So Saturday night, my friend Shilpa asked if I could do her makeup for her Black Swan costume. The great thing about starting this blog is that, for years, friends have asked me to do their makeup – now I’m happy to do so, but only if they’ll let me blog about it. Makeup with a purpose, I suppose?
On Saturday afternoon I looked at a few youtube videos for Black Swan inspired makeup, and looked at the photos of Natalie Portman in the film. I practiced on myself, and decided to do something that was inspired by the movie but not exact – Black Swan was THE big film this year and I had no doubt that Shilpa wouldn’t be the only one sporting this look, so I wanted something beautiful and unique to her. Because Shilpa’s dress was gray, and not pure black, I decided to use a great deal of silver and blue as well as black, and do something slightly imprecise with a lot of movement – it was important for me to catch the spirit of these sequences of the film, not necessarily do a carbon copy.
I had Shilpa pull her hair back and clean her face completely. When I first started drawing on the ‘wings’, Shilpa was like ‘ok lady, what are you doing to my face ?! Shouldn’t you put foundation on first?’ but I told her to trust me, and I’m pretty certain she’s happy that she did.
So as you can see, I first took a creamy black eyeliner pencil (I don’t have the brand for this, sorry !) and drew on the basic shape of the ‘wings’ around the eyes – I started above the eyebrow, then lined underneath the eyes, and down to the sides of the nose before stopping at a point. I then left short, strokes of the black pencil on the temple, to give the impression of feathers.
Next, I went back in to the area with a broad, flat eyeshadow brush (I used Sephora‘s No. 25 ), and applied silver to the entire area. I actually used a few different shades of silver – a frosty one from one of my old Sephora palettes (always said this thing was a waste of money, but my god does it offer shade variety), and quite a bit of Urban Decay’s S&M (from the Alice in Wonderland palette). I then wetted my brush and put a concentrated bit of silver at the inner corner of the eye / wing, on the bridge of the nose and just beneath the eye. Next, I went back in with a finer brush and applied tones of deep blue (all from the aforementioned Sephora palette).
Now that there was a nice amount of color depth, I was able to apply a black powder eyeshadow (I used Urban Decay‘s Oil Slick), after wetting my brush for maximum color impact, in long, fine lines across the eye. I wanted this to look like real feathers, so it was important to have layers of colors and make sure the silvers and blues peeked through the black.
I then took my gel eyeliner (Maybelline 24 hour drama) and with a small, fine and flat brush, went over the outline of the ‘wing’ shape on each eye, concentrating color on the part near the inner eye and the points on the sides of the nose. I also lined the eyes themselves heavily, starting from the actual inner corner of the eyes and finishing about 1/2 an inch beyond the eye shape itself. I felt like there wasn’t enough depth, so I then took a Maybelline Eyeliner Pen, with very dark, glossy color, and pulled it across the eyelid and on to the temple.
Because this is a very heavy and costumed look, I felt like any glamorous lashes would distract from the effect, so I left Shilpa’s (already naturally long) lashes uncurled, and gave her a quick coat of Make Up Forever‘s Smoky Lash mascara – this stuff isn’t particularly defining, but does have a rich black color, so it helped the lashes look conform to the rest of the eyemakeup.
To give this look a bit of Halloween glamour, I actually added on touches of glitter ( because for me, it isn’t Halloween without glitter) – using Sephora‘s glitter pots (in Argent 6) and my finger, I just dabbed a little bit on the inner corners of the eyes and on the ‘feather’ effects by the temples. I know this isn’t ‘authentic’ to the look, but when we went out later, it was really eye-catching and a beautiful contrast to the darkness of the makeup.
Now that the eyes were done, I was able to work making Shilpa’s deep, golden skin something a bit more akin to alabaster white. Since Shilpa’s skin is naturally dark, I actually used my own foundation on her – the pinky tones I use on my own skin avoid the ashiness that pure white makeup can give. So using my Mac foundation brush, I dabbed a mixture of Chanel Teint Innocence and Diorskin Nude, both in the lightest shades available, on her forehead, down her nose (carefully avoiding the ‘wings), on to her cheeks and chin, and blended. I then powdered her skin using Nars‘ Loose Powder in Snow, nearly a pure white color. To give her that extremely pale look, I then brushed on some sparkly white eyeshadow (from my Sephora Palette, and also Urban Decay‘s Polyester bride) along her nose, above the brows, and on the tops of the cheekbones. I made sure to blend the makeup on to her ears and down on her neck, so that the transition from Black Swan pale to natural Shilpa was gradual – I remember in the film Natalie Portman’s white makeup being blended out and not completely even on her face, unlike in the posters for the film.
To create a dramatic contour on the cheeks, I used a Kabuki brush and actually wetted the blush I used (Nars’ Sin, a deep golden flecked berry flush) to create maximum impact and drama.
For the lips, I used a red lipliner (Nars‘ Jungle Red), and outlined the mouth. I then used a berry colored stain, and topped that with lipliner inside of the lip line. Lacking the appropriate vamp lipstick necessary, I actually combined Urban Decay‘s Last Call ( a reddened purple with shimmer) eyeshadow with a combination of MAC‘s Merry Mistress lipstick and BlackUp‘s Rouge No.7 lipstick to get a deep, burgundy mouth. I then brushed a light dusting of loose powder around the mouth, to avoid bleeding with all of the products used.
Finally, I used the gel eyeliner to sharpen the edges on the eyes, and Shilpa’s flatmate, Melanie, arranged her hair in to a perfect ballerina Chignon. She wore an amazing theatrical dress from Repetto, who actually do make the costumes for the dancers of the Paris Opera – and I personally think she looked amazing ! Her makeup was a huge hit, and she looked, in my opinion, far better than many of the ‘Black Swans’ this Halloween ! This look, while relatively time consuming, was far easier than I imagined it would be to do – it was all about imprecision and movement, and was really a great deal of fun to try out on such a gorgeous, willing participant. I know it’s too late for Halloween now, but I might be using this one again in the future !
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