Retro Beauty Tips: the 1960s

Friday, May 19, 2023

Doll eyelashes, bouffants of tumbling curls, pixie crops, geometric eyeshadow, and slicks of eyeliner. Welcome to the Swinging 1960s! Here, I've compiled beauty lessons from some of my favorite beauty icons who emerged from the era.

Uncover which product was used by three iconic 60s It Girls, the surprising inspiration for Twiggy's famous eye makeup, and more!

"I often put on two or three [pairs of false lashes] at a time," Twiggy told Woman's Own in 1967. She drew lines under her eyes to mimic how eyelashes looked on ragdolls. "I sketch them first lightly with black eyeliner, then I darken them. I usually do between nine and eleven." By contrast, she typically minimized the lips: using Max Factor Pan-Stik to blot them out. The entire process took an hour and a half.

LEFT: Twiggy Lashes by Yardley RIGHT: Twiggy for Women's Own

For the August 1967 cover of Vogue, Twiggy wore: "Good Morning Slicker over Pebble Pink lipstick. [...] On the eyes themselves, a double helping of dark, dense silky eyelashes called Twiggy Lashes—the newest flutter from Yardley." The false eyelashes were part of a Twiggy makeup line by Yardley that included eye pencils in shades like April Green and Frosty Lavender.

Twiggy also wore makeup from Mary Quant and BIBA. In 1968, she did her makeup for a Queen magazine spread inspired by beauty icons from the past. For the spread, sponsored products from Mary Quant, Elizabeth Arden, and Lancome were used to transform her into Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth.

Nancy Kwan
The film Flower Drum Song (1961) helped launch Nancy Kwan not only as an actress and dancer (she attended London's Royal Ballet School), but led to philanthropist work and her own production company. In the film, Kwan sings while luxuriating in the art of getting ready after making a date over the phone. She puts on perfume and powders her face at the vanity, then poses in front of a mini-tiered mirror.

In The Wild Affair (1965), Kwan plays a secretary working at the fictitious "Beatrice Dawson Cosmetics." A tongue-and-cheek makeover scene shows an overzealous makeup artist giving her character "The Vampire Look", complete with false eyelashes he calls "Tassels of Twilight." His makeup kit is shown briefly: amidst prop makeup for Beatrice Dawson Cosmetics (including "It Perfume") is Max Factor's Pan-Stik * foundation.

LEFT: Nancy Kwan checking her makeup RIGHT: Vidal Sassoon touching up "The Kwan Cut"

For the role, Kwan's hair was cropped into a geometric bob by Vidal Sassoon, while fashion photographer Terence Donovan snapped pictures throughout the process. The ensuing haircut became a media sensation. The photos were plastered all over newspapers and fashion magazines, including the October 1963 issue of Vogue, and the hairstyle was christened "The Kwan Cut."

* They don't show any logos, probably to suggest it's also under the "Beatrice Dawson" label. An aside: they show a photo of the "founder" of the brand in the movie. The woman pictured is British costume designer Beatrice Dawson, though she herself did not design the costumes for the film!

Donyale Luna
Donyale Luna walked runways for André Courrèges and Yves Saint Laurent, was the first Black woman to cover British Vogue in 1966, and modeled Dior and Pierre Cardin creations. As an actress, she appeared in iconic films of the 1960s: Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1965), Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966), and Satyricon (1969)... And that barely scratches the surface!

"She was so beautiful that people would stop eating if they […] saw her walking by," says Pat Cleveland about her one-time roommate. It's no wonder Luna was scouted simply walking down the streets of Detroit. Jet magazine called her "the most photographed girl of 1966. She's even challenging Britain's Jean Shrimpton for position (and bankroll) as the model most in demand in Europe's haute couture houses..." Pat Cleveland continued, "She was above everything, not of this earth."

LEFT: Donyale Luna in British Vogue RIGHT: On the set of Who Are you, Polly Maggoo? (1965)

In her cover story for British Vogue (1966), credited alongside the couture are Luna's lipstick shades. Donyale wore Rose Thé by Payot, Dior no. 15, and Rose Edith by Guerlain, all with her trademark beauty look consisting of geometric eyeliner and long lashes.

For another Vogue editorial, her makeup products are listed as: "Revlon's new Ultima II lip make-up in Turkish Coffee, blue creme eye shadow."

Among the examples of Luna's continuing legacy: in 2020, Zendaya did an entire Essence magazine cover story inspired by Luna's awe-inspiring career. And makeup icon Pat McGrath cited her as inspiration for "Astral Luna Gold," a glistening eyeshadow for McGrath's eponymous makeup line.

Jean Shrimpton
Jean Shrimpton was the face of many beauty ads, including Chanel's N°19 fragrance. But my favorites are the campaigns she shot for Yardley of London. Featuring eye-catching graphic design, they ran the gamut from lipsticks (called "Slickers," and available in frosted pastels) to hair products. The advert for Oh! de London perfume is a standout. Surrounded by illustrated foliage and motifs, Shrimpton locks our eyes sporting an updo of curls and silken flowers.

After loving the advertisement for years, I tried a sample of the vintage fragrance: it didn't disappoint. Oh! de London opens powdery and citric before evolving into a mossy forest, complete with dripping rain. This sparkling fragrance from the 1960s still feels fresh.

LEFT: Yardley Oh! de London RIGHT: Max Factor

Yardley paid Shrimpton £70,000 to do a tour promoting their beauty products. But she got in trouble with the brand for telling the audience they shouldn't buy anything: Jean said they were perfect as is.

In her 1964 book My Own Story, Shrimpton shared: "I concentrate most on [eyes], using a lot of mascara on both the top and bottom lashes. I use white, or a mixture of brown and blue eye shadow on the [eye] lid, and put a dark brown streak just below the bone. I use a grey liquid liner and take the outer corner of the eye down, not up."

The Face of the Century reports Jean used "tawny lipsticks such as Lancome's youthful Bois de Rose." And for the face, Mattefilm by Guerlain or Pan-Stik by Max Factor, making this a product used by Shrimpton, Kwan and Twiggy!

The 1960s is my preferred decade to reference within my own beauty routine, so this was so rewarding to research/put together! But I uncovered too much material to include in one post - let me know if you'd like a part two for the 1960s!

Header image based on a vintage Yardley ad, re-drawn by me to be higher quality

Sources and Further Reading:
Twiggy: Woman's Own scans via glamourdaze. Twiggy talks to Charlotte Tilbury about Pan-Stik. Vogue 1967 makeup credits via julen_morras_azpiazu. Queen magazine scans via sweetjanespopboutique.

Nancy Kwan: Nancy Kwan Vogue October 1966 magazine scan by justaguy on thefashionspot.

Donyale Luna: Interview with Pat Cleveland via Skin Deep: Inside the World of Black Fashion Models by Barbara Summers. Jet Magazine, June 16, 1966. [1]: thefashionspot scan. British Vogue 1966 spread photographed by David Bailey scans. Pat McGrath on Donyale Luna.

Jean Shrimpton: Jean Shrimpton: An Autobiography [1990], My Own Story: The Truth about Modelling [1964], both by Jean Shrimpton. The Face of the Century by Catherine de Castelbajac.


  1. Jean Shrimpton is iconic for telling the audience not to buy anything haha. What a beautiful message!

  2. I have always loved Twiggy's epic ragdoll eye look! I've been drawing my eyeliner down at the outer corner for years (it's called 'puppy liner') I like how this look gives you a flirty doe-eyed look. ♥

    1. It truly is so iconic! And omg that sounds so cute! ♡


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