It may be 2019, but the 1950s have been top of mind recently, what with the success of shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and the resurgence of vintage-inspired makeup. It’s easy to see why a 21st-century audience would be enthralled by the era: Glamorous movie stars like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Jayne Mansfield stunned on the silver screen, and the cosmetics industry was booming for the first time since before the war.
“When you’re looking at the ’50s, you’re looking at a transitional period after World War II,” says Gabriela Hernandez, makeup historian and founder of Bésame Cosmetics. “A lot of makeup wasn’t in production due to shortages during the war, but then the ’50s rolled around and all kinds of products were being produced.” Colors like turquoise, teal, and various shades of red were being made into eyeshadows and lipsticks — a far cry from the more natural makeup trends of the decade prior. “Makeup wasn’t taboo anymore,” Hernandez says.
We got our hands on a pamphlet of real makeup tutorials from the ’50s — so naturally, we tasked ourself with following along as closely as possible. What started as a fun glimpse at a bygone era quickly became a conversation around the cultural, social, and economic impact of makeup, which you can watch in the video below.