows were styled to be a slightly darker shade than the natural shade.  A soft, natural arch that tapered finely were the ideal.  Eyebrow stencils mimicing the brows of the stars were very popular.
  • LashesTwo coats of mascara to define the top lashes and a single thin coat to the bottom to open the eyes.
  • Blush – Strong rouges were no longer desirable, pastel and rose colors were used to accentuate the apple of the cheek.
  • Lips. The 50s were the decade of pinks  Rose, pastel and red.  Audrey Hepburn once declared that she ”believed in pink!” and let's be honest she knew best.
Audrey Hepburn Grace Kelly

So there we have it, a quick guide to 50s makeup.  What do you think of the 50s look?  Do you agree with Natalie that it's timeless, or do you think the look has had it's day?  Get chatting below!

images: wikimedia


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6th July, 2020

It is so timeless. These woman are just natural beauties. They haven't done anything outrageous with their facial features. I think we could learn a lot from them. We need to think simple and we won't need to cringe at photos of ourselves in years to come! I probably would ease back on the makeup as I think sometimes it looks a little thick. But other than that it's great!

1st July, 2020

I’ve always loved 50’s make up. Simple but glamorous.

25th June, 2020

50's makeup looks gorgeous on the right person, but not for me!

22nd June, 2020

I am such a lover of all things retro and classic. I am not game enough to go super bold with my make up but I adore the look

20th June, 2020

Love 50’s makeup. Definitely timeless .... makeup trends come and go but a natural look and pretty lashes stick around

20th June, 2020

Love the 50's look! Makeup and clothing! Love the hairstyles and everything about it, in fact I wish I was brought up during this time haha

20th June, 2020

I agree it’s timeless and elegant.

18th June, 2020


15th June, 2020

Beautiful, so timeless

15th June, 2020

I love the look! Very beautiful and elegant.

14th June, 2020

Simple 50’s is nice and elegant. Sometimes i think the make up these days are way too heavy.

14th June, 2020

Stunning. I've always loved the Audrey Hepburn look. I'm a massive Marilyn Monroe fan, when I started working at 17 I would spend all my money on Marilyn artwork

14th June, 2020

Adore the makeup of that time. Looks so effortlessly glamourous.

14th June, 2020

Love Audrey Hepburn's look, timeless and elegant.


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