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Makeup Tricks of Old Hollywood

Makeup Tricks of Old Hollywood

There’s a certain glamour that comes closely associated with Hollywood movies. Actors often grace the screen with such a powerful presence. Sometimes the reason is for their extraordinary level of acting and sometimes it’s for how they are shot on screen. One aspect that certainly plays a part is how the actors appear on screen with makeup that creates a certain allure.

Makeup in film can create any number of characters. Getting all dolled up can make one appear as the more gorgeous girl at the ball. Narrow eyebrows and pointed facial features can give a look of sinister intent. For this reason, makeup is as essential to shooting an actor as finding the right camera angle or getting the lighting just right.

Here are five essential movie makeup tricks for conveying a certain sense of beauty with actors.

  1. Off-Color for Shooting in Black-and-White
    Before the advent of color in film, black-and-white pictures required a lot of specific staging for what would turn out in the final print. Take, for example, the scene in 1961’s “The Apartment” where Jack Lemmon’s character has to squirt some nasal spray across the screen. Nasal spray liquid is too clear and would not show up in black and white so milk was used instead. The same thought process goes for makeup as well. In order to create a certain sense of shadow and depth to a character’s face, different types of color in eye-shadow and makeup would be used to create a desired effect of making someone look bold when color is not present. This method still holds true today, as with the series “WandaVision”. For the episodes that take place in a black-and-white sitcom, the colorful character of Vision was painted not purple but blue to better appear in the footage with the right amount of shade to still show expression.
    makeup, film tricks, makeup tricks, Hollywood movies, Makeup in film, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor
  2. Contour to Smooth Out Curves
    Contouring may seem like a more recent development in the realm of movie makeup but has actually been quite prominent in the golden age of Hollywood. The aid of colored powders have been used for many years to try to cover up flaws and curves in faces. Carole Lombard most famously used white contour to hide the curve of her nose that she didn’t want seen on the big screen after a car accident had shifted her appearance. Another actor who used a two-color method of contour was Grace Kelly who used the colors for her cheeks to give a natural rouge element to her face. Marilyn Monroe would also use white contour to make her forehead seem bigger.
    makeup, film tricks, makeup tricks, Hollywood movies, Makeup in film, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor
  3. Shaving for Head Shapes
    Even the beauty act of shaving can drastically change the look of an actor. Shaving the face can create a smoother and even narrower look to the shape of one’s head. Elizabeth Taylor was famously known for shaving her face down for that more angular looking chin. Other actors, however, have found that they can create a certain effect by not shaving. Marilyn Monroe, for example, used her facial hair that was brought about from the hormones in her skin cream to reflect light and give a soft look to her shape. Actors can also shave their hairline to create a bigger forehead, as with the case of Ingrid Bergman.
    makeup, film tricks, makeup tricks, Hollywood movies, Makeup in film, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor
  4. Vaseline for a Shinier Face
    Famed actor Greta Garbo had an immaculate look about her with the way her eyes had depths and her face had a certain shine to it. While her eyeshadow was simply a matter of mixing in charcoal to give a bolder look for black-and-white film, her shininess was accomplished with the aid of vaseline. The application of it to her face gave off a certain mesmerizing gloss, making her skin look remarkably illuminated. This same technique was used and improved upon by Marilyn Monroe who would combine the vaseline with Nivea and pHelityl layered with powder. This combination proved to give the actor a glow for her many movie appearances that works exceptionally well in black and white as well as color films.
    makeup, film tricks, makeup tricks, Hollywood movies, Makeup in film, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor
  5. Overdrawing Lips for Better Shape
    There are sometimes moments when glamour for the screen takes on a more physical approach, where one often seeks surgeries and denser altercations to their body to achieve a certain look. Lips have become a topic where some have sought surgery to make their lips look bolder and more pronounced. However, you may not have to resort to such tactics for such beauty. An old Hollywood trick is to overdraw lips to give the appearance of a different shape. Poutier lips and more striking appeal can be attained, matching that of Joan Crawford in the 1920s. It should be noted that Crawford’s look and much Hollywood makeup techniques in general owe quite a bit to the work of Max Factor.

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