Sunday, March 8, 2009
Before the '20's, women wore cosmetics, but nice women hid their rouge pots and powder puffs away from fathers and husbands, who heartily disapproved. Discretion was imperative. But when the '20's hit, young women went for makeup in a big way: stars like Theda Bara and Clara Bow made paper-white skin, blood red lips and insanely made-up eyes into must-haves for every fashionable woman who ever rolled a stocking below the knee. Makeup was in its rawest form, because the market was just beginning to grow. Early mascara was a cake of wax that was melted and applied in a gluey mass to the lashes with an orange stick. The trend in lipstick was the reddest red—no other color options were available—and smudgeproof lipstick was mandatory for would-be vamps who wanted to neck without leaving a trail.Eyebrows were painfully thin; in a fad, women plucked out the entire eyebrow and penciled it back on higher than it had been in the first place. Eye makeup consisted of kohl, which might be made of ingredients as strange as soot, lead and goose grease. Kohl went all the way around the eyes, turning the whole orbital area into a deep-stained smudge reminiscent of vampires. For a dramatic touch, some 'vamps' drew a line of kohl from the corner of the eye outward, simulating a slightly Asiatic look that was deemed sexy and bad. (Even today, imported kohl may contain lead: substitute black eyeliner instead). Powder (usually rice powder) was vital to the Flapper look: skin looked white to the point of near-death; one author called it, "the pallor usually associated with innate vice".