Red Matte Lipstick

Matte 40s lips
Luscious 1940s Lips
In old black and white films from the 1940s, women's lips often appear dark and smouldering, rather than dewy and glistening. This is because the Hollywood lip fashion for that era was for deep reds in a matte lipstick. The look was soft and sensuous, making the lips look like kissable red cushions.

Among the general population lipstick wearing had an ambiguous status. It was regarded as  adult and reflective of female sexuality and some regarded it with suspicion. Although the roaring 20s, Hollywood and Elizabeth Arden had done much to make coloured lips seem desirable, lipstick was still regarded as way too racy in some quarters, particularly among the older crowd who decried lipstick use on teenage girls. Nonetheless, despite the dire warnings that lipstick was a 'provocation to men', or perhaps because of it, there were still plenty of young women who rebelled and took the decadent plunge and painted their mouths in thick, matte, smudgy red hues.

Dramatic Reds
Vasanti ultra matte red lipstick
Whereas deep plums, browns and oranges had been the colours of choice in the 20s, by the 40s, reds were where it was at - bright, cherry, ruby or dark red. For those who couldn't afford the commercial lipsticks or couldn't get hold of them because of WW2 rationing, good ol' beetroot juice was sometimes used as a substitute, as it was for rouge.

As full, soft lips were in style, rather than the small and delicate 'bow' mouth of the 20s , lipstick was often applied slightly beyond the upper lip line.  A good tip for wearing darker colours then, as it is now, is to purse the lips and apply the stick to the underside of the lips as well, being careful not to get any on the teeth.