Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gail Carriger Retro Makeup Routine

So, in the last blog we covered some kinds of retro makeup. This blog will cover my personal routine. I'm including products because I often get asked, and tips for coping with the products. I am in no way affiliated with these and the recommendations come from use, not sponsorship.

I've broken the makeup down by stages, what I do first, and in some cases what I wear daily as well as events. I break out all the stops for events, so when you see me in person Fashionable Reader, I've usually spent an hour or more on my makeup. In my non event life the most I spend is 15 minutes.

Base ~

For daily wear I apply Olay Total Effects Eye Transforming Cream under my eyes, and rub a little red-eye reduction eye drops to the red parts of my face (in my case, the nose). After that is dry, I use Aveda Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15. I believe in being professionally "shaded" and make sure they allow you to go outside into natural light with a mirror to make certain of the match. I apply small amounts with a light hand using a wedge shaped sponge applicator to a clean dry face. All over, including the eye area and the eyelid. Don't forget to blend well at the jaw bone.

For events I use M.A.C. Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. Again, please try to get professionally "shaded" and make sure they allow you to go outside into natural light with a mirror to make certain of the match. With flash photography I prefer a pressed powder. Again, I find it's best when applied to a clean dry face (no moisturizer and certainly no base, that's what cases caking) all over including eyes and eyelids with a kabuki-style brush. I use a eyeshadow brush to apply to eye area as well, hide those circles. I also apply to neck and a light dusting to the decolletage when wearing a low cut dress. We ladies don't sweat, we glow, but there's not point in letting nature get away with anything she shouldn't.

Cheeks ~

I don't bother with blush on easy days and I've yet to find my favorite color for events. I apply a pressed powder to the hollows of my cheeks as a rule. Still looking for a winner. Because of my face shape and the M.A.C. powder base, I find creams don't work for me.

I do, however, always apply a highlighter. For events, with the M.A.C., I use a white pressed powder eyeshadow on the brow bone, inner corners of the eye and tops of cheekbones. For everyday I use a liquid slightly yellow shine, Stila's All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer in gold works, but isn't my ideal choice. I find I need to let it dry slightly and then kind of pat and smudge it otherwise it streaks.

A word on brushes. I'm not one for saying you have to go out and drop bank. Mine are mostly from a $4.50 eco-friendly gift set. But, I do suggest gettign enough so you can dedicate your brushes. Mine are, in the order picture above, and in order of use . . .
  • Powder
  • Powder touch up
  • Blush
  • Highlight
  • Light shadow
  • Medium shadow
  • Eye liner smudging
  • Extra (in my case for shocking colors)

Eye Liner ~

I don't have a steady enough hand for liquid liner so I use pencil and just sacrifice myself to the more modern smudged look. I love kohl based liners because they are so easy to apply, although they tend to smear. I use Prestige Soft Blend Kohl Eyeliner for everyday. But I use the same technique for either occasion.

For events I line the inner bottom with white liner. Then I do the inside corner and do a cat's eye with black waterproof liner on the upper lid, other corner and inner underside of upper lid (don't forget). I use Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof in black but others are available.

One trick? I draw the bottom of my line extension for the cat's eye with the white pencil first, that way I can work to get the eyes symmetrical with white instead of black. Then I lay the black in just above the white for a nice clean look.

Eye Shadow ~

I always suggest using a contrasting color on the wheel to bring out the color of ones eyes. (But matching to it will also make them pop.)
  • For blue eyes, a nice bronze (or orange, if you're daring)
  • For caramel and lighter brown eyes, purples are nice
  • For dark brown you can select at will
  • If you're lucky enough to have purple eyes then pale taupes and yellow golds are fabulous
  • I have green eyes. The contrast color is red or pink, but then I look like I have pink eye.

So, I like to use a complimentary color often going for purple (like Urban Decay's Eyeshadow in Asphyxia) if it's an edgy day look, and for events I almost always use an muted orange-gold color. I love LORAC's Eye Shadow in Serenity. I also have a mixed Smokey Eyes pallet for when I feel adventurous.

Lashes ~

There are a lot of products out there claiming various lash lengthening benefits. I tried the "base coat first" and the maximizer and . . . in the end I've settled on two I like. Both are waterproof, because I just don't want to worry about it budging. For daily wear I use Bourjois Pump Up The Volume Mascara in Noir, and for events Rimmel Sexy Curves Waterproof Mascara in Black. But I tend to thing everyone has their favorite. I will say that even on my laziest days, I never leave the house without mascara.

