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Learn about the makeup trends of the 1940’s and come along while I create this iconic makeup look!

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Hello, everyone. Today, we're doing an iconic 1940s makeup look. I've taken some inspiration from stars like Rita Hayworth, Vivian Lee, Veronica Lake and co. It's feminine and elegant. One of those era makeups that I think translates really well even today because it's just classically beautiful. This is also a super duper exciting video because it's part of collaboration called Makeup Through the Ages. So I've teamed up with some amazing YouTubers. I'll link their era make up looks in the description box down below and on the screen at the end of this video so that you can check them out after you watch this video.

Okay, so let's start. We are going for complexion perfection today because that's something that stars at the time would have worn. So I'm blending a medium coverage foundation all over my face. And then I'm going in with my beauty blender which is my tool of choice when building coverage because it seems to keep the skin looking really touchable and tactile. Today, I'm using the Armani Luminous Silk which is the most photogenic foundation that I've ever encountered. If I were getting married, which I'm not by the way, this is an heirloom; but if I were, I would use Luminous Silk because it just pictures flawlessly.

For the brows, there is quite a distinctive brow shape in the ‘40s. It's quite full and natural with a very exaggerated arch. Okay, so achieve this brow shape, I've brushed all my hairs upwards and I'm adding a few extra hairs to the highest point of my arch. I'm also really accenting my brow here, my brow tail. We're going for a lot of length. So more often than not, I notice that ‘40s brows are very rounded but I do notice that some stars like Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman, they have quite angular brows and so do I. So we're just going to work with it.

Okay, on to the eye look. It's not a big eye look. It's actually quite simple. I'm going to start by taking an eyeshadow that's about one shade lighter than my skin tone and I'm dusting that from lash line to brow. This is going to act as a subtle highlight later on because I notice that the brow bone and the mobile lid were really prominent in this era. So for this look, I want really deep sunken sultry sockets and I don't got that naturally so we're going to fake it. I'm starting off with a medium chestnut shade and I'm blending that through the crease to give it more depth. I'm taking that right in to the inner corner.

I'm also going to swoop that shadow here in sort of a c-shape. I notice the shadow a lot in photos and it makes the look as though the brow bone is protruding even more. And then going in with the deeper gray shade and nestling that tighter in to the crease. This is not meant to really register as a makeup. It's more clever definition to make the eye look deepset. Okiedokie, from what I can tell, it doesn't look as though there was a huge emphasis on liner. It was more about the lashes. So I'm going to be using these Physician's Formula liquid eyeliner in the shade black. It's not actually, it's gray, and that always irritated me but it's actually perfect for this look. So I'm creating a very thin line all the way across the top lash line. Now sometimes I see a wing and sometimes I don't. So I'm going to add a little wing.

Another thing that I always do when I do what I do what I do, I don't know. Another thing that I always do is I tightline the top lashes. This is just to get those distracting gaps of skin that really condenses the lash line. On to the false lashes and it is a big part of the ‘40s look and I love false lashes, so this is my kind of era. To me, the lashes look perfectly separated and fanned, so you want to avoid anything too wispy or lashes with a criss cross motions. I've chosen these lashes by Sephora. They're very separated and very fanned and they fit the build. So to apply the lashes, I'm going to drop them first just on the middle of my lash line and then I'm going to pull the lash band and anchor as far as I can towards the outer corner of my eye.

So by anchoring the false lashes very far towards the outer corner, what you get is this effect with the lashes extend and they cast a shadow to give us that sort of sleepy, bedroom eyes, femme fatale kind of thing. So the last step would be to add some mascara just to blend the false lashes to the natural ones. I'm just adding that mascara to the top lashes, not to the lower lashes because to me the lower lash line looks entirely bare. So back to the rest of the face. If you look at the black and white shots of the ‘40s starlet, you'll see that they have this incredible bone structure, cheekbones that could cut eyes. And I was actually quite surprised to discover that shading was popular at the time.

Now before I contour, I'm going to highlight and for this, I love the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind. It erases the dark circles. What I don't love is this damn sponge. Does anyone know if I can rip this off and it will still dispense the product? Because I just find that really yucky. Okay, so I've dispensed some of the product on the back of my hand and I'm going to dab that on to the tops of the cheekbones, a little bit towards the center of the base, a bit between the brows, a little bit on the chin, all over my face, and just some quick concealer before I forget. So now that I've done all my wet products, I'm just going to set my entire face with some setting powder.

