Not just pretty faces: Thirties film reel reveals how make-up artists used geometry to get that Old Hollywood look
A make-up application how-to video from 1936 has been discovered, shedding light on the way experts used to apply the science of geometry to the art of applying make-up to the face.
The short newsreel film, made by British Pathe and entitled Secrets of Make-up, is narrated by a clipped English gentleman who gently pokes fun at his subject matter throughout.
'Making up whether after a tiff or as part of the toilet is an art if only one knows how,' he says.
Scroll down for video
Sizing her up: A 1936 video made by British Pathe teaches women how to apply make-up and accentuate their features by measuring the uniformity of the face
The video features three models with
different shaped faces having make-up applied to their cheeks, eyes and
lips by way of a geometric set of guidelines.
A make-up artist measures the
distance between the forehead and the bridge of the nose, and the nose
and the chin with what looks like a large wooden compass.
The lines are then drawn across the model's naked visage. In other words, as the narrator points out: 'make-up is made to measure.'
Drawing lesson: The make-up artist measures the distance between forehead, nose and chin and estimates the size of the triangle where blush should be worn…
…The artist can then accurately see where the cheek colour should be applied
Work of an artist: The cream blush is then blended in across the model's cheek
With the measurements taken, she then determines what area of the cheek requires make-up
and subsequently draws a triangle to establish the area that the
narrator describes as 'the very limit of operations'.
The humourous voice refers to this cosmetic
equation as a way of 'making up in make-up what the face lacks in
uniformity.' After which he adds: 'It's all rather touching don't you
The video then shows a model who has
had her make-up done both badly and well and the two images are
juxtaposed for contrast – which by today's standards of technology are
hard to detect in the soft focus, black and white footage.
Traditional tools: The implements used to measure the proportions of the model's face look rather terrifying
Pucker up: For fuller lips, the cupid's bow should be exaggerated and corners left untouched whereas for thin lips the top lip should be made to look bigger so the space between the nose and mouth is reduced
Now that the skin has been primed and made beautiful, the make-up artist moves on to the lips.
The storyteller introduces this chapter of the lesson by saying: 'Now the lips. This is where we get warmed up to our subject.'
He explains that if the
lips are not shaped in a natural Cupid's bow or they are a bit fuller,
then lipstick should be applied in a slightly exaggerated V-shape and
the corners of the mouth left untouched.
The good, the bad and the ugly: The model on the left has been made-up badly compared to the version on the right which is done well, according to the narrator
For those with thin lips, he continues, the idea is to enlarge the middle of the lip and thus shorten the
gap between the nose and the mouth.
The clip only lasts just over a minute but is complimented by another video also by British Pathe shot two years later.
The film, titled: Beautifying: Where to Put the Accent,
instructs its audience how to shape and enhance the eyebrows to accent
the eyes using the technique of beauty 'editress' of Women's Fair, Jeane
THIRTIES BEAUTY: WATCH THE VIDEO