20 Vintage Beauty Tricks You Should Use

With their glowing skin, tumbling curls and perfect pouts, vintage beauties like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn are still the envy of women today! But just how did they manage to look so classically beautiful without the plethora of makeup products available to the ladies of 2014? Let’s take a step back in time and discover the tricks of those old Hollywood sirens!

There’s definitely something to be said for the fact that we’re still obsessed with the classic beauty of bygone eras!

We still admire the simplistic elegance of the likes of Grace Kelly and continue to try to recreate the retro glamour of Marilyn Monroe with beauties like Dita Von Teese leading the pack! There just seems to be something effortless and undeniably feminine about the old Hollywood actresses, something refreshing about living in an age where making an effort and looking your best at all times was a way of life!

So, let’s see just how to create the beautiful vintage look in 2014 using a combination of 20 beauty tricks from back in the day and some up-to-date cosmetics!

#1 Cleanse

girl holding hands with red nails under tap of water

A flawless complexion is the most vital part of creating the vintage look and I’m not talking about covering your imperfections with foundation! It was taking great care of the skin that was of paramount importance – but without all these modern day face creams and cleansers, just how did they do it? Simple: cold water!

Joan Crawford famously used to splash her face with ice cold water over 20 times to tighten her pores and keep her skin taut! Now that’s an inexpensive trick we can all try out!

It’s worth mentioning that using cold water on your hair to keep it shiny was also part of the old beauty routines!

#2 Exfoliate

Exfoliating rejuvenates the skin, rids it of dead cells and helps clear acne so needless to say, it is a vital step in creating the perfect complexion!

Even Katharine Hepburn made her own exfoliant using lemon juice, a little water and granulated sugar!

Give this homemade version a go by all means or opt for a current product such as St Ives’s Apricot Facial Scrub!

#3 Moisturise

Hydrated skin is healthy skin but far from using expensive moisturisers, Sophia Loren famously used to put olive oil in the bath to make her skin supple and her hair shiny!

The oil even provides powerful anti-oxidants! But if you don’t fancy taking a dip in the stuff and risk smelling like a Greek salad, then why not try Palmer Olive Butter or Aphrodite Olive Oil Body Lotion instead?

#4 Put Down The Fake Tan

Unlike today, tanned skin was actually once undesirable and associated with the lower classes! It was rather porcelain skin that was considered elegant and high class; so much so that women of yesteryear made a point to stay out of the sun! So embrace your natural skin tone and put the sun lounger and tanning mitt away!

#5 Prevent Puffiness


Vintage beauties used Petroleum Jelly (or Vaseline) religiously under the eyes to prevent puffiness and dark circles!

This combined with good old-fashioned cucumber slices really worked to keep puffiness at bay! While cucumbers are still used for this today, we now have the most amazing eye creams to choose from such as Simple Soothing Eye Balm which contains Vitamin B-5, Shea butter and Bisabolol!

#6 Prime Your Eyelids

It’s no secret that I’m a primer fanatic! But even the old Hollywood sirens saw the importance of priming their eyelids before applying eyeshadow and liner! While petroleum jelly was used back then, I suggest you use something like Elizabeth Arden’s Eye Fix Primer!

#7 Add A Little Extra Glow

If putting maximum effort in to your skin routine still isn’t giving you the Hollywood radiance you desire, then try mixing a primer like Lancôme’s Éclat Miracle in with your foundation to really make your skin glow! Marilyn Monroe famously used to layer on hormone cream, petroleum jelly and powder so she positively beamed on camera, but consequently grew a layer of blonde hair on her face… yeah don’t try that!

#8 Contour a la Kelly


While we generally consider contouring as a relatively new makeup trick used by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, it was actually used way back in the day by Grace Kelly – the original queen of contouring!

Grace used two different shades of blush to create her beautiful high cheekbones; a darker blush just underneath her cheekbone and a lighter blush on the apples of her cheeks!

