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Make-Up and Cosmetics

10 Fabulous Pictures of Women’s Hair & Make-Up from the 1920’s

Four beautiful examples of the 1920s Hair and Make-up most fashionable styles.
Four beautiful examples of the 1920s Hair and Make-up most fashionable styles.
Actress Agnes Ayres (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Actress Agnes Ayres (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Pola Negri in the mid-1920s styling a Cocunut Cut. This haircut was a must have for women who preferred the fringe, despite the unflattering name.  (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Pola Negri in the mid-1920s styling a Cocunut Cut. This haircut was a must have for women who preferred the fringe, despite the unflattering name. (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Beautiful portrait of Louise Brooks showing her iconic Bob Cut, 1920s
Beautiful portrait of Louise Brooks showing her iconic Bob Cut, 1920s
African-American beauty styling Marcel Waves, 1920s
African-American beauty styling Marcel Waves, 1920s
Actress Irene Delroy showing dramatic eyebrows.
Actress Irene Delroy showing dramatic eyebrows.
Vienna, Austria - Original caption: 1928 - Josephine Baker getting ready in her dressing room. She is depicted putting on make-up looking into a mirror. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
Original caption: Vienna, Austria, 1928 – Josephine Baker getting ready in her dressing room. She is depicted putting on make-up looking into a mirror. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
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Silent film actress Raquel Torres using a lip stencil.
Mary Brian / American actress. Photographed c1925. (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Mary Brian / American actress. Photographed c1925. (Found on fineartamerica.com)
At the soda shop, c.1920s
At the soda shop, c.1920s
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1920’s Make-up & Cosmetics Pt. 3

PERFUMES

Controversy also surrounded the use of scent. Single-note floral perfumes were considered respectable – one writer has described Yardley’s lavender water as the ‘only admissible perfume for a lady’ before the Great War. In England, ‘Zenobia’ flower waters sold well: there were thirty different fragrances to choose from. (1)

Yardley's Lavender 1929 Ad.
Yardley’s Lavender 1929 Ad.

But the 1910s and 1920s saw a growing demand for complex oriental compositions that evoked the harem-girl fantasies filling the pages of women’s weeklies, and the dusky charms of Valentino in the desert. Grossmiths’s four mass-market orientals – Phul-Nana, Shem-el-Nessim, Wana-Ranee and Haso-no-Hamma – were sometimes stigmatised as ‘servant girls’ ‘scent’ but proved immensely popular. (1)

1. Phul-nana by Grossmith Ad 2. Shem-el-Nessim by Grossmith Ad 3. Wana-Ranee by Grossmith Ad 4. Haso-no-Hamma by Grossmith Ad
1. Phul-nana by Grossmith Ad 2. Shem-el-Nessim by Grossmith Ad 3. Wana-Ranee by Grossmith Ad 4. Haso-no-Hamma by Grossmith Ad

In 1923 they added a fifth fragrance, Tsang-Ihang, to this exotic-sounding range. Boots the Chemists added Nirvana and Bouquet d’Orient to the floral scents of its successful Madame Girard et Cie collection. The more up-market perfumers joined in. (1)

Tsang-Ihang by Grossmiths Advertisement, 1923
Tsang-Ihang by Grossmiths Advertisement, 1923

Turkish and amber perfumed cigarettes were also fashionable in the 1920s: advertisements represented these as signifying a mysterious, seductive quality in the daring sophisticates who smoked them. Perfumes such as Caron’s Tabac Blond (by Ernest Daltroff, 1917) and Chanel’s Cuir de Russie ( Ernest Beaux, 1924) played on associations between femininity, tobacco and leather. Another facet of modernism was apparent with the introduction of Chanel No.5 in 1921. (1)

1920s Chanel no. 5 Advertisement.
1920s Chanel no. 5 Advertisement.

