Authentic 1930s Makeup Looks and Products

As we celebrate our limited-edition makeup collection inspired by Ella Fitzgerald®, one of the greatest Jazz singers of all time, we're sharing the looks and makeup tips that defined makeup in the 1930s.

ella fitzgerald collection

While Ella was forging her career during the Great Depression of the 1930s, she was also building her fashion style that was full of fun from sequins to feathers. Her makeup style was more minimalist, even though women's makeup looks during the 30s became more refined—influenced by Hollywood, as magazines started promoting the stars' glamorous makeup looks.

1930s magazine

Makeup that was Popular in the 30s

The beauty standard of the 1930s was softer than the 20s. It was not only influenced by Hollywood but also by the Great Depression. It was defined by striking eyes that relied on a lot of mascara, thin eyebrows, and soft or pale shades of eyeshadow. Lips were full, slightly overdrawn, and shaped into two long mounds that flared at the corners. Compared to the 1920s, the overall 1930s makeup look was less vamp-like and not quite as dramatic.

1930s makeup

If you are looking to re-create a makeup look from the 1930s, check out our 1930s and Jazz Age value sets featuring all of the limited edition products in our Ella Fitzgerald® collection, combined with various additional accessories and bonus makeup items to help bring a 30s look to life. 

ella fitzgerald makeup collection

Mascara in the 1930s

The look at the time for any Jazz Age beauty was to use a lot of mascara. Cake Mascara was the most popular form of mascara during this time, and it was a multi-functional product – used for lashes and brows. 

cake mascara

Bésame Cosmetics has researched and revived a cake mascara formula and enhanced it with a little bit of modern science. It’s easy to use, activated by water, and features less than 10 ingredients. One of the best-selling products at Bésame, Cake Mascara remains popular for its versatility – often used to create a dramatic cat-eye eyeliner effect and by women who are allergic or sensitive to traditional mascara.  They appreciate the pure and simple formula of Bésame’s Cake Mascara.  Learn more about Cake Mascara here.

Eye Makeup in the 1930s

As Hollywood entered its Golden Age, it had a significant impact on women’s beauty, including more options and colors. Eyebrows were still thin but not as thin as in the 1920s, they often had a high arch towards the temples. Eyeshadow was one of the products that benefited from a new array of colors with lighter shades, silver and gold very popular. Explore the limited-edition Ella Fitzgerald® Eyeshadow Quad of matte and shimmer shades in mauve, taupe, a coffee-colored brown, and even a pale pink eyeshadow that can accent and highlight. 

1930s eye makeup

For a 1930s look, apply the taupe or deeper brown to the upper lid's crease and blend with the light mauve or pale pink to highlight the brow bone. Elevate a 1930s eye makeup look with our fake lashes from the 1930s.

1930s lashes

Lipstick during The Great Depression

lipstick during the great depression

An interesting lip trend from this time that continues today is that as times were tough during the Depression, many women traded bigger luxuries for smaller ones like lipsticks. Lipstick was extremely popular in the 1930s. The style shifted a bit from the 1920s, lips were not quite as rounded.  However, the lip look of the time did involve creating rounds or flares at the corners of the lips -- which was known as the “Crawford Smear”.  Light rose and raspberry tones, maroons, dark reds and orange tones were popular lipstick shades. Later in the 30s, brighter reds became popular. At, Bésame, we’ve revived many historic lipstick colors including some from the 1930s like Cherry Red or Carmine, but we’ve also introduced two new shades in a creamy, lustrous formula inspired by the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald. Apollo is a rum raisin, deep cool brick red lip color and Savoy is a terracotta, brown-red shade – both look fabulous on a range of skin tones.

fairest red lipstick

What were popular nail polish colors in the 1930s?

Typically, nail polish was only applied in the center of the nail with the half-moon and tips left bare.  Pale rose, light pink, and cream were popular, check out our creamy shade of Blooming Beige.  The number of nail colors grew in popularity throughout the 1930s to match a variety of dress colors. 

If you decide to recreate a makeup look inspired by the 1930s, don’t forget to share it on social and tag us at Bésame Cosmetics.

bloom beige nail polish

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