Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Watercolor Eye -- Make Your Eyes Like an Impressionist Painting

This old post from Gael Fashingbauer Cooper discusses the Watercolor Eye of the 1970s.

It seems to have been another of the 70s makeup looks based on silent film stars, as Gloria Swanson looks to have done it quite a ways back:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tangee Makeup -- Authentic colors of the 1920s and beyond!

Tangee lipstick and blush debuted in the early 1920s (the earliest advertisement I've seen is from 1923.) The brainchild of George W. Luft, it was a cosmetic designed to look less artificial and dramatic than the carmine red colors which dominated the market at that time. 

The main coloring of Tangee is eosin, a chemical which turns red when it comes in contact with proteins. It's often used noawadays in laboratories to stain specimens to make them more visible, but it's been used in cosmetics since around 1900. Tangee is so named because it looks a tangerine color in the package, but it turns pink on the lips. Some advertisements even show it to turn red, though I have had the interesting experience of myself wearing it for a photograph where, while it was definitely pink on my mouth, by the time I was done with color adjustment on the photo to make it look more vintage, the pink lips had turned a very dark red -- so I figure that's just a tendency of the old film that was used. It's alleged that Tangee turns different colors on different people, becoming a shade that "perfectly suits you". I think it just turns the same color on everyone and due to its sheerness sometimes looks a little different depending on the natural color of the lips beneath it.

Tangee was actually a perfect color for the 1920s because, while it is more pink than a Theatrical Red, it's not really very natural looking by today's standards and is in fact a very bright, neutral pink. The blush turns a vivid coral shade. As my many YouTube videos address, 1920s makeup wasn't as dramatic and dark-hued as people nowadays imagine, it was actually big on intense, bright colors that would actually look kind of appalling under modern aesthetics (think things like solid blue eyeshadow paired with orange-red blush and lipstick.) Tangee of course made matching lipstick and blush because one of the rules of 1920s makeup was that the two must match as exactly as possible.

Here I am with a very authentic 1920s face done up with only black grease-stick on eyes and brows, skin-tone powder (what would have probably been called "Rachel" color at the time) and Tangee applied heavily to my lips and cheeks. It looks very much like the makeup worn by women in some of the Technicolor films which exist from the era. 

This is an especially great look for women who want attend a 1920s event but don't like the (alleged) gothic look of flapper makeup. It's certainly more appropriate for daytime wear. Tangee is still available from the Vermont Country Store. Because eosin rouge had been in use for so long, this is also an acceptable replacement for some Victorian style rouges, although those early eosin cosmetics were usually liquid concoctions instead of solids. The fact that Tangee never really went out of production even makes it acceptable makeup for almost any period of the 20th century.

Tangee blush and lipstick side by side.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Theatrical Red -- The Classic Color for Women of the Past

The first nail polish I ever bought for myself, at the age of about 12, was a bottle of Max Factor's Curtain Call Red. I noticed that the French name for the item, printed on the bottle, was Rouge Theatrical. I didn't think much of it at the time. Little did I know that I had bought one of the oldest cosmetic shades in the book!

Theatrical Red colors go back to the 19th century, where it was a descriptive name for certain highly pigmented (red) lip and cheek colors -- the kind only an actress would need to wear, in theory. Old catalogues pitch them alongside more mainstream period cosmetics like massage creams and face powders in a way that makes it apparent that, though the entire pitch is about how it's a perfect color for stage, everyone really knows that regular women are wearing these for daily use.

The primary pigment in almost all Theatrical Reds was carmine, though it could sometimes be modified with other pigments to adjust the formula as appropriate. One old recipe I've seen loads it up with zinc, though probably with more intention to create a matte effect than to lighten the color. 

Tangee was still selling a Theatrical Red at least into the 50s if not later. However, by the 40s there was no longer need for most women to pretend that red lipstick was only for amateur dramatics, and there were also more and more shades of red to choose from such that Theatrical Red was no longer a great designation (as the name had been used to designate merely any strong red tinted with carmine, and not necessarily a specific uniform color.) In the case of my first nail polish, it seems Max Factor had kept their formula but changed their name to match with the times. 


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