Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hair and Make-Up

I apologize in advance for the rambling/disjointed nature of this post. I have been working on it over the last few days in between all my other projects.

With just two days until the Medieval Fair, I have been seriously thinking thinking about the more rarely discussed details of costuming: hair and make-up.

In the past I haven't really worried about hair and make-up at events. I do my usual routine: moisturizer, foundation and a little mascara, sometimes with eye shadow, usually without. Sometimes I can sneak off to the privy to flat iron my hair, but I usually just run my fingers through it, dampen any crazy spots, spray and go. It's not that I don't care about my appearance, it's just that doing hair and make-up at events is kind of a pain so I do the bare minimum most of the time. But when I started developing my Near Eastern persona I began paying more attention to these details.

I wear a very modern haircut, sometimes with unusual colors. I started veiling last year because I was tired of how blatantly modern my hair was an how it threw off the rest of my look (and I was tired of getting those nasty sunburns!). Now, when I say "veiling" I don't mean the whole covering-everything-but-the-eyes veil setup. I'm talking about a standard veil that just covers the hair much like the European veils. Underneath the veil I wear a small pillbox hat which I will feature in an upcoming article on accessories.

According to a lady named Amaryllis on Stefan's Florilegium, women in the Middle east wore their hair in five, seven or nine long braids (always an odd number, though she doesn't say why). She also doesn't mention where her facts come from, but other people subscribe to this belief so they may have documentation of which I am not aware. Since my hair is far too short for that, I have considered attaching faux braids to one of my hats, but my fiance said he wouldn't be able to stop laughing at me... and I'm not sure I would be able to either! For now I'm happy enough with just covering my hair. Although I'm still not sure what to do about my bangs...

Most of the time I keep my hair a medium shade of burgundy. While the dying process is obviously not period, the color certainly is! Henna was often used to stain not only the skin but the hair as well. I have seen hair dyed with henna and it is quite a bit brighter than mine, but I have dark hair to begin with, hate bleaching and don't have the patience or self-esteem to wait until all of my hair grows out just so I can dye it with henna. Garnier is good enough for me (and much faster!).

I usually keep my eyebrows waxed, but money has been tight lately and I've had to give up that little luxury. Instead I have subscribed to a practice called khite in Arabic. In the United States we know it as threading or stringing. The origins of this method of hair removal are unclear, but it appears to have originated in India, China or the Middle East. Basically you use a thread to pluck out the hairs in a line. It's no more painful than waxing and the results last about a month which was about how long my waxes lasted.

If you are interested, here is a video about threading:

It appears that eyebrows in period were something quite out of the ordinary for the modern mindset. It was considered fashionable to darken the eyebrows with kohl and draw them together over the bridge of the nose. Now, I don't know about you, but I go through a lot of trouble to get rid of those unsightly hairs between my eyebrows, thus I doubt I'll ever adopt that look. I'm okay with darkening the brows, but you won't find me with a full-fledged unibrow any time soon.

According to Master Rashid of the East Kingdom, eyeshadow is period, which is great because I love eyeshadow! I will occasionally spend my Sunday mornings just browsing make-up videos on YouTube, a couple of which I would like to share with you here. Both videos feature surprise Internet sensation Lauren Luke (I'm a big fan!):

Arabic Eyes

And my favorite...

I'm not saying either of these looks are period, but they do make the eyes stand out and especially the second one has a nice understated-but-glamorous look that I think would compliment a Near Eastern persona. I think a lot of non-SCAdians expect a very bold eye make-up which helps with the illusion at demos and fairs. And in our region at least, the Near/Middle Eastern personae spend a lot of time on their party make-up so that's when I started experimenting with mine.

Eyeliner is my downfall. I'm really awful with liquid liners so I use a regular liner but it doesn't give that dark, dramatic line. I try to pile it on, but it never fails, I will rub my eye and get it everywhere. Looks like I need a make-up practice day.

Two years ago my friend Katie introduced me to lip stains and I can't thank her enough. If you're not familiar with it, a lip stain basically dyes your lips (or cheeks, with some practice) with a splash of color, usually in a dark red or reddish-purple. I like it because it lasts so much longer than lipstick and it looks like I have used berry juice to stain my lips (and if you stain your lips and then put on lipstick it doesn't look so bad when your lipstick rubs off). Katie showed me how to lightly stain my cheeks and fingernails/fingertips with it which made for a very authentic look. I use Revlon's Just Bitten in Berry Juicy, but the applicator is rather annoying -- I much prefer a sponge tip to a roller ball. I just found this fascinating article on on how to make your own stain using Jell-O! I think I'll give it a try!

Everything Else
I took a henna class at Lilies War several years ago and, while I enjoyed the class and enjoyed learning how to make henna paste, I am not a fan of wearing it. Of course I'm not knocking anyone who loves getting henna'd, I'm just I'm too fidgety to wait until it dries. Luckily henna can be faked with brown liquid eyeliner, a Sharpie marker or harquus paint.

Speaking of harquus, I'll be the first to admit that they look really dramatic and add a mysterious tribal aspect to your make-up, but I have no idea if they are period. I know it's a very popular look with the tribal bellydance community, but that's not saying much for authenticity generally. If anyone knows more about this, I would love to chat with you!

Well, that's it for my hair and make-up review. Please feel free to share tips, tricks or (polite) criticisms in the comments.


Tia said...

For more info on Henna, & Harquus pop over to here is the research into Harquus

DeadmansLog said...

Really great post! Incredibly interesting.