MAKEUP BY THE ERAS: From flat to flapper

1920s style moved makeup from understated to bold

click to enlarge MAKEUP BY THE ERAS: From flat to flapper
August Frank/Inland 360
Jacey Johnson shows off makeup inspired by the 1920s on Monday in Lewiston.

When I think of the 1920s, I’m instantly taken to the flapper era.

The Roaring ’20s were known as a time of liberation and change for women in America, coming on the heels of the “clean girl aesthetic” of the early 1910s when women wore minimal makeup, and dark, sultry looks were associated with prostitutes and showgirls.

It wasn’t until moving pictures made their big boom that women started to become more expressive with their looks, emulating Clara Bow and other female actors of the silent film era.

In my research, I found that 
click to enlarge MAKEUP BY THE ERAS: From flat to flapper
August Frank/Inland 360
Deep red lips in a "cupid's bow" shape were popular in the '20s as women emulated the look of Hollywood stars.
a makeup artist named Max Factor, who took his knowledge from Hollywood and brought it to the general public, was hugely influential. Factor is said to have invented the classic “cupid’s bow” look that became popular with women in the ’20s.

He coined the term “makeup,” which became a popular way to refer to cosmetics, and ran his own lab where he was able to create custom looks for his film clients. He later created his own brand that was sold in stores like Woolworths and Marshall Field’s in major cities across the country. Beauty counters in those stores, where women could try on products before purchasing them, made cosmetics more accessible to the modern woman. Makeup today wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for Max Factor.

Dark red was the most po pular lipstick shade in the ’20s. Women wanted to create small, heavily exaggerated lips that looked feminine and almost childlike in appearance. They would overline and amplify the peaks of the top lip, then fill the lips with the desired red. This very specific look became so popular that stencils were created so women could create the perfect cupid’s bow look every time.

click to enlarge MAKEUP BY THE ERAS: From flat to flapper
August Frank/Inland 360
Johnson's '20s look includes a bold eye and shaped brow.

Let’s talk about eyebrows: Flappers were very particular about this feature. They would heavily pluck and shape them, often emulating favorite actors at the time. The long, arched and very thin eyebrows were filled in with their choice of eye pencil or mascara to make them more defined. Some women would even shave them off completely to achieve the desired look.

The eyeshadow style of the ’20s has always intrigued me as a makeup artist. I went for the more “vampy” look in the face I created for myself. Eyeshadow of the era, typically dark brown, black or even purple, was applied liberally to create the perfect evening look to go out dancing. Women also used eyeliner pencils to enhance the undereye area even more.

Isn’t it funny how much we still follow trends, now on TikTok as well as through actors and other celebrities? I’m constantly seeing new looks, like “strawberry makeup” (flushed cheeks, sheer lips), and I think we all remember the Kylie Jenner lip trend, circa 2015. Did I just age myself?

Thank you for joining me in looking back at makeup trends with this new series of looks. Please contact me if you would like to be featured for the next era, or if there is a specific decade you would like to be a part of. I cannot wait to see where this year takes us.

Historical information from:

Johnson, of Lewist
on, will create a makeup look inspired by each decade from the 1920s forward, using you, our readers, as her models. She can be found on Etsy at BlackMagicBeautyShop and Instagram @blackmagic._beauty.

Join me on a tour of makeup through the decades

For readers new to my columns, I am a professional makeup artist and esthetician in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. I have my own little studio space called Black Magic Beauty located inside Smart  Fitness in Lewiston.
MAKEUP BY THE ERAS: From flat to flapper

I’m entering my third year of writing columns for Inland 360, including last year’s series, “Makeup By the Stars,” through which I demonstrated how to create eye makeup looks based on my volunteer models’ zodiac signs. This year, I’ll be creating looks inspired by different eras: Starting with the 1920s, I’ll let every decade have its moment to shine while sharing history behind the products used and trends from each time period.

Here are some common questions asked during last year’s series, with answers to help you decide if volunteering for this makeup modeling gig is right for you:

Q: Does it cost anything to be a model?
A: Nope. Getting your makeup done as a model for my column is free of charge.

Q: Do I have to live in Lewiston or Clarkston to participate?
A: No, and we’d love to see volunteers from around the region. Any Inland 360 reader can contact me so we can pick a month that works for you to come to my studio. I will work with your schedule.

Q: Do I need to wear or bring anything specific?
A: I ask models to wear a solid color and avoid patterns. This year, we might have props for your decade, and if you have anything you would like to contribute, please bring it.

If there’s an era you are interested in modeling for, please reach out to me:

  • Open House

    @ Future home of Craigmont Community Library

    Fri., March 1, 3-6 p.m.