Elizabethan Make Up

Recreate Elizabethan and Victorian Makeup


Learn about make up history and the popular Elizabethan make up style in the 1500s English Court. Elizabethan cosmetics were very particular for the times.



During the mid 1500s in the Court of England, Queen Elizabeth I became the ultimate symbol of beauty and fashion.


Elizabethan Make Up
Upscale women in the court clamored to look just as she did, with white skin and light, curly red hair.


Makeup in those days was very different than it is now, and most often poisonous as well.


Court women would wash their faces in solutions of lead and vinegar, which they found whitened their faces significantly.


Black kohl was used to line the eyes and darken the eyelashes, while red pigments were used as blush and lipstick.



As you can see from the photo above, movie and print renditions of Elizabethan cosmetics are highly modernized and altered to suit its audience.


Women would also pluck their eyebrows into thin, round, high up brows. They even plucked their hairline back as much as an inch to create a longer forehead!


Elizabethan Costumes and Hairstyles


Young maidens often wore their hair parted down the center with the ends pinned into curls in the back. Usually a thin gold headband was worn in addition.


More upscale women of the court favored light colored, curly hair that was pinned back into a large messy bun. Their hair was very voluminous and often made their faces appear smaller.


Today, reenactments of Elizabethan make up are usually directors “interpretations” so as not to look so ridiculous as true court makeup would have in today’s world.


To recreate the look, begin by applying a foundation that is a few shades lighter than your natural skin tone, and top with a white or almost white powder.


Next, dust your cheeks with a red-tinted blush, keeping the blush on top of your cheekbones in an oval shape instead of below your cheeks.


Use a bright red lipstick to cover your lips heavily. One detail about the Elizabethan style is that women often tried to center their red lips.


Instead of making them appear wide and full, they were narrow and full just as a doll’s would be.


If you don’t want to pluck your eyebrows to get the look, use the lightest foundation to cover the bottom third to make them higher.


Then, take a light brown brow liner and use short strokes at the top of the brow line to visually raise the eyebrow.


Add a light touch of mascara to your top lashes to simulate the look of kohl. Instead of a black eyeliner pencil, use black eyeshadow instead to line your eyes. This will look closer to the original style than a stick pencil.


Once you have completed your Elizabethan make up, finish off with costume and jewelry in the times style.


This look can be a lot of fun for costume parties, reenactments, and theatre interpretations of the Middle Ages.



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