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Makeup and Hairstyles of the 50s

Let's got shallow for Monday.

50s hairdo

You might want to go ahead and play “Shallow” while you read this blog because I’m tired of being serious. So yeah, I’m going shallow here. 

I got a haircut and yes, I got my nails done and it felt good. It felt good to feel like myself again instead of that shaggy, ragged stranger. And it felt good to see the people making me look good, to know I was helping them, too (because they needed the money). 

And since I’m already going shallow, I thought, why not take it further? Let’s go right into the past and talk about hair and makeup in the 50s? So let’s do this. 

Some of the most iconic hairstyles of the 1950s were the poodle cut, the bouffant, the bubble cut, and ponytails. These hairdos were enhanced by flawless, glamorous make-up. Let’s look closer at classic fifties hair and makeup styles. 

Poodle Cuts

The poodle cut style was tight, ringed, curls created by perms. This look was made fashionable by stars like Lucille Ball, Peggy Garner, Ann Southern, and Faye Emmerson. In this era the perms had a strong chemical smell and the curls were intense. 


This immaculately curled and coiffed look was the most popular formal style of the era. And, it called for a coat or two of strong hairspray. Raised ripples of hair from the crown give it a voluminous appearance. The rest of the hair waved downwards on the sides which were curled. Colorful scarves were often used to band the bouffant. Stars like Connie Francis Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren made the European bouffant, also called the short bouffant, popular. 


This quick, easy, and inexpensive hairdo was typically worn by teenagers in poodle skirts, and they often tied a chiffon scarf around the ponytail. However, it was also worn by stylish women of all ages. For example, Billie Holiday always looked chic and fashionable in her high ponytail. It was quite popular with dancers as well who needed a hairdo that didn’t get easily messed up by physical activity. It was also a big hit with fashion dolls, as Mattel released the ponytail Barbie from 1959 to 1964. The ponytail was a great option for fun, casual events and it’s still popular today.  

Bubble Cut

The bubble cut became an overnight trend when Jacqueline Kennedy, the fashion icon of the time, adopted this style. Grace Kelly also made this hairstyle famous. Mattel even chose this hairdo for Barbie dolls from 1961 to 1967. The bubble cut style was a spinoff of the bouffant blended with the beehive-style.  

The main features of 50s hairdos were neatly-coiffed, and playful curls framing the face of a woman with flawless makeup. In the fifties a woman wouldn’t be caught anywhere, not even in the grocery store, without a polished look for both her hair and face. 


The fashionable makeup style of the day began with eyeliner. Women drew a line on the bottom of their lids with a little outward flick for the almond eye shape like Audrey Hepburn had. The winged tip added a lot of glamor to the eyes. Next, they grabbed their eyebrow pencils. The fashionable shape of eyebrows in this period was a sharply defined arch with a point. Eyebrow pencils were used to achieve this effect as well as to add thickness which tapered out at the end of the brow. Then, they added mascara. Black mascara was highly popular in the fifties and was used on the upper lash only. For the base women of this era liked to heavily apply Pancake foundation for a mask effect. Lipstick was an absolute must for women of the fifties and red was the main color of choice. However, some women, like Audrey Hepburn, chose pink as an optional shade. Also, in this era, a woman’s lipstick always matched the color of her fingernail polish. 

What do you think? Would you like to go retro with your hair or makeup? I never mind doing it fictionally, but not sure it would work for post-shut-down me.

Perilously yours,


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