To many, makeup prior to the 1920s–and even during–may appear theatrical and undesirable. After all, modern cosmetics were only being developed in those days. However, for vintage lovers and makeup mavens, precisely capturing the look of the times is vital for an accurate representation of history. Whether you are posing for an antique-style portrait, starring in a production set in the beginning of the 20th century or attending a costume party, here are simple guidelines for recreating 1910-style makeup.

Things You'll Need

Begin with clean skin. Dot makeup primer all over face and blend for a perfect application.

Use a foundation that turns your skin into a blank canvas and makes you look slightly paler. Skin that was untouched by the sun was considered the mark of a true lady back then, so you will have to recreate this for the most accurate results. A water-activated pancake foundation or a thick one with creamy consistency are your best bets. Apply base over lips for lipstick that does not feather or bleed. Don’t worry if your complexion is on the darker side–you only want to look paler, not light-skinned.

Groom your eyebrows. Before the 1920s, brows looked more natural, even bushy. In fact, if it is still a while before your costume party, you can allow your brows to grow back in a little bit instead of regularly maintaining them. Exaggerate them with a brow pencil a notch darker than your original brow color. Fill in with feather-soft strokes for an application that does not appear harsh, even with your use of a strong color.

Define your eyes by mimicking a somewhat crude application unlike modern-day standards of perfection. Smudge a very pigmented black eye pencil all around your eyes on both top and bottom lash lines. Do not leave any space between the product and your lashes. Drag an eye smudging brush gently over the edges of your eyeliner to create a not quite smoky, but certainly sooty effect. You only need a line of medium thickness to bring your eyes out but not overpower them. Darken lashes with blackest black mascara.

Rouge the apples of your cheeks with a vibrant color that pops against your pale complexion. Use a makeup sponge to blend away any hard edges in your application, but make sure the color is more evident than your everyday blush. Meticulously bring out the shape of your lips with a lip liner that matches the color of your blush. Fill lips in with the pencil to give lip makeup a base to cling to. Apply matching highly pigmented lipstick precisely onto lips with a lip brush.


  • Make sure to match your hairstyle and clothing to the period as well for a completely seamless transformation.

  • Keep your face matte by using powder-free blotting papers throughout the day on areas where your natural oils come to the surface.