Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty – Book Review

Last updated on March 16th, 2024 at 07:47 pm

Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty – Book Review

Being the bookworm that I am and in constant need of educating myself on the topic of vintage hair and makeup. I’m always thrilled with the prospect of a new guide that will help to perfect my preferred 1940s look. This is especially the case with hair!

So, when I was approached by PLEXUS publishing with a request to review a new book that they’re publishing by Laura Slater, entitled ‘Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty’, I jumped at the opportunity, quick as a wink.

Filled with useful tips on make-up and hairstyling from the beauty regimes of iconic, glamorous movie stars such as; Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich… To name just a few!

‘Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty’ is a perfect book for those who are just starting their exciting adventure with vintage hair and make-up, as well as for vintage aficionados like myself. 

Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty Tips from Mae West, Gloria Swanson & Rita Hayworth

Vintage make-up tips. Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty - Book Review.
On the left; is Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty by Laura Slater. On the right is a picture of me by Gregory Michael King.

It’s a great compendium of the key tips that you will need to recreate some of the most desired looks from as early as the 1920s up to the 1950s.

Here are some of my favourite beauty tips from the book, ones that I’ve personally tested and loved are…

  • A tip from Mae West – Coconut oil applied daily to the face and neck, makes the skin feel soft and works as a good moisturiser.
  • A tip from Gloria Swanson – “I never use water on my face – haven’t for about five years – I cleanse it with cold cream, which doesn’t dry the skin as water does.” 
  • Personally, I’ve been doing the hot cloth cleansing using Eve Lom or Shiseido cleansers and terry cloths soaked in warm water to remove all the make-up.
  • I think that Pond’s Cold Cream, an alternative to soap and water that was popular with movie stars such as Clara Bow and is available in some shops even now, is perfect for someone with dry skin like mine but I would not recommend it on oily skin.
  • A tip from Rita Hayworth – “After shampooing, saturate your hair with olive oil and wrap it in a towel for 15 minutes. Rinse with hot water and lemon juice to remove the grease.”
  • I’ve been using olive oil on my hair from the day I went from raven black to copper red. And it’s probably the only reason why I didn’t go bald in the process.
  • * The hairdresser had to use litres of bleach on my very long hair during the transformation.

The 1940s Inspired Makeup a la Rita Hayworth

To demonstrate how useful in recreating a vintage look the book really is, I present you with pictures from my latest photoshoot, inspired by Rita Hayworth and a hint of Joan Crawford. And as always, I did the make-up and hair following the ‘Vintage Secrets; Hollywood Beauty’ guidelines. 

Old Hollywood make-up ideas. Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty - Book Review.
Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty – Book Review.
Rita Hayworth.
Rita Hayworth hair style. Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty - Book Review.
Extract aka teaser from Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty.


DISCLOSURE: As of October 2021, I’m part of an affiliate program, and I get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post. That’s how I keep my website alive, for which I’m very grateful to you. All opinions expressed here are mine! 

Makeup I Used for my Rita Hayworth & Joan Crawford Inspired Looks

Joan Crawford makeup. Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty - Book Review.


“In the 1940s, lips could be any shade you liked- so long as that shade was red!” Laura Slater

The Lips

Vintage fashion blogger

Victory Red Lipstick-1941

The most perfect shade of 1940s red by Besame.

My wonderful readers get 25% off the entire order!

The Cheeks

  • Giorgio Armani Cheek Fabric blush
  • I also recommend Clinique Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Pallete.

The Eyes

  • YSL Satin Crush Eyeshadow
  • I’ve recently discovered Pat McGrath Eyeshadows and I love them!


  • Bobbi Brown Natural brow shaper & hair touch-up in auburn
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill Classic Mascara


  • Wella Eimi Volume Mousse
  • Wella Eimi Stay Firm Hairspray

To create perfect curls I always sleep in the hair rollers, which is incredibly uncomfortable but I do get my almost perfect vintage curls. I say “almost” because I still haven’t found the perfect setting lotion, which would make the whole process much easier.

1940s inspired hair and make-up
Moi by Gregory Michael King in a picture inspired by Rita Hayworth -on the left- make-up and hair tips from Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty.

If you love makeup, you might be interested in my Best Makeup Ideas for Hooded Eyes article.

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