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Akram's Ideas: Guide to Charm Step 1 - Hair and Makeup

Guide to Charm: Step 1 Hair and Makeup

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This year instead of making weight or lifestyle resolutions I’ve opted to follow the rules in the 1938 book Better than Beauty A Guide to Charm, in order to transform myself into a more charming individual.

In order to do this, each month I will be sharing how I am applying the tips from the book into my very modern life.

With that said let’s get started. The first chapter of the book is entitled “What You Do To Yourself” referring of course to our personal care routines.

I’m breaking the chapter into two sections and in this post will be discussing Hair and Makeup.


Let’s start with makeup and actually a prelude to make up is proper skin care.

Skin Care

The authors of the book provide two tips for proper skin care:

  1. A healthy diet
  2. Proper cleansing twice a day

For step one a healthy diet is probably a key factor to keeping both our bodies both inside and outside beautiful and in tiptop shape. The authors suggest plenty of water, as well as fruits and vegetables, be apart of your daily diet.

Step two states that charming women properly washes their face and neck with both soap and cream twice a day. Not much more information is provided however, I did find a great infographic from Health Central entitled The Right Way to Wash Your Face in 7 Easy Steps.

Right Way To Wash Your Face
Right Way To Wash Your Face

I think this graphic really provides a quick overview of the best method of washing your face. Personally I don’t use toner as I find it tend to burn and leaves my skin feeling extremely dry.

It’s interesting that the book does not make mention of sunscreen at all. However, given that the book was written in 1938 and the first sunscreens had only just hit the market in 1936, it was still relatively a new creation.

Having a fair completion I tend to burn easily in the sun, so sunscreen is a must for my daily routine. I always choose a moisturizer with highest SPF rating.

While it doesn’t go into detail, I’m assuming when the book says to wash your face twice a day that means once in the morning and once before you go to bed.

Wearing makeup to bed can lead to clogged pores and oily skin. Still it’s interesting to note that there are a lot of women who don’t wash their faces before going to bed. This is why Swisspers, a popular brand of skin care cleansing products, launched the #sleepnaked campaign to encourage more women to wash their makeup off and go to be with their naked faces.

Makeup routine

According to the book putting on our makeup should take about 10-minutes for an amateur and 3-minutes for someone with years of practice.

The steps to putting on makeup in the book are as follows:

  1. Apply foundation
  2. Powder the entire face
  3. Brush off excess powder
  4. Apply a light amount of blush blending naturally, avoid splotchy circles
  5. Use a good quality lipstick, that matches your completion
  6. Define your eyebrows with an eyebrow pencil
  7. Apply mascara for a dramatic look

It is interesting to note that the application of eye shadow is not mentioned. Perhaps that was a luxury not all women during the great depression could afford.

Modern makeup routine

While the makeup routine described in the book may have been the norm for women of the late 1930’s it’s not exactly the norm today. However, doing some online research I found a really good example of a modern makeup routine, from Bride Access website.

Makeup Made Easy
Makeup Made Easy

I pretty much follow this same routine, however I opt not to apply highlighters and bronzers since I really like to play up my pale skin in contrast to my dark hair and red lipstick.

Your Hair

The book follows the makeup routine by talking about hair.

Washing Your Hair

The first thing the book discusses is washing ones hair. There is quite a debate on “how often to wash your hair” and it appears to be the same question the authors of this book impose on the reader.

According to the authors healthy hair should be washed when it’s dirty. This all depends on your environment and type of hair.

Personally my hair tends to get very oily so after a day of no washing it looks rather limp and greasy. Thus, I try to wash my hair everyday or at the very least every other day.

Drying Your Hair

While the book talks about washing your hair it doesn’t mention blow-drying it. Hair dryers had been around in the US since 1915, but they were typically big and heavy making it hard to use. It may also have been another one of those luxury items not available to all women. Hair dryers really began to catch on during 50’s and 60’s because of changes in the technology and use of lightweight plastics.

For my blow-drying routing I follow The Beauty Department Blow Dry Basics guide.

Blow Dryer Basics
Blow Dryer Basics

According to the Blow Dry Basics guide, you should:

  1. Apply leave-in conditioner
  2. Dry the bangs
  3. Give a quick overall dry
  4. Apply frizz tamer, argan oil, or protective serum
  5. Dry the back of the hair
  6. Move to the sides
  7. Once dry go back through to catch any fly aways

Choosing a Hairstyle

The last hair tip the book offers is some advice about choosing a hairstyle. As the book says the best is to “rid yourself of any preconceived ideas of your type”.

In other words, don’t label yourself as a certain “type” who must have a certain cut. Even today there are countless charts about what face type should have what haircut. However, this book suggest otherwise. Instead focus on who you are and experiment. Choose a hairstyle that fits your personality and looks good on you.

For years I had been told that bangs would look bad on my face. However, after getting married my hubby suggested that I get bangs. At first I tried to explain why I shouldn’t, but later decided what the heck hair grows back. As it turns out bangs not only looked well on me, they totally suit my personality, and I have been sporting bangs for the last eight years or so.

The second tip and possibly more important than the first is to choose a hairstyle that you can replicate at home. It does no good to get your hair cut and styled by a professional, for it to only look like a mess afterwards, because you can not style it on your own.

If you are still undecided on what hairstyle to choose, I found this fun infographic on the History of Hair.

History of Hair
History of Hair 

Next month we will be continuing our guide to charm with discussing care for our Hands and Feet.

Don’t forget you can copy of Better than Beauty: A Guide to Charm, here.

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Akram's Ideas: Guide to Charm Step 1 - Hair and Makeup

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Akram Taghavi-Burris

designer, writer, educator, tech nerd, crafter, baker, sewer and vintage collector, who Brings Creative & Crazy Ides to Life.

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