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Prior to the 1920s make up was actually dangerous to use. Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden were the pioneers in the creation of make up that was safe to use with a lot of freedom. In the book "Warpaint" the different concoctions created by both beauty experts revolutionized the world of beauty.
From the book come the following facts:
1. The only color lipstick available was red by 1920, and women over-used it. The lips were to be colored in the shape of a "cupid's bow" or a pout, which was an artistic way to represent a kiss being blown.
2. Blush and powder had just be revolutionarily converted to a less-toxic substance, and so women used it more freely (not to mention that, with the secret consumption of alcohol during Prohibition half of them were probably a bit octane-driven). The cheeks were thought to look sexier if they showed the rouge (blush) prominently and in a circle shape.
3.Mascara was worn in big amounts to match the appearance of big lips which, at the time, were considered the most attractive part of the face, so they had to wear it very dark to make the red stand out more. Eyebrows were supposed to be very very thin and shaded so that the eyelids would stand out with its dark colors.
Plastic surgery was available but highly dangerous then. Only a few operations had been conducted on extreme situations (war injuries) to restore facial features. Ears would be pinned back and cheeks would be sliced in order to strech the skin of the face in the case of an earlier plastic sugery, and it would often had to be done with extreme care, only to re-touch it down the line. Therefore, for aging women who didnt want to go under the knife probably their best bet was to cake it all under all the newly available make up.
The Roaring '20s was the age of flappers -- the young women who shocked polite society of the time with their (for the time) scanty clothing and excessive use of makeup. So yes, there was a lot of makeup used in the 1920s.
Some things that were in use at the time: mascara, lipstick, lots of white foundation (I have even seen pictures of a woman powdering her knees to make them look smoother), kohl -- sort of the same function as modern eyeliner.
In addition, application of makeup in public became much more socially acceptable.
Mascara, lipstick, foundation.
Plastic surgery was indeed available then but dangerous.
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