War time beauty = misery. Let’s count our blessings

By Aisling | September 1 2009 | 10 Comments


Now if you think you’re less spendthrift than you used to be (due to the recession and all like) then you probably feel that you’re doing your best to:

  • use up products before you buy new ones
  • swap beauty products with friends or online
  • make an effort to look around for bargains

But I’m telling you we’ve got NOTHING on the ladies of wartime. Not only would you be terrified of the obvious things like (a) being killed (b) everyone you loved being killed (c) the total destruction of civilization as you knew it (d) Hitler invading etc; you’d also be worried about looking dreadful while it was all happening.

Because women weren’t allowed to let themselves go during WW2. Oh no. Part of the whole British stiff upper lip thing was also looking good – literally putting a brave face on things. And if a handsome GI with a carload of nylons was the only man to be cheered up by your wartime glamour… well a girl needs some fun in her life doesn’t she?

  • Women had on average TWO lipsticks to do them for the whole war. Lie down now and put a cold facecloth over your forehead.
  • Baths could only be filled to a maximum of five inches. Five inches – that wouldn’t even cover your knees. Bang goes luxuriating in a hot bath with lots of foamy soapy perfumed oil delights so. You would have been lucky to have any soap.  And the air raid siren would probably have gone off the second you got into the bath.
  • Hair nets and hair scarves were de rigeur. Land Girls couldn’t have their hair caught up in the thresher and Factory Girls ran the risk of getting tangled in machinery. So the look was more Hilda Ogden than Veronica Lake
  • Face cream, hand lotion and every type of grease was rationed. Shampoo was in such short supply you’d be lucky to wash your hair once a week – so think dandruff and grease as being your look de jour.

How do you think you would have coped?

On a Budget ,

10 Replies to "War time beauty = misery. Let’s count our blessings"

  • charlotte says:

    I would not have done well at all….the fringe would have been one frizzy curl…the face an oil slick with spots the size of mountains and so purple under my eyes that I would look like I had been in a fight….not good look! We really don’t know how lucky we are!

  • tas says:

    quite will actually, at the moment, its as if am living in one :P

  • Tracey says:

    At yet when you see photos of these women they always look beautiful. So what does that tell us?

  • Kirstie says:

    Tracey – it tells us they had no digital cameras to capture their every horrid line and wrinkle like we do. Lighting and cameras were much kinder in them there days…

  • cj says:

    The hidden slob in me finds the whole thing slightly appealing!

  • Hermione says:

    My grandparents lived in the West End in London for the first two years of WWII. Granny said it was a great stroke of luck that they were married in 1938 because she was able to have her white wedding. She spent the next two years, lending out her wedding veil to all her friends, so they’d have something weddingy to go with their suit on the big day!

    I don’t think I could deal with the lack of clean hair. Of all the beaut.ie related implications of war time rationing, that’s the one which would bother me the most.

    Kirstie – Cameras were very considerate back then! Granny looks fab in her black-and-white photos from London. Of course, technology meant that the photographer had to be quite a distance from the subject – I wish it was the same today!

  • pinklady says:

    I would like to think that if I had been of living in that period I would have gotten on with it like many women did, as there would have been more important events happening in life.Unfortunatly women nowadays are lot more image aware and the thought of going without make-up for some is a very scary thought. Oh how times have changed.

  • Breige says:

    Dirtier hair meant they were able to style it more. In fact, it was all the rationing that the more and more elaborate hair styles came into fashion. I love those hair styles

  • BBG says:

    Yeah, washing my hair once a week would have been a killer. To me, the worst of all.

  • CoffeeSusan says:

    No way would i have been able to cope with the lack of shampoo – i’d have been bartering state secrets with enemy agents for some Aveda in no time at all.

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