General Articles

Men Are Right About Make-up

They sneer at paint eaters, tooth daubers and eyebrow pluckers—and they’ve got a point

MARY FRANCES September 1 1947
General Articles

Men Are Right About Make-up

They sneer at paint eaters, tooth daubers and eyebrow pluckers—and they’ve got a point

MARY FRANCES September 1 1947

Men Are Right About Make-up

They sneer at paint eaters, tooth daubers and eyebrow pluckers—and they’ve got a point

MARY FRANCES

Director, Burnard Model Agency

THE OTHER MORNING, on my way to the office, I couldn’t take my eyes off a woman sitting opposite me on the bus. She was around 35, with a nicely shaped head and face, large, expressive eyes and a good figure. She had the makings of better-than-average good looks. Yet, from where I sat, she looked like something between the end man at a minstrel show and a lost week end.

She had tried to make her rather small but pretty mouth into something the novelist« like to describe as “generous.” She had done this simply by painting a generous one over the old one, and the effect was something to scare little children into eating their prunes. The lipstick had not been blotted properly, if at all, and in the morning sun it glistened like a new scooter. She’d used eye shadow, which might have sent the boys by candlelight but had a pathological effect by day, and she must have put her powder on with a spray gun. #

I was thinking that I would like the chance to do an overhaul job on her, when a neighbor of mine, a man I’ve known since pigtail-peashooter days, moved up from the back of the bus and sat down in an empty seat beside me. While he tried to make polite conversation and at the same time sneak glances at the sports page, I asked him, in a discreet murmur: “How would you go about improving the appearance of that gal in the green hat?”

He looked up, gave her a quick once-over, and said: “Pull a sack over her.”

I could have wrapped my handbag around his neck. His answer was so unhesitating, so smug.

I found myself feeling sorry for the woman. She’d tried to make herself attractive, probably realizing that men would be her most ruthless critics if she didn’t use make-up. Yet, just because she’d gone about it the wrong way, without skill or knowledge, my friend was all for pulling a sack over her.

And in a crude sort of a way he was right. That woman hadn’t made-up, she’d messed-up, and she was just one of thousands of women who are turning the art of make-up into a three-ringed circus.

Maybe I should explain that, as director of the Burnand Model Agency, I am not only in daily contact with women who make beauty their business, but I am constantly placed in t he position of adviser to teen-agers, career girls, housewives, who look to me hopefully to tell them whether or not they have a chance of becoming models. And sometimes, to recognize those qualifications through the layers of make-up, I almost have to use radar. But, whether or not these women have the makings of models, their appearance in every instance can be helped immeasurably by the correct use of make-up. I’ve made a full-time study of cosmetics, and I’ve never yet come across a case of mismanaged make-up that I haven’t been able to solve by a bit of coaching—often with results that amounted to a complete transformation.

Splash and Daub School

A G PINE RATION AGO grandfather knocked the ashes out of his pipe and snorted, “War paint!” That was in the days when women who used make-up got the reputation of being “fast, and often deserved it. A lot has happened since then. Besides becoming respectable, make-up has become an art. It’s no longer a matter of a splash here and a daub there. The trouble is, judging by the apparitions I see on the streetcars, buses, in restaurants and stores today, women haven t realized it yet.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for make-up. It’s my business. Even if it weren’t I d be one of the most frequent visitors to the cosmetic counters. But the kind of make-up I mean is something that’s used with discrimination and good taste. Perhaps a better term would be “make-believe,” in the best sense of the word—the way a ballet or a poem is make-believe. With too many women it’s just a case of slapping another coat of paint on the old barn and hoping it will do another season.

Maybe the underlying fault is in the attitude that make-up is just a fashion. “Everybody is using make-up, so make-up it is, and let’s get it over with as quickly as possible.”

Now, fashions can be a lot of fun. I’ll wear a whoosis pin, read a best seller or sing open the door somebody as quick as another. But it’s when this mechanical, monkey-see-monkey-do process effects something as personalized as make-up, that we get some queer results.

To come back to the incident on the bus, there was a high-school girl sitting a couple of passengers away who had even my friend the sack-puller getting shifty-eyed. That kid was terrific! Yet she wasn’t as good looking basically as the woman in the green hat. She just knew the score in the use of make-up.

Teen-Agers Know How

THE TRUTH is that teen-age girls today are so far ahead of their predecessors in the art, of make-up that it isn’t funny. They’re taking the business seriously in Toronto public schools, to the extent of forming “glamour” classes, and the results are showing everywhere you look.

