Suzy Parker’s Trademark Makeup was gorgeous in the 1950s. In those days models did their own hair and makeup most of the time. I have the same natural coloring as Suzy so I have always wanted to recreate her look to the best of my ability using products available today. I achieved this successfully today so I am going to share how I did it and what products I used.
Pre~Makeup: Start with a clean, conditioned face. The exact steps and products I used follow:
1) cleanse ~ MyChelle Honeydew Cleanser
2) tone ~ Lancome Tonique Radiance
3) apply serum ~ Elizabeth Arden Bye Lines
4) moisturize ~ Lancome Absolue Pemium RX
5) apply eye cream ~ Lancome Absolue Eye Premium RX
6) apply primer ~ Smashbox Photo Finish
MAKING UP: Step 1 ~ 10
1) Concealer ~ Estee Lauder Smoothing Cream Concealer, color Smooth Ivory -01C, applied with brush, to cover dark circles under eye to lash line and innermost corner of the eye, then blend with fingers.
2) Foundation ~ Nars sheer glow liquid foundation in color Siberia (the lightest foundation on he market that I know of) pat over the entire face with fingers.
3) Powder ~ Chanel Plein Jour in color Daylight Perfecting Pressed Powder – dust over entire face with a Kabuki Brush ( This is in a compact which you can carry in your purse, 50’s style for touch ups!)
4) Blush ~ Paula Dorf “Tootsie” color blushing powder, apply to cheekbones (see photo) with a blush brush. Also brush a bit over chin, into hairline, and over earlobes.
5) Lipstick ~ Chanel #70 Rouge a Leveres Red Coromandel, apply carefully directly from the tube as they did in the 50s. You can do so, perfectly, with a little practice. I recommend learning to do it this way so that you can skillfully reapply your lipstick, using the mirror in your powder compact, in public, like they did in the fifties and 60s. This is such a charming feminine vintage gesture, fascinating to behold and it drives men wild! ( Practice at home until you get it down skillfully as you don’t want to fumble with all eyes glued to you in a restaurant! or other public place.)
A vintage trick to keep your red lipstick from rubbing off on your teeth: Apply a generous coat at home, blot with a tissue, then stick your finger in your mouth, pucker up, and pull your finger out of the center of your mouth dragging it over your lips to remove the excess color that would otherwise come off on your teeth. Like magic, you have removed the exact right amount in the right place to avoid staining your teeth! This really works and doesn’t remove the color from your lips! When you reapply your lipstick in public you will just be touching up. You don’t need or want to do this move in the public eye! It would look awful and you would have lipstick all over your finger too! It is necessary to clean it off your hand after this maneuver. This should only be done at home before you leave the house. You can blot, later in the day, in the ladies room, if necessary, never in public!
If you need to define your lips with a pencil or keep them from feathering you can use a lip liner to do so after applying the lip color via your lipstick. You can use a lip brush to soften and blend hard edges if necessary. It has become customary to use a lip brush and liner to apply dark and bright colors that require precise application over the last couple of decades. They did not do his in the 50s. They applied their color straight from the tube and managed to it neatly freehand. It is not hard to develop that skill and also allows you to eliminate steps from your routine which is liberating! I personally prefer to do it the old fashioned way, particularly during the day when away from home! Remember, practice makes perfect, and it takes only a few tries to get it down to a science.
6) Lip Liner Pencil ~ if you need one I recommend Christian Dior’s Holiday Red which has been around for literally decades, or Lorac 03 pencil. The Dior lip pencil comes with a brush on one end. I also like the Dior lip brush.They didn’t have lip gloss in the 1950s. If they wanted shine they used a tiny dab of Vaseline. This was usually done only for photographs as it made your lipstick stick to your teeth in real life wear ~ the thing we are trying to avoid when waring red lipstick to attain a charming vintage look!
7) Brows ~ Pluck your brows neatly the night before applying your makeup. Suzy’s thin, highly arched brows are tweezed thin, then filled in and drawn on in an exaggerated arch with extended outside ends using only one sharpend pencil in an auburn shade to match her famous ref hair. I have searched and searched and experimented a lot to get the right color and styling tool for these brows. The very best tool and color in the cosmetic business is Chanel’s Sourcils Brow Definer in Auburn. It has a great pencil in a great color with a great little comb/brush for grooming your brows and blending the color on one end. It is the perfect eyebrow tool. I have used it to create brows just like these on myself freehand for a decade now and I love it! Of course it comes in other colors as well!
The only other brow tools you should ever need are an old soft toothbrush to brush your eyebrows out, and a tweezer man slant edged tweezer for a little plucking and shaping as needed. If you have an unruly brow now and then smooth them down at night to train them while you sleep with a heavy coat of Vaseline , then comb them neatly into place with the toothbrush and in the morning they should be trained to behave themselves! The Vaseline soothes any irritation you might have gotten from avid plucking while you sleep as well. I love thin arched 1930s – 50s brows, but I am also the first to warn anyone about over plucking theirs. Be conservative and just do a tiny bit at a time. You can always get used to that effect, then do a tiny bit more if you need to. Take your time to get used to the look. And be a bit conservative. No need to rush! Rushing is not glamorous!
