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making faces :: in living colour

not makeup
makeup didn't start off by being about, well, makeup. it started off being about literal masks, masks that were used in the theatres of ancient greece to portray specific characters or character types. often, the same actor would assume multiple roles and having different masks available made it easy to distinguish one character from another. those masks were also easily recognised by the audience for what they represented- grotesquely exaggerated, they embodied the essential elements of characters who would have been familiar to audiences at the time through myths and fables.

japanese kabuki and beijing opera would later use makeup to create those masks, exaggerating natural features and expressions with brilliant, contrasting colours. while the extreme traditions of theatrical makeup don't often find their way into mainstream culture, brilliant, intense colours, creating a completely unnatural appearance, have always been used as an informal kind of mask, an identification with a particular cultural group or movement.

everybody loves looking like lucy
in the later twentieth century, options as far as colour have changed. palettes have grown wider [and wilder] and many cultures have become more accepting of colours that would have been considered shocking a few decades ago. the acceptance of these changes in the immediate past can be back-dated to the widespread use of colour in films [the first look people had at the possibilities of colour cosmetics] and the period just after world war ii. during the later period of the great depression and the years of war that followed, the style was for women to appear understated- even if they used makeup to achieve the effect. once the war was over, things changed in a hurry.

first of all, women who had been hired to fill jobs which normally would have been performed by men were dismissed en masse. gone was the sense of independence that came with earning an income. the emphasis now, culturally and cosmetically, was on returning to the traditional roles of wife and homemaker, and to a similarly traditional femininity. makeup went from restrained to outspoken- conservative, "classic" shades of deep reds and neutrals were replaced by the outrageous cardinal and cherry reds of the fifties, combined with a dramatic "cat's eye" black liner flared at the edges to imitate the sweep of dramatic eye lashes. the mask was that of the coquette- the alluring young woman in search of a husband because, more than at any time in recent memory, women needed to find husbands in order to ensure themselves a stable life.

THERE'S MORE COLOUR TO COME...



another day at the office...
by the late fifties and into the sixties, cosmetic manufacturers started to add titanium to their lipstick shades, making them paler, but frosty, so that lips became very light- pearly pinks and peaches, or an almost silvery white. once this happened, emphasis shifted to the eyes. fashion icon elizabeth taylor, who had famously sported the fifties look of cherry lips and winged liner, began a new trend with cleopatra, with her lips pale and her eyes encased in thick liner and vibrant colours.

fashion in the sixties adored outrageous colours- stark white, orange, violet, the more outlandish the better. models of the time with their unnaturally spiked lashes, hollowed cheeks and completely matte complexions look like aliens. and apparently, much of the younger generation thought the same way, because the late sixties and seventies saw the rejection of the [obviously] artificial in favour of the [ostensibly] natural- neutral shades, glowing, tanned skin and hint rather than hits of colour.

the natural look is for losers
as tends to happen, though, the eighties saw the pendulum swing again. now, women who had fought their way through the equal rights movement and who had defined themselves in the seventies had moved into the workplace with a vengeance and the depth of that vengeance was displayed in the make up they wore. loud colours and heavily smoked eyes became part of the wardrobe [along with cumbersome shoulder pads and lots of hair mousse]. cosmetics in the eighties almost seemed designed to intimidate- exaggerating features in the same way as the masks of greek plays thousands of years before, reducing women to a few boldly pronounced key features. the mask of the office warrior.

currently, bold makeup is more a matter of personal choice. shifting trends dictate whether or not it is considered of the moment or oddball, but the continuously expanding palette of colours to choose from [red products for use around the eyes, for instance, have become widely available fairly recently in north america and even now, many people have reactions to them] make it more and more difficult to restrict people to one "norm" of appearance. it creates an odd milieu, really, where people can do pretty much what they want with themselves and know that they might be judged, but not how. such is the confusion of modern times.

so, on that note, here are a few looks that capitalise on the possibilities of colour and ways that i've found to use a whole lot of it. [products are from mac unless otherwise specified]

"victorian"
victorian
this look is in no way what one would think of at the mention of the word "victorian", but the resaon for me calling it that will be apparent in the breakdown. this was one of the first times i ever decided to screw what people said about colour and actually try something where there was equal emphasis on the eyes, cheeks and lips. if memory serves, it's also the only time i went to a karaoke bar. one step into new territory deserves another, i guess.

face ::
mac studio fix fluid nc15
cover f/x concealer c10
mineralize skinfinish natural light

eyes ::
victorian
nanogold e/s
straw harvest e/s
hot hot hot e/s
bio green e/s
boot black liquid liner
plushlash black mascara

cheeks ::
salsarose blush

lips ::
magenta lip liner
victorian l/s

"fusion pink"
fusion pink
named after quite possibly my favourite loud pink lipstick. the colour was apparently originally created for cirque du soleil and it's described by mac as a vivid coral, which really does it no justice. it's really an incredibly vibrant, fully saturated coral pink [i.e., a pink with lots of orange] and a sheen that defies description. truly one of mac's unsung superstars. this look is sort of inspired by the ultra-bold, "muscular" colour palettes of the eighties, when a lot of colours like yellow, orange and hot pink started to find favour. consider it an homage. [ironically, i wore it to dom's high school reunion, with a group of people who were in high school in the eighties.]

face ::

mac studio fix fluid nc15
cover f/x concealer c10
prep & prime finishing powder
fusion pink

eyes ::
bright sunshine e/s
crystal avalanche e/s
sushi flower e/s
bright fuchsia pigment
boot black liquid liner
fascinating eye liner
opulash black mascara

cheeks ::
azalea blush

lips ::
fusion pink l/s

"partylicious"
partylicious
that name sounds like it belongs to an annoying pop song, but it's actually the name of one of mac's pigments that came out last year. this look was sort of inspired by the sixties "cleopatra"-inspired trend of intense, colourful eye makeup with neutral lips. i don't think my lips could get any more neutral, actually. but you gotta admit, those are some pretty colourful eyes.

face ::
nars sheer glow foundation mont blanc
mac prolongwear concealer nw20

eyes ::
partylicious
vex e/s
aquavert e/s
partylicious pigment
surreal e/s
noir plum e/s
unflappable e/s
fluidline eye liner blacktrack
undercurrent eye liner
false lashes mascara

cheeks ::
oh so fair beauty powder
partylicious

lips ::
viva glam gaga 2 l/s

and for those who might be interested in such topics, i've challenged myself to go 30 days without repeating the same lipstick... i have more than enough of a collection to do so and now i have a page on this blog to track my progress. watch me go! permanent link is in the upper right hand portion of the page, under the about me section.

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