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Day 299: Lessons from Bea Danville: Makeup 101

Copyright 1956 by Wilfred Funk, Inc. 

So, when I was a teenager, my fabulous mother gifted me with this genius vintage book: Dress Well on $1 a Day by Bea Danville. I can't believe I left it behind when I moved, but my mother graciously sent it along to me so that I could remind myself of this wisdom.

And now, I share this wisdom with all of you.

Today's lesson: Makeup 101

[*Note: I was thinking today that I post a lot about how it's so easy and frugal to have a fabulous makeup "face" with a few items, but how I've never really spoken about how to pick them and how to wear them. Bea Danville to the rescue! Her timeless advice is, mostly, still quite helpful]

The word "make-up" is perhaps one of the most mis-applied in the dictionary today. It seems to suggest trying to put right, or to make up for, a series of deficiencies.

Think of make-up as something with which to adorn your looks. Ever girl can be a beauty, as Christian Dior said in a recent article. She may just not be a discovered one. That's where make-up and cosmetics come in.Their function is to draw attention to your good points.

[Just like on What Not To Wear, when Carmindy patiently explains EVERY WEEK about how make-up shows off your best features. How do people not know this yet? The same way Stacy and Clinton EVERY WEEK have to explain how black clothes are not automatically slimming- they have to FIT PROPERLY as well. Ahem.]

When applying make-up, don't concentrate on hiding your bad points (as if that's not enough to give any girl a bad inferiority complex when done day after day). Devote most of your time and attentino to your beauty assets. By playing them up, the eye will be drawn to them and away from your bad points.

Just how much beauty is as nature made it? It is heartening to know that some of the loveliest women in history were ordinary girls who knew how to make the most of themselves. The beautiful redheads painted by the great Renaissance artist Titian, for instance, were merely the strawberry blondes of his day. [Woot! Redheads FTW!]

[Here is one of Titian's beautiful redheads.
I mean, she looks OK. But her ends could really use a trim.

Instead of using peroxide to bleach their hair, these Venetian beauties smeared it with a chemical, then sat in the sun for several hours under crownless hats, while their tresses, lying over the brims, bleached to Titian's lovely red gold. [*Note: exposure to UV rays is not recommended for hair bleaching. Although Sun-In is still sold, to a new generation of soon-to-be-tragic-haired 13-year-olds]

Cleopatra, perhaps the most famous femme fatale of all time, was no natural beauty. She was a skilled cosmetician; if you wish, you can still compound your own make-up from her recipes. They have come down to us indirectly through quotations in a medieval book on beauty. [SRSLY? Bea is going to teach us how to use makeup using MEDIEVAL INSTRUCTIONS? She is really the best]

[And then she goes on to talk about the importance of starting with clean skin - a blank canvas - for make-up. And also how important it is to wash your face everyday. But everybody knows that, correct? She also explains how to use cold cream: an item which I have only ever used to remove theatrical makeup. A nice gentle cleanser should work just as well, without the gruesome old-lady connotations. Sorry, Bea]

[Next time, I'll post her specific info about what make-up to apply. Charmingly, she refers to blush as rouge, which is what I used to call it for a long time, I think because of watching too many old movies and not reading enough current make-up magazines]

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