Dar Anahita Presents:

Rashid's Persian Makeup


All text here written by Charles Mellor, known in the Kingdom of the East as Rashid.


This article is intended for the historical re-enactor and recreation community. Its goal is to explain how to use modern make-up products to re-create the look seen in Persian manuscripts of the 15th and 16th centures. It is in no way to be considered a discussion of actual make-up techniques of that period.

Additionally, i have attempted with this style of make-up to modify the "anglo" face in the direction of the Turco-Mongolian aesthetic that prevailed in this culture. One of the ideals was almond shaped eyes, and I have spent some effort in learning how to produce this effect on a round-eyed face. No doubt most of the women of this culture did not have to work to achieve this.

Persian patterned divider

Products You Will Need

  • Light moisturizer
  • Lip balm
  • Powder blush in medium-bright pink.
  • Foundation that matches your skin tone or one shade lighter. To determine an exact match, test foundation on jaw line near the neck because other places on the face usually have more color than just your basic skin tone.
  • Pressed or loose powder in shade that matches foundation or translucent powder.
  • Concealer stick (looks like beige lipstick) that matches your skin tone.
  • Eyeliner (pencil, or liquid, or kohl) in black, charcoal or dark borwn depending on yur natural hair color.
  • Powder eyeshadow that matches the color of the eyeliner. In a pinch, charcoal or dark borwn can be used with any of of the eyeliners.
  • If using liquid eyeliner, you will also need an eyebrow pencil of the same color.
  • Lip liner and lipstick in a deep red or burgundy. If you are trying to save money, this is the one product NOT to skimp on. The desired look cannot be achieved with cheap lipstick.
  • Make-up sponges for appying foundation and pressed powder, if desired.
  • Blush brush and a similar clean brush for applying loose powder.
  • Medium filbert brush or eye shadow applicator.
  • Small chisel shaped brush for eyebrows.
Persian patterned divider

Making Up the Face

Persian patterned buttonFigure 1.Persian patterned button

Figure 1 shows the baseline face for reference.

  • Apply lip balm to pre-moistureize lips.

  • Wash face. Apply small amount of moisturizer evenly over face. Moisturizer should be absorbed into the skin within 3 or 4 minutes.

  • Blot excess lip balm.
Baseline Face

Persian patterned buttonFigure 2.Persian patterned button

  • Outline new shape of lips lightly with lip liner, following shape as shown in Figure 2.

  • Cover lip area outside of lip liner with stick concealer.

  • If using foundation, appy evenly over face, including eyelids. Also cover area of lips to which concealer was applied. Blend foundation into neck at jaw line, or apply foundation on neck, if desired.

    Foundation on neck may soil garment. If using a foundation lighter than your natural skin tone, apply foundation to ears also.

  • Apply pressed or loose powder evenly, including eyelids and concealed lip area. If you think that you will be photographed by flash photography, powder your neck lightly down to the garment line. For loose powder, you shake about a tablespoon of powder into the [powder container] lid. Pick up with large fluffy brush and dust rather heavily all over. Keep eyes closed and hold your breath so you don't inhale it. Allow loose powder to sit on face for about a minute. Shake powder off brush, then use the brush to brush excess powder off the face. Obviously, one does this BEFORE one gets dressed.

  • Outline eyes with liquid eyeliner or kohl or regular eyeliner as shown in Figure 2. If using liquid eyeliner, keep eye closed until it is dry, or it will smear on upper lid when you open your eye.

    Eyes should be completely encircled. Eyeliner on upper lid should be heavier than on lower lid. Eyeliner should be thicker at center of lid and thinner at the outer corner of eye.

  • Using eyebrow pencil, color in new eyebrows as shown in Figure 2. Eyebrown should nearly meet in the middle, near bridge of nose. New shape should be arched like the wind of a bird. Eyebrows should be comparitively dark and heavy yet still graceful. It is not necessary to draw in individual hairs.

  • Using back, charcoal or dark borwn eye shadow powder to matche the color of eyebrow pencil, apply eye shadow with small chisel pointed brush to new eyebrows to set the eyebrow pencil.

  • For extra staying powder, fill in outlined area of lips with lip liner. Then appy lipstick and blot. If desired, there are now products that will "seal" the lipstick. You can also peel off one layer of a facial tissue and put over lips, and then apply loose powder through the tissue to hoelp set the lipstick.
Face with eyeliner, new lip line, and new brow line

Persian patterned buttonFigure 3.Persian patterned button

If desired, you can do a little extra work to make the eye look more almond shaped (Figure 3). I call this look "the Chinese opera eye".

  • Close one eye and add an extra wedge of eyeliner at the bottom of the inner corner as shown.

  • Also add a sort of turned-up wedge at the top of the outer corner. This bit is harder to get right, so add a little bit at a time and then check how it looks with the eye both opened and closed.

  • Repeat on the other eye.

  • If you used eyeliner pencil or crayon, than you will need to set it. Using the chisel pointed brush, gently press powder eye shadow onto the eyeliner areas, keeping a clean edge.

  • If you dab a little loose powder onto the upper cheek and below-the-eye area before putting on the dark eye shadow, you can then brush away any that falls on to the cheek quite easily.
Face with enhanced almond eyes

Persian patterned buttonFigure 4.Persian patterned button

  • To complete the look, add a little color using the powder blush. Blush should be applied very delicately in a circle on the cheeks, almost below the "apples" of the cheeks. This is intended to be color only, not contouring. Hollow cheeks and protruding cheekbones in Persian culture would have been considered quite ugly. An even more delicate hint of color can be applied to the chin.

  • I have found that using the same color of blush for eye shadow works quite effectively with this look. Using a small blush brush, sweep a hint of color over the eyelid and outward. Using the filbert brush or eye shadow applicator, deepen the color in the creas of the eyelid. Do not put blush on the brow bone.
Face complete, now with blush and other enhacements

Text and images copyright by Charles Mellor

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