One of the great advantages of being a modern-day vintage lover is that we have a whole arsenal of high-tech beauty products at our finger tips to reproduce the looks of bygone decades. Here are my favourite modern lipsticks ideal for vintage eras.

The Twenties
Lipstick became very popular after the invention of the metal lipstick container in 1915. Previously deemed inappropriate for nice, upstanding women, deep red lips became a symbol of a new, confident femininity. Cupid bow lips, which exaggerate the top lip in deep red, deep brownish reds, plum and orange hues were extremely fashionable.

To recreate the look, try the Besame Cosmetics classic colour lipstick in merlot for a deep, reddish brown perfect for Twenties lips. It’s a semi matte colour perfect for any skin tone.

30s lipstick

The Thirties
After the artificiality of the Twenties, the Thirties saw a return to more natural colours. Right up to the middle of the decade, pastel tones like light rose or berry red were very popular. In the late Thirties, red colours became more fashionable. Thanks to Elizabeth Arden’s introduction of new lipsticks colours, a much wider variety of hues became available.

For a Thirties lip try No 7 Poppy King lipstick in glamour. It’s a light, berry tone, perfect for old-school Hollywood style.

40s lipstick

The Forties
War-time restrictions also impacted cosmetics, so women took to using natural products such as beetroot to dye their lips. However, lipstick was deemed essential for moral in both Britain and the US, and seen as a means for women to keep expressing their femininity while working in factories or contributing to the war effort in other ways. Unsurprisingly then, red lips were incredibly popular throughout the decade.

To recreate a Forties look, go for a Mac Lipstick in ruby woo. It’s a favourite among my Forties loving friends and goes with practically any skin tone.

50s lips

The Fifties
Make-up in the Fifties was ultra glamorous. Much like in the Forties, bright red shades were most popular when it came to lipstick. Towards the end of the decade, pale pink and orange-red also started to become fashionable.

To emulate a Fifties lip, use the Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Lipstick in red muse. It’s super silky and smooth with perfect staying power.

60s lips

The Sixties
For the first time since the Twenties, red lips went out of fashion. The Sixties emphasised a youthful dollybird look that focused on big eyes and ultra pale lips. At the end of the decade, with a revival of Art Deco, a Twenties-inspired look with deep red lip shades became fashionable again.

Try the Revlon Matte Lipstick in Nude Attitude for a super pale yet shimmering Sixties look.

70s lipstick

The Seventies 
In the decade that danced to glam rock and disco  – think Studio 54 – lips were bold, sexy and unapologetic. Lipstick was replaced by lipgloss for shiny, glam lips in a wide range of colours from pale pinks to plum hues and bright orange.  As Thirties looks had a real comeback, so did red lips.

For a shimmery disco look try a YSL golden gloss in pearl.

80s make-up

The Eighties
Garish eye colours, exaggerated blush and bright lip colours were all the rage in the Eighties. Inspired by punk, make-up went bold and at times even neon. Fuchsia and orange-red tones for lips were hugely popular.

To emulate and Eighties lip, go for Clarins Rouge Eclat Lipstick in pink fuchsia. Layer on some plain lipgloss for extra shine.

90s lips

The Nineties  

Make-up in the Nineties took a lot of inspiration from grunge and goth – faces were pale, hair unkempt and lips dark brown. Nineties lipstick wasn’t about precision application, it was smudged on and applied with a real ‘whatever’ attitude.

Try out Soap & Glory Super-Colour Fabulipstick  in red my lips for a real Nineties feel.

6 Responses

  1. Natalie@ Quirky Vintage

    I really like Avon lipsticks and the limecrime lip velveteens for some intense colour and long lasting effect. Rimmels lasting finish lipstick in shade 10 is one of my favourite reds for a fifties look. love your post i may have to try out some of the ones you suggested.

  2. Perdita

    Funnily enough, I always think of 90s lips being very precise, matte and brown. I guess it was more the urban 90s look – hyper polished and matte matte matte! The more acceptable, toned down version of the extreme of the ‘lined lips with paler colour inside” look! I usually use a lip pencil (Rimmel 1000 kisses in brown) for this instead of a lipstick, with Urban Decay “Sellout” or “Jailbait” to fill it in, then a lot of blotting.

    • Lena

      Thanks for the feedback! Maybe smudging on lipstick without a mirror, was, err just something I did! 🙂

  3. Bonnie

    Perdita is totally right. I am of the 90’s era and all my girlfriends had an arsenal of lip liners.Eye liner and lip liner were essential and matte, blotted powdered reapply, blot again, is how it was done. Deep dark color but nothing shinny. Slept in eyeliner with new precise eyeliner on top. But really, we washed our faces, we just didn’t use makeup remover.I was a grungy art school girl.

  4. Miggs

    I was in high school during the early 1992-1995 and I definitely remember wearing brown shades, specifically Revlon’s Toast of the Town and CoverGirl’s Toasted Almond, and mattifying the look with powder. It wasn’t until late 1994 that glamour and red came back into play and I switched to a nice go-between Brick by Clinique.