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Lipstick Tips From 1944

For some reason, I'm obsessed with reading about how women did their makeup in decades past. In a lot of ways, the beauty industry has evolved, offering countless new formulations and technologies. In other ways, though, we're still in the same spot we were fifty or sixty years ago.

I dug into the archive of the New York Times and found this story from long ago. It's the first in a series of how-to makeup stories, and it's a little odd to read such basic beauty tips in such a serious newspaper. But look at the dateline, 1944, and it starts to make sense. Lipstick didn't really take off until around the time of World War II, when it was popularized by movie stars. Many adult women didn't know how to apply it, so why wouldn't a newspaper start a sure-to-be-popular beauty column, right?

The thing is, maybe I'm reading everything incorrectly, but the tips themselves seem a little off. To read an excerpt,

Here's part of the story. Read this and tell me if it makes sense to you. Doesn't it sound as though we're supposed to draw outside the normal pink part of the lips? Doesn't that seem a little Bozo the Clown? Let me know what you think, because it seems odd to me...

To shape the lips: Follow the natural line of the lips. If the lips are exceptionally full cheat a bit so that the lipstick line is indented slightly from the natural line. If the lips are thin cheat a little the other way.

Retain the true proportions of the bows but keep the line soft. Avoid exaggerated curves or points, but never flatten out the line of the bows entirely. Carry the lipstick from the bows to the corners of the mouth in a line that curves out gently from the natural line. This gives a more appealing shape to all mouths. Be sure that the outward curving line is very slight—too much gives the lips a sulky, sneering expression.


GiggleSugar GiggleSugar 10 years
I could be wrong, but perhaps the weird part isn't so much the advice to outline in or out of your natural lip line (clearly, the part of the world is still doing that!) but this advice: "Carry the lipstick from the bows to the corners of the mouth in a line that curves out gently from the natural line." So basically, draw a smiley line at the corners? That seems odd to me, too. And a bit Jokerish...
lacornflakegirl lacornflakegirl 10 years
thats awesome :)
creepupmytee creepupmytee 10 years
hah cute.
Karla-Sugar Karla-Sugar 10 years
even at a makeup counter today, an artist might attempt to draw outside the line of my lips. I hate it! Looks ridiculous to me. You just can't plump them up that way.
kayleigh83 kayleigh83 10 years
Yep, you read it right. I'm a makeup artist and I learned how to do makeup for various decades... and in the 40's the popular look was to overdraw the lips JUST slightly... especially to widen the cupid's bow.
ohvogueee ohvogueee 10 years
awwww, its so cute! what don't you get about it? you go past your lip line if your lips are thin and if you have giant lips, pull in the lipstick. makes sense to me!
cleegiants cleegiants 10 years
i have naturally thin lips so extending the lipliner just beyond my real lip does help. it's a fine line though - you don't want to go too far or it's obvious, but in general, i'd do it more often if i had the time!
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 10 years
I read in Kevyn Aucoin's "Making Faces" book on the various shapes you can achieve with lips. The 1940s had a large, fuller look that was drawn outside the lip line. So the article makes perfect sense given the time period. I think the way the article was written was really cute! So authentic too!
thatsmypurse thatsmypurse 10 years
I would love to see more of these!
fishlady fishlady 10 years
Yeah, I think I was watching a popular TV makeover show recently, and this same suggestion was made...
kristinmarie419 kristinmarie419 10 years
I agree with DCStar - I think they're just suggesting that for a fuller lip you can cheat to the outside a bit.
DCStar DCStar 10 years
I don't think they suggest doing the BOZO thing at all, they say less is more for fuller lips, and I see plenty of women these days going outside of their thin lips. It's still done.
i-am-elle i-am-elle 10 years
I love that. It's cool reading about how things were done back then. Especially makeup!
karisaamy karisaamy 10 years
Why would you want to look sneering????
Mikaela81 Mikaela81 10 years
Speaking of old beauty advice and products, in my post on bag balm I mentioned you could get it at the Vermont country store, that place is still selling old beauty brands, worth checking out for a laugh.
frappelattes frappelattes 10 years
This was written around a time when makeup was supposed to be more...theatrical, or to fake a particular appearance. Nowadays we use it to accentuate what we already have.
shleamg shleamg 10 years
Yes, definitely wouldn't want a sulky or sneering expression. This is hilarious!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 10 years
Hehe that is so cute! I better follow those instructions so i don't look like I'm sneering!!!
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