The 1930s are an era of forgotten glamour, when women with far less resources than those at our disposal were expected to maintain high standards of appearance. The advent of movies and designers such as Coco Chanel gave women something to aspire to. So what tips can we take from these times?
Soap and water
Your granny probably used soap and water; today we have a far more extensive choice of cleansing products to choose from. However, the underlying message is important and remains the same. As 1930s movie starlet Constance Bennett remarks in her Daily Beauty Rituals, “One should always start with a clean slate”.
Cold cream was ubiquitous in the 1930s, used for everything from removing make-up and general cleansing to conditioning eyelashes. The main ingredient was mineral oil, which when over-used can be comedogenic or pore clogging. However, when used in small quantities, especially on clean skin, its effect is beneficial. Oil dissolves oil, and one of the best ways to remove oil and the impurities dissolved in it from your skin is … oil. Ingredients such as argan and marula oil are often found in skin products; thankfully we no longer have to mix our own!
Applying an astringent, such as witch hazel, was another important step in the beauty regimes of the 1930s. Although witch hazel is perhaps best used for cuts and bruises, due to its anti-bacterial properties, the use of a toner to shrink pores is a step many of us skip, or simply forget. As well as being wonderfully refreshing, using a toner removes all traces of cleanser.
Skin foods, or tissue creams, were made from substances including lanolin, animal fat and nut oils. As we know, some lines and wrinkles are caused by loss of fat in the face; in the 1930s it was believed that the skin could absorb fats from such skin food and thus replenish itself, reducing wrinkles. Although this is obviously not true, it doesn’t mean this was an ineffective step; the creams were typically left on for some time (such as over breakfast) and hence had a similar effect to the moisture masks we use today.
Lines and wrinkles are just two of the signs of aging; 1930s beauty advice maintained that keeping one’s face as still as possible reduced their appearance. Ladies keen to maintain their youthful looks were advised to avoid unpleasant facial expressions, as they were believed to cause indelible lines and wrinkles. It was also suggested crying, laughing and even smiling should be avoided if at all possible – perhaps Victoria Beckham is a fan – and a serene countenance was considered desirable. While this may be going rather too far, there’s no doubt that a cheerful expression is always more attractive!