Marie Antoinette makeup tutorial for 18th century queens

Marie Antoinette makeup tutorial

This Marie Antionette makeup tutorial is designed to make you look like an entitled princess for cheap – all big eyes, plumped lips and flushed cheeks. With a dash of powder and paint. My child, you will be irresistable – fey, abandoned, yet with a hint of control. The future beckons… and it looks just like the past!

It takes a bit of sass and staying power to stick around for over 200 years. That’s the case with the 18th century maquillage (make-up, dahlink). Looking like a total 18th century hoo-er, sorry, elegant courtesan, is luckily much easier to achieve than more finicky make-up styles – and yet so flattering. Although you might look a touch odd down the shops.

Painting your beautiful face in the 18th century style is perfect for dark nights on the town, whiling away the precious few years of beauty you have left in this world by drinking in seedy caverns lit by forgiving candlelight (and only the blood-spotted handkerchief tucked carelessly into your sleeve will hint to the world you’re not the beautiful young virginWhore you seek to appear as, but actually a raddled, consumptive, flea-bitten old wreck).

Clearly, the 18th century Marie Antionette look is a must. And here’s how to do it.

What you will need:

  • Makeup brushes
  • Baby powder – very cheap, and that’s good because this look requires a lot of it!
  • Dark brown eyeshadow
  • Taupe or a very light-coloured eyeshadow – on the beige side, although red eyepowder is more acceptable these days, so you could veer into pink tones. But light, creamy, slightly beige tones are far more traditional.
  • Black mascara – sooty eyelashes will work better than really long defined ones.
  • Deep plum powder blush
  • Red lipstick – go for as strong as you dare. Avoid anything heading into blue or plum tones.

Marie Antionette make up tutorial

Unnaturally white skin

First, you want white skin. Get a large-sized brush (japanese kabuki brushes are very nice), sprinkle it with baby powder, and lightly shake off the excess. Dust baby powder all over your face, neck, collarbones and even arms for the powdered 18th century effect. Baby powder is VERY pale, but the 18th century ideal of beauty demanded it. If preferred, you can go for a light face powder slightly closer to your normal skin tones (we recommend mineral products as they’re better for your skin). Remember you’re going for matte not sheen.

Darker skins: If you wish to follow this look traditionally, you can still follow the same steps. However, the emphasis here – really – is not so much the colour of the skin as the smooth flawlessness of it.

The history bit: 18th century folks had a “patch-box”, in which pieces of silk, taffeta, or even leather were applied to the face with adhesive in order to hide pock-marks. These were considered to be quite fashionable at the time, and were often dyed brilliant colors. Those who didn’t want to wear patches on their faces to hide skin disfigurement would use a thick coat of face powder to make their complexions look white and smooth. Unfortunately, the base element in face powder that made people’s faces look so pale was not the talc that we use today, but finely flaked lead. Oh dear. Lead is easily absorbed by the body and has the side effects of severe head pain, nausea, dizziness, bowel problems, blindness, and, if large enough amounts have been ingested, paralyzation or death.

Dramatic eyebrows

Apply dark brown eyeshadow on your eyebrows with an angled makeup brush for dramatic arches. You want your eyebrows not only to have a richness of colour, but a strength of shape. Consider the eyebrows of Eyebrow Lady Extraordinaire, Helena Bonham Carter.

Make your eyes shine

Apply taupe or a very lightcoloured eyeshadow in a crescent above the creases of your eye, to contour your eyes.

Add a coat of velvety black mascara to just your upper lashes for a flirtation, feminine appearance.

If you’re going for a dramatic effect, feel free to use fake eyelashes. You can be subtle with fake lashes (some are just half-sets to add a few extra subtle lashes), or you can think 18th century decadence and go for fake lashes decorated with tiny diamante stones and black feathers. In the world of Marie Antionette, plumage was key.

Eyeliner wouldn’t be traditional for an 18th century look. Use it as you wish, of course. We’re just mentioning that.

Make your cheeks look like you’ve just ravished a Count in a cold stone corridor

There are several ways to get the seriously blushed look on your cheeks that you’re aiming for.

You could highlight the apples of your cheeks with a deep plum powder.

You could also get a lip taint – pink or plum – and dab a little on the apple of your cheeks. Find your apples by smiling widly in the mirror. The high apples of your cheeks are now visible – generously dab the lip taint high up on your cheeks, but not too close to your nose – nearer the outer edges of your eyes. Then smear the lip taint in, in small circular movements.

The history bit: Rouge was a favourite cosmetic. Its name is derived from the French word for “red.” Like the popular white face powder, rouge was created from questionable ingredients, including carmine (a lead-based pigment.) People used rouge with wet bits of wool to daub fashionable red spots on their cheeks -the general idea was that it made an aesthetically pleasing contrast to one’s pale, powdered face. Rouge was also available as a lipstick for both men and women.

Lips were made for whispering secrets…

You don’t need lip liner for this look – a little bit of natural line is actually preferable.

Do you have a small-sized makeup brush for lipstick? If so, start at the center of your mouth and blend out to soften the edges. Make sure that the lipstick is dangerously red!

If you are using a tube of lipstick, you can try dabbing it from the center of your mouth outwards, building up the colour and shape more gradually than if you just smeared it on. Kiss your mirror now, and leave a mark. Gorgeous.

A flourish

A beauty spot would finish off the effect with a flourish. Take a kohl eyeliner pencil and dab a beauty spot where you please. It might be better to place it near your mouth rather than cheek – your flushed cheeks are impressive enough as they are.

Don’t put the beauty spot above your eyebrow or on your neck. That’s a touch freakish.

This nice beauty mark kit costs $5 and traces the history of the beauty mark through the ages!

Final tips

Renaissance hair

To make it clear where your influences are coming from, wear your hair up, and piled high, with tendrils delicately falling about your face and perhaps the back of your neck. Accessories might include combs with peacock feathers, or threading a small string of pearls through the ensemble. A bare neck is a sexy neck!

The history bit: Besides their complexion, women in the 1700s subjected their hair to various tortures, the least of which was powdering their hair after curling it with hot tongs and applying lard as the base to which the powder would stick. Fashion demanded that women have big, complicated hairstyles with which to complement their clothing. Many women resorted to wearing hairpieces and wigs to add “volume” to their hair. Since many of these were difficult to attach and sculpt on a daily basis, women often had their hair done (curled, larded, powdered, and then adorned with small flowers and feathers) once every few weeks and leave it unwashed so it would stay that way. Not surprisingly, these ladies suffered from a lot of scalp problems. Infestations of lice and/or fleas were common enough even among those who did not – or could not afford to – enjoy such an extensive cosmetic procedure. Those wealthier ladies who let themselves be the willing victims of fashion often found mice nesting in their hair because the lard had attracted their hungry attention.

Renaissance fashion tips

Dressing entirely in black would suit this look.

More traditionally, you could go for light faded pastels (ivory, bone, faded dusty pink).

Silver rings and lots of them would work, as would bangles. Then when you laugh gaily and play with your hair, everybody can’t help but pay attention.

Punky elegance wouldn’t hurt – designer Vivienne Westwood has got punk credentials and has had 18th century fashion leanings all her life, and it clearly hasn’t hurt her career one jot. Think black lace fingerless gloves that go up the arm.

Lastly, learn how one should behave: How to live like an 18th century aristocrat.

Main photo: Eryne Photography, 2.0