1930s makeup: the Hollywood factor

Greta Garbo, Mae West, Claudette Colbert, Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich. The beautiful faces that graced Hollywood in the 1930s can give us an insight into the dominant makeup look of that era.

The severe, dramatic look of the 1920s Prohibition era gave way to a more refined, but still distinct look influenced by Hollywood glamour. Magazines featured articles on how to replicate celebrity looks, and a certain Polish-Jewish cosmetician named Max Factor became a nationwide sensation. He had created what we know today as ‘pancakemakeup which he applied on his film star clientele. Thanks to his affinity with Hollywood, his brand became a household name by the 1930s.

Bring back the glamour of 1930s

No brow

If there is one standout feature of the 1930s look, it’s the pencil-thin eyebrow. Seriously, these women had a thing against eyebrows that they plucked every hair strand to oblivion! These were then filled in with eyeliner to achieve that distinct ultra-thin, high arched brow.

Check out Marlene Deitrich’s eyebrows

Personally, I don’t like this theatrical look on brides, though I do recommend having your brows professionally plucked for a clean line.

To update a 30s brow with a less harsh look, brush your eyebrows first and tweeze any stray hairs below (never above) your eyebrow. Trace your brow’s natural arch and extend it down your temple, then smudge it to make it look more natural.


Bette Davis eyes

The heavily kohl-lined eyes of the 20s were replaced by contoured eyes with an upturned triangle. Different eyeshadow colours in blue, purple and green, and shimmery evening tones became fashionable during this era. Dark shadow was applied on the eyelid crease and smudged to make the eye look larger.

To replicate this look, apply eyeliner extending to the outside of your eyes and lightly smudge to produce a soft, smoky line. Use a dark shade in brown or grey to the crease of your upper lids and blend well. Finish off with mascara only on the upper lashes.


Glamour lips

The Cupid’s bow was replaced by a thinned out, horizontal shape, with just a touch on the upper lip.  Create this effect with dark reds and maroon lipstick, which were the popular colours of the decade.

You’ve now achieved the old Hollywood glamour look!

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.