Recreate the 1930s look- Bollywood style

Sorry for the long hiatus of sorts, and for a change I have been writing , it is just that what I wrote is published somewhere else. I did a post on makeup in 1930s in Bollywood on IMBB. You can read it here.  Please do read it before you read this post so you know what I am talking about. And decided that  I need to do a post on recreating this look. Though like with any decade's look , this one needs you to do it one step at a time.
Here is Zubeida from Alam Ara, the first ever talkie.

This is Shanta Hublikar a marathi film actress, i think she did some hindi films too. However she typifies the makeup and costume of that era very beautifully in this picture, so though technically she is not a bollywood person here she is.

So if you were to recreate a 1930s look bollywood style, without looking like you stepped out of a period film, here are some key elements you could incorporate one at a time in your look.  This would keep your look modern without making you look over the top.

Finger waves, or just gentle waves. Not the angelic perfectly formed spiral curls mind you , but waves that come from plaiting your  hair in a thick braid while it is damp and undoing the braid once your hair is dry. You can use a hair dryer to speed up this process. Or you can use hot rollers and set your hair with some hair spray once it is done. I did a tutorial on 30s hair for curly haired beauties with a very light yet old worldish makeup. The key to this look is to keep your hair away from your cheekbones, but not to tie it too severely. You need slight waves nothing too strong.  

Avoid lining your eyes, just use grey eyeshadow as a thick liner, with no clean lines, just a smudgy haze of colour. Alternatively you could use the eyeliner you stopped using because it smudged too bad on your eyelids, and using a q-tip dipped in some make up remover or even a normal moisturizer,  run it across the liner very gently, and smudge with a smudger or your own finger. Once you have reached the smudginess you were looking for , apply a touch of powder or a shimmery highlighter to give the look a more modern feel. And in case you have fine or light coloured eyebrows, you are in luck lady, this was the time of pencil thin brows. So the look will be easier to recreate for you. 

For the mouth it is almost as if go red or go home. But there is a simple trick to wear this look, without buying a black or red black lipstick, just prime your lips and apply a dab of kajal/ charcoal pencil and blot using tissue. Now on your primed grayish/blackish lips, apply your regular red lipstick and blot again. This will not only darken the shade for the retro old world look, but will also keep your lipstick on your lips for longer without feeling heavy.  (However the old world lipsticks were a lot heavier than we can imagine). Alternative apply your red lipstick, hold a tissue over your lips, and using some black eyeshadow, just go over your lip area using a eyeshadow brush. This will mattify , keep your lippie locked in and give you retro dark lips.
I cannot stress the importance of exfoliating your lips before you go anywhere near a red lippie enough. But please please make sure you do it and follow it up with a moisturizing lip balm. I have done a detailed tutorial here.

The face was a painted face, and unabashedly so.  In order to recreate this look, please keep aside the liquid or silica based foundations for  a creamy alternative.  However please do not go a shade lighter in foundation department as it looks patchy and ghostly.  This look is perfect for colder weather as heat can melt the pancake off your face. However remember to dab a damp sponge once you are done with a heavy foundation. It keeps the foundation looking a little less heavy. I suggest using Lotus Herbals 4 in 1. I cannot reiterate it enough, but whenever going for a heavy base look, always moisturise well. It keeps your look radiant, and does not let it cake up. 

Hope you enjoyed recreating some of these looks. Btw for a truly retro look don’t forget to wear your hair away from your face.  And in case you are not too happy with completely tying your hair up, or have short hair, just pin them away from your forehead, and leave them loosely tied. The key is to not have hair cascading over your shoulders as this decade was a lot more about hair away from face, cut short to be stylish and practical all at once. 

Here are some more pics to serve as reference points, this is Greta Garbo in 1920s, though in Bollywood terms this is closer to the 30s.                                            And this is Durga Khote looking oh so demure.


  1. Hello Supriya, greetings from Eden of The East Films, Singapore. We are a bunch of film makers out on our quest for the very first film, Paper Boat, under our banner. It is a period saga spanning the era 1900 to 1940. We read your guest article Hair, Makeup and Fashion Trends of Bollywood Actresses of 1930′s and feel you might be the right person to manage the Costumes for Paper Boat as its Director of Costumes. If this interests you please contact Rajat Das at to move this idea forward. Thanks and best of wishes


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