Lipstick ~

I wear pink and neutral lipsticks on my natural lip shape in daily life, and, like mascara, I rarely leave home without it. One or two sticks live in my purse, just in case.The safest color bet for daily wear is to try to match one's natural lip color only a shade or two darker.

For events, I usually do a 1940's ultra red lip, which means I go outside the lines a bit. Done right, this is a great way to make thin lips look a bit larger. I like red, so few people risk it these days. Although one has to be careful, it can age a girl. I recommend using the color wheel in this matter as well. Although I use it to battle my natural complexion, which is slightly sallow, rather than emphasize it. Because I want to avoid anything that makes me look any more yellow, I stay away from its opposite on the color wheel (purple) and instead go for stark true reds, some blue-based pinks, and fuchsias. I avoid coral because I fear the orange, and I just don't like browns or burgundys all that much.

I prefer color-stay (or long-last) lipsticks. I just don't like fussing once it is on, it stays on all day. I've done (too much) research into the competing products. Here's my run down of the brands:

CoverGirl Outlast All Day Lipcolor ~ some of the best colors, but the over gloss is in a separate tube, which is annoying. Also I don't think it holds as long as some of the others.
Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor ~ the first brand I ever tried, best holding power, but the shine cover is a little drying to the lips.
Maybelline Superstay Stain Gloss ~ (new product) don't bother, it moves around and comes off just as much as regular lipstick. I threw mine away.
Maybelline New York Superstay 24 ~ my favorite at the moment for color and applicator, but the tube is very very badly designed. The topcoat end falls off constantly in the purse with is annoying and unhygienic. I ended up wrapping mine with tape. Since this is a new product I'm hoping they will fix this problem. I do adore the applicator.
Maybelline Super Stay Lipcolor ~ mostly what you will see me wearing, my favorite vintage shade is Flame #725.

Tips for long-last lipsticks ~

Always apply to a clean dry mouth. I suggest wiping with a wet towel and then a dry towel before application. It's vital to get any powder or chapstick product off. You want lips as smooth and exfoliated as possible. Apply the lipstick quickly and carefully in smooth movements and don't apply too many layers, re-application as it drys will lift the first layer off. Then leave lips alone for five minutes until completely dry before applying the top coat.

The best way to remove color-stay lipsticks is with a heavy duty ultra-moisturizer skin cream or waxy chapstick, rub in well, then wipe off with towel or makeup remover towelette.

On the road I keep a touch-up kit of powder and lipstick on me at all times, but I don't bother carrying anything else.

An note on nails. The most vintage looking is an almond shape. It can be hard to explain this to a salon. I've take to carrying a copy of this picture around with me.

And that, my dear Fashionable Reader, is that. If you are interested, I can do other products as well.


  1. I tend to do what I learned in stage makeup class. I use a liquid foundation and then put a powder over it. First though I have to put on Clindamycin which is a prescription for acne rosacea. Then I use a primer from Victoria's Secret that has a 20 SPF in it - my dermatologist wants me to use stronger but if I use actual sunscreen my acne is way worse and I can't find any primers with a stronger SPF.

    Then it's dots of concealer on my zits. Then foundation, then powder to set it. I like pressed the best as well.

    I can't find a blush I like either. I always wore pink before but people told me it makes my rosacea more noticeable. I hate those brown tone ones. Especially since I'm not tan and don't want to be. I feel the brown tones just highlight the fact I don't have a tan and makes my face look weird. I sure wish I could find one I like.

    As for lipsticks, my favorite is called Dyeception. You can get it here you have to scroll down a bit for it - yes, it's actual kosher makeup.

    I can't do eye makeup at all. Not liner, not shadow, nada. First off I'm incapable when it comes to applying it. Second, no matter what kind I use it makes my eyes itch and water something fierce. I have to dye my eyelashes for special occasions. Everything else I forgo completely.

    I don't get my nails done. Short, round filed, no paint. Looks bad but manicures are too expensive and it's easier to type with extremely short nails.

  2. Thank you for providing such a detailed description of your make-up routine and thoughts on how to alter it for different faces and complexions. I am definitely bookmarking this post for future reference.

    If you do a follow-up, I would be grateful if could you say a word about eyebrows, assuming you have any thoughts or insight on that topic!

  3. Those "almond shaped nails" look like they follow the natural shape of the finger. Kind of shocked salons don't understand that.

  4. Love your use of the color wheel to describe how to choose the right colors - very helpful! I'm a fan of the Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Lipcolor. The Cover Girl product you mention with the sealer in a separate tube made me feel like my lips were encased in concrete....much like bad cosmetic surgery, I imagine.

    I second the request for eyebrow commentary.


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