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Historical Hair and Makeup Studies Assignment


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Second World War tormented economies and the great depression plunged unexpectedly in the lives of world masses. In the 1940s, with severe negative implications on jobs and spending of people, evolved an interesting innovation and creativity approach in the hairstyle and makeup industry (Zabecki, 2015). The period witnessed the 'no compromise' approach of European folks in their appearance. To be seen as courageous, happy, and lively during wartime was the choice of these folks. Makeup and hairstyle depict the unshaken will of people to sustain and combat the effects of war and depression (H & M UA Team, 2013). Creativity evolved out of restricted spending on makeup and hairstyling goods. This report elaboratively discusses the trends and factors leading to it.

1940's hair and makeup

While the economy was bleeding, the red-colored lips sustained the appearance of the nation. Substituting make-up materials like beetroot juice for lips, and painting false stockings with eyebrow pencils were effective and wise alternatives adopted by women in the 1940s (Summers, 2015). on the job appearance of women was appreciated as lipstick showcased the high morale and femininity approach of the nation's women. Red was the color of patriotism then and businesses started advertising their patriotic offerings in form of lipsticks and blushes (Noronha, 2020). The natural look adopted by women included gentle sun-kissed texture, rosy glow on cheeks along with subtle eyeshadow, light mascara touch on the lashes and brows perfectly shaped. Colors were coordinated for the entire look (cheeks, lips, nails). Regardless of one's background, women chose to appear groomed and lively in that tough period (H&MUA Team, 2013). The brows were rounded or arched in shape; eyeliners were used for mild emphasis on the lash line. Colors were limited to grey and brown and the application was kept simple. Foundation colors were limited to provide a healthy glow showcasing a natural sun-kissed look. Matte lipstick with a petroleum jelly touch finished the look (Noronha, 2020). Cream Rouge and compressed powder pots were combined in a compact. Peach, pink, and coral were the chosen colors. As lipsticks were long-lasting, these were also used as an alternative for a rogue at times of scarcity. Leg up makeup was also introduced to substitute stockings (Magill, 2017).

Hair was perfectly groomed by both women and men. The hairstyle was simple for men, short on sides and back and long on the center top. A wave was created by combing over and slightly back. Buzzcut was adopted by military men (H&MUA Team, 2013). Preference was given to a clean-shaved facial look by the majority of males but few preferred keeping a mustache. The hair worn by women in the 1940s was of shoulder-length or a bit longer with the absence of bangs. Perfect hairdos, a blend of curls and volume, subtle colors were preferred by females. The look constituted short-length hair, practical and wave along with curls during the 1940s (Sutton, 2020). Small hats (most preferably military hats) were basic accessories worn by women (Magill, 2017). Victory rolls were also in trend. The idea was to keep the look simple, decent, and lively. Younger women who chose to wear longer hair kept the approach simple, sleek, wavy, and with good volume (Tracey, 2020).

PESTLE Analysis

  • Political factor- With wartime rationing, restrictions were imposed due to a shortage of resources like metals, alcohols, fats, and oils. Clips, safety pins, curlers were hard to get access to by women. The international turbulence due to war made the makeup industry face hardships in sustaining in the market. The makeup industry needed to involve in the patriotic movement and strengthen the will of the general public by the way of delivering accessible make-up things. The widespread Patriotism was a major reason for the changes in apparel and makeup choices of women (Zabecki, 2015). The wars were destructive and depressing for the general public and industries dealing with consumer goods.
  • Economic factor- The depression phase of the economic cycle contracted the demand due to the shrinking income level of people. War was one of the major reasons behind the scarcity of basic goods and it inflated the prices of these goods (Summers, 2015). The only way to combat this situation was to find a cheap but reliable substitute.
  • Social factor- The 'no compromise' approach of the general public led to the creation of innovative means in the makeup and hairstyle industry. The style was kept subtle and perfect for the war situation. Short-length hair was properly worn by both men and women. The makeup gave a courageous look. British folks are known for their subtle and sophisticated style and disposition. 1940's turmoil couldn't shatter their personalities and they knew how to manage their priorities (Sutton, 2020).
  • Technological factor- Technology was not left behind and innovations were coming up to support logistics, army weapons, medicines, and rocketry. Most of the raw material was used to build ships, weapons, rockets, and other necessities for War. This led to a sharp shortage of metals used for making hair accessories and other makeup products. The technology was an important factor that determined the need of the time to substitute the materials with something cheap and easily accessible (Zabecki, 2015).
  • Legal factor- Legal factors indirectly affected the make-up industry. The only major change was excluding cosmetics from the Pure Food & drug act in the aftermath of the great depression. The legislation ruling over other necessities shrunk the demand for makeup products due to restrictions over raw material allocation to different sectors.
  • Environmental factor- Environment was tarnished as war effects and the world was dealing with health problems, loss of lives, and property destruction. Nature saw its worst phase but nature was also a ray of hope for makeup industries and women started using natural resources to substitute scarcity of cosmetics (Summers, 2015).

The above analysis shows that few environmental factors had a significant effect on the makeup and hairstyle industry. The substitution effect resulted from economic conditions. The patriotic approach as a result of the tormented political strength of the nation. The social factor was highly dependent on these two factors. The approach could have been negative as well as positive. The approach of general people was positive and they chose to withstand the war effects and face the circumstances bravely.

