English Rose, Elizabethan Make-Up

As I’m currently part of an online course, Historic Royal Fashion, I really want to see how added knowledge has changed my views!


Next in line for historic beauty regimes is a very traditional English look – The Elizabethan Era (1558-1603), or as I like to call it, the ‘English Rose’ look.
The first thing that comes to mind, for me, is like the later Victorian era, the majority of women in an Elizabethan society were fair skinned – however not all of this was purely natural. 13695150_10210011679751645_860193231_n
For instant, Queen Elizabeth is depicted with this white complexion which is actually enhanced with a heavy make-up base. Some may claim this is due to the famous ‘virgin status’ of the Queen, with the colour white being symbolic of this characteristic.  Additionally, women were inspired by the Queen’s presence that her style was also reflected in daily beauty regimes, a lot like celebrities nowadays being the style icons and trend setters.
As already mentioned in my Victorian regime, there is the additional factor of the…

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Humors, Herbals and Health: Cosmetic Beauty

The Elizabethan ‘look’ is iconic. An English Rose. The look of a noble and strong Queen. A white complexion, a blush of pink cheeks and red lips. It was considered the ideal concept of beauty of the Early Modern period and spread globally. How did this phase of beauty come about, and what does it signify?

Coronation Portrait of Elizabeth I – 1559

For my module last term “Medicine and Spiritual Healing” I became really interested with female recipes for beauty and I found my evenings filled with digitized manuscripts and receipt books (thankyou Wellcome Collection)

Recipes demonstrate that beauty was synonymous with health, and was attached to the prominent medical theory of the time – the humoral theory. The four ‘central’ parts of the body; white phlegm, black bile, yellow bile and blood had colour associations as well as temperaments. (2 cold, 2 hot as well as having own characteristics)

The perfect ‘harmony’ of these humors throughout the body resulted in what was considered, perfect health. An imbalance of one, a lack of or excess, resulted in poor health and required the ‘curing’ properties of other ingredients. A popular remedy for humoral imbalance for Mercury – it purges the excess of heat and restores the balance of the two ‘hot’ humors – blood and yellow bile.

Richard Haydocke: Frontispiece, in A tracte containing the artes of curious paintinge (1598)

This internal balance inspired the visual depiction of ‘perfect’ health, resulting in various experiments such as alchemical recipes and domestic creations. This was partly responsible for the introduction of white led and vermillion (containing the most corrosive aspect of Mercury) onto the face. Richard Haydocke discussed the arts of colours within these chemicals and how they relate to the humoral theory.

In some cases early modern cosmetics were used to hide blemishes and scars– yet the chemicals within the same cosmetics were often the cause.

Herbal recipes were also popular due to accessibility to communal gardens and domestic confinement of women.  My favourite recipe so far is in fact a herbal based recipe created by Caterina Sforza – an elite Italian woman who documented a range of recipes from domestic recipe to alchemy.

to make the face white, beautiful and colourful: mix sugar with egg whites and red byrony (Bryonia diocia) water. With this mixture, you should wash your face.”[1]

It’s a meringue recipe!

This recipe demonstrates female intellect; the ability to know the manipulating properties of plants such as Red Bryony. The plant is recorded as drawing out two humors, yellow bile and white phlegm. Sforza was then able to manipulate the colour of the face – creating a version of ‘ideal beauty.’

In summary, Early Modern Beauty was really Early Modern Health, with the aspect of colour prominent in reflecting the ‘perfect’ complexion.

[1] Gigi Coulson, Caterina Sforza’s Gli Experimenti: A Translation (Printed by Amazon, 2016) 13.