So '40s skin was very matte but also I'm using a powder contour today and it will adhere much more evenly over a powdered surface. I want all of the cheekbones so I'm going to be using my favorite Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder and my favorite Rae Morris Ultimate Cheekbone and I'm dipping the shorter bristles on to the contour powder and carving out those cheekbones. I'm also running a bit of that contour powder directly on the jawbone to slim it down a little bit. So now for the lips, definitely the most striking and iconic part of any ‘40s makeup look. Red lips were seen as a sign of strength and patriotism. And the lips shade is also really interesting. The upper lip is very rounded and full. So I'm going to start by making some alterations to my lip shape with a red lip pencil. If you don't like overlining the lips, look away now.

I'm adding some volume to the outer portions of my upper lip but I'm keeping the shape very round. No pointy edges. I'm also feathering that lip pencil inward so that my lips wear evenly and I don't get that sort of ugly outline after a few hours. So picking a lipstick for this tutorial was excruciating. These are my first of all problems. Finally, I decided upon this one and this is By Terry Funky Ruby and it's a blue base pinky sort of red. So using a lip brush, I'm going to really work that lipstick in to the lips so that it becomes a satin stain. Forties lips whether they be orange red or blue red were always more of a satin finish. It wasn't the glossy finishes that we saw in the ‘50s with Marilyn Monroe, so give the lips a really good blood.

Once the lips are on, I can really gauge how much blush I need. And I'm actually going to be using the same lipstick. I put a little bit on the back of my hand and I'm really buffing it in to a stippling brush. So the point where the brush is pretty much dry and all we have is a dry pigment and that way I can apply over a powdered base. Blush placement was sculptural so I'm starting on the side of the apple of the cheek and making my way up the cheekbone. So lucky last step and totally optional but I'm going to decipher exactly where my lashes cast the shadow and I have that darker eyeshadow on an angled blush, I'm going to exemplify it. So it's almost as though my lashes are so heavy that they're casting this incredible shadow. And that guys is my 1940s face. I really hope that you enjoyed this as much as I did and maybe learn something a little bit new.

As I was doing research for this look actually, I kind of started musing to myself what do you think would be the defining make up trend of this era, our current era? Is it the Kim K highlight? Because I'm not entirely sure and I'd be really curious to know what you think. Make sure you hang around for a few seconds to see the other era looks. I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will speak to you very soon. B-bye.

Click the links below to check out the other era makeup looks, courtesy of my favourite Youtubers! You did an amazing job, each and every one of you <3

20’s by Shaaanxo
30’s by Vintageortacky
40’s by Karimamckimmie
50’s by JeanFrancoisCD
60’s by SharonMakeupArtist
70’s by LetzMakeup
80’s by Nikkietutorials
90’s by ChloeMorello

Final Look

Iconic 1940’s Makeup Tutorial

And just for fun, the vintage edit (not my work sadly, I contracted this out but I think he did a great job!)

Iconic 1940’s Makeup Tutorial

Nail polish I’m wearing in this tutorial

Illamasqua Throb (chipped in the time it took to make this tutorial? WTH).

Complete List Of Products

Giorgio Armani – Luminous Silk Foundation in 4.5
SUQQU – Brow Pen in Moss Green
MAC – Eyeshadow in Blanc Type
Rouge Bunny Rouge – Chestnut Napped Apalis Eyeshadow
Rouge Bunny Rouge – Blackpepper Jay Eyeshadow
Physicians Formula – Eye Booster in Black
Pixi – Endless Silk Eye Pencil in Black Cocoa
Sephora – Celebrity Lash
Benefit – They’re Real Mascara
Maybelline – Age Rewind Concealer in Light/Pale
Ellis Faas – Concealer in S202
SUQQU – Loose Powder in Natural
Kevyn Aucoin – Sculpting Powder in Medium
MAC – Lip Pencil in Redd
By Terry – Rouge Terrybly in Funky Ruby

Historical elements of 1940s makeup

The most prominent influence on 40’s makeup was in fact a dark one – world war 2. A strong association between red lipstick and patriotism was born; a red pout became a widely recognized symbol for boosting soldier morale and the will to win.

