Black and White Make-Up – 1930s Inspired

Makeup for black and white film is very different from the makeup you see on television today. The makeup had to be heavier so that it showed up through the dramatic lighting and the tones of the makeup were very important. For example, if you wanted her lips to look red you would use black, if you wanted a natural nude shade you would use a yellow or gold. You need to be careful when using peach, pink or light orange because these colours will just get bleached out. I created my own black and white makeup look in class and followed new techniques to do so.

Step by step:
1. I first applied a very pale foundation, making sure it was cool toned. I added white to tone down the warmth. I applied this with my fingers to make it look more natural. I applied this all over the face, including on the eyelids and under the eyes.
2. To give the skin a more natural finish, I used the bottom of my palm to press the product into the skin. This imprints the pores of my palms into the face to make it look like her pores are still showing through to get rid of the mask effect.
3. I then had to clean the product off my hands with a tissue.
4. I patted on some translucent loose powder and white eyeshadow, with a dense brush, all over her face to mattify and set the makeup in place.
5. I applied a warm toned dark brown to use as contouring as otherwise the colour would be more bleached out. I contoured under the cheekbones and under the jaw. I also applied this to the sides of the nose, to about 2/3 of the way down. I joined this contour to the eyebrows to give her a more round looking eye, which was very popular in the 1930s. I didn’t apply and contour around the forehead because that is a more modern technique.
6. I used some black supra colour and a small angled brush to draw a thin line just above her crease to give her eyes more definition and depth. I flicked this line out slightly at the ends to lift the eyes.
7. I applied a matte silver eyeshadow, followed by a white eyeshadow, on anywhere I wanted to highlight the face.
8. I filled in her eyebrows with black supra colour and a small angled brush to make them look very defined and I kept them very thin as this was the popular style in the 1930s.
7. I sprayed my black eyeshadow with water and then outlined my model’s lips with a small angled brush to give them definition. I started from the outside of each lip and worked my way in and tried to make each side as even as possible.
8. I took some black lip mix and filled the lips in with a small lip brush.
9. I added some mascara to her top and bottom eyelashes, keeping them looking feathery.
10. As a finishing touch, I added some shiny lip mix on the eyelids, lips and on the tops of the cheekbones to make her face look more dewy and fresh looking.

If I were to do this look again, I would not use black supra colour in the crease of the eye as it smudged every time she opened and closed her eyes; instead I would use either a very pigmented black eyeshadow or a black gel eyeliner. I noticed more on camera that there were dark lines on her neck so I will focus more on smoothing those away and covering them in future shoots to make her look more flawless. I am really happy with the nose contour because it looks very even and defined, but still with very soft edges; however I could have blended it more seamlessly on the eyebrows. I love how the contouring and highlighting on the cheeks came out because they are so effectively placed and the highlight looks so dewy and almost wet. I will definitely use the technique of applying the shiny lip mix to highlight in future shoots as I love the outcome. If I were doing this for a photo shoot I would have removed the model’s piercings.

I watched the video below because they were doing a very similar makeup look but they also showed the hair and styling that could go with it and I think the outcome is beautiful.

MIXEDMAKEUP, 2014. Old Hollywood Black and White Makeup Tutorial of Merle Oberon | Troy Jensen Iconic Makeover [24 October 2015]. Available from:


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