English Rose, Elizabethan Make-Up

Next in line for historic beauty regimes is a very traditional English look – The Elizabethan Era (1558-1603), or as I like to call it, the ‘English Rose’ look.
The first thing that comes to mind, for me, is like the later Victorian era, the majority of women in an Elizabethan society were fair skinned – however not all of this was purely natural.
For instant, Queen Elizabeth is depicted with this white complexion which is actually enhanced with a heavy make-up base. Some may claim this is due to the famous ‘virgin status’ of the Queen, with the colour white being symbolic of this characteristic.  Additionally, women were inspired by the Queen’s presence that her style was also reflected in daily beauty regimes, a lot like celebrities nowadays being the style icons and trend setters.
As already mentioned in my Victorian regime, there is the additional factor of the paler face being a social status; those with paler skin were seen as wealthy compared to women with natural tans caused by the outdoors and working.
In jumping back to Queen Elizabeth there is actually some evidence of other reasons for this complexion. The young Queen once contracted a form of small pox, resulting in facial scarring. As beauty was regarded as one of the highest forms (drawing from Ancient Greek philosophy) the white powdered face allowed the Queen to have an illusion of societal beauty while masking the marks which could have been subject to criticism and objection by the society she was ruling. After all, she took the thrown as the final child of the King with no one thinking at her birth she would become queen. Similarly she was a powerful woman, a figurehead over traditionally patriarchal societies with a lot of male opposition. She merely could not afford, at first, to show reasons why she would be an unsuccessful leader.
In focusing upon this ‘artificial’ white face, the powered base was created in a form of ‘ceruse’ which was made up on lead and vinegar. Obviously, this is an extremely poisonous combination – potentially cutting the natural life expectancy (Elizabethan clearly missed this bullet, having an extremely long reign for any monarch of the time).

This was not the only way of gaining a foundation, another form was ‘face paint’ which was created from natural entities, like plants and their leaves. Natural seeds and oils were then developed into acting as hair dye while kohl was an ongoing popular way to darken the eyelashes. Unlike the use in the Egyptian style, kohl was used to create the natural, but not overly enhanced eye make-up for the Elizabethans. This whole natural look then ran all the way to probably the 1920s, with the exception of historic actresses or ‘backstreet’ working women, who donned more  extravagant make up.


Cate Blanchett portraying a historically accurate Elizabeth



The English ‘rose’ look was complemented by the signature rose lips and the blush cheeks, also created by different dyes and natural substances gaining the prominent colour.
The main idea that came to mind when researching Elizabethan hairstyles for my ‘tutorial’ is that the era contained various hairstyles, rather than one singular style which is normally associated with certain historical periods.
Commonalities between women’s hairstyles was the ‘frizzy’ nature of the hair, moulded into certain frames on the head using wires and newly invented hairpieces (which are created by their own or other’s hair).
Fun Fact: metal hairpins, like ‘bobby pins’ are an English creation, appearing in around 1545.
Original hairstyles were inspired by the social developments of the time – mimicking a sort of social ‘enlightenment’. Compared to the notorious Middle Ages, the Elizabethan and the general Tudor dynasty paved ways for new themes and lifestyles, including politics, music and art.
Bordering on the philosophical impacts of thought, I believe that women embraced this new society and creativity through their looks, especially their hair styles. Note the variety of hairstyles shown in these pictures:
As mentioned, women were inspired by the coronation of a new Queen, and used her style did have an impact in their everyday routine as well as experimenting with their own hairstyles. For example, Elizabeth is known for the fiery red hair – causing lighter hair to seem more beautiful in a society, hence the development of dying and wig wearing. Elizabeth’s hair colour shade was actually presented as bolder within paintings with the hair thought to be more of a strawberry blonde with hints of red. I believe the way she appears in illustrations is to express her power and her determination to succeed and protect – and this is shown through the symbolic red tone within her hair. Additionally, Elizabeth’s hair was also a wig, she actually had many wigs which became known as ‘periwigs’.
The Elizabethans decorated and embellished their outfits with a range of colourful jewellery. Both precious and semi-precious jewels were contained their jewellery and even the lower classes had access to cheaper, costume like jewellery, resembling real jewels.
Fun fact: Earrings were known as ‘ear-pickes’.
Pearls are commonly associated with heavily decorated, upper class Elizabethan women. I believe that this was popularised by rosary beads – as England had gone through a period of both Catholicism and being Protestant. Elizabeth’s elder sister Mary was a Catholic, wearing rosary beads as a symbol and communication of her faith. The round stones were in necklace, and were worn by a large majority of Tudor women at the time. When the change of royalty came about women kept the string necklaces, opting for more plain white beads – or pearls. With Elizabethan being a Protestant, the religious element then became relaxed and women wore these necklaces and mostly jewellery – in some cases the cross is evident in a lot of Elizabethan depictions.
Alongside my ‘Elizabethan’ make-up, I am sporting a handmade lace ruff which is drawn from one measure of elastic. The ruff was a common garment worn by all in a society to stop the necklace of clothes becoming damaged or dirty.


