Mary Lyrio


30/08/2015 17:00



The 40s was marked by World War II.

Like most of the men went to war, there were manpower shortages to take up jobs in factories and shipyards. Before long, the government realize that women were the only way to produce equipment and materials necessary to maintain the war effort. It was the first time that middle-class women would work out of their homes, since poor women have always worked. Some women were enchanted to enter the workforce, they saw this as the first chance to achieve economic independence.


Even having to take on traditionally male jobs, they did not have masculine appearance and makeup allowed them to represent this new power, while remaining feminine.

The right to be beautiful was very propagated by cosmetic companies and used as a tool to promote patriotism and encourage women to become more active in the war effort.

Known Hollywood stars of the time as Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman, Gene Tierney, Joan Fontaine, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth and Carmen Miranda, inspired many women.

Ava Gardner                                                         Carmem Miranda    

Ingrid Bergman                                               Joan Fontaine   

Lana Turner                                                    Rita Hayworth     

How many women were working for the first time in factories and shipyards, government agencies began shooting training videos for men to learn how to work with women, and videos for women to learn to stay safe at work.

   One of these training videos was made by actress Veronica Lake, as seen in this photo, taken from the publication of Life magazine of March 8, 1943.

Rosie the Riveter

It is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II.

The term "Rosie the Riveter" was first used in 1942, in a song of the same name written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. Recorded by various artists and became a national hit.

"(...) All the day long whether rain or shine

She’s a part of the assembly line

She’s making history, 

working for victory

Rosie the Riveter

Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage

Sitting up there on the fuselage

That little frail can do more than a 

male will do

Rosie the Riveter.

Rosie’s got a boyfriend, Charlie

Charlie, he’s a Marine

Rosie is protecting Charlie

Working overtime on the 

riveting machine

When they gave her a production “E”

She was as proud as a girl could be

There’s something true about

Red, white, and blue about

Rosie the Riveter (...)"

To listen to the original version click on the link:



Another term often used at that time. The pin-up were mostly models and actresses who landed with more sexy outfits showing subtly lingerie. Such photos often appeared in calendar style poster (in English, poster pin-up =). Betty Grable, an actress and dancer, was one of the most popular among the first "pin-ups". One of his posters became ubiquitous in the lockers of American soldiers during World War II.  

Betty Grable


In some countries, mainly in Europe, cosmetics began to have its limited production due to war rationing.

Furthermore, because of shortage of raw materials, cosmetics prices were very high. For some women, it remained to be creative and produce homemade makeup. Shoe paste was used as a mask for eyelashes and eyebrows; beetroot juice was used on the lips and cheeks; and petals of roses soaked in alcohol were also used on the cheeks.

In the early 40s, the production of cosmetics in the US was frozen for a few months. But the women's cry was so great that cosmetics were classified as important for the war, as well as tobacco was important for men.

 During the war years, the major cosmetic brands have continued with the production, even if reduced in some countries. When some of them had to halt production during the worst period of the war, they still continued to advertise the products.

Several major cosmetic brands like Estee Lauder (1946), Wella (1946), and Parfums Christian Dior (1947) were founded during the forties,

Another item widely used by women who also was missing were the nylon stockings, as the material needed to make items such as military networks and parachute. Therefore, women began to paint in his legs the design of the seams of the half to give the illusion that they were using.


Appeared the liquid silk stockings 


Department store anuciando liquid stockings


In Paris. during the war years, the fashion houses like Chanel and others closed their doors by the shortage of raw material.

With the onset of war and strict rationing of fabric, dresses in the 40s have become shorter, and just below the knee. It was initiated military minimalist style. They came the shoulder pads, which left the square shoulders. Sleeves were often swollen with some folds at the top, and extended to just below the elbow. The neckline of the 40s come in a variety of cuts. They could be square, keyhole, crimping, or V-shape  


Hats gradually began to disappear, being replaced by scarves.

The fashion in the years following World War II is characterized by the resurgence of haute couture after the austerity of the war years. Square shoulders and short skirts were replaced by soft femininity with Christian Dior "New Look silhouette", with its longer skirts and tight waists and rounded shoulders.

New look Dior

The victory roll hairstyle was very popular in the 40s. The name refers to a moving downward spiral that made the downed plane

Victory roll hairstyle



1941 - Elizabeth Arden launches Montezuma lipstick red, the red of victory.

 - Dorothy Gray - launches red lipstick.

 - - Tangee launches Red-Red Lipistick   

- Du Barry launches line red badge

 - Max Factor launches Lipistick color fort, red lipstick. 

1942 - Max Factor - launches Tru-color lipistick collection.

1943 - Maybelline launches line for olkos with the slogan "If you use your lipistick, you must use Also maybelline". - Made up of solid mask in black, brown and blue;, mask cream in black and brown colors; sombre in blue, green and violet and black pencil and marro eye.

1945 - Helena Rubinstein - launches makeup guide brunette and blondes - brown makeup guide and blondes.


1946 - Helena Rubinstein's launches Heavenly Glow makeup and Pan stick - foundation in stick form.

- Yardley launches English Complexion Cream, Night Cream coposto cream Skin Cleansing Cream and milk-based cream, in new packaging.

1947 - Bourjois lança Rouge Rosette Brune e Rouge Coral.

 - Elizabeth Arden Elizabeth Arden launches Pat-A-Kake - creamy compacted foundation.

- Helena Rubinstein launches Makeup-stick, creamy foundation stick.



   Lips - are the most prominent part of the 40's lipstick was designed to keep women with high esteem during the war. Red was the color of patriotism symbol. How to apply valued the natural contour of the lips, slightly bulkier at the top, remembering the full lips of the previous decade. The most popular color is red, including bright light red, cherry red, pink red and orange red.

Foundation - was skin tone or darker tone.

Face powder - was used coinciding with the color of the skin to help secure the base or to give a rosy glow.

Rouge - was applied at the center of apples and pulled toward the temples.

Eyebrows - have been thoroughly cleaned, well-defined arches and accented by using a dark brown pencil. The practice of plucking eyebrows so fashionable in the past decade has weakened.

Eye shadows varied in colors gray and brown.

Eyelashes - only existed maáscara paste or cream and it was applied marcaano well eyelashes

Eyeliner - was applied to the contour of the lower lashes and had in black and brown.