How to Apply Renaissance Makeup

By Brian Connolly
Renaissance makeup techniques help accentuate your facial features.

For European women during the Renaissance, the standard of feminine beauty often required using makeup to achieve the “rosy lips and cheeks” poets such as Shakespeare wrote about. Whether you’re throwing a historical play or playing the part of Marie Antoinette at a Renaissance Fair, a few basic makeup tips can help you look the role of maiden fair.

Base and Foundation

The most crucial element for looking like a Renaissance woman is white skin. In the Renaissance paleness meant refinement, while tan skin was a sign that you were a commoner who had to work in the sun to make ends meet. For that lily-white visage, apply a pale foundation with a brush to your entire face, neck, collar bones and arms. Once the foundation dries, cover it with a thin layer of baby powder using a brush or powder puff. Women in the 1700s carried around little satchels of baby powder for regular touch ups, says the Mookychick website. If you’re going for a less refined look -- i.e. tavern wench -- consider foregoing the baby powder and using foundation the same color as your skin tone or slightly darker.

Eyes and Brows

For the dramatic eyebrows you sometimes see in Renaissance portraits, use an angled makeup brush and dark brown eye shadow to accentuate the arches of your eyebrows. Apply taupe or a light-colored eye shadow to your eyelids for extra contour, and finish off with a coat of dark mascara to your upper lashes to add a little extra Renaissance-flavored “come-hither” to your look. If you’re craving more lavish eyelashes, wear fake lashes decorated with feathers and small gemstones.

Cheeks and Lips

Women during the Renaissance often applied a rouge makeup to their cheeks to mimic the appearance the blushing. Fill in the apples of your cheeks with plum-colored makeup powder or lip tint to re-create the heavy blush worn by women of the time. Remember, the whiter the skin, the more aesthetically appealing the blush will be by Renaissance standards, says the Mr. Costumes website. Finish off your makeup with a coat of dangerously red lipstick.

Hair and Accessories

No Renaissance look is complete without the right hair and accessories. Braids are an ideal choice for re-creating the elegant hairstyles of the 16th and 17th centuries. The simplest way to achieve this effect is to put your hair in a French braid and tie it off using a blue or green ribbon.

About the Author

Based in the Appalachian Mountains, Brian Connolly is a certified nutritionist and has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a licensed yoga and martial arts instructor whose work regularly appears in “Metabolism,” “Verve” and publications throughout the East Coast. Connolly holds advanced degrees from the University of North Carolina, Asheville and the University of Virginia.