World War 2 had other implications; production of cosmetics declined and makeup became increasingly scarce. Nonetheless, makeup was valued, so women hustled and repurposed and even resorted to home made potions. The surge of females entering the workforce also meant that makeup had to be practical so compacts, frequently embellished with national pride, were a cherished possession.

Aesthetically, 40’s makeup undertook a transformation from the 30’s trends – thin and severe brows made way for fuller, exaggerated arches. Where lips were preferred thin and bowed in the 30’s, they became round and full in the 40’s decade. Simplicity was key: matte complexions, socket contouring, red lips and rouge were pronounced the war time uniform.

In contrast, 40’s starlets amped it up a knotch – false lashes, facial shading and perfected lighting to accentuate the heart shaped contours of the face. Glamour aside, 40’s starlets retained an air of simplicity and elegance; the more elaborate glossy finishes and heavy winged liner arose much later in the 50’s.

I hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did 🙂


Complete list of products mentioned

Age Rewind Concealer
Age Rewind Concealer
Celebrity Lash
Celebrity Lash
Endless Silk Eye Pencil
Endless Silk Eye Pencil
They’re Real Mascara
They’re Real Mascara
Lip Pencil
Lip Pencil
Luminous Silk Foundation
Luminous Silk Foundation
Terrybly Lipstick
Terrybly Lipstick
Loose Powder
Loose Powder
Sculpting Powder
Sculpting Powder
Eye Booster Pen
Eye Booster Pen
* Denotes products sent for consideration. I’m always honest with my reviews :)

Leave your comment (39 comments)

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  1. This is just perfection. I love history, I love retro looks, and I love you, so I was just enthralled. This look is so amazingly gorgeous, the only problem is, if I try and recreate it, I don’t have your face to look that gorgeous!! πŸ˜‰

    But you’re always challenging me to improve and expand my makeup skills. Maybe I’ll finally attempt lashes!

    Shani x

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Shani! It was so much fun, I’ve always liked era makeup but after all this research, I’m positively obsessed.
      If you’re new to lashes, the Ardell 301 half set are so easy and practically undetectable, very natural. xx

  2. I really love your look! I also really loved how creative everyone was and I also really enjoyed Sharon and Nikkie’s videos. You should do something like this more often.

    1. All of ladies/gent did such an amazing job! I’m so proud of our collective effort πŸ™‚ Did you watch Cora’s from Vintageortacky? So transformative!
      We definitely need to collaborate more πŸ™‚ x

  3. Beautiful as always Karima!

    What are your thoughts on the Ellis Faas concealer? I ended up picking up the Mac highlighter pen and deeply regret it! Too dry for me and doesn’t work well with GA luminous or lasting (which I bought because of you ..and yes it’s LOVE)


    1. Thanks, Jasmine πŸ™‚

      Th Ellis Faas concealer reads a little dry on me, I have to add extra emollience to my eye area before application to make it work for me. The coverage is more light to medium, I’ll address it in depth in my next concealer smack down πŸ™‚
      Glad you like the Lasting Silk! Still my favourite, can’t fault it πŸ™‚

  4. So Glamorous! Karima you look great in all your looks but you look absolutely stunning without any makeup at all. Your a natural beauty.

    1. GAHH I have to review it soon, I have a whole bunch of toner like exfoliants to review so maybe I’ll compare/contrast them in one post. xx

    2. P50 is completely amazing!!! I couldn’t live without it! It is especially great for “middle aged” women. It has completely transformed my skin and I can’t recommend it enough. I seriously wish I had taken before/after pics! Younger ladies may not see as dramatic an effect….. but not sure, we’ll see what Ms. Karima has to say :o)

      1. Interesting you should say that because I gave a bottle (the reformulated, non-phenol version) to my aunty who has entirely different skin to myself (fighting first signs of ageing as well as post-acne scarring) so we’ll get a few different perspectives πŸ˜‰ xx

  5. I think this is my favorite tutorial so far! And right up my alley as of now. I picked up several reds in NYC and have been trying them out while playing up my dark eyebrows, much like the forties aesthetic. It’s so much fun! Will go straight to the other videos from the other decades, what a wonderful idea you all had. I adore finding inspiration in the past… not like a custom but a plentiful source of different ideas about beauty. Makeup can be so much fun πŸ™‚

    1. Aw thank you Catalina! It was one of my favourite tutorials to film, I love historical elements of makeup and many of the application styles are very clever. It’s fascinating how the ‘ideal’ beauty changed throughout the decades, everything from lip shape to eye shape to brows. xx

  6. Fantastic tutorial yet again! Love your videos πŸ™‚

    Random question, do you have green, brown or hazel eyes or are you wearing green contacts on brown eyes? Just curious lol (I have brown eyes and used to wear natural-ish looking green ones to get this cool hazel effect) and the edited vintage pic really makes your eye colour pop!!

