Beauty Marks and Spots – a Historical Journey into Vintage Style

beauty spots jean harlow

Beauty marks hit their fashion peak in the 18th century and the 1950s. If you have no beauty spot of your own, use our vintage style tips to create one.

PLUS: Use our 18th century beauty guide to position your beauty spot according to your inner personality!

Sadly, too many people searching online for beauty marks these days are trying to remove them. It’s a shame, because a beauty mark is a marvellous thing. It’s the staple of a vintage bombshell look, for a start. But beauty marks have been considered alluring well before the fifties and Marilyn Monroe. Their mystique can be traced back to the Roman Empire.

What is a beauty mark?

A beauty mark occurring naturally on your face is a mole by the name of ‘melanocytic nevus’. No-one knows quite why a little mark on your face has been invested with such allure over the centuries. Perhaps it’s because beauty marks draw attention to the eyes, cheeks and lips to give them increased visual impact.

indie girls with beauty spots

Dita Von Teese wins. Again.

Beauty marks in ancient Rome

Roman women  applied their beauty marks with kohl. Alternatively, they pasted tiny alum leather patches in both round and crescent shapes onto their face. They did this to conceal blemishes, in patterns which became increasingly intricate. A bit like face lace today. Mm, face lace.

Beauty marks in the 18th C. Regency era

Apply beauty marks as decoration reached its zenith in Marie Antoinette’s day. Aside from being an affectation of privilege, it was a wonderfully egalitarian fashion trend; beauty marks were worn by all, regardless of gender.

Those incorrigible 18th Century aristocrats used fake beauty marks to:

  • Accentuate features
  • Hide facial blemishes
  • Display political affiliations
  • Draw the eyes back down from their powdered wigs… no mean feat, one suspects. Those wigs were deadly.

indie girls with beauty spots

Regency beauty spots were either applied via a pencil or appliqued onto the face in varied styles including dots, hearts, stars and crescent moons. Unfortunately, necessity was the mother of invention: even the well-to-do figures of the Regency period were riddled with smallpox scars and disfigurement caused at least partially by foundation powder containing mercury and lead. A slyly-placed beauty spot could hide all that.

What does your beauty mark placement say about you?

The positioning of beauty spots was considered a fine art. Madame Du Barry, one of the courtesans of Louis XV, is said to have defined the meanings behind beauty spot placement like so:

  • Cheek – flirtatious
  • Corner of the mouth – kissable
  • Forehead – haughty
  • Laughter lines – playful
  • Upper lips – mischievous
  • Lower lips – discreet
  • Eye – provocative
  • Nose – impudent

indie girls with beauty spots

Jean Harlow, we love you.

Beauty marks in the fifties

Beauty marks made a comeback in the fifties. Norma Jean Baker was born without one, but Marilyn Monroe wore hers on her cheek, and a post-war flirtation with beauty marks ensued, with stars like Elizabeth Taylor following suit.

We now consider beauty marks to be synonymous with pin-up girls and modern vintage vixens, but body modification is a modern take on the beauty mark. As stud piercings begin to echo beauty spot placements there’s room for this durable style to evolve.

How to create a fake beauty mark

You can easily create your own beauty spot with a Kohl pencil or black eyeliner by choosing your position, pressing down firmly and rotating the nib on the spot.

indie girls with beauty spots

You can also go with a durable liquid eyeliner which reduces the risk of smudging. Felt tip eyeliners give you good control of the pen, ideal for beginners.

Lastly, you can buy fake stick-on beauty marks online which allow you to experiment.

And why stick with a neat, round little circle? Another design like a crescent moon or black kohl heart can work just as well.

Remember, beauty marks on the nose signal impudence…