When the MYSTERY theme rolled around, my mind immediately went to Hollywood’s classic noir films of the ’30s and ’40s, which usually starred a solitary detective, a murder victim (or 10), and a gorgeous woman who may or may not have been trouble. Starlets like Veronica Lake and Barbara Stanwyck lit up the screen with their perfectly painted blood-red lips, soft wavy hair, and inscrutable attitudes that could simultaneously chill a room and make a man hot all over. Looking at these icons, it’s no wonder their style has survived and thrived over the years.
Take Audrey Horne of Twin Peaks for example: her expertly arched eyebrows and cherry-pie lipstick no doubt captured Agent Cooper’s attention. And these days, Lana Del Rey and Dita Von Teese are rarely seen without their noirish trappings. While it may seem like copping the femme fatale look requires a lot of skill and upkeep, I assure you it can be done in a pinch with a few key products and tools. Shall we get started?
- Powder that matches your brow coloring. I used the NYC Browser Brush-On Brow Kit ($4, NYC).
- A mid-tone brown eye shadow. I used NYX Cosmetics Nude Matte Shadow in Tryst ($5, NYX Cosmetics).
- A dark-brown eye shadow. I used NYX Cosmetics Nude Matte Shadow in Haywire ($5, NYX Cosmetics).
- Essence Eyeliner Pen in black ($3)
- Red lipstick. I chose Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Harlot and NSFW ($18 each, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics).
- A fluffy eye-shadow brush, like the e.l.f. Studio Eyeshadow “C” Brush ($3)
- Mascara. I like Benefit’s They’re Real! ($23, Sephora).
- A natural-bristle hairbrush, like this one
- A flat iron. I used the Cortex Solo Flat Iron ($59).
It’s all about the eyebrows. I don’t really pluck mine, but if you want to give them some shape before you begin, check out Amy Rose’s awesome tutorial. For this, I used a brow powder that matched the shade of my eyebrows, which are dark brown, and I recommend it for people with black eyebrows as well. (If your brows are auburn, check out NYX Cosmetics Nude Matte Shadow in Blame It On Midnight and blondes should try M.A.C. Eye Shadow in Omega.) Apply the powder to your brows starting in the corner closest to your nose and use short strokes to thicken them up. When you reach the middle of your brow, or its natural arch, create a little bit of an angle with the powder. It doesn’t have to be exaggerated, but you just want to add some shape. Then lightly sweep the rest of the brow so that it tapers out toward the other corner.
Using a fluffy eye-shadow brush, or even your fingers, apply the lighter brown eye shadow (preferably matte) to your lid, and spread it all over to create a smoky effect.
You will need the brush for this part, because it requires blending. Dip it into a darker-brown eye shadow (also preferably matte), and start blending it into either the crease of your eyelid, or if you don’t have a crease, right below the bone of your brow. This adds definition. If the line looks a little too stark, add more of the color from the previous step and blend together to soften.
Next up comes the eyeliner. I absolutely love Essence’s Eyeliner Pen in black, because it’s super cheap and super easy to apply. (Seriously, I’ve got $30 eyeliners in my kit, but I always come back to this one.) It has a marker tip for application, so starting at the inner corner of your eye, apply the eyeliner as close to your eyelashes as possible and drag it along your lash line until your reach the outer corner. Try and end with a slight flick—not a full on cat-eye, just a little wing. Add a coat or two of your favorite mascara to the top lashes only. I find Benefit’s They’re Real! gives the effect of falsies without all the work.
Last year I explained in great detail how to apply red lipstick that will last all day. Choose the red that looks best on you.
I made a special video to show you the technique I use to get my old Hollywood waves.
Now all you need is a pair of killer heels and a thirst for revenge!