Friday, October 4, 2013

Gail Carriger's Retro Makeup ~ Routine Updated

So, over a year ago I posted about my makeup routine. I realized, however, when someone kindly inquired on the subject recently, that my routine has changed a great deal in the past 18 months. So below is a reboot of the original post including products (because I often get asked), and tips for coping with the products for those who don't wear makeup a lot. I am in no way affiliated with these companies and the recommendations come from use, not sponsorship.

Ava Gardner Makeup

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.

Sorry I don't have many pictures without glasses

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" (make sure they allow you to go outside into natural light with a mirror to make certain of the match). I apply small amounts to a clean dry face with a light hand, then blend using a wedge shaped sponge applicator. 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, and it clears TSA easier for travel. 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 large 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.

I use a shade a little lighter than my natural skin tone because I want that retro white look.

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 rose tone to the hollows of my cheeks with a big brush. Still looking for a winner that gives that retro slightly too fake pink look. Because of my face shape and the M.A.C. powder base, I find creams don't work for me.

I do, however, also apply a highlighter. For events, with the M.A.C., I use a white pressed powder eyeshadow on the brow bone (mine is Urban Decay but I'm not married to it), 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 getting 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
  • Darker shadow
  • Eye liner smudging
  • Extra (in my case for shocking colors)

Eye Liner ~

I used to thank that I didn't have a steady enough hand for liquid liner so I used pencil and just sacrifice myself to the more modern smudged look. But then I discovered the liquid liner pen. Which I adore. For everyday I still tend to use kohl based liners (like Prestige Soft Blend Kohl Eyeliner) because they are so easy to apply, although they tend to smear.

For events I line the inner bottom with white liner. Then I do the underside of upper lid outer corner with Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof in black but others are available. Lastly, I do a cat's eye with black waterproof liquid pen liner on the upper lid. 

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 or just stick with a very pale pink. I love LORAC's Eye Shadow in Serenity. I also have a mixed Smokey Eyes pallet for when I feel adventurous.

Ava Gardner dark lips and green eyes

Lashes ~

There are a lot of products out there claiming various lash lengthening benefits. I tried the "base coat first" and the maximizer and . . . meh. 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 think everyone has their favorite. I will say that even on my laziest days, I never leave the house without mascara.

Lana Turner Makeup

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 brown or burgundy all that much.

I prefer color-stay (or long-last) lipsticks. I just don't like fussing and 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, cleanest look, but the shine cover is a little drying to the lips.
Maybelline New York Superstay 24 ~ my favorite at the moment for color and applicator, but the tube is badly designed. The topcoat end falls off in the purse with is annoying and unhygienic. I ended up wrapping mine with tape. I do adore the applicator.
Maybelline Super Stay Lipcolor ~ mostly what you will see me wearing, my favorite vintage shade is Flame #725, although Wine # 745 is great too.

Tips for long-last lipsticks ~

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Do not dab, blot, or press the lips together when done, as you would with regular lipstick.
4. 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 damp 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 taken to carrying a copy of this picture around with me.

And that, my dear Fashionable Reader, is that. 

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.


  1. Interesting tips on the long wear lipsticks. I've always unconsciously mirrored my grandmother's technique, which involved pressing the lips together (sometimes with blotting!), and I've generally been disappointed with my results. I'm terrible about thinking to check my make-up because I wear it so rarely and I keep hoping that long wear options will let me do make-up without the neurotic mirror fixation. I'll have to try adjusting my application technique and see if that helps me.

    Also, what are your thoughts on hazel eyes? Having blue/green/gold is a bit daunting. My S.O. teases that it's one typical sitcom/movie fight I can never win. "What color are your eyes? Balls if I know! Is there even a name for that mess of wacky???" Lol!

    1. Well you have the lucky option of being able to emphasize which ever element you want. I'd use the color wheel accordingly. But as a safety I'd go for a soft muted lavender, that would probably bring out the multi-color element which is so striking with hazel.

  2. Do you have a makeup remover you like? I'm still searching for a good one.

    1. I just use these pure coconut oil impregnated wipes, I love them: RMS Beauty


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