Historians use the word “boom” to describe a lot of things about the 1950s: the booming economy, the booming suburbs, the so-called “baby boom.”
What do we associate with the 1950’s? Great films, iconic movie stars, timeless fashion and beauty; these are just a few things that the era was famous for.
The 50’s had seen post war recovery, reconstruction and the Cold War. Social and economical structures from the West, with its Capitalist ideology, kick-started a culture of consumerism and the aspiration for a luxurious lifestyle. People of that era had more disposable cash than their parents’ generation, so they could be reckless and celebratory in their post rationing moment and so spent more than ever on clothes, travel and beauty.
The 1950’s style exemplified class and grace, especially when it came to hair, beauty and make up. Think Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, the era gave birth to some true beauty icons.
But how did these starlets stay so pristine without today’s super beauty treatments and latest technological advances?
We look at the traditional skincare regimen of the 50’s and compare it to our time. Back in the 1950’s, there were fewer skincare choices and it wasn’t as overwhelming as it is now. It was basically a choice between brands of the beauty standards (a cleansing or cold cream, skin refresher, soap and emollient or moisturiser), and a few homemade concoctions thrown in for the glamorous housewife on a budget.
Skin cleansing was very much on agenda in every household and a good old soap was highly advertised and used in skincare. Palmolive soap was considered as a product promising better skin for all ages and skin types. In current times, where skincare is usually sold as a complicated system involving many products for day and night (and in between) the original Palmolive bar promised simple “soap facials” that would “bring new complexion beauty to two out of three women.”
However, today, most of the beauty world would cautiously avoid soap all together, warning of their harshness on the skin, triggering dryness, inflammation and breakouts. “Keep it Clean” was proven to be a slogan of that decade. Cleansing cream, soap and water were part of the daily habits. Film archives show that vigorously washing face, ears and neck every morning and night with a cloth, warm water and soap bar was a crucial daily skincare routine.
Cold creams were also favoured. Just like soap, Cold creams do not contain active ingredients that are integral for improving one’s skin such as ceramides, peptides and hyaluronic acid. Instead, soap strips out our skin’s Natural PH balance. While Cold cream provide a nice feeling on the skin, but do not give the skin any nutrients.
Outside their homes those who wanted to lose a few pounds or rejuvenate their skin went to a retreat for paraffin wraps, seaweed baths, and suction cup massages. The key to beauty in the 1950′s was not the most attractive, but the admiring male glances were certainly worth it. Women of the by-gone era would undergo intense beauty treatments to achieve the perfect skin and many would lay for hours whilst the beautician smeared their body in lotions and potions which would then be exfoliated off whilst they took a long bath. Facial steaming was also a popular method of maintaining a dewy complexion.
In terms of the beauty marketing, Estee Lauder began in 1946 in New York as primarily a skin care line with a handful of products. Joseph Lauder and his wife Estee expanded and in the 1950’s became the first company to introduce the free sample and gift with purchase incentives, giving away miniature lipsticks, rouges, eye shadows, and face creams. Today this plays a key role in companies marketing strategies and our shopping experience.
Pinks, purple-reds and orangey-reds took centre stage in the early 1950s and are still widely favoured by women today. The eye look of the 1950s was essentially minimal, with little eye-shadow applied. Mascara on the other-hand was everyone’s favourite little accessory. Generous dabs of blusher added a flushing femininity to a woman. A soft but definite liner was then applied along the upper lash and softly swept out in an arch, opening up the eyes. Many women used their blush for an ever so light touch-up over the brows too, in the evening time. Rosy and pastel hues of rouge applied to the apple of the cheek finished off the look.
The women of the 50’s were beauty, fashion and lifestyle trendsetters who helped us progress to what beauty and skincare is today.
As much as we love to celebrate the traditional techniques within the beauty regimes of the 50’s, times have changed and the impact of pollution, highly stressful work environments, toxins and the pressures of a modern era, mean that we need more active ingredients in our skincare and nutrition nowadays. Skincare brands, such as Dermalogica have invested a lot of money and research into formulating the best possible products in response to the stresses of life and its effect on our skin.
The make-up of the1950’s has seen a huge comeback in recent years.
That is why we have dedicated a whole blog and photo-shoot to the styles of “The Booming 50’s”. Take a look at our blog to explore more…
Written by Dana Vronska, Beauty Manager at Shine on the Green.