8) Eye Shadow: I used three colors ~ Paula Dorf “Sea Shell” on the lid, (It is a very light flat peach with no shine.) Cargo Tundra under the brow on the brow bone and in the inside corner of the eyelid, (It is a flat, mat white with no shine.) Shu Uemura P Blue 630 (It is a flat light pale blue) as a faint and delicate feminine accent of color above the eye liner line and moving into the Sea Shell color on the lid.
9) Eye Liner ~ I used two eyeliner pencils, both black. I used Lancome’s Le Stylo Waterproof pen to line the top lash line with a wide heavy line close to the lashes and upsweep at the outer lid edge as in the picture. Then I used Cargo’s Black pencil/crayon to line the lower lash line. I used two different liners because they each have different properties which I prefer on the different areas of the eye. The Lancome is soft and dark and doesn’t scratch the eye. And it is easy to control. The Cargo pencil can be sharpened to a nice point to line the lower lid very narrowly and also doesn’t scratch. I have a hard time with eyeliners irritating my sensitive eyes, so I am very particular about them!
10) Mascara ~ Black Lancome Defencils Mascara ~ coat the upper lashes only.
To finish Step back and look at your face from a bit of a distance in your wall mirror. If you need to up the volume on the blush with another brush full. Apply another coat of powder if you think you need to. (I sometimes find that I have become shiny just working on the rest of my face! Then I need to matte out my shine for a nice cool look with a light dusting of powder. ) Check to see if you are wearing enough eyeshadow ~ in your opinion!)
This look should be a bit conservative, very ladylike and refined, nothing is too dark. It should look very pale. Only the lips are bright.
I have used the currently available products that I like the best to achieve the look I wanted. Because I do not work for any cosmetic companies I can pick and choose the things I use without concern for brand representation. This is a lot of freedom that you do not have if you work for a particular cosmetic company or store. I know this because I worked for Christian Dior and Estee Lauder for several years about a decade ago. Personally I like to pick my favorite products and tools from a variety of different companies. That way I feel that I can take what each has to offer that works best for me or for the look I want to achieve.
In the Suzy Parker era it was the epitome of fashion to wear matching lips and tips (finger tips) which is one reason I chose to use Chanel’s Red Coromandel #70 lipstick. It also comes in a matching nail polish, the classic 1950s red Le Vernis nail color Rouge Coromandel #70 by Chanel.
I know that Suzy modeled for Coty and Revlon cosmetics. She undoubtedly used a lot of Coty and Revlon products herself as a result. Both she, and her sister, Dorian Leigh, were famous Revlon Cosmetics faces. I have displayed a few of these adds here. In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and possibly before that time, Revlon was an upscale makeup and skincare brand sold in fine department stores and specialty cosmetic shops. It was not sold in drug stores as an inexpensive makeup line for women and teenage girls. The packaging was fancier than it is in the United States nowadays.
Interestingly Revlon is still a status cosmetic line in South America and Europe today. There it is sold in upscale shops and even has its own free standing stores selling the entire line of products. The beautiful contemporary Revlon ads we see in magazines are designed for those markets. In Brazil and Mexico I saw full scale billboards of the Revlon ads we see in US magazine towering overhead on busy city streets. There, the name Revlon is still associated with the same type of glamor it was in the days of Suzy Parker. I’m quite sure you could recreate her 1950s look today using Revlon’s cosmetics. I mostly used products I had in my personal cosmetic collection already. I do have some Revlon products and I like them, but I didn’t have the colors I needed to do this look. It is interesting to note that the beautiful classic red color Revlon’s Fire and Ice that was modeled by Suzy’s sister Doria Leigh (Parker) is still being produced. It is still beautiful and the perfect red! I think I’ll get some for the holiday season. The great thing about Revlon nowadays is that you can get their high fashion makeup colors at very reasonable prices. For example the nail polish is $4.99 versus $30 for Chanel, $14 for Butter, $28 for Christian Dior, $18 for Deborah Lipman, $17 for Lancome and so on. The formulas are tried and true and traditional. I have used them and they look lovely and wear well. Many of the colors are gorgeous. The same goes for the lipsticks. They know what they are doing, after all, they have been at it for very long time! Recently they have been using Julianne Moore and Susan Saradon as models and spokeswomen. The company seems to like redheads! They do consistently make a lot of colors that look good on them!
If you carefully study Suzy Parker’s photographs during the 1950s you will see that she used essentially this same makeup design throughout that decade no matter what she was showing and selling. She seemed to have found a look that worked for her, then stuck with it. It worked well on her in both black and white and color photographs. The other distinctive makeup design she wore was in another ad for Revlon which featured a deep beautiful pink on lips and nails. The ad reads, “Not Sissy Pink, Not Prissy Pink!” It was for a sophisticated bright deep pink for classic gorgeous women. I plan to recreate that look and post it soon as well. Later, in the 1960s she did a bright orange/coral lipstick and blush with bright orange/coral nails. She always matched her lips and tips, of course! She was the epitome of classy grown up sophisticated beauty. She always looked well groomed, sexy, feminine and glamorous! As these pictures prove her basic makeup, was perfect and appropriate for any occasion ~ modeling for magazines and cosmetic companies, sleeping, going out for a night on the town, shopping for flowers in the afternoon in a white suit, and heading to the pool for a swim, or a cocktail poolside!