Following the end of World War II, people adopted a happier, more optimistic view of life. The hair and makeup style of the 1950s reflected that feeling. During the war, women joined the work force in great numbers. Simple hairdos and little makeup were seen on women working in factories and struggling for money. The 1950s ushered in a breath of fresh air, and hair and makeup styles became more glamorous and fun.
Short or Pulled Back
The ponytail was one of the most popular hairstyles in the early ’50s. It was at once both neatly pulled together and bouncy fun. The youthful look mirrored the happy-go-lucky sentiment of the time. Accessorizing the ponytail by tying a colorful scarf around it was also in vogue. Short hair was also becoming the fashion in the beginning of the ’50s. Soft styles that framed the face were considered glamorous like Hollywood movie stars, but also practical for the duties of a homemaker.
Curls, Curls, Curls
In the 1950s, straight hair was out. This decade saw the onslaught of the home perm, complete with foul-smelling chemicals, being used to achieve the curls and waves. Since there was no such thing as the blow dryer, women would put pin curls and rollers in place, spray the hair with hair spray, and leave them overnight. During this more prosperous decade, women had both more time and money to spend at the beauty parlor. This way, women could attend to their curls as often as two or three times a week.
Big and Teased
With all of the hair spray being used to hold curls in place, a next natural step was backcombing and ratting hair to create bigger, more elaborate styles. By the mid to late ’50s, clothing styles were becoming more glamorous. The hairstyles of the era were growing as well to reflect that. The bouffant and the beehive became all the rage in the late 1950s.
Makeup in the 1950s went from one extreme to the other. The style for day was mostly a fresh, soft look, appropriate for a loving wife and mother. The evening look was extremely dramatic. According to Fifties Web, it was popular to use eye shadow and blush sparingly during this time, but eyeliner and mascara became prevalent. Eyeliner was in liquid form, a heavy black line drawn mostly on just the upper eyelid along the lash line. Eyebrows were plucked to be thin and then darkened with pencil. Vibrant shades of lipstick were used to give a look of full lips. Pastel and red shades were the most commonly used.
References and ResourcesHairdoHairtyles.com: 1950s: An Era of Elaborate and Dressy Hairstyles
Fashion-Era: 1950s Fashion Glamour
Fifties Web: Hairstyles
Fifties Web: Makeup