The glamorous and dramatic makeup of the 1920s

If there’s one decade we always return to for  inspiration, it’s the 1920s. Long time readers of The Fashion Folks are painfully aware of this, but hey, we love our history! In fact, we have talked about this before, but ehrm, more 1920s glam to the people?!

The society of the 1920s

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of understanding what the society looked like, in order to understand the fashion/beauty. But we’re not gonna talk about it in depth today. Instead we’re just gonna stress that the 1920s was sort of the first (more or less) modern decade of our time. With an incurable optimism about the future,  a blooming society on both a societal and economical level, people had faith in life. And that’s why the glam life happened, why womens’ skirts went shorter than ever and why the liberalisation for women occurred.  


Makeup of the 1920s

Everyday makeup

We all probably have a pretty clear image over the 1920s makeup, or that is the glam version of it. Sharp eyebrows, heavy eyelids and a pointy mouth. Unfortunately, this glamorous look wasn’t the everyday life. Instead, women wore pretty neutral makeup. Even though the makeup industry grew in this decade, it was still considered tacky for women to wear makeup that was significantly visible. Instead, it came back to a neutral look. Some powder, perhaps some rogue and eventually some enhancement of the lashes. Blush was usually used in a light rosy hue, but was also common with a touch of orange. Perhaps also some light color on the lips, often natural looking, but still enough to make a difference. See the subtle makeup look below, as worn in Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey Makeup
Photo: ITV

The Makeup Of A Flapper

Buuuut, to the fun part, the makeup of the flappers! To be clear in the difference between a modern view on a 1920s flapper girl and the 1920s view on a flapper girl; we see them as fun and daring, though they were quite scandalous considered at time. What could be worse than women taking place both by personality and makeup? (A woman not doing it that is). So a flapper wasn’t that fun to be called. But nevertheless, hands down to these women for going The Makeup Of The 1920s: Clara Bow | The Fashion Folksbold in their life. Not to forget, make way for women through the 20th century to defy the societal views.

So what was the makeup? It was sharp eyebrows  in dark colors. Defined lips painted in a cupid bow. And some heavy eye makeup. The eyes were achieved by heavy eyeliner and also dark eyeshadows in grey, green and brown. The emphasis was on the eyelids but the eyeshadow was dramatically blended towards the brows. The lips were painted in deep red, dark burgundy and a brown/red hue. As for the base, the skin was to look flawless, pale and be a sharp contrast to the rest of the makeup. Staying out of the sun and powder were both used to achieve it. See Clara Bow’s makeup look to the right! 

The style of a flapper

We should probably have talked about the style of the flapper before the actual makeup, but who cares, the makeup was in center. To go with it all though, the flappers had a fierce haircut. We’d call it a bob today, but back then it had several names such as shingle and bingle (we’re not making these up, promise!). And short hair on women at this time was outrageous, but the trend grew and soon a short haircut would be the go-to thing in town.

Except the statement makeup and the statement hair. The flappers made a name for themselves  by their clothes too. With knee-length dresses that were easy to dance in and had some sparkly touches, it was a distinct contrast to previous years. Often in an Art Déco pattern and with metallic details, they summed up the spirit of the 1920s. To go with the dresses, women wore long necklaces, often pearls. Not to forget, chic gloves that reached the upper arm and some hair accessories such as headbands with feathers and emebellishments.

AND that’s our story on the 1920s makeup, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ll get back to this topic over and over again. What are your thoughts on the makeup of the 1920s? Leave us a comment below!


76 thoughts on “The glamorous and dramatic makeup of the 1920s

  1. I love the style of the 1920s. It’s so neat to watch the fashion evolve in that show Downtown Abbey as the 20s progress. I’m not a big fan of the thin thin drawn on eyebrows shown above on the flapper girl. I do love the cupid’s bow lips though! Thanks for sharing babe!

    xoxo Rina

  2. This post was like a time machine to the 20s! If I could choose a decade that would be my favourite! Vague hair and red lipsticks will always be my favourites! And flapper girls knew how to nail it! Not to mention the amazing dresses of that time with the great embellishments and fabrics! I love learning something new at every post of yours! 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing, I hope you are having a great weekend so far!

    1. Right? Such a chic and lovely decade! They certainly did, they just seemed to look like the party of life which is lovely, even though their reality was probably quite different! And I’m so happy that you do love, same to you!! Xx

  3. I love the 20’s style both in neutral and bold make-up and fashion, such a great transition. It was nice learning a bit more about the 1920’s.

  4. I love that you pointed out the difference between the glam/flapper makeup and everyday looks. I feel like no one ever does. It’s always glam. And I do love a bit of history. Great post, and I hope you have a great weekend!

    Amber | y a c h t s m a a n

  5. The ’20s were indeed a glamorous decade! I truly love getting lost in these old images of past decades, it’s super interesting to me. Love the background you gave us of the society of that time. These flapper girls were really stylish in their own way!! 😉

  6. The makeup of flappers will forever stay etched in my thoughts – so dark, dramatic and kind of clown-like at times thanks to the heavy eyelids and ‘nearly black’ lips! Fascinating post, as always!

  7. Ahh I love the style and the makeup of the 20s flappers–so glamorous and dramatic!! I think that’s one of the best decades as far as fashion and makeup goes!

  8. My eyes always go back to this era as well. There is something about it that just sticks out in my mind more than most. I think it’s the clothes but at the same time the makeup is pretty stellar too – except the thin eye brows. hah


    Violet Roots || Instagram || Twitter

  9. Lovely photographs, I always like the natural makeup in Downton Abbey but flapper makeup looks gorgeous as well. Vintage makeup is always beautiful.

  10. I love reminiscing on the 1920’s. At least for FASHION haha. I will admit I am not a fan at all of 1920’s makeup. I much prefer a bolder natural face on a women (bushy eyebrows, big eyes with light mascara, full lips, freckles). Even in HS I never really plucked my brows. And I hate eyeliner so much too haha. It’s safe to say I am not a 1920’s gal. Flapper dresses for Halloween it is! 😉


  11. The 1920’s is such a fun decade. 🙂 I went to a little event at the WWI museum in KCMO, and it was all about lingerie, but they talked a lot about the change from restricted to freedom, and how a lot of that happened during and after the war. The women had to take on more independent roles, and they needed the steel from corsets for the war. So very very interesting. Goodness, this also reminds me that I need to FINALLY finish Downton. HA XO – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    1. That sounds so much fun!! And yes, it’s so interesting how closely the fashion was affected by how society looked like! And how the same is for today, even though we don’t realize it! Do so, it’s such a great show!! XX

  12. I love the energy of the roaring 20s! It’s so inspiring and I love how free everyone slowly, but surely became, thanks in part to the influence of the bold and fearless flappers! The glam, yet elegance they exuded always captivates me. Thanks so much for sharing, gorgeous, and I hope you have an amazing weekend ahead!



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