    Anywho, love the look and I might have to give it a go this weekend on date night with my fiancΓ©!

    Bambi xx

    1. Thanks Bambi!
      I don’t wear contacts, I think my eyes are brown with green hues? However you’d describe what you see in my videos, I guess!
      If you take photos, make sure you link me to them, I love to see recreations! xx

  7. I couldn’t reply to your reply so I’ll just do it here. I loved vintageortacky’s look a lot as well and I love her channel. I also forgot to answer your question in the video. Somehow I feel like the whole smokey eye and nude lip look was quite popular around 2005-2010. As for after 2010 up to now I feel like many women wear a neutral eye and black eyeliner has also been really popular. I guess time will tell!
    I was wondering if you remember what the hakuhodo prices were like at IMATS? Are they close to the prices on the US website? I really hope I can go this year but I’m not sure whether I should buy a ticket yet because I’m still waiting to get my partner visa approved and if it gets rejected I have to leave within a month. Fingers crossed!

    1. I think you’re right, really nude lips came post 2000’s ish.
      If I remember correctly, there wasn’t a discount on Hakuhodo brushes, they were a similar price to the website prices.
      Good luck, I hope you can go because it’s an awesome experience πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Karima – This video was sooo much fun. I seriously loved it. Not only is it a stunning makeup look, I loved that you wove in cosmetics history. Really fascinating. Veronica Lake is just stunning and your video would be a great resource to copy her look. I’d love to wear this look out sometime. Really really fun vid. Would love to see more like this in the future :o) The collaboration was really fun too. :o) xo SJ

    1. It was sooo much fun to film! Veronica Lake was my main muse (note the hair lol), she’s beyond gorgeous and I love her aesthetic.
      I’m going to delve a little more into era trends, I’m really liking certain aspects of the 60’s and I hope to incorporate them into future tutorials.
      The collaboration was an amazing idea, props to Sharon Farrell for organising it so well!

  9. I loved this video! That make up looks great!
    But my favorite look on you is the one where you’re wearing “carnal attraction” lipstick by terry. I also tried to recreate that look and it was nice. Since i approximately have the same hair and eye color such as the same complexion. I’d loved it if you could do a video tutorial with this same look because i found this sexy lipstick paired with pink eyes looked gorgeous!

    Have a nice night (dunno what time it is in australia but it’s almost nighttime in Paris).

    1. Hey Julie πŸ™‚
      I’m glad you liked the video πŸ™‚ I’m sure I will do some variation of that look in a future tutorial, I really liked it too!
      Night time here in Australia right now πŸ˜‰ x

  10. Honestly, I don’t know what else to say apart from ‘swooooooooooon’. You’re making me lose what little vocabulary I have left, missy!

    But really. I LOVE this look on you. The vampy shade of the lip in the vintage edit is to die for! <3

  11. oh hello there beautiful! this is freakin amazing! :O ever thought of modelling? you have that beautiful bone structure. I love vintage <3

  12. Hi Karima,
    Beautiful tutorial, thank you!
    I envy your beautiful skin! From your experience, do you know any foundation that photographs beautifully but provides higher coverage but not cakey?
    The only foundation that I can find with no SPF with medium to full coverage is Stila All Day.
    Any recommendation will be helpful!

  13. This is one of the best 1940s tutorials I have ever seen! You really did it in a way that makes it wearable for every day too πŸ™‚

  14. Hmmm…defining look….cat eye liner? Instagram brows? I actually think the liner trend is fun and have seen so many creative looks with colors and shapes. Can’t say I’m a fan of the slug-like brows, overly pale “nude” lips and the overdone contours. But then, I don’t really think many 80’s trends were flattering either, and that’s when I came of age…
    Thanks for another well done video. Love your approach to makeup in general. Very geared toward enhancement rather than camouflage, cover and concealment! Bravo.