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How to Achieve the Victorian and Edwardian makeup with modern products

Updated on September 24, 2015
Victorian beauty
Victorian beauty

Victorian and Edwardian makeup had to be invisible

Queen Victoria herself has publicly condemned makeup, making it suitable only for actors. The only women who would openly wear makeup were prostitutes. However, women would still wear it, in a way that made it impossible to recognize that they were doing it, to enhance their natural features.

Small red lips were the ideal.
Small red lips were the ideal.

Victorian and Edwardian lips

The Victorian ideal of beauty was small, heart-shaped, and reddish lips, full of life. But it was impossible to wear full rouge (the equivalent to lipstick back then) without being identified as a prostitute and being relegated to ostracism. So women would wear lip balms and pomades, to keep their lips moisturized and shiny. Most of these balms were tinted, so they enhanced the natural color of the lips, without actually painting them.

How to achieve this look with modern products: Use tinted lip shine or mix crystal lip gloss with any other pink or red shade (without shimmer or glitter) for a better fixation.

Victorian and Edwardian eyes

Women did not wear eye makeup during Victorian era. In Edwardian era, they would wear a very light black, reddish or green eyeshadow, as a smoky eyeliner, right above and below their eyelashes, to make them look darker and fuller. Rouge stain was used to make the eyes look rounder and more protrundent.

How to achieve this look with modern products: Wear matte nude eyeshadow on your eyelids, then apply a very thin layer of matte reddish, black or green eyeshadow right above your eyelashes, or apply an eye pencil very lightly then smudge it. Wear red or pink matte eyeshadow in the corners of your eyelids. You can apply some crystal lip gloss on your eyelids to make them appear more healthy and youthful. Apply clear mascara, or a very, very light mascara in the exact color of your eyelashes.

Victorian and Edwardian cheeks

A round face was the ideal of beauty, so cheeks would be stained (if ever) in round shapes. Beetle root juice, red berries and even (oh, the horror) rouge were used, very lightly, as no one could know that you were painting! Pinching the cheeks was also common.

How to achieve this look with modern products: Use a pink, reddish or red blush very lightly, in round movements, right on your cheek.

Victorian and Edwardian faces

In Victorian and Edwardian eras, a pale face was the ideal of beauty and identified a respectable, "leisure lady". Tanned skin indicated that you had to work outdoors, indicating that you were from a questionable class. Not every woman had the ideal pale face (greyish and greenish shades were common due to the horrible health standards) and some women have oily, shiny skin. So they would wear rice powder to enhance their whiteness and mattify their faces, in special their noses. It could not be apparent (some women, in the quest for a pale complexion, exxagerated in the quantity, becoming a subject of mockery and scandal). Besides rice powder, staying indoors with the curtains closed most of the time, drinking vinegar and using parasols would increase the paleness.

How to achieve this look with modern products: Wear sunscreen to avoid tanning. Apply a powder foundation and a compact powder (a duocake would be a better option), not fully covering your skin, for a translucent effect, one shade lighter than your natural.


Eyebrows were kept plucked and well-groomed, but in their natural shape.

Complementing your looks with modern resources

We no longer live under the strictures and technical limitations of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. So you can wear bronzers to contour your face, making it look smaller and rounder, and highlighters, even illuminators, for a tridimensional, dewy effect. Use it very lightly - it must not be apparent for a better Victorian and Edwardian look. Wear eyebrow pencil, eyebrow gel or colorless mascara to keep them in line, but remember to only enhance your natural looks, never changing or "painting" anything over it.


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