Makeup: A Glamorous History – 27 April 2021 – 27/4/2021 – Tuesday – BBC Two

Victorian Britain
Series 1 Episode 2 of 3

Lisa Eldridge explores how the Victorians prized natural beauty above all else. Today, when Lisa is asked to do a ‘no make-up’ look, she knows she is in for a lot of work. All make-up is about illusion, but the natural look is the ultimate magic trick – disguising its own existence.

In Victorian Britain, make-up was frowned upon. Women were supposed to be naturally beautiful, reflecting their inner purity. But Lisa discovers there were all sorts of sneaky ways to enhance your looks without being found out.

It was also the era when so much of today’s make-up had its origins, from mascara to brands that have survived into the 21st century. It was also the era of advertising and magazines promoting beauty ideals – many of which will feel familiar to viewers today.

As Lisa delves into this obsession with natural beauty and looks at some of the products created to help achieve this look, she finds out more about the Victorians love of science, their focus on hygiene and their desire for conformity. With all the products and knowledge she collects, she recreates the ideal Victorian beauty look on our 21st-century model, Queenie. And it takes more work that the Victorians would ever admit.

When it comes to beauty, ‘natural’ isn’t as innocent as it seems. The Victorians believed that the condition of someone’s skin was an indication of their inner worth and found that it’s hard not to get tangled up in trickery, hypocrisy and downright lies.

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About Makeup: A Glamorous History

Makeup artist Lisa Eldridge explores what the beauty look of three iconic moments in British history tell us about that era.

This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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