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Monday, September 27, 2010

It’s all in the Makeup

Makeup dates back centuries. The first known makeup was used by the Egyptians and made of copper and lead ore. They, along with Romans, also used makeup containing mercury and white lead. I am sure you are all familiar with pictures of ancient Egyptians with the darkened kohled eyes. Well, that was made from lead, copper, burned almonds, soot and other ingredients. Just what we all want lining our eyes, right?

Another well known makeup style would be that of the geisha. They start with making their entire face white made of rice powder colors. It is reported in Wikipedia (a favorite fun source for me. In fact all the factual information came from Wikipedia) that “the geisha would also sometimes use bird droppings to compile a lighter color.” I am not clear, if this was for the lips, eyes, cheeks or teeth (yes, I said teeth, which they colored for the ceremony). Regardless, ewwwww.

The color Queen Elizabeth I used on her face may have included white lead and arsenic. I am surprised she lived to be 69 years old.

Over the centuries makeup had changed and evolved. Colors come and go. Do any of you remember the light blue eye shadow that covered the entire lid and up to the brow?

I find I pay a lot of attention to hairstyles and makeup when watching older films that were contemporary at the time of filming. As for period films, I have to trust that the stylist did their research and what I am seeing is correct. There are two reasons I do this. One is I want to make sure the hairstyles my heroines are wearing would be accurate. A lady would not be wearing a Gibson Girl in 1811. The second reason is for the theater. Again, the colors and styles need to be accurate and nothing can throw me quicker than an out of place hairstyle or blood red lips when the person should look as if they are wearing no makeup at all. I try to make my actors and actresses as accurate to the period as possible.

However, I have to say the most fun makeup to do is when there are no rules. No certain period like Little Women or South Pacific, but more along the lines of Suessical, where you can branch out and have some fun. And then there is Halloween, where anything is possible.
Yes, I know, Halloween is still a month away, yet the costumes and candy hit the shelves within a few weeks after the start of school. And, Halloween has been on my mind. I agreed to give a makeup class to a theater youth group in a few weeks. I am pretty sure they could care less what the proper look is for a Von Trapp and more interested in creating the perfect vampire look.

So, as I am putting together my ideas of what I am going to show them, what would be your suggestions? Is there any special look you, or your children, are going for this year?


  1. What a great topic. I confess, I know nothing about make-up past or present. Now I'll have to go back and check my WIP's to make sure I included it. :)

  2. My nephew wants to be Buzz Lightyear, but I'm not sure that he'll need much makeup for that. LOL. Can you teach this group how to do a sparkly vampire look?

  3. Clarrisa, I am sure you got it right or one of your crit partners would have said something - ummm, like me - lol.

    Catherine, Maybe I should show them how to subtly mix white glitter in with a pale base and then send them out in the sun. If necessary, I guess we can always use the makeup lights for the same look.

  4. Oh this is fun! I love me some makeup. I especially love doing up my daughter on Halloween! She gets a kick out of it too. I suppose if there was no makeup I'd be the one rubbing berries into my cheeks. ;)