I risked nearly gouging my eyes out while trying to curl them with a heated spoon
I’m not rose-tinting those times (things were unequivocally tough back then), but from a beauty perspective, they remained incredibly elegant. That’s why I’m taking my routine back to that era for one week. And maybe, just maybe, my search for Looking at iconic snapshots of vintage goddesses like Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall, they appear as across their bow-shaped lips. I want that. Screw these biscuity nudes loved by these nu-90s Instagram pouters. Red lipstick is way more powerful. And back then, it was also an easy way for women to ‘put their best face forward’ and raise soldiers’ morale (this was over 70 years ago, before PlayStations and PornHub). If you’re going to do a red lipstick authentically, it needs to be matte, pigmented and come from a beautiful gold bullet rather than the beetroot juice British women had to use because lipstick didn’t make it into the rationing books. I spent the week switching between Dolce & Gabbana lipstick in Dolce Magnetic (R710), a suit-all, vampiric blood red, and MAC Matte Lipstick in Damn Glamorous (R220), a scarlet shade that would have been popular in the late 30s to early 40s and a must for dedication to the past. I come undone on two occasions: encountering a hangover burrito (I looked like The Joker by the end) and then on a night out (lipstick all over everyone – sorry, friends). Later in the week, I rediscover that a slick lipstick sealer really does work – although it does sting a little. Straighteners would have been total anathema back in the 40s. Pin curls – where you fashion a curl shape and pin it to your head overnight – were all anyone wanted. And ragging – where strips of fabric secure your coiled hair – were used most often. I gave both a go, and on two separate occasions woke up looking like the wanton offspring of Marge Simpson and Worzel Gummidge. But the worst was yet to come. I then recreated the effect of the 40s-style steel rollers women used to use with the modern-day version. Cue the most uncomfortable night’s sleep ever. When I did manage to get some shut-eye, I dreamt that a weird tree shaped like a penis was chasing after me through an enchanted Norwegian, disrupted sleep and strange dreams (I can blame Tinder and Vikings perhaps), but sleep is too steep a price to pay.
After reading Dita Von Teese’s new book, Your Beauty Mark (R577, Harper Collins), I realised that heated rollers, used widely in the 60s and 70s, are the key to mega-coiffured hair. My pick are Toni hi-tech tongs like the ghd Curve Classic Curl Tong (R2 299) out of laziness, as it creates long-wearing curls and comes with three different-sized wands. Genius. Nowadays, you won’t see a starlet without giant strip lashes and gallons of spidery mascara – and I can’t lie, I do the same for a night out. But back then, cake mascara and a small brush were used, or if you didn’t have access or funds, a concoction of burnt cork and Vaseline. (R335), to coat my lashes, but found the effect too natural. I look like an over-ripe potato if I don’t wear mascara, so I risked nearly gouging my eyes out while trying to curl them with a heated spoon (please wasn’t hugely effective. By now I’m pining for my Chanel Dimensions De Chanel Mascara (R575) like it were my own spawn. But one tip I do take from this encounter with lashes of the past, is to create separation for true impact. Audrey Hepburn’s make-up artist used a safety pin to separate her lashes, but a Tweezerman Folding Lash Comb (R215) does the same, minus the risk of spearing your eyeballs. washed with soap, moisturised with cold cream and made face masks with the contents of their kitchen cupboards. Meanwhile, the A-list, including Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo and Jackie Onassis, all visited Dr Erno Laszlo, a renowned Hungarian skin doctor. In the name of investigative journalism, I followed the routine Marilyn used, which involved rubbing Lipidol Cleansing Face Oil (R80) on to my skin to dissolve make-up. Then, I had to cleanse with a cleansing bar used Bioderma Sebium Mat Moisturising Mattifying Fluid (R230) during the day to keep shine at bay, which I’d recommend if you have oily skin. Finally, I round off with a modern-day equivalent of cold cream – Clarins Daily Energizer Cream (R285) – a cold-pressed hit of moisture that sinks straight in. I could get used to not applying an After a week of trying to dip into the beauty routines of women from the 40s, I’m convinced it’s time for a clear-out – of both our product stashes and routines, which helps everyone.
opposed to a 10-step cleansing ritual. There is also a rather pleasing simplicity to my new arsenal – if anything, it’s made me feel more youthful and carefree than any beauty products ever have. Bring on the end of the world, I say.
RECLAIMING RED LIPSTICK HERE COME THE CURLS LASHES THAT LAST A RETURN TO SIMPLE SKINCARE