1930s Makeup: Wearing Melodrama


I was skeptical when I made the decision to finally create a look inspired by the makeup and style trends of the 1930s. The makeup trends of the thirties are probably my least favorite style, as far as vintage looks go. There is just something about the look that appeared, to be honest, as pathetic. In pictures I’d seen of this era, I was never able to get over the fact that subjects rarely smiled. Last year, I completed a look for both the 1920s and the 1940s and managed to skip through the 1930s. This year, I’m trying to make up for lost times… a fantastic pun if I do say so!

With my commitment to creating a look from this era, I seriously began my search for makeup styles from this period. The looks I found, which I’ve saved to my Pinterest Page, possess the same lifeless expression that I described above. That is, the sleepy sunken eyes and almost invisible brows. And yet, despite the hazy style of 1930’s makeup, the look does possess a somewhat captivating result. The look is so contradictory, in that the style itself is so unmoving yet so overwhelmingly theatrical at the same time.

Though I wasn’t prepared to practically pluck off all my eyebrows, I did manage to create the divergent spirit that this era possesses. A makeup look that I like to call: the wearing melodrama of the 1930s.


The Brows Starting with the eyebrows, I created a sharp line on the upper outline of my brows to create an illusion of the popular pencil thin rounded brow of the period. It was difficult to eliminate the angled arch of the brows, which today is quite popular. However, the help of an angle brush and some brow defining makeup created a similar look to the era without having to pluck the eyebrows.


The Eyes The eye makeup is sleepy looking, yet sly. The eye shadow look of this period is monotone. I used only two shadows for this look. I created an even texture in a circular shape around the eyelid, trending downwards to the lower outer corner of the eye. Unlike the smoky eye, which focuses on the crease of the eyelid, the look of this era creates a shadow in the lower outer corner of the eye. Popular eye shadows of this era included greens and pastels. In recreating this look, I used a neutral matte brown and then used a mixture of the same brown and a dark green for the liner of the lower lid.


The Blush The blush for this era is also brushed downwards to the outer lower half of the face in a triangle shape starting from almost right under the lower eyelid. Popular colors were rose and pink. The blush is probably the most dramatic piece of this look following the eyebrows.

The last component for this look was the lip. Though the lip still has a similarity to the bow lip of the 1920s, it is less exaggerated than the previous decade. The lip is arguably the most natural component of this look.

Once I had finished this look, I didn’t notice a difference until I saw the look as captured on camera. Imitating the same emotionless expressions of the era, I could not believe how much the makeup of this look could speak for itself without the person wearing the look having to be expressive. Even with all of the makeup trends of the 21st century, the look of the thirties is still incredibly unique with both a fierce and tragic conclusion.


One thought on “1930s Makeup: Wearing Melodrama

  1. I would love to read the ‘story’ of the woman you have created with your 1930’s look…beautiful pics!
    Lady Agnes

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