Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting a 1930s Face

It seems that in the late winter, I am often swept away by an immense affection for the 1930s. I always admire this decade, but I don't know why, at this time of year, I feel such a strong desire to emulate the style. Well, if it is a natural pattern, why resist it? ;)

The 1930s look takes a bit more time than the 1940s look, the latter being my favorite day-to-day style for its elegant simplicity.  However, the mystic allure of a 1930s face is worth the effort required!  I would like to thank my lovely friend Barbra for taking these pictures for me.  (Please excuse my puffy eyes in the pictures; I did not sleep so well the night before!)

What You Will Need:

-Eyeliner in black or brown.
-Eyeshadow in two corresponding shades, one light, one dark.
-Lip liner to correspond with the below shades.
-Lipstick in rose, raspberry, or a rich red.
-Powder with a matte finish.
-Blush in rose or raspberry.
-Brow brush (optional).
-A very black mascara.

Step 1--Complexion

The face of the 1930s was smooth, "flawless" skin.  Not many of us have truly flawless skin, so you may choose to begin this look with a base of liquid foundation.  Personally, I don't care for foundation, and I really don't mind a few flaws here and there.  After all, they add character!  I begin by applying a powder to a clean, moisturized face.  My powder of choice lately is Aubrey Organics Silken Earth, but if you don't mind talc-based powder, I highly recommend Coty's Airspun loose powder.  First created in 1935, it is an authentic choice which gives a smooth, almost porcelain look to skin.

Step 2--Eyebrows

The typical eyebrow look of the 1930s were thin, arched brows, well-defined, extending toward the temple.  If you don't wish to change your brow shape, you must at least make sure that they are well-kempt and cleanly plucked.  Brush them gently into place with a brow brush, if you have one.  If you wish, you may dress them with petroleum jelly or olive oil for a shiny effect.  If your brows are pale, darken them with a pencil.

Step 3--Eyes, Part One

Eyes of the 1930s were defined, but much more modestly so than the previous decade.  Apply eyeliner in black or brown to your upper lid and a very fine line along the edge of your bottom lid.  Don't go all the way around the eye.  

 For a glossy daytime look, you can apply a very small amount of petroleum jelly or olive oil to the eyelids (to match your shiny eyebrows).  For a more alluring evening look, I like a light, shimmery shadow paired with a dark gray or brown eyeshadow.  However, there were many shades of shadows in the '30s, ranging from green, blue, violet, orchid, and brown.  Eyeshadow was applied from the top eyelid up toward the eyebrow.

CoverGirl Sterling Blue

   You can smudge a darker shade of shadow in the crease for a deep-set appearance.

We'll come back to finish the eyes after lips and cheeks are done.

Step 4--Lips

(*I always recommend beginning with a thin layer of lip balm before making up the lips.  This will keep your lipstick from drying out too quickly.)

Lips in the 1930s were full; the top lip with a rounded "bow" shape.  This look is sometimes described as the "rosebud mouth".  The points of the top lip are softened and rounded (as opposed to the sharper, thin look of the '20s).  If you have this look naturally--great!  But if these features of your lips are more sharp, like mine, you may want to do some shape-tweaking with a lip liner.

To ensure that color will last and you won't be left with a ring around your mouth, fill your lips in with the lip liner.

After this, apply a 1930s-friendly lipstick (non-shimmery)--preferably in a shade which corresponds with the lip liner you used.  Here is a list of some modern lipstick shades I've used which could be used for 1930s lips.

Revlon Super Lustrous in Teak Rose (my personal pink favorite)
Revlon Super Lustrous in Rose Velvet
Revlon Super Lustrous in Blackberry

Yes, I love Revlon lipsticks!  If you do not, simply aim for shades of deep red, rose, raspberry, or, if it agrees with your coloring, tangerine.  While not on some authentic '30s color charts I've seen, I do like plum and wine shades when in a '30s mood.

I chose Revlon Super Lustrous in Blackberry.

If you like a bit of shine, lip gloss was invented in 1930 by Max Factor, so don't feel guilty about daubing some on your colored lips for a finish.  :)

Step 5--Cheeks

Apply a raspberry- or rose-colored blush to the apples of your cheeks for the complete 1930s complexion.  Begin and the apple of your cheek and sweep back toward your temple.  I really love Aubrey Organics Silken Earth in 'Warmed Rose.'  Another great '30s shade that is more generic is  I like CoverGirl Cheekers blush in 'Rock N Rose'.

Step 6--Eyes, Part Two

Make sure your lashes are well-curled.

Apply a very black mascara to bot the top and bottom lashes.  If you are more daring, and would prefer an even more dramatic look, you can use false eyelashes.

Step 7--The Look

This could quite possibly be the most important factor achieving this look!  In order to truly complete your 1930s face, you need an expression to go with it.  Don't forget to exude a Garbo-esque aloofness. 


  1. This is amazing...love it! The step-by-step process excites my curiosity to under take this style for myself! The pictures capture your elegance, and beauty. Bravo! Can't wait for the next post ;) xoxo -B

  2. I still trying to catch the breath. This is amazing. At least this sort of make up suits you :)

  3. This is the lovelist rendition of a 1930s makeup look that I have seen yet. Very authentic. Well done Tia. Please write to us at http://glamourdaze.com/ as we are working on the idea of a 1930s makeup and style book and are looking for someone like you to participate . Stevie and Anne

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  5. you look stunning x

  6. so stunning in fact i saved your photo as screensaver keep it up from a fellow 30s lover )

  7. Thanks for the tips. I was asked to model for a local photographer trying to build her portfolio with 1930s Hollywood pictures. Now I can prep my makeup right!

  8. Lovely chic vintage look!! I really liked your review. I want to ask if the blush has a lot of shimmering.
    Thank you in advance!

    1. The blush was not very shimmery; I was a bit hesitant when I saw it in the pot, as it does look a little sparkly in the pot. But on the cheeks, it's quite matte. :)