Susan, be smooth! by Nell Giles, 1940: Chapter IX – Make a Face

Chapter IX

As this book goes on and on, we grow too fond of Susan. We get to the point of finding nothing wrong with her. . . we want to sit back and let her tell us what to do!

In this chapter, that’s just what we’ve planned: a make-up consultation with  Susan.

Susan, what do you consider the main feature of a beautiful complexion?
Susan says: A fresh, scrubbed, dewy look. (Thank you, Susan, you are quoting from Chapter I.)

And with this push from Susan, we go on alone. We shall take the “fresh, scrubbed, dewy look” as the whole basis of our chapter on make-up. If this is what Susan wants, she shall have it.

First let us describe in more detail just what is this look. It is a transparency, a glow, and unpowdered look without shine or carelessness about it. One has to work at it; it comes from both inside and out.

It is, of course, the “clean” look, arrived at by soap and water cleanliness from the outside and by inner cleanliness from the right diet.

The third factor is to leave it alone. Don’t cover it up with make-up. Let us not misunderstand each other. . . this chapter on make-up is actually going to talk about make-up, which means how to put on lipstick, rouge and powder. We are not going to tell you to “use nothing on your face.”

But we are first going to get the finished picture in your mind; we are going to show you how you will look after you have applied makeup correctly. . . and from that point, take you behind scenes to the dressing room marked with a star.

In other worlds, we are telling you again that the first step in being smooth is to have in your mind a definite picture of how you want to look. And from Susan’s own words, we know that the effect must be a fresh, scrubbed, dewy look.

Make-up is not to cover up; it is to un-cover! It is to reveal YOU. . . the beauty of your eyes; the shape of your mouth; the delightful roundness of your chin. It is to be applied only after you have decided what you want to “uncover” or accent.

But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. . . Before we take even this step. . . the mind’s eye view of Smooth Susan after make-up. . . we must consider the texture and quality of the skin, which is the first thing we see in a girl’s face.

Soap-and-water is not the only way to keep your skin clean from the outside. You must use a very light cream or liquid cleanser. We have mentioned in an earlier chapter a special line of cosmetics designed for you. The principle behind these creams are that they are light enough for your skin. But if these cosmetics are not available, you will find others, pure and efficient, which your store will recommend.

Your skin needs different care, winter and summer. In winter, you must protect it against drying wind, cold, and unnatural steam heat. All three will rob your skin of its natural oils and therefore you must keep it soft with light cream, night and morning. If your skin is sensitive, use soap on your face only every  other night; wash it with clear, warm water and clean it with a good, light cleansing cream. Also, before you go out, be surethat your skin is clean, dry, and protected from weather by lotion. In this line of cosmetics designed especially for Susans under twenty, referred to above, there is an excellent protective lotion which may well be used in place of powder, as it takes off the shine.

In the summer, the care of your skin is just as important but much simpler. Almost all you’ll need in the way of cosmetics is sunshine and lipstick. You’ll find that the sun is very kind if it’s taken in small doses at first, and if you are well protected from burning with a film of any good sunburn oil or lotion. And again, the care of your skin is mostly a matter of cleanliness.

But even with rigid soap and water cleansing and the occasional pore cleansing creams or liquids, your skin is most likely to develop blackheads, which are the hardened sections of oil and dirt in your pores. Of all complexion faults, blackheads are the most common and the most unattractive.

Therefore, most Susans have developed the “picking habit”. . . a fifteen-minute session in front of the bathroom mirror every night, gouging and punching at nose and chin to dislodge the dirt. Picking out blackheads never entirely removes them. You have only pinched off the top, and in doing this have bruised thousands of tender skin cells, some perhaps permanently.

You have further enlarged and toughened the area of skin cells which produced these blackheads; and tomorrow night you have to do this all over again.

There is one further bad effect from picking blackheads which has to do with the mind, not the face. We have noticed that Susan in her blackhead session is Susan in a daydream. Break yourself right now of the daydream poison. Substitute action for dreaming and you’ll find those wandering thoughts coming true. This psychology is not too deep for you; we know that you understand exactly what we mean.

And so, for this psychological reason. . . which, we are sure, would bewilder the manufacturers, we recommend a better way to remove blackheads. There are any number of masks on the market, compounded of stimulating herbs and fuller’s Earth, which will pull the blackheads right out. There are also grains and meal, which you can rub “in” your skin and out again. Any of these dozen products are safe and successful; they are all fun to apply (which will encourage you to use them) . . . and any one of them will eliminate the dangerous picking and punching habit and will substitute a definite act for a state of dreaming. In the four or five minutes it takes the cream to dry on your face. . . actually you’ll need it just where the blackheads are. . . you’ll have a chance to go on with your dressing or undressing as the case may be.

We do not believe in heavy powder foundations for young skins. We believe that these foundations teach you to cover up skin faults rather than to cure them. If your nose gets red and shiny, add more fruit and vegetables to your diet and improve your circulation by walking and exercise. If your chin is pimply, cut out the sweets and chocolate in your diet. . . don’t cover up the pimples and continue to do the very thing which makes more pimples. Get your skin to the “scrubbed, dewy look”  by legitimate means. Know that you are just as pretty in bed as out.

