Hairstyles and Makeup of the 1940s

Written by alexandra macrae
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Hairstyles and Makeup of the 1940s
Hairstyles of the 1940s were long and flowing. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

The definitive word for 1940s hairstyles and make-up is glamour. During this decade, many women went to work for the first time to fill the masculine roles that were left absent by the men who were away at war. There was a strong desire among women to cling to their femininity and they did this by devoting great amounts of time and energy to their hair and make-up.

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Hairstyle Trends

The most general look for women's hair that stayed popular throughout the 1940s was big, soft curls that extended past the shoulders. Hairstyles during this decade were heavily influenced by Hollywood actresses, and this look in particular was made popular by actresses Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall, according to

Victory Rolls

One of the most signature hairstyles of the late 1940s was the "Victory Rolls" hairstyle which was named in celebration of the victory of World War II. This hairstyle was usually worn half-up, with large, tightly-wound rolls on the top of the head and the rest of the hair worn down in big, soft waves.

Hairstyles and Makeup of the 1940s
A model sporting the victory rolls hairstyle. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Make-up Trends

The main feature for vintage 1940s make-up were full lips, painted in a red tone. Eyebrows were also kept fuller, but with sharp, contoured arches and edges. Mascara and blush also played a heavy role in achieving the glamorous Hollywood movie star look.

Make-up Retailers

Wearing nail polish that matched your make-up and clothing was customary in the 1940s. This trend was perpetuated by make-up retailers in order to sell more nail polish and make-up. The big names in make-up in the '40s were Max Factor, Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden.

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