Monday, July 02, 2012

In period makeup

Saturday I did something I have never done before- went to an 18th century masked ball- 155 meters underground in Sala silver mine. More pictures and gushings can be found at Isis' Wardrobe. "> More interesting for this blog is that I, for the first time, only used cosmetics made after 18th century recipes.



Very much at the very last minute I decided to make a very simple white makeup. This recipe of Spanish white confused me a bit at first as I felt it would be odd to add water to the oil and wax mixture, but Therru suggested that this is actually two recipes for white makeup and not two. That made a lot of sense to me, so I decided when I made the first version, to try one with just water and pigment. I had already prepared a Flower-de-Luce Water by the simple method of putting some Calmus roots in vodka. I then strained the alcohol and added distilled water, so the finished water has about 10 % of alcohol. It has a bitter, but not unpleasant smell. I also decided against the shimmer and used Titanium oxide as pigment. The recipe doesn’t give any measurements either of water of pigment, so if you make this one, you just have to add pigment until you are satisfied with the hue. I was distracted when I was stirring in the pigment so I lost count on how much I used, but to 150 grams of Water I must have used at least 3 tablespoons of white pigment. I must confess to taking a bit of liberty to the recipe and added ½ teaspoon of Gummi Arabicum too.


I had plenty of time to spend on my toilette and I think you need it if you want to go for white makeup. You can’t just paint your face, but the chest, neck, under arms and hands as well. I used a synthetic makeup brush to apply the makeup, spreading it as thinly as possible with it and then finishing with rubbing the paint in with my fingers to get it even. It took a little time but wasn’t exactly difficult. The finished result was an even matte surface that was very definitely white, but not completely opaque. I could have added more pigment, but found this level of whiteness suitable to my taste. Comparing with water soluble theatre makeup that are pigmented with Titanium oxide, my opinion is that the my makeup is less opaque but also much easier to get even. It does feel very dry and you really need to moisture before. I was a little worried how my very sensitive skin would react to the makeup, but I’m very pleased to say that my skin has behaved perfectly normal.



The makeup stayed on very well. I did paint the back of my hands and fingers, but of course I washed my hands with soap and water several times during the evening and though the makeup gradually disappeared, it faded slowly and gradually, so it never looked like I had pink hands to white arms. I can’t vouch for how well it would stand up for dancing and getting hot, but for just walking if will stay where you want it. Just remember to put on the makeup before you get dressed and to shake the bottle well before you use it.

Lips and cheeks are painted with the excellent Lip-salve . When I made it I thought that it turned out much too hard, but I have found that after a couple of days it softened so it became very easy to use. It’s still very firm which I think it’s an advantage as it never becomes runny or feels sticky on the lips. A result of it getting a bit softer is that it isn’t as sheer anymore and you can easily build up the colour if you want it even more opaque.



I never got around to use the white and grey powder, but I did use the pink. As you can see it only gave my hair a pink tinge. I was told that it looked more like I had powdered red hair white, than using pink powder. Though subtle, the effect was nice and I wonder if the coloured powders of the 18th century were just this, just tinged with a colour. The recipes does start out with white powder which you add a pigment too, and white do make pastels out of any colour. If you want a strong colour you should omit the white and add more pigment. I find this very interesting and shall try to find more information on the subject.



I applied the powder as I usually do, using a lot of wax when I did my hair, adding powder with a large makeup brush and the hairspray it very lightly. I didn’t have any problems with wandering powder when I was done, but when I was powdering my hair, some powder settled on my shoulders. (By the way, I really recommend you to do your hair first, before makeup even, if you are going to powder your hair.) I used a damp towel to remove the excess powder and got rather surprised when the water activated the pigment, Iron oxide, making the damp powder bright red. The towels looked a mess and the bathroom floor too. I still want to try out other colours on hair powder, but they do leave a big mess and a lot of excess powder all around you. So use with care and caution…

Eyebrows were darkened by a piece of burnt clove.
I am, however, very pleased with my makeup and I think it looked nicely period, apart from being more period as it has ever been before. What do you think?

12 comments:

  1. Very inspiring - and I can testify that you looked great, both in natural light and artificial. And I thank you kindly for the very excellent lip salve. I very much hope to use it again soon!

    Keep experimenting (and posting about it!)

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    1. You are so seet! Thank you!

      Well, I might rope you in for an experiment or two eventually, you know... ;)

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  2. The make up looks perfectly authentic! I am in awe. Amazing job. And it must be so gratifying to be able to say you have made every single one of the cosmetics you used.

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, very satisfying, I must confess. :) Now I want to make a blue-toned lip makeup.

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  3. Dear Isis,

    Goodness, that's the best 18th century makeup I've seen yet; at last I can see why it was popular. Usually it seems too pasty. In some 18th century portraits the wearers have pasty faces too, but most do not, and you have hit the look dead on.

    Very best, and thank you for exploring this underexplored area of costuming,

    Natalie

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    1. Thank you! You are right, they often do look pasty. perhaps because they usually goes on pretty thick? This is just the white makeup and when the water has evaporated it is just pigment left. And being dry by its very nature, there are no need for an extra layer of powder, which you usually need to fix the base. :)

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  4. You look really great!
    The make-up is quite visible, but not to present! It is very nice an makes me want to continue my research too! :-)

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    1. Thank you! Oh, I hope you do- I'd love to see what you come up with!

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  5. At the moment, I use only my red balm (lips and cheeks),I did not use the Titanium oxide and the hair power. But I think for the big next event on October, I will use it.
    Here is a picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/francis-specht/7354769150/in/photosof-21053907@N08/

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    1. It looks very nice! :) Pretty gown too!

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  6. As I recall, oily pomade was recommended to apply on the skin under the makeup, so perhaps that dryness you mention was combatted with that.

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  7. Min Self: Indeed and they all seem to be quite close to modern cold cream, which is quite a bit fattier than my normal daycream. :)

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