Ruff – Handmade, (metre of lace and elastic)
Blouse – Vintage
Headpiece – concocted with a pearl necklace and decorative brooch

Victorian Beauty


Carrying on from a previous post about the beauty regime of the Egyptian era, this post focuses upon the history of beauty within a Victorian society. The Victorian era in particular is a favourite of mine due to the various elements of social development and differences within the class system.
In this post I have put together a brief tutorial of how I gain a Victorian look using modern day make-up and hairstyles. As explained in prior posts I am not a beauty blogger and experiment with my own make-up in different ways so if you want to try this look, go with what you think is right for you!
Before I present the evidence of me pretending to be a Victorian, here are some brief facts about Victorian ‘make-up.’
  • The term ‘make-up’ was not actually a common term prior to the 1870s. Instead it came under the broad term of ‘cosmetics’, suggesting medical uses for covering, such as powders and paints. These were used to hide facial defects or smaller blemishes from scars like small pox or other infections which were common within the era.
  • The upper and middle class members received these cosmetic ‘medicines’ from local apothecaries (pharmacies) while the lower classes experimented with making their own alternatives or buying from others.
  • Cosmetics began to evolve into a specific issue of vanity realizing there was space in the market for products for beauty. The working class were unable to afford such products and there was a rise in back street companies which held cosmetic consultations in order to adapt these blemishes and scars which were believed to not be natural beauty.
  • The social norm for make-up in the Victorian era was that it was subtle – worn to make it look like no product is used at all. Pale, smooth faces and the youthful look is attributed to the Victorian society that we acknowledge. I personally find this ironic, as a naturally white face in the Victorian period was commonly seen as a symptom of consumption, also known as tuberculosis. White faces were actually a sign of a coming death, and not necessarily a sign of youth. All five Bronte sisters died as a result of consumption and were represented in paintings by their brother as holding this pale, natural style.
  • Make up was not necessarily limited to women – men also adopted this minimalist look inspired from the regency period, again only using the powders to hide scars and other blemishes. Powder forms used to disguise redness and blemishes included zinc oxide and pearl powder (talcum powder)
  • Alongside the pale face was naturally rose cheeks and a hint of red for the lip. This was considered the look of a high class ‘respectable woman.’ The equivalent to lipstick was a product similar to beeswax which may have included dye mixed with remnants of flowers. The blush for the cheeks again contained carmine dye and coloured juice. (Lemon juice was popular as it gave a luminous glow to the fact)
  • Additionally, the pale skin reflected the upper classes, as one in this position would spend a majority of their days inside buildings. In contrast were the workers, who had a natural tan from the outdoor labouring.
  • However Queen Victoria denounced all aspects of make-up, which I consider a factor for this subtle look. Incorporating religious elements, ‘painted ladies’ were believed to be sinful, and carried an immoral reputation. This was attached to the working class women, specifically prostitutes, who wore considerably more make-up than the simplistic look.
  • As beauty became an important factor, society then went to extremes to present oneself as beautiful. For example, belladonna was known to be used as eyedrops in order to allow the pupils to have a sparkling glow, which sacrificed full vision. Unknown then were the extremely harmful consequences and belladonna was also, ironically, used as a treatment believed to cure cataracts.
  • In regards to hair, dye was accessible and experimented with to gain the shades of blonde, brunette and redhead. Unfortunately it was also common to lose one’s hair as a consequence to the strong chemicals within these dyes.
  • The Victorians can be credited in introducing certain products which were developed and used today. For example cold cream originated as Crème Celeste – a combination of wax with ‘spermaceti’, which is part of an organ found within the head of a sperm whale! The combination created a moisturizer as well as a smooth and even light finish.
Here is my recreation of a Victorian look!
I began with setting my hair in a Victorian style. Central partings were more common with images (2).jpga Victorian lady – Queen Victoria was known for her specific hairstyle; a central parting with ringlets either side. This specific style lasted until about 1870, where hair pieces were introduced and women opted for natural free hair, instead of a regimented slick style.
I damped my hair and eased it into the best central parting possible (my hair has its own mind when it comes to partings so it took a few times to tease it into the right position)
I then took sections of the front of my hair, marking with the comb about a quarter of the length. This is to show two hairstyles, either the pinned back slick bun, or front ringlets. For the latter, marking the hair shows how far up the rollers need to be positioned.
I used the foam rollers for the ringlets, which work so well with slightly damp hair. The hair needs to be bone dry before removing or the ringlets will drop out!
I made sure both sides of the hair where level with the rollers. I then leave the front the set while I create the bun effect.
Working class Victorians normally stuck to a simple lower hair bun which can be recreated with a foam roller. You can do it free hand, however I find I get a better effect with a foam bun which gives it a more even and neat finish. Because my hair is so thick I can get away which a thick roller normally used as a whole hair mold.


