1920’s Makeup – Hollywood Beauty Tricks

1920’s Makeup Tricks of the Stars –

July 1928 – Carolyn Van Wyck’s Hollywood Beauty Shop brings us the latest makeup tricks of the stars.


 A GIRL’S face still influences her fortune. Never has make-up been more important than in this day of the modem girl. To buy just the right shade of powder, the proper shade of rouge — there’s the rub, and here’s the advice.


DEAR Carolyn Van Wyck.
How can I learn to apply make-up correctly? I am considered as pretty as the average girl of nineteen, but I don’t improve my appearance, as movie stars do, when I make-up. Something goes all wrong. I’ve medium brown hair, a round, full face, hazel eyes and a pale, clear skin. I want to be distinctive, but no matter how much rouge I put on, half an hour later I’m pale and when I use lipstick and eyebrow pencil I look hard. Does this mean I shouldn’t use make-up or that I’m just using it ignorantly? Frances K.

EVERY girl should use make-up, Frances, at least to the extent of powder and lipstick. A good make-up is a marvelous thing. It brightens the eyes and lightens the spirit. It hides a shiny nose and an inferiority- complex. It adds to the general beauty of the whole world and I’m very much for it.

I have studied cosmetics and their use a great deal and I approve of them highly. I’ve watched stage stars on Broadway and screen stars in Hollywood creating their calcium complexions.
No make-up is a good make-up unless it individualizes the face. Movie stars, for instance, are loved for their startling distinctiveness and no “second Clara Bow,” has ever succeeded. Remember this when making-up. You want to make your own face more charming, not make your face into somebody elses face.


I emphasize this because it is the commonest cosmetic fault. It is the attempt to give oneself eyebrows where they aren’t and Cupid’s bow lips on a thin mouth that create the hard, artificial look that Frances protests.
Frances has the necessary basis for a good make-up, a fine skin which every girl can have in exchange for a little care. Frances must now study her face until she knows its every line, fault and value and the color of her skin, eyes and lips. The color study is most important for there should be no color in a make-up not originally in one’s complexion. Hence it is generally wise to avoid “flesh colored” powder and green or lavender “eyeshadow.” Most eyes are blue, brown or a combination of these two colors. Most skins vary between white and brown.

Choose the Correct 1920s Makeup.


Face Powder must match the skin. Frances should buy several different shades of her favorite brand and mix them to obtain the correct tone. If she will test the colors on the inner side of her arm just below the elbow, where the skin retains its truest tint, she will get the right color.

She must do the same thing with rouge, blending to get a shade one tone brighter than the natural tint of her lips. A heavy red rouge should never touch pale lips and cheeks. A pale rouge should never come near the beautiful dark red glow shown in the cheeks of a healthy brunette. Frances had best buy paste rouge for this purpose.
Rouge in powder form can not be as carefully applied as paste and it blows off, where the paste tint lasts all day.

The mascara for Frances’ brows and lashes should be the brown of her hair. Then she needs a large powder puff, good cold cream, cleansing tissues and a baby hair brush.

Working before a light similar to that under which her make-up will be judged daylight for street, bright electric lights for evening, Frances begins. Her face is perfectly clean, her hair securely- tucked back behind a towel.

If Frances’ skin is dry, she uses a light coating of cold cream, or for evening, a very light coating of grease paint, spread thinly and evenly over her entire face. (The greasepaint should be one tone darker than the powder.) But if her skin is oily, Frances needs no other grease base than that.

How to apply your makeup – 1920’s Look.


Comes the cheek rouge, never put on in one round spot of color. Since Frances’ face is a full one, she shades carefully downward from a line parallel to the top of her ear to a point directly under the center of each eye and parallel to the broadest part of the nose, where the color should be brightest. From here she lets it fade outward and downward to the angle of her jawbone, a triangle of color, blended into the skin so that no harsh lines show.

Lip rouge — paste, too, and not an un-wieldy lipstick — follows. Start on the upper lip. With the tips of the little fingers, left finger for the left side, right for the right, draw the rouge down and back inside the lip, then out to the end of the lip. Use only a thin coating of rouge, never a heavy coat.


The lower lip is stretched tightly over the teeth and its depth rouged equal to the height of the upper lip’s Cupid’s bow. The mouth make-up is very difficult and must be practiced repeatedly to gain perfection. ,

Slap  on the face powder.

Colleen-Moore slaps on the powder
Colleen-Moore slaps on the powder

FOR evening Frances may put the merest dash of grease paint the color of her eyes over her eyelids and then her face is ready for powdering. Powder should never be rubbed on but slapped on. Slap, slap, slap, goes the powder puff. Ten minutes isn’t too long for this beauty task. Slap, slap, over the whole face, eyelids, mouth, cheeks, ears, neck. A face so powdered requires no retouching for hours.

When her face resembles a snow scene, Frances uses the baby brush to smooth the excess powder off, brushing carefully around the base of the nose, the nostrils, the lashes, the brows. Her skin will emerge, tinted and smooth and very lovely.

There remains only the mascara. Frances scorns a brush already thick with mascara but makes hers very clear to start. She rubs the brush once over the mascara cake, then once over her eyelashes, the upper ones down, the lower ones up.


Then putting more mascara on the brush, she brushes the upper lashes up several times, the lower down, until all are evenly darkened. She touches her eyebrows lightly enough to take off every bit of powder but not enough to leave a definite dyed line.

Now Frances takes the towel from about her head, combs her pretty hair, shades the harsh light and really sees herself. She has worked for thirty to forty-five minutes, but her skin is luminous, her eyes are bright. She has makeup on and it will last for hours without showing.

Time and Tints are the secrets of a perfect makeup and is an art that every girl should know!

Originally published in Photoplay – 1928
Many thanks to The Media History Project – for sourcing,scanning and preserving these wonderful articles.

For more on 1920s makeup – see The History of Makeup – 1920s.


THATS-ALL -Glamourdaze

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