How to do silent movie star makeup

Written by christi aldridge
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How to do silent movie star makeup
Use make-up to create a silent film star look. (Make-up image by Mat Hayward from

The silent film era of the 1920s was full of glamorous movie stars, such as Theda Bara, Louise Brooks and Clara Bow. Women were mysterious, beautiful and heavily made up for the camera. The look was very distinct and included short, wavy hair, dark crimson lips and sparse eyebrows. This is a perfect look for a 1920s party or a Halloween costume. You don't have to be a make-up artist to do this yourself, but there are specific things to do to create a realistic silent film star look.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Foundation
  • Foundation brush
  • Bar soap
  • Small brush
  • Concealer
  • Medium eyeshadow brush
  • Dark eyeshadow such as black, brown or grey
  • Liner brush
  • Lighter contouring shadow
  • Mascara
  • Pink or rose blush
  • Blush brush
  • Dark maroon or red lipstick
  • Lip brush

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  1. 1

    Apply heavy foundation to your entire face, including your eyelids, jawline and mouth, using a foundation brush. Actresses of this era wore very heavy pancake-style foundation.

  2. 2

    Wet a small make-up brush a little bit. Brush it over a bar of soap, and apply that to your eyebrows. This will create a more flat appearance to your natural eyebrows and make it easier to draw on eyebrows more appropriate for this look.

  3. 3

    Brush concealer over your eyebrows to camouflage them as best you can to prepare them for the 1920s-style brow.

  4. 4

    Draw a thin, slightly curved eyebrow using a small eyeliner brush and black powdered eyeshadow.

  5. 5

    Colour your eyelids with a dark shadow such as grey, brown or black. Line underneath the eyes using the same colour for a dramatic eye.

  6. 6

    Fill in above the crease of the eyelid using a slightly lighter shadow. The eyes should look very dark, and the most colour should be on the lid and right outside the eye, almost like an eyeshadow ring around the eyes.

  7. 7

    Coat the upper eyelashes with black mascara to create a lot of volume, mostly at the ends of the lashes.

  8. 8

    Add blush directly to the apples of the cheeks, almost making circles. It should be a little bit overdone.

  9. 9

    Create a "cupid's bow" lip by painting on dark red or maroon lipstick to the entire upper lip, and only to the centre third of the lower lip. Use a lip brush for more precise results.

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