Saturday, 10 May 2014

History of Lipstick Part 2: 1920s-1950s (America & UK.)


Heat from the lights on film sets caused lip pomade to run and it was Max Factor who solved this problem by using greasepaint foundation around the mouth, covering the lip outline and then pressing two thumbs prints of pomade on the upper lip and two upside down thumb prints on the lower lip. Finally he used a brush to draw in the corners and contours. He eventually renamed his products 'make up' rather than cosmetics, thus the term 'make up' once reserved for theatre was suddenly used by everyone as other companies followed his lead. Showbiz once disproved of , was now glamorous and Hollywood set a standard to aspire to. Maybelline had created kiss proof lipstick and by 1929 Elizabeth Arden was a household name Although lipstick was fashionable it was still uncomfortable to wear as the soap base made it very thick.            

Top Left: Actress Evelyn Brent models the 1920s lip Shape Bains News Service Source                         

Bottom Left: Clara Bow popularised the 1920's lip Shape Bains News Service Source

Right: Elizabeth Arden Alan Fisher New York World Telegram Source


As the roaring twenties was replaced by the Great depression, it's influence was felt in make up trends: lipstick went from carefree flirtation to a restrictive perfectionist ideal. Perhaps imposing perfection in this imperfect world. Lips were angular and severe, aided by new products- lip liner and lip stencils. Stars Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo popularised this look. Technicolor films meant that women could now see on screen and shop for the actual lipstick colour as well as applying the right lip shape. Perfume was now added to lipstick. Another advancement saw Helena Rubenstein showing the first clinical lipsticks advertisements featuring sun protectors.
Make up was one of the very few industries that came out of the depression richer than ever before. Women flocked to beauty salons, seeking respite from the dreary monotonous world. This phenomenon was coined 'The lipstick Effect' where women spend relatively more money on beauty products during economic recessions, in particular more lipstick. The theory is that the consumer attempts to make themselves feel better through a small, indulgent buy.

Left: Actress Marlene Dietrich copyright DarlingLiz Some Rights Reserved changes made Source

Top Right: Actress Marlene Dietrich, owned by Dennis Amis Some Rights Reserved Changes made Source

Bottom Right: Actress Greta Garbo in the fillm Inspiration (1931 )Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Source

 In America, make up was seen as important for good morale during WW2. The US director of
Economic Stabilisation instructed factory dressing rooms to be stocked with lipstick to improve work productivity. Tangee, a leading make up company ran a 'War women and Lipstick' campaign' stating 'If a symbol were needed...of this courage and strength- I would choose lipstick.....A woman's lipstick is an instrument of personal morale that helps her to conceal heartbreak or sorrow, gives her self confidence when it's badly needed.' Women hung onto their lipsticks and savoured their use for nights out only. Adverts warned women to buy sparingly. Lipsticks were cited as the most missed of the shortages in the war. Nurses evacuated by submarines always escaped carrying their lipsticks.

Unfortunately for women in the UK, lipstick production ground to a halt. The only way to obtain it was on the black market, buying secretly from bootleggers.

                                                                                            Woman Aircraft worker, California  USA 1942                                                                                                                              David Bransbury Source

Left: Marilyn Monroe TV Radio Mirror Macfadden Publications Source
Right: Hazel Bishop Lipstick Advert Joe Haupt Some Rights Reserved Source

The end of war signalled a change in lipstick fashion, lips were now made to look fuller and seductive symbolising good health and encouraging reproduction and re-population. Make up trends of bright red and plum drew attention to the lips. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were engaged in a battle of whose lips could be the most over the top. Everyone wanted Marilyn Monroe's pout. Incidentally movie bosses deemed Marilyn's chin too prominent and that this 'defect' was more noticeable when her lips were closed. They instructed her to always have a slightly parted mouth.
The 50's gave birth to 'teenagers' and make up advertisers now targeted girls as well as women, creating lipstick names such as 'Milkmaid pink' to appeal to them.
Finally American chemist Hazel Bishop developed the first lipstick that did not smudge and that lasted longer. Hooray!

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