As a book, Virginia Vincent’s Makeup – 1930s Beauty Instruction and Technique is a poor read. However, those picking up this book aren’t looking for helpful insights or provocative stories that showcase some of the Hollywood excesses during the 1930s. Instead, this book is an instructional guide straight out of 1932 that acts as a thirty-six page primer for aspiring makeup artists at the time. Recently reissued in 2008, this title is a relic of its time that aspiring makeup artists should familiarize themselves with for nothing else than a bit of historical perspective.
What can be gleaned from this book for modern readers? While the information presented is informative and there are some details I imagine would appeal to makeup artists, both aspiring and established, who need some inspiration, much of the instruction detailed in this book is grounded in the 1930s.
Essentially, the only people who will walk away as a more competent makeup artist will be those looking to duplicate the styles presented in this book. A good deal of the information is based on products that either do not exist anymore or have been replaced with better modes of application.
However, it is interesting to note how well this text was presented in 1932. Originally published as a full color photo book, Makeup – 1930s Beauty Instruction and Technique is a sort of textbook for the masses. Created for the sole purpose of sharing insights into the application of makeup, this book seems to have been a timely arrival when cosmetics had just become a commercial necessity the decade before. In a way, this guide was a primer for women of all ages who were just starting to stretch their legs in terms of applying makeup daily.
That alone justifies reading this book. For those who are fascinated with makeup or those who want to be makeup artists, starting here at, arguably, the start of commercial makeup is a fine place to start. Casual readers will likely get very little out of this text that is barely two score pages long.