Thursday, May 28, 2015

Clara Bow Makeup Tutorial of the 1920s

Clara Bow has been classified as one of the silent screen's true flapper personalities (as opposed to Theda Bara's vamp or Gloria Swanson's diva.) Her heyday was mostly in the later 1920s, meaning her films were often shot on the new panchromatic film that didn't artificially create such a "smokey" look to her makeup as the old blue-sensitive film tended to do. 

Figuring everyone's sick of my ugly mug, I have enlisted for this tutorial my redheaded friend Alicia.

Since no one wants to pluck their eyebrows just for a one-off, we began my using a concealer stick to hide her natural brows as much as possible (a trick that will never fool anyone in person but is acceptable for costume purposes.) Then I painted up her face with foundation. The foundation was also painted onto her lips to make them easier to reshape later.

Real 1920s "foundation" was almost nonexistant, and it was definitely not something a normal woman would have worn. Actresses used greasepaints for making up their faces, because that was practically all that was available. Regular woman didn't usually wear anything greater than a heavy coat of tinted face powder as "foundation." 

Next we find poor Alicia trying to keep a straight face after seeing her new eyebrows, painted in with brown eyeshadow and a brush. While plucked brows became fashionable in the 1920s, most women didn't seem to reshape their eyebrows in quite so extreme a manner as this; yet actresses commonly tried to shape a downward sloping "sad" eyebrow that would make them look more innocent and vulnerable in film scenes.

Next item was the eyeshadow. Blue, green and turquoise were probably the most common eyeshadow shades amongst such women as wore the stuff, but brown and purple are also known colors. Not many women other than actresses seemed to use eyeshadow at this point in time (and I have never seen it marketed outside of professional theatre magazines until the 1930s). Most 1920s eyeshadow was in a grease or cream base, that inclined to run and smear.

We didn't have any cream shadows for this tutorial, so I just used a regular blue, dry shadow. The shape Clara Bow used seems to leave the color off the inner brow area but cover everything else.

Clara also uses black liner around the eyes and in the crease. We used a black cream for this.

A black mascara was used to finish the eyes. Actual 1920s mascara was a tricky business that even I haven't had the nerve to try (effectively it requires applying molten grease paint to individual eyelashes with a pin) so I wasn't going to subject Alicia to it. She just used a regular black thickening mascara to approximate it. 

On to the mouth: like with eyebrows, reshaping the mouth was more common with actresses than with normal women. There is an untrue stereotype that all women were doing "bee-stung" lips in the 1920s; but, even amongst celebrities, only a few like Mae Murray and Madge Bellamy were doing such an idealized shape -- and even then, they were less extreme than many of the costume crowd today winds up with. (Hint if you want to do bee-stung lips: don't make them any narrower than the width of your nose. Any smaller and you go from bee-stung to fish-lipped.)

Clara Bow did NOT do the extreme bee-stung look with her mouth. To make Alicia's lips resemble Clara's, we did do some de-emphasizing of the sides and also only partially painted the bottom lip, while enhancing her cupid's bow on the top lip. Her mouth might have actually had as much foundation as lipstick on it. 

View showing how the bottom lip is only painted partway up.
Finally we used a finishing powder. 1920s makeup didn't have mica in it, and the similar-looking bismuth was often thought to be poisonous, so almost all powders were very matte. The base was usually starch or talc. We used Wet n Wild Fergie powder, which is even a historically-appropriate white color. (Typical colors for face powder of the era were white, a yellowish "cream" color, a pink "flesh" color, and a tan color called "rachel.")

While blush was an important part of regular women's makeup, actresses in black and white films usually omitted it, as it didn't photograph well. We kept Alicia's face blush-free for the finished outcome.

full color

approximation of 1920s blue-sensitive film
For more information about 1920s makeup looks, check out the videos I've made.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Italian Pale Look of the 1950s and 1960s

Over at Glamour Daze I came across The Italian Pale Look, a fashion of the late 50s that ultimately formed the 60s fashions.

I mentioned reading about this "Pale look" to my mother, who would have been a touch young to wear it herself but who I figured might have seen her older sisters wearing it. When I described it, she said in that tone of remembering something you'd forgotten had even existed, "Oh yeahhhh..." as the recollection of it poured back into her brain.

I got some white lipstick and eyeshadow and decided to try it for myself.

Perfectly ghastly. So, let's try the Blended Look... I did it by applying effectively a 1950s Audrey Hepburn tutorial on top, using as lipstick 3 Custom Color's 1950s hue (Gamine) from their Century in Red palette blended into the white lipstick.

Passable, and very 1960s. Interestingly, Gamine + White seems to make a matte version of Tangee Natural. (It's an awful color on me, BTW. I have kind of neutral skin that can usually wear either cool or warm shades, but something about that particular pink color just looks hideously fake on me.) Other colors used include Maybelline Pinch o' Pink rouge, Jane Eye Zine in Hip Bone on the eyes, and Stila black liquid eye line.

The Italian Pale Look didn't seem to last very long. By 1960 the new "weird" trend was brown lipstick and eyeshadow, according to Life Magazine. More popular was the above blended look ("Frosted" look as it came to be known) where one mixed the white into a normal lipstick.

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.


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