Interpretation of Analysis

The most significant result of the above analysis are mentioned below:

  1. Substitution effect- Demand follows the law of diminishing marginal utility approach. If we see from the economic point of view, when the income level decreases, people tend to shift to inferior quality goods. Substitution plays a vital role to fulfill market demand. People became more innovative and created new means to sustain sophistication and dignity. Middle-class families were left with no option but to bravely switch to cheap but equally good alternatives. Substitution is also a result of legal restrictions over the use of raw materials. Most of the metals and other materials were used to make weapons and warships and the supply shortage of make-up materials led to the rise in the prices (Komar, 2017).
  2. Patriotism effect- The political factor dominated this effect as the ill effects of war left the general public. Newspapers and public speeches motivated the public to become more patriotic and adopt a style that showcases their devotion towards their nation. The subtle color choice depicted bravery and cheerfulness at the same time. The perfect hairdos depicted a sophisticated approach to personality choice (Sutton, 2020). The nation was kept first and priority was given to war requirements without compromising on personal make-up and hair choices. In such difficult times, it was important to undertake this decision to support the nation by being motivated and brave and remain unaffected from outside.
  3. Simplifying the means and ends- The techniques and cosmetics were simplified to save time and make the look perfect. Using beetroot juice, using eyeliners to draw stockings is a good way to simplifying the means of adorning the personality. Hairdos are easy to wear and the curls are formed at home. The short-hair approach saves time and makes perfection look possible (Sutton, 2020). The jobs required full dedication and in such cases (Komar, 2017). Even when some of the young girls chose to wear long hairs, they made the hairdo simple and full of volume.
  4. Scarcity due to technological advancements- The shift of raw material to the advancements and fulfilling the war requirements by building warships and arms led to sheer scarcity in the production of makeup products and other accessories. Metals such as steels and aluminum were heavily allocated to the war requirements and fats, oils and petroleum was used for fulfilling other basic necessity rather than creating other consumer products (Komar, 2017). Plastic, alloys, petroleum jelly, rayon, and other materials were some of the main elements that were delivered to the war zone.

The implication of Fashion Trend in 1940

The period witnessed devastation and gloom overshadowing the world rapidly (Zabecki, 2015). Makeup and hairstyles were not left out of the war consequences. Sheer shortage of alcohol and petroleum exhorted pressure on the makeup industry to look for substitutes. Women in the UK were inclined towards a natural look with subtle color choices and home remedies. Unlike the women of the UK, women in the US were able to get access to cosmetics despite the war effects. Makeup was promoted to be worn by women to put a veil on sadness and attract men and carry their jobs lively and courageously (Tracey, 2020). Eyebrows were kept simple but in perfect shape by using liners. Hairdos were a symbol of beauty, perfectly set hair added to the look.

The effect of war had multiple implications that can be evaluated by the above analysis. The approach was practical rather than emotional. If we compare the attitude of Indian women fighting for freedom and women in the UK fighting with the ill effects of war, we can deduce that Indian women were emotionally attached to the nationalist movement but were also highly dependent on the male segment for decisions about everything. Whereas women in the UK were more practical and knew their priorities and how to contribute to the patriotism by showing no effect of war on their appearance (Komar, 2017). Hairstyles, on the other hand, witnessed similar implications. Short-length hairstyles depicted the value of time management while showcasing perfection and a subtle look. The sun-kissed skin tone denoted liveliness and hope for a better future.

Creativity and innovation were one of the most vital aspects of the implication of the above discussion. The substitutes were intelligently chosen by men and women. Hair accessories like short hats and army hats were the perfect choice to complete the look (Magill, 2017). The inclination towards natural sources like beetroot juice and using lipstick for long lasting rogue worked perfectly to achieve the daily goal of looking perfect (Noronha, 2020). Natural looks are considered even today for weddings by celebrities. Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex wore the natural makeup look elegantly and looked flawless on her big day. Unlike the 1930s and 1950s, 1940's makeup and hairstyles were inspirational and meant much more than just adorning assets (Tracey, 2020). 


From the above discussion, we can deduce that the war's effects on the make-up industry, and the approach of the general public was severe. People chose various means to deal with the ill effects of war and the great depressions. Catastrophes such as the Second World War and the great depression affect every industry significantly. The makeup industry and hairstyles of people in the UK are a vital aspect to determine the root of environmental changes and their effects along with the approach undertaken by the general public to combat the threats. Makeup and hairstyle might not be included in the necessities but it is vital for maintaining a well-groomed personality. The 'no compromise' approach has led to the development of substitutes in the makeup and hairdos industry.


H&MUA Team, 2013. Women's 1940s Makeup: An Overview. hair-and-makeup-artist. (online) Available at https://hair-and-makeup-artist.com/womens-1940s-makeup/

Komar, M., 2017. Makeup & War Are More Intricately Connected Than You Realized. Bustle. (online). Available at https://www.bustle.com/p/makeup-war-are-more-intricately-connected-than-you-realized-51078

Magill, S., 2017. Making Vintage 1940s Clothes for Women. The Crowood Press.

 Noronha, N., 2020, Let's Take You Through The Journey Of A Lipstick: The Iconic Beauty Product. Femina. (online). Available at https://www.femina.in/beauty/make-up/lets-take-you-through-the-journey-of-a-lipstick-the-iconic-beauty-product-178576.html

Summers, J., 2015. Fashion on the ration: Style in the Second World War. Profile Books.

Sutton, S., 2020. Forget the '90s — This Spring, It's All About '40s Fashion. Instyle. (online) Available at https://www.instyle.com/fashion/1940s-fashion-trend-best-vintage-styles-wear-2020

 Tracey, T., 2020. Get the Look: 1940s VE Day Victory Rolls. Concept Hair. (online). Available at https://www.concepthairmag.co.uk/get-the-look-1940s-ve-day-victory-rolls/

Zabecki, D.T. ed., 2015. World War II in Europe: an encyclopedia. Routledge.

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