Few women seem to realize that the secret of good make-up is to show off your best points to advantage and to m’nimize your deficiencies. I had a woman in the office the other day, (he wife of a prominent businessman. This woman has the means to dress expensively and the leisure to give her make-up plenty of attention. She’d come for advice on how to shape her lips, yet all (he time she talked I was thinking how far she’d missed the basic idea. She wore a dark pancake make-up and a pair of white-rimmed glasses, and she would have attracted attention on a midway. Unlike the gals who want a generous mouth, she already had one and wanted something plumshaped and sulky. So she’d just run her lipstick a little closer to her nose and her chin, and stopped part way to the corners of her mouth, the general effect being that the painters had knocked off for lunch.

She was smart enough, though, lo know that all wasn’t well and she’d come to me to ask if I could do anything about it.

I asked her if she’d mind taking off her sunglasses. I took a good look, then took a chance on giving her some outspoken advice.

The point was that although her mouth was a trifle wide, it was well-shaped and full and altogether passable. On the other hand she had about the most beautiful pair of clear, lively blue eyes and the finest-textured skin I’ve seen in a long time. So she’d hidden her beautiful skin beneath an unnaturally dark powder, covered her eyes with sunglasses, and went to work on her mouth in a way to call everyone’s attention to it —her weakest feature!

I advised her to forget about her mouth. To make it up neatly and with the right shade of lipstick, adhering pretty well to the lip line, and let it go at that.

“With the skin and eyes you have,” I told her, “who’s going to look at your mouth?”

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Unfortunately, you can’t talk like that to all women. Some get pretty huffy. But this girl took my advice. The next time I saw her, instead of looking like the Spider Woman, she was made up simply and with good taste, and was so downright attractive that a ready-to-wear manufacturer who came into my office just as she was leaving, asked me if I thought she’d be interested in modelling!

Watch That Rouge!

Make-up should complement nature. That is its true, and only, function. It should never be used for its own sake. There’s a saying that’s axiomatic among advertising men, that if an ad strikes the reader as particularly clever, it’s not so good. The reader is supposed to be thinking about the message of the ad, not the skill of the writer. The same rule applies to make-up. If it catches the eye, as make-up, it’s not fulfilling its purpose. I don’t mean by that that make-up should be used in some mysterious invisible way. But it should not attract attention. People should not be aware of it.

A good example of that fundamental principal is in the use of rouge. The purpose of rouge is simply to bring out the facial contours to the best advantage. I’ve never been able to understand those women seen frequently in broad daylight, who look as if they’d applied it with a stencil. They always remind me of one of those old movies where the girl wouldn’t listen to the good folksy advice back home in Pike’s Corners and went to the city and ended up a goodnessknows-what. Maybe they want to look that way. If they do that’s their affair, but it has nothing to do with rouge as it was meant to be used. Rouge can, and frequently does, I’m glad to say, make a beautiful woman more beautiful, but only when used by women who understand its function.

Neither is rouge, by the way, something to give the idea of glowing good health without the necessity of doing anything more strenuous than sitting through a double feature. There’s only one thing that will give the appearance of good health—that’s good health. It doesn’t come out of a make-up kit.

Even more than in the use of rouge, make-up of the mouth is where a lot of women go wrong. Some women look as if they’d applied their lipstick while eating their toast, or sitting on a vibrating machine. Little check marks and curlicues dart off in all directions and tend to make the opposite sex do the same thing.

Another weird group are the Paint Eaters—the gals who splash the stuff on as if it’s just a matter of getting the general area of the mouth good and red. I always imagine these women saying something like; “Some of it will hit my lips, and what doesn’t —the heck with it—I’ll wipe it off later on.”

Then there are the ones who startle the public with shades ranging from dried liver to fried eggs.

The Tooth Daubers. These I just can’t understand.

Lipstick has probably given men more horselaughs than any feminine accessory since the invention of the bustle. Yet it’s not in its use, but its abuse. Used as it should be—that is to give the lips a clean, well-defined line that matches the natural lip line —lipstick can give a lot of extra tone

and appeal to the complexion. A lipstick brush is the Lest way to apply it and the proper method is to start at the outside corners of the mouth and work in. That’s the way you get a smooth, symmetrical line, because (a) the little finger can be used as a pivot by resting it on the chin; (b) it ' permits an unobstructed view of the mouth in the mirror. After the lipstick has been applied the lips should be blotted gently with facial tissue and a little powder dusted over them. After that they are ready for the final application of lipstick.

This blotting and dusting is very important for there’s nothing quite so unappetizing as lipstick that looks as if it had been put on right out of a can of outdoor enamel.