#9 Give Your Cheeks Some Colour

Speaking of blush, did you know that ladies used to crush rose petals and even beetroot to get that beautiful rosy flush? Try it out for yourself, or just use Benefit’s Benetint – your choice!

#10 Keep Eyes Simple

Far from a complex multi-toned smokey eye you’re likely to see on a modern day runway, women back in the day simply applied a darker colour such as a soft brown in the crease to define the eye! A neutral skin toned colour was then applied all the way up to the brow bone to give lift!  A simple trick with fabulous results!

#11 Fake Luscious Lashes


Audrey Hepburn famously used to spend a ridiculous amount of time separating her lashes with a pin to create the full lashed effect! Thankfully we don’t have to resort to such painstaking measures as we now have access to lengthening and volumising mascaras! Plus, false lashes can be found everywhere!

#12 Embrace Red Lipstick

Wearing red lipstick can be daunting, but if you truly want to recreate the retro glamour look then ditch the fear! Be it raspberry, cherry or wine, there’s a red lipstick to suit everyone so find your shade and simply blot it to make it velvety matte! To make it even more poutalicious, add a little gloss to the centre and smudge!

#13 Create Full Lips

To create a beautiful full pout like those seen in the 40s, use a lip liner to define your lips and accentuate your cupid’s bow with a highlighter like Benefit’s High Beam!

#14 Coordinate

Did you know that something as simple as matching your nails to your lipstick screams vintage?! Revlon introduced the notion and began selling lipstick and matching nail polish sets in the 40s; some of the colours can still be bought to this day!

#15 Try The Half Moon Manicure


The unpainted half moon nail trend is very fashionable right now having recently been seen on the spring 2014 runway! But far from a new idea, this trend was first seen back in the 30s! That’s right, women like Marlene Dietrich used to leave the half moon of their nail bare because it meant the re-growth didn’t show as fast and the manicure lasted longer! Practical and stylish!

#16 Define Your Brows

Be it 1920 or 2014, eyebrows are a big deal! The brows of the 20s and 30s were thin and straight, while the 40s saw the birth of the fashionable thick and gently arched brow! So tweeze, comb and treat your eyebrow pencil as your best friend to get dark and defined vintage brows!

I definitely suggest going over your brows with a damp angle brush to soften them up at the end though!

#17 Create Tumbling Curls

You don’t get much more vintage than pairing beautiful tumbling curls with your red lipstick! No electric gadgets are needed for this girls so put away your GHDs and Babyliss crimping iron and use good old-fashioned rollers to achieve optimum bounce instead!

#18 Indulge Your Hands

Vintage beauties didn’t just stop at their faces. Oh no! They were so meticulous about looking after their skin that hand cream was also an integral part of the daily beauty routine!

So, to ensure all the skin on show looks flawless, use a product such as Helping Hands from Lush! (My all time favourite hand cream).

#19 Accessorise


Nothing says timeless beauty and femininity more than a good ol’ vintage accessory, so accessorise your look with an elegant vintage headband or a simple string of lustrous pearls to instantly brighten your complexion!

#20 Spritz Away

Scent was (and still is) a major part of a woman’s beauty and elegance so choose a vintage fragrance like Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds or the classic Chanel Mademoiselle to feel truly glamorous!

Beauty routines may have come a long way, but I think we’ll always look back and want to recreate a little of the old Hollywood Glamour from time to time! Luckily with a little historical know-how and a few modern cosmetics, we can look and feel like the beauties of yesteryear in 2014 and years to come!

Cover photo: tumblr.com

About the author

Jane Glover

Jane Glover is a 25 year old yummy mummy with a passion for writing and all things beauty related. A literature lover and fuchsia fanatic, Jane is happiest with a novel in one hand and a deliciously pink cocktail in the other.

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  • I think you all are wonderful for sharing such helpful and valuable advice and ideas. Thank you so much.