To get a bun this way I wrap the hair round as normal before using the elastic headband as a bobble, which wraps the two ends together forming a circle. I use other bobbles and pins to secure the hair.


An example of the wrap from the side view, sporting a central parting. Clothes are reproduction Victorian wear used when I volunteer at a museum.
Some Victorians experimented with their hairstyles, and this simple bun can be adapted into more modern and fun styles. For example you can plait the rest of the hair in mold it into a plaited bun. The next photo shows the similarities to Queen Victoria’s chosen hairstyle.
Unfortunately my ringlets did not set as much as I would have liked, however you can see the desired effect in the portrait of the Queen.




In regards to the make-up I just a limited range of products as less is more for this subtle Victorian look.


I used the palest eye-shadows, a range of whites and pinks in order to gain that luminous eye glow popular in the era. I left my eyebrows as they were, as normally I would use a dark eye brow wax to create my chosen shape and shade. Victorians did pluck and shape their eyebrows, but again they reflected a natural look.
I added the mascara, and added a little blush to my cheeks which toned down the contour lines and powder.
The final stage was the put on an outfit reflecting the period. Luckily I own a velvet black dress with dainty white cuffs and pearl button detail – perfect for act as Victorian girl’s outfit.




















Vintage icon – Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra.

This post focuses on the historical beauty of Cleopatra.

Before I reveal the way I completed the signature look (albeit the Hollywood starlet version) I will outline some common myths about Cleopatra, and some historical context about Egyptian make up.

  • Most associate ‘Queen Cleopatra’ as being an Egyptian. This is incorrect, she was actually Greek. This all comes down to blood (as it all does in history). Despite her family actually living in Egypt for about 300 years, the Egyptians saw all the family as Greek as they are descendants from a General named Ptolemy, who, after the death of Alexander the Great, received Egypt after all of the Empire was split!


  • Cleopatra did not have long straight or, or a fringe. This one seems a little obvious but is an automatic visual appearance when representing Cleopatra as a figure. Rather the Egyptians were more likely to have shaved heads, with Cleopatra being viewed as wearing a wig of tight curls. This is evident on the emblem pressed which is believed to be a representation of Cleopatra. The real reason why Cleopatra was given a fringe in the 1963 was simply because it was in fashion.


