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Vintage 1930s Makeup Colour Charts & Guides

A collection of vintage makeup colour charts and application guides from the 1930s. As can be seen, makeup colours were limited during this decade. Even so, products were often co-ordinated into colour groups. This was designed to help women decide which shades would be best for them based on their hair colouring, skin tone or eye colour. Costume colour would also be a deciding factor in what makeup shades to wear.


Extracts from a beauty book by Virginia Vincent, simply called “Makeup”.

1930s makeup colours
From Virginia Vincent’s book “Makeup”. Here are makeup shades for different hair colours (1932).
Advice on applying makeup from Virginia Vincent (1932).

The face powder colours available from Max Factor. As you can see, they were all pink and pale.

Max Factor face powder colours (c.1932). From


This makeup chart shows the limited colours that were available.

Suggested colours from Harriet Hubbard Ayer (December 1934).


Covermark was a concealing product by Lydia O’Leary. It was designed to cover blemishes, veins, birthmarks, and any other aspects one wanted to conceal. It could be used on the face and body.

Colours available in the “Covermark” range by Lydia O’Leary (1936).

The Elizabeth Arden colour charts are from about 1936-7, but the exact date is unknown. The V&A Museum acquired the book in December 1937 and estimated the publication date to be 1936.

1930s makeup colours
Elizabeth Arden colours (1936-7). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Colours from a 1936 Avon catalogue.

Avon colours from their 50th anniversary catalogue (1936).


What colours to choose. Excerpt from Helena Rubinstein’s “Beauty in the Making” (1937).


Makeup charts organised into “colour harmony” groups.

Colour advice for the pale ladies from the brand Harriet Hubbard Ayer (1938).
More colour advice for ladies from Harriet Hubbard Ayer (1938).

Part of a Maybelline advert from Silver Screen magazine (December 1938) showing some of their latest products and colour options.

Maybelline makeup 1938


Max Factor’s Pan-Cake was initially developed in 1935 for the requirements of Technicolor film. Actresses loved it so much that they took it from the studios to use at home for personal use. Max Factor saw the potential and, with a few tweaks to better suit everyday usage, released it to the public a few years later.

Max Factor’s new makeup colours for the end of the decade (about 1939).

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