Getting a Black Eye

Another thing that’s making the j boys long for the sort of a girl grandpa used to spark is the tendency to do a ! complete landscaping job on the eyebrows. The eyebrows should look like eyebrows, not two arced pencil lines. Only the few straggling hairs that destroy the natural contour should be plucked and that should be done only on the underside of the eyebrow. The top should never be touched. The brows can be trained to flow in a smooth, continuous line by brushing them with a mascara brush or similar type of small brush. If eyebrow pencil is used short strokes should be employed to stimulate actual hair growth, then the eyebrows brushed over the lines made by the pencil.

Many a writer, at a loss for better words, has described a heroine as j having eyelashes like “heavy, black j fringe,” and evidently a lot of women have interpreted the term literally.

These women haven’t learned, apparently, that if mascara is used at all it should be with the greatest discretion and skill. If the brush is too moist too much mascara will go on at once, giving the effect of a good fresh duco job. The mascara should rarely be applied to lower lashes and the eyes should not be blinked until the mascara is thoroughly dry or people j will be prescribing beefsteak for that shiner.

A subtle touch of eye shadow can have the men wishing they’d met the wearer before they met their wives, but, overdone, it can have them thanking their lucky stars they didn’t. A lot of women I see at dinner dances who have made a try at resembling something out of a perfume ad, simply look as if they need some sleep. Eye shadow itself shouldn’t be seen. The effect is the thing and it has to be attained with great care. A very small quantity should be taken on the end i of the finger, spread along the very edge of the eyelid next to the eyelashes and blended upward, with care not to extend the eye shadow beyond the lower half of the eyelid. Most of it should then be gently wiped off with a facial tissue, leaving only a hint of color. It should never be put on the lower lids.

An important rule for all make-up is to apply it under the same light as it will be seen under. For daytime, out on the street, it should be applied by daylight. For evening wear, where the lights are dim, it should be put on under a subdued light.

One cute youngster I told that to recently surprised me by beginning to blush furiously. She was going on an important date, with a lad who was getting serious about her, and she wanted some advice on the type of make-up that would make her as glamourous as humanly possible. Actually she would have been safe to go

with nothing on her face but a smile. I finally got out cf her what she was blushing about. Well, you see, she couldn’t exactly duplicate the evening’s lighting conditions when she was applying her make-up, as she and her boy friend usually stayed at home and, well—sort of turned out the lights.

Whenever a man is asked for his opinions on make-up, the chances are 10 to one he’ll say something about powder that “looks as if it could be scraped off with a knife.” There’s something of the superstitious in a man’s attitude toward powder—it must be something their mothers tell them—but whatever the reason a lot of women would do well to take the hint. Some of the cold, masklike faces I see staring at me as if a smile would bring the whole plaster job down, make me long to start scraping myself.

The point seems to be lost sight of that powder should give a fine, glowing, natural, velvet-smooth finish to the skin. It should never be applied directly from the box. Professional models all prefer clean, soft lamb’s wool which can be bought in most drugstores. The wool is dipped into the box, shaken into the hand, then patted briskly on the face. Then a powder brush is used lightly over the entire area of the face and neck to remove excess powder.

Used-Looking Toes

The matter of fastidiousness and careful grooming seems too obvious to mention, but sad to relate, many women don’t seem to have caught on, judging by the number of times in the course of a day you run across chipped nail polish, splotchy leg p'aint that makes the legs look as if iodine had been spilled over them and left to dry; old, used-looking toes sticking through open-front shoes and giving the impression that they haven’t been painted since before the war. These women don’t need advice on make-up, they need some common sense.

There is a lot to be said on the subject of make-up, but the overriding rule, as it is in most matters of feminine charm, is “be natural.” The other night I was at a night club and watching the women around me I began to think of those card castles we used to make when we were youngsters. Somebody would jiggle the table and down would come the works. The women in the room struck me the same way. They were so pinned up, glued up and stuck up, that they looked as if a good shaking would have the stuff coming off them like old wallpaper. Yet I noticed that the gal who got most attention from the men in the rcom was a little redhead who had taken in make-up with her Latin conjugations. The use of make-up with her was second nature. She’d been taught what it was all about. And every man jack there looked as if he would have liked to carry her out of the place and over a threshold. She used make-up—but she knew how to do it so that it didn’t show.

That, girls, is the general idea. Don’t give the men a chance to hoot: “That one with all the make-up? Say, I’d hate to—” Blah-blah-blah, followed by loud guffaws.

If you use make-up properly they’ll never notice it. They’ll be too busy looking at you. It’s not a hard job. It’s just a matter of a few feminine tricks, a little knowledge, a little practice and a lot of common sense. When you get right down to it, you know, men aren’t really so bright. They just think they are. But the trouble is, they’re right-about makeup. ★