What A '50s Beauty Routine Would Have Looked Like

by Courtney Mina

In these modern times, we have arguably developed a great love for all things vintage: Vintage clothing, vintage shoes, vintage hairstyles, and even vintage furniture. You may be someone who has the vintage "look" down pat, but have you ever wondered what a vintage '50s beauty routine would actually be like?

I have been reading Judy Blume's most recent novel In The Unlikely Event as of late. The story takes place in the early 1950s, focusing on the lives of several people affected by the plane crashes that took place in Elizabeth, New Jersey at the time. In between all of the "unlikely events" that occur, the book does a wonderful job of providing all sorts of little details about life in the '50s, including ones about the lead female protagonist's shopping and beauty routines.

Personally, I was amazed to realize just how different things were back then. I mean, sure, we may achieve the same "vintage look and style" in 2015 as they did back then (think pinup dresses, dramatic winged eyeliner, and red lips Marilyn Monroe-style) but the actual methods, routines, and products we use are extremely different today than those of the actual '50s. Since a lot of us possess a love for all things retro, let's take a look at seven examples of what your beauty and shopping routine would look like if you lived in the '50s, according to Judy Blume.

1. Baths And All-Purpose Soap Bars

A lot of us hop into the shower first thing in the morning. If you lived in the '50s, however, Blume's books imply that you'd most likely be taking a bath instead. Forget using your special soaps from your favorite mall shop as well. You'd most likely be using an all-purpose bar soap (Palmolive, Sunlight, or a Fels-Naptha soap bar, to name a few) to rinse away the daily grime. These bars were also used for laundry, believe it or not.

2. Primp And Powder

When it came to makeup, there was no Ulta available for you to pick up your liquid foundation and contouring set at. Instead, you'd probably be purchasing an all-in-one base and powder in a compact form. According to the Hair And Makeup Artist Handbook, Max Factor, Revlon, Pond, and Avon were the most popular skincare and cosmetic brands at the time.

Most likely, you'd also own a Volupté compact: A decorated compact case that contained powder and a puff. A little blush, winged eyeliner (if you were going for a glamorous look), mascara, and a shade of red lipstick (none of the crazy colors we rock today) would have been applied to your face to complete the perfect look.

3. A Wondrous Wardrobe

If you lived in the '50s, your closet was likely filled with cardigans and sweater sets, blouses with embroidered collars, dresses with ballerina-length hems and cinched waists (for an hourglass look), pencil skirts, pleated shorts, saddle shoes (also known as "casual Oxfords"), heels (for dressier occasions), pantyhose, nylons, slips, girdles, and a pair of cat-eye glasses or two. It's possible that your clothing would also be made of natural materials, such as cotton and/or wool. Looking "glamorous" was all the rage, so you would frequently dress to present in a "put together" kind of way.

4. Department Store Shopping

In the '50s, "malls" weren't really a thing yet. According to The Guardian, the first mall ever built in America was actually the Southdale Shopping Center in Edina, Minnesota, which opened in 1956. Chances are that back in the '50s you would have shopped at independently owned stores near where you lived.

For a more elevated shopping experience, however, department stores were much more popular. These were usually located in the downtown area of larger cities, and visiting one would likely feel much more like an "outing" and a "treat" than it does today.

5. Lingerie Stores

Back in the day, folks didn't have quite as an elaborate selection of bras and underwear as we do today. Young girls mainly wore plain, white cotton bras and underwear that you would buy from the department store. However, women of the '50s were in love with with glamour and the hourglass waist look, so corsets and girdles were extremely popular, along with silk slips and nylons. If you wanted to buy any of these items, you had to head over to a special lingerie store (which sold more glamorous undergarments) to buy a half slip for $3.99.

6. Spend Your Evening In A Nightgown

After you took off your saddle shoes, clothing, nylons, and girdle at the end of the day, chances are you'd slip into something much more comfortable: A Lanz nightgown, which was all the rage and the "nighttime fashion" of the time.

7. Set Your Curls

The most popular way to style your hair was cut short or just above the shoulders, worn lose and glamorously waved, or curled (think bob, bubble cut, poodle cut, bouffant, pageboy or pixie cut). Most women would set their hair in curlers and sleep with them in overnight, either using foam, pin, or rag rollers. Some would even cover their hair with a cap to protect the locks while they slept. Others still would simply try to sleep as still as they possibly could.

Well, it certainly takes a lot to be glamorous. Some things never change.

Images: The Weinstein Company (2); Pixabay (1); 20th Century Fox (1); AMC (2); Paramount Pictures (1); Mirisch Company (1)