  • Cleopatra was deemed as immoral, which is illustrated by a myth that she ‘dissolved a pearl in vinegar, or what they conceived as wine.’ This has been proved to be very false, and pearls are unable to dissolve in such a state. Additionally it is unclear what part of Cleopatra was immoral – one may believe she was beauty orientated and lavish spender. This can be objected to through evidence of her many welfare schemes – despite owning half of the land and being depicted as ‘lavish’ – Cleopatra was an extremely good, moral leader.


  • She was not beautiful, unlike another Egyptian Queen, Nerfertiti, who has been
    Believed to be Cleopatra

    depicted in various Egyptian art as consistently beautiful. Cleopatra, on the other hand, was considered to be a less of a beauty, which is evident in the coins printed with her side profile. This idea links into the previous ‘myth’ ab
    out Cleopatra being decadent. I believe there is a correlation between the two – perhaps if Cleopatra was believed to be a decadent and inhumane


    character this would reflect upon the perception of her beauty. The Egyptians were very symbolic and precious about their aesthetics – whether Cleopatra was physically ‘beautiful’ or not this may depend upon the beauty of one’s soul…As this can never be proved, it remains open for debate!


I have been asked various times why and how the Egyptians were able to wear such fascinating styles of makeup, specifically the eyeliner worn by figures like Cleopatra. My first response was unknown, but then I took to research and realised just how intelligent the Egyptians were.

Eyeliner, for the Egyptians, was used to fight off optical infections – and this was through the lead salts in the mixture, also known as ‘Kohl’.  (ring any bells??)

Weirdly, the two forms of kohl were in green and black – not the blue as represented by Elizabeth Taylor. The fascination about kohl is that it was not directly available at the time – suggesting the Eygptians used their own chemistry in order to merge the components needed.

Perhaps a more important reason, rather than fighting off infection, that make up was so significant and widely used was because of the ‘holiness’ beauty brought to individuals. Even through death and ‘the afterlife’ individuals were buried and decipted in a wide array of colour and make up for religious purposes.  Egyptians were extremely symbolic and worshipped many Gods. This is shown by the variety of make up not just on the eyes.

For the facial make up they concocted their own version of foundation and highlighters, such as blusher. Cheeks were stained from coloured clay – ‘red ochre’ which was originally burnt to gain it’s pigment. This was also used for the red of the life.

Egyptians also had access to dye their hair, or wigs, as most individuals were bald. Henna was available as a natural plant, which dyed the hair and nails.


Over the years I’ve had many people saying I have ‘Liz Taylor’ eyes because of my eyeliner, but I’ve always denied it because, although my ‘liner’ has a flick, it’s nothing on par with the Cleopatra style.

I thought it would be fun to experiment with this make up style – although I vary my eyeliner shape and length I tend to stay away from block colour eyeshadow, normally sticking to natural light browns and pinks and a little gold.

I’m by no means a beauty blogger – I love make up but I’m not too interested in all the different brands, normally going for price over brand names. Also I probably apply make up totally wrong, (I have all these brushes, no idea what the different types are for) but I think this turned out okay.

The eyeshadow I used was:

  • No.7 : I used the first two shades, the white as a base and the pink for highlights
  • Avon’s own eyeshadow pallet: I fell in love with the purple/blue shades in this pack, and is perfect for the Cleopatra look.


Before I start on the eyes, I began by adding foundation in order to replicate the skin tone by Elizabeth in the role of Cleopatra.

I usually use BB cream by Rimmel as a base coat, followed by a little bit of liquid foundation. Currently I am using the Avon Ideal Flawless.




I then applied the white shade of the No.7 eyeshadow all over the eyelid and dusting over the eyelashes. This helps to add more definition when both eyeliner and mascara are added (well I think so

Next, I began with the lightest shade of blue and brushed it over the eyelid, like basic eyeshadow.


