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The dames in the 1940s were ideally "naturally beautiful," not like the tanned, athletic and fresh-scrubbed 1970s women, but in a soft, feminine and rosy way. Vivien Leigh, Jennifer Jones, Ava Gardner and Ingrid Bergman were among the most famous and beautiful faces of the decade. In the history of Old Hollywood, the makeup of this era is one of the easiest to re-create. Keep that in mind the next time you are invited to a costume party.

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Apply foundation in your skin tone.

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Dust your face lightly with a translucent rose-tinged powder to give your complexion a natural-looking, pinkish hue.

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Shape and define well-groomed brows with a brow pencil or powder in a shade that matches your hair color if you have dark hair, but darker by a notch or two if you have light hair. Eyebrows should appear perfect, with pronounced arches, regardless of thickness.

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Apply a soft, subtle shade of eye makeup primer on your lids to complement your skin tone. Very sheer eyeshadow is fine; the focus for 1940s eyes is on the lashes.

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Curl your eyelashes and lightly stroke black or black-brown mascara on your top lashes.

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Glue false strip lashes that are longer than your natural ones on your upper lash line, just enough to make your real ones appear more noticeable and defined.

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Use a black liquid eyeliner over the region where your false lashes meet your lash line. Make sure your line is very thin, fine and even.

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Buff a light, rosy blush softly into the apples of your cheeks. Blend hard edges away with a makeup sponge to keep your look natural.

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Exaggerate your top lip by drawing slightly past your natural lip line with a waxy highly pigmented lip liner. Select a shade of red that suits your coloring and your current mood. True red, tomato red and orange red were very popular in the 1940s, but deeper and cooler reds, such as raspberry and crimson, were common as well.

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Draw over your bottom lip line following its natural contour. Still using the lip liner, fill in your new lip shape.

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Layer on a lipstick in a matching shade with a lip brush for even coverage.


Wear the hair and clothing of the era to complete your look. Study both the general and film history of the times to gain a greater understanding of 1940s style.

About the Author

Lea WhiteFeather

Lea WhiteFeather writes to share her colorful experiences with all who can benefit. She enjoys traveling as well, and has worked and resided in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Philippines, where she received her undergraduate education in art history.