Lady Martha Sitwell on 1950s Makeup

Everyone loves a bit of 1950s glam, so we thought we’d go our authority on the subject, Lady Martha Sitwell, for her take on how to recreate the perfect 1950s look.

The 50’s were super feminine. There was a shortage of men, because of the catastrophic losses during the wars, so we women pulled out all the stops to attract one. We redden our lips and darken our eyes, because as a woman becomes sexually aroused her lips become redder and her pupils dilate, making her eyes appear darker. The high heel also puts a woman’s foot into the shape it takes as she orgasms. Coupled with that, a clear complexion and shiny hair imply good health, and we haven’t evolved so far as to want to breed with unhealthy specimens.

In 1954 Max Factor, which was probably the best selling makeup line of the time, launched their first concealer. Their best selling foundation at the time was “Pan-Cake” – it was pretty heavy stuff and liberally coated with powder, creating an almost mask-like appearance. These days we prefer something a bit lighter, and makeup technology has moved on so far that it’s much easier to achieve a flawless look, even with bad skin.

Blush was light, They were contouring for the camera by then but it was a closely kept secret, and done mostly because lighting for film was so strong. Most women would apply blushers in soft pinks or corals, just to the apples of their cheeks, and work a little into the temples, It could also double up as your eye shadow.

Though colours like blue were in use, eye shadows were light and mostly in natural colours. They were worked a little out from the outer corner of the eye, to create the almond eye shape that was most desired at the time – as opposed to the round eye of the 20’s and 60’s.

Eyeliner was essential, but only on the upper lid; the lower lashes and lash line were kept bare.

To enhance or fake an almond eye, follow the line of your lower lash line, create a cat flick on the outer corner and then work in towards your inner eye. Liner in the 50’s was not as thick as liners in the 60’s so keep it fairly thin, but thick enough to flatter you.

Lips of course were massive in the 50’s. Women then drew a little outside the natural lip line – that’s where this trend started.  Very red was obviously huge, though pink, orange and corals were also popular.

Read our full Behind the Look profile of Martha here.