I then filled in the gaps of the shadow, which added definition. I used the same shade again, and mixed it with another, a beautiful purple/blue shade. I normally define the eyelid ridge? socket? (I don’t know the name) mixing the two shades together. This gives it a even finish.

In doing this, I began to gradually cover the eye, with each stroke covering a higher space of the eye. In having the white eyeshadow base, it allowed the shadow to not appear harsh on the skin.

At this point I decided to ‘put my eyebrows on’. By this I use a brow wax kit – my one of choice is by Sleek. As everyone has different natural eyebrow shapes it is extrememly difficult to recreate Elizabeth Taylors, so I just neatened mine up. In darkening the eyebrows with the wax and brow shadow, it allowed the blue to stand out.

In having a define eyebrow end, I used it as a reference point for the edge of the eyeshadow, almost diagonally lining it up with the corner of the eye and the eyebrow. Similarly I then focused on the inner eyelid, and lined the eyeshadow up with the beginning of the eyebrow and the other corner of the eye, directly below.



The next part is probably the most tricky, as an outline is needed to construct the very horizontal eyeliner line. Before adding the liner, I decided to add the darkest shade of blue as a sort of guide for the eyeliner.



I also began with the eyeliner from the inner eye, making a thin line over. I use eyeliner from Collection 2000, mainly because I find it has the best eyeliner wand.

I carefully applied eyeliner to the bottom lid, making sure it was even. I then matched the two lines in the corner, ready to add the signature ‘flick.’

In using the guide from the eyeshadow and the end of the brow line, I made a vertical brush stroke. If it looks okay, fill the line in.

The character of Cleopatra has a wide top to the eyeline flick, before narrowing into a straight line.

  As you can see, my line isn’t perfect and I probably need a lot more practice. But I think it has a slight resemblence?1

Even up/edit any line or shadow. Add mascara.

To be even more like Cleopatra I put my wig on, accompanied by a gold head dress!


Audrey’s Eyebrows

I’ve always been jealous of Audrey’s unique beauty; and I get annoyed in ‘Funny Face’ when her face gets called funny! Still, Funny Face is a brilliant film – you should watch it if your into films with musical numbers!

I thought I’d include a little segment in between outfits to show my own version of her look!

My favorite feature of her would have to be the eyebrows – they just shape her face so elegantly. I tried to recreate the shape of her eyebrows as best as I could – but as everyone’s natural eyebrow shape is different no one can be exactly the same!

In this tutorial, I use only two items. Eyebrow kit by Sleek – which includes the wax and powder. Benefit also do a good one; however the Sleek one is almost identical, and it saves a few pennies!

I also finish it off by using brown eyeshadow by Natural Collection. This gives the eyebrows a more natural colour, especially for me as my hair is quite red and need the right shade for my eyebrows to match!

My natural eyebrow shape are quite narrow – however I have quite prominent arches so I could get a good shape by following the natural line!

I began by using the wax to make a line where I will fill later! It felt really weird to make my eyebrows so wide – but I felt more comfortable as I began to fill the whole space with wax.

After carefully putting the wax within the space and on my real eyebrows, I then covered it with the Sleek eyeshadow. I noticed when comparing the two pictures together that my descending line was too vertical – as Audrey’s is more horizontal. I recovered it by making it into a nice flick, something different which I hadn’t tried before.

 I tided up the smudges using a cotton wool bud. I then used the eye shadow just to gloss over the eyebrows to merge the two shades to both my skin tone and hair colour. I felt alot better with this look as I added eyeliner, as my eyeliner wing looks nice and vintage below the eyebrow flick! I know Audrey didn’t always wear eyeliner with a flick but this is my kind of trademark! 😀

In future I would probably make sure the lines are more horizontal, which would give off a more Audrey look!

So this is my Audrey Hepburn inspired eyebrow tutorial! Hope you like, Megan :)xx