Becoming Beautiful Historically

Lesson 3: Becoming Beautiful Historically


Learning Objective:  Students will demonstrate their understanding of historical hair and makeup by creating a beauty tips newspaper article that accurately describes the trends of a time period.


Materials Needed:


YouTube clips- Singing in the Rain –

Hairspray – )

“Becoming Beautiful Historically” PowerPoint  Lesson 3.Becoming Beautiful Historically

Mannequin heads (optional)



Watch and compare a clip from Singing in the Rain and Hairspray.  Before watching the clips, instruct the students to pay attention to the differences between the characters’ hair and makeup specifically.

Singing in the Rain –

Hairspray –


Follow up questions –

Based on the hair and makeup, what time period was Singing in the Rain set in; give specific examples of clues you saw. 

Possible answers:  1920’s; the bob hairstyle on Cathy, slicked hair on Don, flawless makeup on Cathy.

Based on the hair and makeup, what time period was Hairspray set in; give specific examples of clues you saw.

Possible answers: 1960’s; Tracey’s big hair, the beehive Amber wore, the slicked back hair on Corny Collins or Link (slicked, but still had volume).

We’ve seen obvious style differences with these two productions, why is period-appropriate hair and makeup important to a production? 

              Possible answers: it helps the audience know what time period the production takes place in, it helps the production seem authentic, actors will more likely act according to that time period as they look the part.



There are very specific style trends to each time period.  We’re going to look at the 1920’s, 50’s, and 80’s today and identify a few things that made each time period unique.

*Bring up the PowerPoint*

Students can take notes on the differences between time periods; it may help them keep the time periods straight for the assessment at the end of class. 


1920’s: Starting with the first 1920’s slide, have students identify what’s unique about that time period’s look.  They should point out things like short hair, thin eyebrows, bold lip color, light blush, and pale complexion.  The slides that follow will solidify some of the things they pointed out.

1960’s: Do the same thing with the 1960’s pictures.  Possible things the students will observe are that the hair is bigger and straight, eyeliner is bolder.

1980’s: Finally, have students analyze the 1980’s pictures.  Possible observations will be that the hair is big and curly, bright colors are incorporated in the makeup, the makeup is less realistic and more stylized.


Quick Assessment: To check for understanding, ask students to list off specific trends of each time period discussed within this PowerPoint.


Follow-up Questions:

  • If you were given the task to research the hair and makeup trends of a production, what kind of resources would you use? Why is that resource helpful?
    • Possible answers: google images, newspaper articles, magazines, films set in that time period…
  • How would you learn how to do the hair and makeup? Why is that resource helpful?
  • Possible answers: YouTube videos, a licensed beautician, books, magazines…



The final slide of the PowerPoint is a list of musicals from different time periods.  Instruct the students to create a “beauty tips newspaper article” that one of the musical characters would read and use.  The article should identify at least two specific trends of that time period and a made-up way to achieve that look.  Students are allowed to research on their phones or computers to help find period accurate looks.  Tell the students that the instructions they write about how to achieve the look don’t need to be realistic.  The article should be about a half page in length. Pictures to support the article are encouraged, but not required.


Optional Additional Lesson Material:

If you have extra time, or students finish early, bring out one of the mannequin heads and show the class how to do finger waves, victory rolls, a beehive, or a big 80’s ponytail.  If you do this at the end of class, let students who have turned in their papers try to create the style they wrote about.