Vintage style tip: beauty spots
By Lena on February 29, 2012
One of the trademarks of timeless sex appeal is the beauty spot. A true vintage bombshell look doesn’t seem complete without it. It’s something modern day burlesque queens like Dita von Teese and Immodesty Blaize are more than aware of. A delicate black or brown mark placed on the cheek, above the lips or near the eye exaggerates femininity and draws attention to your favourite features. Liz Kenny has this story.
Beauty spots, known to the medically minded by the rather less alluring name of ‘melanocytic nevus’, have been used as a cosmetic enhancement since Roman times, and have dipped in and out of fashion ever since. In those days they consisted of kohl marks or “patches” made from black taffetta or red spanish leather. They were worn on the face, neck or shoulders and could be quite intricately designed patterns, increasing in size as fashion dictated.
Men were not adverse to the odd beauty patch or two, much like in the 18th century, and placement could dictate political allegiance or merely hide a bad skin day. Handy if you had succumbed to one of the many nasty diseases doing the rounds in those hygienically challenged days.
Beauty Spots were at the height of popularity in the 18th century. Historical figures like Marie Antoinette and other well-to-do Regency ladies are forever associated with spots and wigs. Again they could be pencilled onto or adhered to the face. Black silk beauty spots also had a more practical use concealing smallpox scars and disfigurements, which were hard to hide otherwise, the priod being the age of mercury and lead based foundation. Best not to answer the door to an Edwardian Avon Lady.
Popular shapes for creating a beauty spot include a simple dot, but also stars, hearts and crescent moons. As important as the shape is where to put your spot.
The simple answer is, wherever you think it looks best, but you might want some advice from Madame Du Barry, a courtesan of Louis XV. She apparently defined the meaning of the placement as so:
On the cheek-flirty
At the corner of the mouth- kissable
On the forehead- haughty
By laughter lines- playful
Above the lips- mischievous
lower lips – discreet
next to the eye- provocative
on the nose- impudent
Such was the beauty spot’s allure that an anonymous 18th century poet even felt moved to write a poem about his lover’s beauty mark
‘ Her patches are of every cut
For pimples or for scars
Here’s all the wandering planet’s signs
And some of the fixed stars
Already gummed to make them stick
They need no other sky ‘
It sure beats ” Because I’m worth it!”
Beauty spots made a major comeback in the Fifties with Marilyn Monroe, who wore hers on her cheek. Other stars like Elizabeth Taylor followed suit. The post-war years saw a craving for high voltage feminine glamour and a beauty spot seemed like a playful extravagance. Now they are synomynous with pin-up girls and bombshells. In more modern times Madonna has also made use of the extra something a beauty spot can add to your look.
The beauty spot has also had a modern update in recent years, with a new trend for pierced studs in silver or diamante above the upper lip.
It’s easy to create your own with a sharpened eyeliner or Kohl pencil. A long lasting liquid liner with a felt tip is perfect. Make sure you give it time to dry, if necessary a light dusting of powder over the top can seal it. If you search online it’s also possible to buy fake stick on marks, which stops any danger of smudging. Have fun and experiment to find what suits you best.