Dorothy Dandridge’s Look, Part 2: Face Basics

So, you’ve been taking care of your skin. Now, it’s time to prepare your face for that retro glow with step two! Maybe Dorothy D. had naturally flawless and even skin (I will grant you that the eyebrows are a little much in this photo, but hey!). But, not me. No, sireebob. I have dark undereye circles (thanks to genetics and allergies). I have a “high” forehead, and the top of it is always a little darker than anything else on my face…and let’s not even address what happens to my skin at “that” time of the month. Now, there are makeup looks in which this step isn’t so important. But, with the retro look’s bright lip and strong lines, you can end up looking washed out…and that ends in you looking like a vampire (and that may or may not be the look you want).

2. Conceal and Even

*Prime and Prep: Moisturizer
I don’t like heavy or creamy moisturizers. I use hyaluronic acid mixed with a little argan oil. If you have particularly sensitive skin (like I do), try using a little Cortizone 10 before you begin to apply makeup (NOTE: DO NOT EVER use bargain brand Cortizone 10 knock-offs. Many of the knock-offs use isopropyl myristate, a product that can cause allergic reactions).


I try to avoid foundation. For me, it’s just too heavy and it never quite matches my neck and ears (awkward). I suggest attempting to go for this look without foundation at first. Your best bets if you simply must, however, are Maybelline Fit Me (apply with a foundation brush or a wedge sponge) or MAC Studio Fix powder foundation (apply with a powder brush or kabuki brush). If you are going to use foundation, put it on BEFORE the concealer. Yes, BEFORE. Some makeup artists will tell you that you have to apply liquid or cream foundation with a flat foundation brush. I don’t have time for that…I usually blend like blazes with a makeup sponge wedge. Blend, blend, blend.

A good substitute for foundation is a tinted moisturizer or a BB cream, that latest of cosmetic crazes. I prefer L’Oreal’s BB Cream in Deep. It emerges from the tube as this weird gray-ish color, but transforms into a lightweight cream on your skin. One down side to L’Oreal’s BB Cream is that it has a slightly gritty texture. It does not, however, make me break out.

You have to have the concealer color that matches your skin. HAVE to. If you don’t you are going to look….well….odd. If you feel like splurging, buy Clinique concealer after you have the makeup artist find your perfect color. Clinique has all sorts of different formulas for different skin. I prefer the line smoothing formula. Right now, I can’t afford Clinique. I am enjoying Maybelline Fit Me in Cafe. If you are looking for an all natural concealer, Erzulie is an Etsy seller who makes an outstanding all natural concealer. I am something in the neighborhood of Ms. D’s color, and I have those inherited dark under eye circles. But, never fear! I use Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Eraser for Dark Circles in Neutralizer. A dab of that before you put on your concealer, and dark circles are pretty much gone. Concealer is important because it will also help your eye makeup stay in place.

An application tip with concealer: build the coverage. Don’t spread on gobs of it. Start out with a few dabs (I tend to concentrate must of it underneath my eyes), and blend, blend, blend. If you want more coverage, add a few more dabs, and blend some more. Once you get the hang of applying concealer, the process gets much faster. When I say blend, I mean BLEND. Blend down towards your neck and chin; blend up towards your forehead AND out toward your ears. Blend, child, blend!

*Setting powder.
I am oily in my T-zone, so setting powder is crucial for me especially on the forehead and nose. My skin tone lends itself well to a translucent setting powder from Rimmel. I would suggest that you stay away from Covergirl’s Pressed Powder. With setting powder, use a light touch, a powder brush, and a swirling motion to apply a small amount of powder to your face at a time.

Next step? Add color.