Edwardian makeup: What did the women use?

“Makeup” is not a very recent subject. It has been used forever, since the time there were no manufactured beauty products. Women in the earlier ages used the natural items close to their hands to adorn themselves. Each fashion era has unique and different makeup styles. In the Edwardian era that existed from 1900 to 1910, the idol of every woman was the Gibson girl. You can find more about Gibson girl fashion here! The ideal skin type was pale skin which represented youthfulness. They tried to keep a natural look which was actually a good choice for gorgeous Edwardian Dresses.

How was the Edwardian makeup practice?

Though every woman desired to get the perfect look, makeup was considered to be worn only by the ill repute women. This is the reason many ordinary women wore makeup but keep it secretive by denying they were doing so. Also, they did not want to seem like they were taking treatments to increase their beauty.

For this reason, though some beauty salons started to grow in major cities with time, women were not so interested to go there. But they did some things in their home to improve their usual beauty. Makeups were mostly home-produced and by using these they tried to achieve fair skin, wrinkle-free face, and slim waist. But the goal was to make the makeup as natural as possible.
Let’s see how the makeup styles were 100 years ago and what products did the Edwardian women use to embellish themselves.

Edwardian Makeup
1900s Makeup

For Skin:

At the beginning of the 1900s makeup, pale skin was the trending skin type. This was a symbol of leisure and wealthy life. On the other hand, tanned skin was an indication of more “working outside” so it was basically associated with lower-class women, in a non-racist way. So Edwardian women tried to keep their skin pale, soft, and supple. They spend hours in facial and massaging. The upper-class women also liked to apply creams to their skin. Lemon juice was widely popular to tone their skin and make the skin pale. Women intended to get rid of their freckles however they could.
To get pale skin, women used dusting powder all over their faces. Scented talcum, powder of chalk, wheat, or rice were used to make these powders. Sometimes these powders had oatmeal or bismuth in them. Some fancy women even had crushed real pearls in their powder. They used enamel to get a whiter skin tone which is made from lead. They were often warned to use powder as it can clog the pores or turn their skin yellow. Some even believed that powder could paralyze them. As they didn’t want freckles, they used so many home remedies to remove or lighten them.

Edwardian makeup item
Rice powder as Edwardian makeup item

They often used rouge to get a light pink tone on their cheeks. Rouge was the most common makeup product that could be found in any women’s purse.

Edwardian Makeup product
1900s Rouge

Edwardian makeup For Eyes:

Eye makeups were not very common or natural to them. Dusting powder was applied to the eyelids to get the desired pale look. Sometimes mascara was used during this time. But it basically got popularity after the 1913s. Sometimes a slight line of kohl was used on the eyelids. Natural-looking pastel colored shades like lemon, grey, or brown paste were used to get a finer look. Sometimes burnt matchsticks were used to darken the eyelashes!
Belladonna drops were used in the pupils. It dilated the pupils and brightened them.

For brows:

Like lips, the 1990s women liked to keep their brows natural as well. Regular and bushy brows were often seen and were the part of 1900 makeup!

Edwardian Eye Makeup
1900s Eye makeup

For Lips:

Lipsticks were not so popular makeup items back then. Often, a light puff of rouge was used on the lips to get a desired pink tone on the lips. Or sometimes they used a red tone if available. But Women were not very fond of lip shaping. They tried to leave their lips as natural as they were.

Vintage lip styles
1900s Lipstick


In the previous eras, women were not very fond of washing their hair or body regularly. However, in the Edwardian era, this trend changed and women started to take care and wash their hair regularly. Shampoos started to appear in the market during this time. Henna was used with a little toothbrush spread to the hair to get dyed hair. To get dark hair, sulfate of iron was used.

Where did they get their makeup products?

Natural products:

Henna: Henna is one of the common beauty products women are using from ancient times and it is used till now. Edwardian women were seen to keep henna plants for further use. They used henna in their hair to dye hair and get a beautiful bronze tone. In 1914, an article in vogue showed that Turkish women used henna to outline their eyes.

Wax: Wax was another popular beauty product used by Edwardian women. They used it to get rid of unwanted hair and to get smoother skin. Before mascara became popular, they sometimes used wax to their eyelashes because it could make them look heavier and thicker.

Rosewater: Rosewater is nowadays used as a toner or makeup remover. They can also be used to get rid of skin irritation. In 1910s makeup, apart from these, it was used as face lotion or cold cream.

Beet Juice: Because of its color, beets were used to the cheeks to get a blush like a flavor. They were also used on the lips to stain them because it could bring natural red color to the lips. It is one of the most important products of early lipstick.

Vintage Makeup
Edwardian Makeup

Besides these, women used many homemade natural products to get their desired look. It was totally up to their choice and makeup sense. Like sometimes rogue was replaced by blotting papers if they were easy to get and cost-effective. The focal point was to use the products in a way so that they could look beautiful without letting others know about the product. Because they could not be seen wearing makeup.

Makeup shop:

Selfridge and CO.

In 1909, Gordon Selfridge opened his “cosmetics counter” in Oxford Road, London. Here, women could buy their beauty products but, as the added facility they could experiment with them before. This simple marketing policy could finally draw women’s attention and they started buying beauty products. This news spread quickly and the era of cosmetics began. These cosmetics counters and their products had a great influence over the 1910 makeup styles.

Famous makeup brands from the 1900s:

Good fragrances hold an important position in Edwardian makeup. An upper-class woman always preferred a good perfume to complete their makeup even if it’s costly. Perfumes were the representation of the class. There were many famous perfume brands like Ponds, Rimmel, Houbigant, Shiseido, Richard Hudnut, Bourjois, etc. These were from the 19th century that mainly produced female skincare products and fragrances. In the early 20th century brands like Papier Poudre, Max Factor, Coty, Elizabeth Arden, etc became famous. These brands can be called the beauty innovators of the early 20th century.

Modern Edwardian Makeup
Edwardian inspired makeup

Well, so how did the Edwardian women complete their makeup?

The key to getting Edwardian makeup is very easy. Just keeping it simple and natural!
They started by washing their face with a good soap and warm water. This helped to clean and soften the skin so that the beauty products and the color blends with the skin perfectly. Then after using a cream wait waited to settle that down. After that, the rogue was the first thing to use. They used the rouge usually by their fingers. They dug their finger into the rouge and rub it where they wanted the natural rosiness. They left it here in order to set on the skin and did their eye makeup.
For eye makeup, they usually followed the natural eye line with an eye pencil if they had any, otherwise whatever they had. After that, they might use a light tone of the rouge on their lips and finally, apply the powder to smoothen all the makeover and get the desired natural look.