Skincare by the Decade


We've been doing a small series on Instagram called the #historyofskincare, so now it is time to gather it all in one spot to share with you the fascinating things we found out about the evolution of the beauty industry and ideals over the last 100 years!

Pictured: Evelyn Nesbit - actress and one of the most photographed women of the era.

Starting of with 1900's - The Edwardian Makeup Era - a pale complexion was sought after (tanned skin was seen as lower class) so women would use lemon juice as a face tonic to achieve that look. Beauty salons across major cities became more and more popular. Edwardian women also very much enjoyed facials, and spent a lot of time massaging creams into their faces to achieve hydrated supple skin.

In 1909 Gordon Selfridge in Oxford Street opened the first "cosmetics counters", where women got a chance to experiment with cosmetics before buying it!


Pictured: Billie Burke - American actress famous on broadway and in silent films.

1910's were the years of the first real innovations in skincare. Max Factor opened it's first salon in LA in 1909, and was already making a name for himself with his work in Hollywood.

Eye makeup became increasingly popular inspiring Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden to develop eye makeup. It was also the decade when Maybelline introduced it's first "cake" mascara and in 1914 Max Factor introduced the first commercial eye shadow made with henna extracts.

Women in that era spent a lot of time on caring for their skin, it was believed that after 25 a lady should spend 10 minutes twice a day doing a special face massage to keep skin toned and wrinkles away. Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, Lanolin, Petrolatum, Witch Hazel and Glycerin were popular ingredients used to care for the skin.

Pictured: Clara Bow - famous American silent film actress, who made the bow lip very popular in the 20s.

1920s was the era of "The Flapper". 

Beauty products such as mascara, lipstick and eyeshadow could now be seen on most dressing tables and handbags across America and Europe.

In Japan Shiseido was producing unique beauty products for "modern Japanese women". Whilst in 1909 Gordon Selfridge opened the first beauty counter, by the 20s every pharmacy and department store had beauty and makeup counters.

Shaping the mouth and contouring lips was one of the biggest fads of that era. White skin was still very much thought after, with light powder and bleaches being used to achieve the complexion.

1920s also brought an increased fascination with a "youthful" look and cosmetic companies quickly using it in their pitch to guarantee a youthful look.

1930s were defined by pencil thin eyebrows. Plucking eyebrows became very popular, and heavy kohl eye makeup gave way to a more feminine lighter shades. Max Factor introduced their first cream eye shadow and lip gloss. Mascara was now in every girl's makeup up bag. A sun-kissed look started slowly coming back into fashion.

Although a multi-step skincare routine would be marketed and sold much later on, women in the 30s followed a beauty routine each day that required a number of different products. Most women used cold cream to cleanse their face (soap was still widely used, but was seen as harsh for the delicate skin of the face), it was oil based and could wipe away the grime from the skin without leaving the skin dry. Women would apply a thin layer and wipe it away with a soft cloth. This would be followed by a number of creams and tonics to even out fine lines and wrinkles. Women were encouraged to keep a still face to avoid developing lines!

Pictured: Ava Gardner, famous American actress.

In the 1940s women found themselves working in very ‘unfeminine’ conditions in munitions and aircraft factories on both sides of the Atlantic.

Women opted for confident high up-dos and a rich red lip. Thin lips of the 1930s were gone, giving way to plump red lips on every corner. Simplicity and convenience was the key as many women took to working in factories and on the farms. Red lips made up for many a tired girl and in fact lipsticks were considered in the USA as essential for ‘the war effort’ – to keep morale up.

In the 1930s electrical current was used in a lot of salons for the purpose of tightening and restoring skin, and this trend continued in to the 1940s. The Elizabeth Arden Youth Mask was a popular procedure which consisted of a paper mask with tun foil connected to a box that supplied low levels of microwave energy.

Pictured: Natalie Wood, American actress.

The 1950s were really a golden age of makeup. Unknown models started to rival famous Hollywood stars to be the face of big makeup brands. In terms of makeup - heavy foundations were used to create a mask-like effect and the eyeliner flick was a defining look of those years.

It was also the era when skin improvements cosmetics started selling fast, everyone was in search of the perfect youth preserving skincare.

Pictured: Famous British model Twiggy with the iconic "London Look".

1960s was the era of the "London Look", which was cause by the explosion of the London fashion scene. All eyes were on Carnaby Street and Portobello Road now.

1960s were the first "retro" decade, with both fashion and makeup looking back at 1920s. Big eyelashes and a pale lip was an iconic look.

The perfect complexion became less of a focus for women during the 1960s. As skin care routines developed into multi-product regimes, complexions improved across the country meaning lightweight and sheer finish foundations became more popular.

Multi-step skincare routines became more popular, and the skincare was now chosen according to your skin type. The Dove Beauty Bar became available in the 1960s, cleansing sensitive skin everywhere.

Pictured: Farrah Fawcett, american actress and artist.

Women's liberation continued into the 1970s, so it was the era when women were opting for a more natural look, inspiring women nationwide to cease from getting "done up" to make men happy.

The introduction of the first black supermodel - Iman - encouraged the beauty industry to introduce cosmetics for women of different ethnicities.

Women opted for lighter foundations in the 1970s, which increased the market of skincare products. Anti-ageing products were also becoming increasingly important.

Skincare companies expanded into the ethnic, teen and men's markets, and introduced more organic product, to meet the growing demand.

Pictured: Michelle Pfeiffer, American actress, singer and producer.

1980's marks an introduction of the first anti-ageing products. Collagen and other extracts were now used in skin formulas to promote it's anti-ageing benefits. Mud masks were a popular at home beauty treatment, largely promoted by celebrities.

In terms of makeup - 1980s was the decade of experimentation. More women were entering the workplace so both fashion and makeup became bolder and brighter, making the wearer appear beautiful and powerful, as well as equal to men, wether entering the boardroom or a local pub.

Pictured: Cindy Crawford, American model and actress.

The 90's may have not been the greatest years in fashion, but it was certainly an important transformational decade in the history of skincare. 

A lot of prominent trends of today saw their beginnings during that time. There was also a transformation in the beauty retail industry with a lot of specialised shops opening around the world. 1990s also marked the beginning of "serious" skincare, with an emergence of complex performance-oriented skin treatments.

In terms of makeup - the intense makeup of the 80s gave way to enhancing natural features.

Pictured: Cameron Diaz, American actress and author of "The Longevity Book"

The 2000s might have not been too long ago (17 years already where has the time gone??) but it was quite an important decade for skincare.

Organic skincare became mass market and more available at an affordable price.

Hyaluronic acid moisturisers emerged, and manufacturers began using anti-oxidants, sunscreens, and skin energising technologies to “recharge”.

The main change of that decade was that manufacturers started moving away from using animal and synthetic derived ingredients towards all or partial natural and organic ingredients.

Pictured: Julia Roberts, American actress.

Final one in our #historyofskincare series - the 2010s! Although not yet over, this decade (as any other) plays an important role where innovation in the beauty industry has continued in it's full force!

The natural and organic skincare movements have continued to grow, but it didn't stop brands innovating and evolving. "Scientifically natural" - naturally sourced beauty products that incorporate biochemistry into their formulations - products became popular. The concept of beauty inside and out, with an emphasis on wellness and lifestyle has increased across the population.

Antioxidants have made a name for themselves in the beauty world that few ingredients can match - making their way into skincare routines of women around the world. 

We really do hope you enjoyed those series and found them interesting! 💞

Special thanks for inspirational credits to: Glamour Daze, Cosmopolitan, Allure, Beauty News NYC, Byrdie, CosmetopiaDigest, Marie Claire 


Older Post Newer Post