Make-Up: A History, Part 1 – The Marie Antoinette Look

The iconic (albeit ill-fated) historical beauty, Marie Antoinette, has become synonymous with 18th Century style over the years. With countless adaptations of her life, (such as Sofia Coppola’s pastel-perfect production with Kirsten Dunst) her iconic look is often replicated on stage, screen and on the catwalk. Famous for her powdered hair, alabaster skin, rosy cheeks, rosebud lips and quintessential beauty spot, this Queen’s look has stood the test of time.

Have you ever wondered why that pale, milky complexion is so synonymous with the 18th century? Well, the infamous smallpox was to blame for that trend. This particularly deadly disease left all survivors with pock-marks as a result of the scars from the pustules that littered the skin during the illness. For this reason, heavy make up was extremely fashionable and it was very common for men and women alike to apply patches of silk or taffeta to their faces with adhesive, in order to hide pock-marks. Those who didn’t want to use face patches relied on a thick coat of face powder, which contained lead (yes, you read that right). Lead is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, causing paralysis and even death.

Rouge (French for ‘red’) was another cosmetic essential for Marie and her contemporaries.  A red tint was seen as an attractive contrast to the creamy, white complexions of 18th century fashionistas. Created from the lead-based pigment Carmine, rouge was applied in small circles to the cheeks, in order to create a rosy flush.

In a further attempt to cover pock-marks and scars, black velvet beauty patches were extremely fashionable. Often cut into shapes such as moons, stars and love hearts, these patches were placed upon the cheek near the eye or above the lip. It is often reported that Marie Antoinette applied them near the corner of her mouth as a signal that she wished to be kissed (cheeky!).

Here’s a step-by-step guide to achieving a modern Marie Antoinette inspired look!

  1. Start with your base. A creamy, paler foundation is perfect for this look. Make sure the skin is well moisturized and primed before the application of foundation to prevent dry flaky patches. With a fluffy brush (or powder puff), apply a pale pressed powder evenly across the t-zone and cheeks. Full, even coverage is essential to this look.
  2. For a modern Marie Antoinette look use pale pastel eyeshadows. Using a large, fluffy eyeshadow brush, sweep a wash of a pastel colored eyeshadow over the entire eyelid. In the crease of the eyelid, just below the brow bone, use a smaller eyeshadow brush and a darker eyeshadow to define the crease softly. Then, use a lighter shadow (white, silver or pale gold) on the brow bone.
  3. Next, using either a gel, liquid or kohl eyeliner, apply a thin line along the lash line. It may help to pull the eyelid taut with one hand, and then carefully trace the lash line with the other. Curl lashes, and apply black mascara.
  4. Using a fairly small blusher brush, apply a bright pink or red blusher to the apples of the cheeks. Whilst smiling, apply blush to the fullest past of the cheeks. Keep the color fairly concentrated, central and doll-like.
  5. For the lips, a stain in pink or red is perfect. Similarly, using your ring finger to dap layers of a matte red or pink lipstick is a good alternative. Aim to highlight the cupid’s bow of your lips, and keep the shape rosebud-like.
  6. Finish off the look by using a brow gel to brush up the eyebrows, and voila, there you have it!

Tip: Dry shampoo or talcum power to the hair is very effective in achieving that powdered wig look! Add pink, red or purple eyeshadow over your lipstick for a matte, stained lip look.

Pop Princess Katy Perry can be seen rocking the Marie Antoinette-esque look in the advert for her new fragrance, ‘Killer Queen’.

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