vintage beauty

1950s Beauty Tips from a Hollywood Makeup Artist

To be beautiful “naturally” requires a fair amount of makeup, at least according to the August 1956 issue of ‘Motion Picture’ magazine. This article features advice from Clay Campbell, a Hollywood makeup director, who worked for Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Columbia Pictures throughout his long career. His makeup credits include the likes of Gidget and the Donna Reed Show, and he amassed a huge collection of lip prints from some of the era’s biggest stars. Weird collection, but I guess it makes sense for a makeup artist!

1956 ‘Motion Picture’ magazine with “natural beauty” advice from Clay Campbell, an Old Hollywood makeup artist, featuring Janet Leigh and Kim Novak!

For inspiration on the natural look, we have candid portraits of actresses such as Jean Simmons, Kim Novak, and Janet Leigh. The photos are black and white, so it’s had to say how “natural” they look, but the captions point out such things as the shape of eyebrows, velvety complexions, and having sparkling eyes and a warm smile. I have to say, in my opinion “beauty” comes in a million shapes and sizes, and smiling all the way to your eyes goes a looooong way! This article reminds us to let our personality come through the makeup and to “never, never try to resemble someone else!”

Reading further into the article, there are more practical tips that hold true today as well. For example, we may need to make seasonal changes in the type of foundation we wear. Think humid summers vs dry cold winters, but also colouring differences if your skin tans a bit in summer. Additionally, throughout our face the colouring fluctuates a bit so shades may need to be blended to get the right tone to blend in under eye circles or blemishes, depending on the surrounding skin tone.

When it comes to eyebrows it says to keep them full and natural, and advises against making them a hard, thin line or to create odd shapes with them. I immediately thought of the fully stensilled brows that everyone was doing a few years ago. I imagine ol’ Clay would not have approved!

My personal stance on beauty advice is the same as my stance on fashion advice: Do what you love! That said, I really liked this last bit from the article and think it’s timeless, solid advice…

Know yourself and know your features! Make the most of your good features. Never concern yourself with the less attractive ones. Do not paint them out. It is only natural to have some so-called less attractive features – just forget them.

Clay Campbell

I’ve linked a few products I actually use and love here. Do you have a favourite makeup product or routine for a “natural” look?


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