There were no overt references to flowers here: Chanel herself dismissed any idea that women should smell of roses. The composition (Ernest Beaux) was aldehydic, complex abstract: the packaging square, spare and modern. (1)
SOURCES:

(1) Glamour – women, history, feminism – Carol Dyhouse, 2010

1920’s Make-up & Cosmetics Pt. 2

TANNING

Following the lead of Coco Chanel and other fashion mavens, American women of the mid-1920s also stopped protecting their skin from the sun and instead gloried in deep bronze suntans. A winter tan, in particular, became a prestigious status symbol, indicating that the possessor had both the money and the time to vacation in sunny locations such as California, Florida, or even Italy. Those without much disposable income often had to settle for self-tanning liquids and powders that claimed to achieve the effect of a natural suntan. (1)

The London Sunbathing Society Members of The London Sunbathing Society pose for a photographer in the 1920s.
The London Sunbathing Society Members of The London Sunbathing Society pose for a photographer in the 1920s.
Coty Ad, 1920s
Coty Ad, 1920s

Not all women, however desired a dark skin. Some African-American women spent a great deal of time and money attempting to lighten their skin so it more closely resembled a white complexion. Hundreds of bleaching lotions and other whitening potions were marketed in beauty shops, drugstores, newspapers, magazines, and mail-order catalogues. (1)

Dr. Fred Palmer advertisement, ca 1929 (Chicago Defender)
Dr. Fred Palmer advertisement, ca 1929 (Chicago Defender)

Advertisements for products with suggestive names such as “Black-No-More”, “Fair-Plex Ointment”, and “Cocotone Skin Whitener”, promised (or at least implied) that, with repeated applications, African-American women would be rewarded with an attractive, pale skin tone. (1)

Apex Advertisement, 1929 (Apex News)
Apex Advertisement, 1929 (Apex News)

Not surprisingly, the very idea of skin whiteners sparked intense controversies in African-American communities. While many women, particularly light-complexioned African Americans, bought these oinments and believed the advertisers’ false claims, others spurned these products and vehemently rejected the notion that lightning one’s skin was either desirable or possible. (1)

SOURCES:

(1) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

If you’d like to learn more about these crazy tan trends from the beginning of the 20th Century, I recomend this article CHANGES in SKIN TANNING ATTITUDES Fashion Articles and Advertisements in the Early 20th Century

1920’s Make-up & Cosmetics Pt. 1

MAKE-UP

A key sign of modernity in women was the wearing of cosmetics, particularly lipstick, probably the most significant issue marking the generation gap between mothers and daughters in the 1920s. (1)

Marion Nixon perfects her lipstick c. 1920s
Marion Nixon perfects her lipstick c. 1920s

According to Graves and Hodge in “The Long Weekend”, the fashion spread ‘from brothel to stage, then on to Bohemia, to Society to Society’s maids, to the mill grill, and lastly to the suburban woman’. But it was the influence of the stars of early cinema, Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford and their like, which encouraged so many young women to start wearing make-up. Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden were among those who began to capitalise on this new trend. (1)

By the end of the First World War Arden and Rubinstein were already rivals. Both came from necessitous backgrounds, and they shared qualities of social ambition, commercial imagination and a steely determination that underlay their separate global success as entrepreneurs. (1)

Sales of cosmetics soared from $17 million in 1914 to $141 million in 1925. Both Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein managed successful cosmetics empires in the 1920s, marketing their make up and skincare products to a nation of female consumers longing for the last beauty-enhancing invention. (2)

Adolf de Meyer - Advertisement for Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, 1927
Adolf de Meyer – Advertisement for Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, 1927

The cosmetics industry boomed during the 1920s, and thousands of beautician schools and beauty parlours sprang up that sold make-up and face creams, astringents, lotions, and other products guaranteed to preserve or restore the bloom of youth. Prior to World War I, and American woman who visibly wore make-up, or “paint”, as it was often called, was immediately suspected of being immoral – a woman of “easy virtue”. (2)

GRETA GARBO GIF
Gif made by Fascination Street at http://gifmaker.me/

Greta Garbo, playing the part of the siren Felicitas in “The Flesh and the Devil” (1926), touched up her lipstick in church while the priest inveighed against her wicked ways as a woman. To woman raised in the Victorian tradition of ladylike modesty, the wearing of cosmetics was unacceptable. (1)

But during the 1920s, wearing cosmetics became not just fashionable but respectable. Inspired at least in part by the glamorous Hollywood movie stars who painted dark red lipstick on their mouths and applied heavy black mascara to their eyelashes, women of every age began to apply rouge, powder, lipstick, and eye-liner to their faces. They plucked their eyebrows into dramatic arches and then redrew them using eyebrow pencils. They accented their lashes with mascara and reddened their lips into the pouty, “bee-stung” look popularised by Clara Bow and Theda Bara. (2)

Clara Bow
Clara Bow
Theda Bara
Theda Bara

SOURCES:
(1) Glamour – Women, History, Feminism – Carol Dyhouse, 2010
(2) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

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