I've seen this great article about the makeup for Elizabeth: The Golden Age in several places. The creative team used MAC makeup and they talk a little bit about the history and theory behind their design choices. They also talk briefly about working with Designer Alexander Byrne. These are the most interesting tidbits:
White, pale skin was key to women of the Elizabethan era. Why do you think this was and how was this striking effect created on set? How would women have achieved this look with the limited 'makeup' and tools available at the time?
'White ' make up was 'in vogue throughout Elizabethan times. The look was worn by Elizabeth and she was emulated by her people. The alabaster coloured skin was a sign of wealth and considered very beautiful. In fact, it covered signs of disease, pock marks, and the manifestations of ageing skin. In order to achieve this look, women used a foundation colour (for the face, neck and décolleté) made from lead and vinegar. It was poisonous and eventually more harmful than a help to the skin. After the base colour, raw egg white was often applied as a 'glaze' - similar to the shimmer highlights we use today, I suppose! The cheeks and lips were rouged with cochineal, applied with pads of animal hide and rabbits foot brushes, and the eyes were sometimes enhanced with a kohl powder. It was fashionable to severely pluck the eyebrows and also the front hairline; with all shades of red hair being immensely popular.
Do you work closely with wardrobe on the makeup look?
Alex Byrne is an inspirational costume designer and artist and I went to all the costume fittings to work out the wig styles in tandem with her. Everything has to work together, and Alex would give me the jewels to dress into the wigs to match the costumes. The balance of the size of the wigs and the shade of red hair was important for each different costume. I used 16 wigs in total...