But it is important to use a light, protective lotion of some sort as a makeup base. You may use it in place of powder. In winter. . . and for sensitive skins any time. . . it gives excellent protection against roughness and chapping.

Now, before we go on to the detail of applying make-up, we want to say something about acne. . . the sad, pimpled condition which has caused many an inferiority complex.

Acne can be cured; in most cases, you can cure it yourself. In some cases, it needs a skin specialist’s care, and if it takes the sacrifice of a new evening dress, we urge you to go to a specialist.

But there are three things which you can do for yourself: First, eliminate entirely from your diet all fried and rich, greasy foods. Substitute simple meat; fresh, leafy vegetables; fruit. Drink plenty of water. Second, never put cleansing cream or oil on your face, since the bacteria of acne spread rapidly in fat. Clean your skin, instead, with medicated or green soap and water, or with liquid soap. And of course, never pick your face because you only rapidly spread the acne. Third, get your scalp in a healthy condition. You may be surprised to know that acne is very often carried from the scalp to the face and shoulders. Be sure that you wash your hands after you brush and dress your hair and before applying your make-up. This goes, whether or not you have acne.

And now, if you have internally sworn to stop the “weak sister” act of covering up rather than curing, if you have determined to have beautiful skin, let’s go on to applying makeup.

In our opinion, the cosmeticians have made this art much too complicated. They tell us that by applying a stroke of powder here, a centimeter of rouge just under the left eyebrow, we can entirely change the shape and planes of our face to the naked eye. Frankly, we don’t believe it. This may be true on stage or screen. . . at least we have read movie magazine articles to prove it. Certainly color creates an illusion and a round dot placed low on the cheeks gives a different look to a face which is usually seen with a round dot of rouge high on the cheeks.

Our point is this. . . few of us, either as object or observer. . . have an artistic eye so highly developed that it can spot the illusion or create it to begin with.


Also, we find a great difference of opinion as to whether rouge calls attention to or diverts the mind from the spot on which it lies! Some say that the Round Face should wear rouge low, to create shadows in the cheeks; some say the Round Face should wear rouge high to lengthen the face. We believe that no face should ever wear much rouge, and that the little that is worn should be applied in a triangle on the cheek bones and blended from this focal point so painstakingly and so skillfully that it is not apparent where the rouge begins and ends, or whether it is rouge at all. Certainly the main and only object of rouge is to give the face a “natural look” and to brighten the eyes. When it over-steps this function, and calls attention to the rouge itself, it has been applied with the crudeness of an amateur. Haven’t you seen a million middle-aged and older women with big splotches of rouge applied so apparently that you fairly itched for a cleansing tissue to blend and smooth it? Of course, they need more rouge than you do, to begin with, but most of them put too much on, at that.

Next, in unimportance, is face powder. The only important thing about it is not to use too much. Face powder’s function is to put a light haze over the natural “polished look” of healthy skin. It is never to be applied over make-up that is just beginning to wear off. It is only to put on a perfectly clean skin. You may be caught with a shiny nose in a spot a mile away from soap and water. . . in that case, at least have the grace to wipe off your old powder, and with it, the oil and dust, before applying new powder. (Do we seem to be in a grouch? . . . it is only because we are trying to impress you with the importance of keeping your skin clean.) Don’t put on more rouge over old. If you use the cream kind, you only rub in the dirt. . . if you use the powder type, or dry rouge, you are pushing these finely ground particles into dirty skin. Here begins blackheads, whiteheads and enlarged pores.

There are several brands of cleansing pads. . . most of them non-drying. . . which you can buy in purse size. This is really the solution of what to do about applying new make-up over old.

Next we come to the most fun of all. . . the eyes and mouth. These are the two features to emphasize. In quick review, we have a Smooth Susan with fresh, transparent skin. . . very little rouge. . . just enough powder to take the “shine” off. . . and now we are ready to apply the make-up which really matters.

Most eyes are either really beautiful or can be made to appear so. They are the center of the face, certainly. . . and while the texture and quality of the skin is the first thing we see, we are left with a definite impression of the eyes as the key to the face.

Eyebrows, eyelashes, the shape, color and expression of the eyes themselves are factors in making the eyes appear beautiful. It is no longer fashionable to wear the eyebrows in a thin line. It is definitely fashionable to have eyebrows. . . but to keep them under control with tweezers, brow brush and pencil. If you have the fortune to possess brows which grow in a definite quirk. . . up at the corners or in the middle. . . cultivate it, by all means. It may be the little twist which gives your face a a smooth look. But if your brows have no arch at all, pluck and train them into one. Otherwise, you look as though the roof was falling down over your ears. You’ve seen this straight across, dull firm look that some eyebrows have. . . as if they were never lifted in laughter or amazement! If your brows are too light, define them with a natural emphasis, by an eyebrow pencil.


