Home » All Things Vintage » Women’s Makeup Through the Years: the 1920’s

Women’s Makeup Through the Years: the 1920’s

This article is part of a series of Women’s Makeup Through the Ages that I’ve put together.

It should be noted that I’m no expert on this subject. My research is coupled with information from the Internet , and some reference books. I have cited sources wherever possible. This is my own personal take on the subject, and by no means comprehensive. Any errors are my own.


I must admit I’m a fan of this decade. Women had so much more freedom after the Great War years, and this was evident from cropped hair to raised hemlines to the liberal use of cosmetics. Much information was now available on makeup application, and women were able to follow these Guides to achieve the look they wanted. With every style from Flappers to Blonde Bombshells to Vamps, there was a rich assortment of looks to choose from.


The Flapper

After the privations of the First World War, the younger generation was quick to embrace the Jazz Age, and wanted to have fun. Flappers were often to be seen dancing in nightclubs or speakeasies, smoking cigarettes  and dancing the Charleston. They tended to wear quite heavy makeup.

Source: ushistory.org


The photo on the left is of flapper and
actress Louise Brooks.


The Blonde Bombshell

As epitomized by the actress, Jean Harlow (pictured above). This girl had the va-va-voom factor down pat. Although she died tragically young at the age of 26, she was a very popular Hollywood actress, who made over forty movies.

Women often shaved off their eyebrows, and then pencilled in a very thin line. Many makeups ads and Makeup Guides of the day showed blondes how to achieve the “Jean Harlow” look.

The Vamp

Whom do you think of when of when you hear the term “The Vamp”? I’ll bet it’s someone like Clara Bow (The “It” Girl), Theda Bara (” The Vamp”), or Pola Negri. They were the “bad girls” and these actresses made at least some silent movies.

They characteristically wore heavy makeup, particularly around the eyes, which was very dramatic, and perfect for the silver screen. Here are some of my favourite pics of these women.

Pictured l. to r. Clara Bow, Theda Bara
Below: Josephine Baker, 1920’s Paris dancer

Theda bara

Theda bara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clara Bow ItJos. Baker

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Please send me feedback…I’d appreciate it.

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