1930s makeup guide – About thin eyebrows and fair complexions

21. März 2017

1930s makeup was inspired by the great Hollywood film stars. Greta Garbo, Carole Lombard and Marlene Dietrich influenced ladies with their glamorous, feminine styles. 

Die deutsche Version des Beitrags findest du hier: 30er Jahre Makeup.

In the 1930s, women were putting more feminine emphasis on the face. Hair grew longer and became curled and wavy, the heavy kohl eyeshadows from the 1920s were replaced by lighter shades. Pale ivory foundations, such as worn by female icons, made women look very soft and delicate in the 1930s. It was until the end of the decade, when foundations turned to more natural colours.

This decade endured the Great Depression. Women had less money to spend on items, so the 1930s saw the rise of practicality. With the use of less products and softer colours, the female makeup styles became more natural.


Movie icon Greta Garbo on the cover of a magazine. Her outstanding 1930s makeup looks and hairstyles were inspiration for many ladies.

Pencil thin eyebrows were a popular feature in 1930s makeup. Some women had their brows plucked away entirely, to paint them with kohl every morning. Hollywood stars often drew their brows a bit higher than they naturally would grow. It was believed than thin brows could display emotions better on screen.

Eyeshadows became more experimental in colours – shades like pink, blues or greens were popular. Favoured lipstick colours were maroon, dark reds, orange- and raspberry tones. Furthermore women put emphasize on adjusting the colour of the nail polish to the one of their lips – that’s why they could even buy these in bundles.


A beautiful makeup advert from the 1930s. Thick and full eyelashes became popular, thanks to products as such from Max Factor and Maybelline.

1930s makeup – for the day

In the following I will show you – step by step – how Leipzig based visagist Lisa from Lisagie applied my 1930s inspired makeup for the photoshoot. I linked the products so you can have a look what we used, but of course you can use your own makeup, when it’s similar in colour.

So now I wish you lots of joy creating your own, 1930s inspired look! 


A big thanks to Kristian Scheffler Fotografie, who took all the lovely pictures.

I am sitting here in Leipzig’s Café Gloria. It’s such a beautiful nostalgic café and right next to St. Thomas Church, where the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach worked and was buried. So of course you can listen to Bach’s oeuvre while enjoying your cup of tea in this café.

In these wonderful pictures I feel like a 1930s housemaid, who is having tea on her free Sunday afternoon. 


Preparations for the makeup

My personal favourite for skin care: For healthy, beautiful and even skin there is no need for super expensive facial masks. To prepare your skin for makeup, I do personally like to use healing earth.

Healing earth has been used since ancient times and is composed of natural minerals. It has the ability to absorb and remove toxins and to heal the skin from impurities and chemicals. Furthermore it provides minerals for the body. You can mix it with water and apply it on the face. Leave it on the face for 10 minutes and then remove. I think this is can be a good alternative to all those chemically produced facial masks and crèmes.

For the hairstyle I pin curled my hair over night. I created a side parting and started pinning the curls one by one from bottom to the top, to make a faux bob. You can find a similar technique here. Regarding single curls and streaks, I am never too strict.

I think this used to be a simple every day look and the ladies needed to make it practical. None of them used tons of pomade and hairspray to make every single curl look perfect. So don’t stress yourself too much with your hair, it should look natural and not artificial.

Products we used for the makeup*

Santé Foundation

Nyx Concealer

Santé Compact Powder

Rouge von Santé

Eyeshadow by L’Oréal

Lily Lolo Eyeshadow Palette

Kiko Eyeshadow Bordeaux

Eyeshadow Dark Green

Misslyn Eyeshador Brown

L’Oréal Lipstick Palette

Step by step guide to 1930s makeup

1. As a base we recommend to start with your facial crème. It is better to use a non-greasy crème to make sure your makeup will last longer.
2. Now you prime your face and blend it well.
3. After the primer it’s time for your makeup. You can use a blending sponge and blend it in circular movements on your skin.
4. The concealer can now be applied in v-form under your eyes. Blend this one as well.
5. You can fix your makeup with translucent powder.
6. In the next step we create some contouring around the face: Use a matte, cold-toned bronzer and apply it below your cheekbones to emphasize these. It was very common to emphasize cheekbones in the 1930s. Now apply some rouge on your cheekbones and above the bronzer.

1930s makeup contour
7. Now it’s time for highlights! Lisa mixed a golden eyeshadow with a highlighter to create a warm and shimmering colour and to visually open the eyes. Apply it on the inner corner of the eye, down to the middle of the eyelids.
8. Afterwards it’s turn for a matte brown shade. Apply this one on the outer corner of the eye and blend it up below the eyebrows.


9. With a dark green shade and a firm brush you can apply some colour on the outer corner of the eyelids to darken them up.

Hint: You can use a handkerchief while applying eyeshadow. When you hold it under the eyelid you prevent colour particles from spreading all over your face. It also helps to create a lovely outline.

10. Now you use a warm and dark copper shade and a firm brush to go along the eyeball on your eyelid.

1930smakeup eyeshadow
11. Use the copper shade to underline the loral lash line to the middle of your eyes. Make sure to leave out the inner corner, there you can apply the gold tones. They will brighten up your eyes.
11. For the lips we recommend a colourless lipbase to make the lipstick last longer.
12. To receive a typical 1930s colour Lisa mixed an orange shade with darker red and applied it with a lip brush. Consider the slim contour.
13. Eyebrows frame the face. At that time brows were long, slim and had a round shape. You can emphasize the length of your brows a little more than you normally do.

1930s makeup brows

Hint: We recommend to use a lighter colour for the front part of the brows. For the rear part you can mix lighter and a darker colours, this makes you brows look more natural. With the help of eye brow fixer you make sure to set them in place.

14. Finally you can apply mascara on both of your upper and lower lash lines.

1930s makeup

And now your styling is finished! I wish you lots of joy wearing this wonderful look.
You can find matching 1930s vintage fashion for example on Etsy* or eBay, where I also bought this lovely dress.

1930s makeup

1930s makeup – for the night

For your evening makeup you can take the same steps as above. Only eyeshadow and lipstick become a bit darker.

1. For darker eyeshadow you can use your handkerchief again. Take a black shade and emphasize the bow around your eyeball. Blend the shades very well.
2. Furthermore we used a darker shade of red for the lips.
3. If you like you can also emphasize the contouring of your face a little bit more. Contouring emphasizes the hard edges – especially the cheeckbones – which was typical for 1930s makeup.

1930s makeup

For these pictures Lisa darkened the eyeshadow, as well as the lipstic colour. 

1930s makeup

This lovely look is from Topvintage Boutique. You can find this cardigan here*, the beautiful pants here*. I found the baret on zalando*.

The location is the Opera of Leipzig, pictures were made by Kristian Scheffler.

1930s makeup

Further posts about vintage styles:

On the way to myself – Why finding my own style changed my whole life
A night at the Opera – Glamorous Vintage Styles  for a magical winter world
Autumn Vibes, Vintage Styles and Ladies Meetup – Welcome to Revival Retro London

*In this post I used affiliate links. In case you buy something via these links I will get a small percentage of the profit. This does not change anything for you, it simply helps me to maintain my website and keep it free from banners.

A big thanks so visagist Lisagie and Kristian Scheffler Fotografie for the makeup and the wonderful pictures.

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