Eyelashes, too, should be trained in a lifted curve. Do it with plain old vaseline. . . or, if you like something fancier, which will darken as well as lengthen your lashes, try one of the eyelash growers. You know how to apply an eyelash salve, of course: in the way you want your eyelashes to grow.

One reason we like an eyelash grower is that it takes the place of mascara, which we personally dislike because only one person out of a hundred knows how to use little enough of it. Also, both vaseline and eyelash grower will actually make the lashes grow longer, which is just what we want. We like them painfully heavy to lift, on occasions.

With think that a touch of eye shadow is fun. Ask the girl at the cosmetic counter what color to buy. And she will tell you, too, to use just a little, and to use it only as a shadow on the eyelid, as close as possible to the eyelashes. Blend it up so that it cannot be seen beyond your eyelashes. The idea is to get the effect without letting your public know how you did it.

As for the expression of your eyes, need we remind you that that depends entirely upon your mind? And most certainly your keenness, your wit, your poise, your deep interest in this fascinating world around you is reflected in your eyes. So, too, are the lack of these things, and the substitution of a colossally dull Egoist.

The color of your eyes is changed or emphasized by your touch of eye shadow and by the color of your dress. There is much that can be done on this point. For example, if your eyes are your best feature, and their color is a queer, light green, you can get an amazing effect by wearing a dress which exactly matches them. . . and it is your eyes and face which get the attention, not the dress; this is as it should be. It is generally true that your best color is the color of your eyes; it is always true that your best color at least complements the color of your eyes. For example, people with blue eyes can usually wear blue better than any other color.

People with brown eyes can best wear tones in the “brown range” . . . rusts, yellows, greens. They can also wear purple because brown is a natural and earthy complement to purple tones.


Brown itself is a dull, difficult color to wear. You will notice this if you observe the drab look of a grey haired woman wearing brown. Only the clearest of skins can stand its sobering effect. We say this regardless of the “smartness” of brown, and we except this from the general rule brown sport clothes, which seem to be born for this color, provided there is some other color in the costume to give it life.

And now, at last, we are ready for our important spot of color in the face. . . lipstick. While rouge should be worn sparingly, lipstick should be applied generously. Of course we don’t mean that you should overdo it. . . but just let yourself go a little.

And because your lipstick is the most important color emphasis in your face, it should be carefully chosen to be in harmony with your skin tone and your costume color, and of course to blend with perfectly or match exactly the color of your nail enamel. All lipsticks colors are dominated by one of the three primary colors: clear red, blue or yellow. Never attempt contrast, but always strive for harmony, in the color of lipstick you choose. For example, don’t wear a bluish or purplish lipstick with a dress in the rust or yellow tones. Wear clear, bright red, only with stark white, black, or clear red itself. Wear it with dark navy blue only if the navy has no purple cast, otherwise, a lisptick with a purplish tone (which is a lipstick with a dominance of blue) would be much more in harmony. Wear lipstick with a dominant blue tone, under which come all the purple lipsticks, of course, with colors which are also dominantly blue; and yellow lipsticks, by which we mean the rust tones, with all colors dominantly yellow. This range includes yellow, rust, olive and chartreuse, and also brown. Remember this simple rule of harmony and your lipstick will always look exactly “right,” because it has been chosen with the whole picture in mind.


Now you are ready to apply whichever shade of lipstick you have selected. Most important, take your time in putting it on. A very good thing to have is a lipstick pencil, which is made of lipstick in a harder form, and sharpened just as a pencil is, to a firm point. With this, it is much easier to draw the first firm lines of your mouth, and then you can easily fill in this outline with your regular lipstick. Make a mouth that is natural, not distorted. Don’t draw a pout, cupid’s bow or cannibal lips. Draw, in general, the mouth nature gave you. . . but it’s no sin to improve it with a few well chosen strokes. for example, if your mouth is too big, don’t cover the whole territory with lipstick. If you have nothing but a fine, straight line to start with, exaggerate a little. And when you’ve drawn the finished product, take off the excess by biting a piece of cleansing tissue between your lips. To make your lipstick more indelible, dust a little powder over your mouth and then moisten your lips.

The last touches on a well-groomed face are made after a good look in a well-lighted mirror. If you are applying make-up for evening. . . in which case you’ll probably add a shade more rouge. . . look at yourself in the bright light your beau will see you. If this is daytime make-up, don’t study it by electric light. All this is common sense, of course. . . but how many of us remember to use our common sense when Tom and Jerry are waiting downstairs?


To Be Continued. . . 

If this is the first time you’ve met Susan, be sure to check out:

Introduction and Table of Contents
Chapter I: Give it a Thought
Chapter II: Keep it Simple with Subtraction
Chapter III: Soap-and-Water Clean
Chapter IV: S-T-R-E-T-C-H
Chapter V: A Hairsbreadth Escape
Chapter VI: Oral Exam
Chapter VII: Don’t Mention It
Chapter VIII: Eat to Be Pretty

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