Get Gene Tierney's 1940s Resting Bitch Face

I've always wanted to look like Gene Tierney in 1945's Leave Her To Heaven: still beauty on the outside, rage monster on the inside.
Publish date:
August 7, 2014
clinique, contouring, nars, Urban Decay, makeup tutorial, 1940s, film, Gene Tierney, old hollywood

I can't help but be drawn to the leading ladies of 1940s cinema. They possessed a type of glamour and elegance that is rarely seen today--and their hair and makeup was always on point.

One of my favorite starlets of yore is Gene Tierney. Gene was a reserved beauty full of depth. Her eyes were a cool blue; her lids were sleepy and sultry; her lips were plump; she had an adorable overbite that would peek out whenever she smiled; and her cheekbones were out of control.

But there was also a sadness inside of her that could be seen through her expressive eyes onscreen: behind the camera she battled depression and was even subjected to shock therapy in the 1950s.

The role that she's most remembered for is that of Ellen Berent Harland in 1945's Leave Her To Heaven, a movie that's been described as a "film noir in technicolor."

As Ellen, Gene is intense. At the beginning of the movie she meets and falls for Richard Harland, a writer played by Cornel Wilde. (She fancied him because he resembled her father. Creepy, no?) Eventually the two wed and Ellen's love grows to a disturbing--even homicidal--level of obsession.

Played by Gene, the deeply crazed Ellen is calm, cool, and absolutely stunning. On a dime she'll turn from a sweet, smiling angel to a rage-filled monster, shooting rays of hate through her icy blue eyes.

Gene has a multitude of wardrobe changes in the film--from the most elegant evening gowns and furs to frilly slips and robes to casual wear. Her hair and makeup mostly remain the same, aside from changing lipstick shades.

While Ellen was decidedly psycho, Gene immortalized her as a total babe. I decided to channel them both, through makeup.

Foundation. I started by evening out my skin tone with Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup in Calming Alabaster. This is one of my favorite foundations, as it's full coverage with a slightly matte texture, but it's not drying at all. It also covers redness wonderfully.

Powder. After blending the foundation, I powdered my T-zone with Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Pressed Finishing Powder in Naked Light.

Contour. Now for those impossible cheekbones. To create contour, I used NARS Matte Multiple in Altai, a rosy brown, for a rounded cheekbone shape (see below). I also dabbed a bit of Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX01 (the lightest shade) on top of my cheekbones and below the outer corners of my eye to create a lifted highlight.

Blush. I used a buffing brush to soften the harsh lines and create more of a shadow-y effect. To get Gene's rosy flush, I applied a liberal dusting of NYX Powder Blush in Pinky high on my cheekbones.

Brows. The shape of Gene's brows is pretty soft, but with a well-defined arch. I dabbed a bit of the Sensual Skin Enhancer along my brow bone for a lifted effect and then blended both shades in Urban Decay's Brow Box in Brown Sugar and applied them with an angled brush to fill in the shape and define my arch.

Eyes. I used a big fluffy eye shadow brush to apply MAC Eye Shadow in Wedge, a soft taupe, all over my eyelid and up into the crease.

Then I used a charcoal eyeliner pencil--Essence's Gel Eye Pencil Waterproof in Gunmetal--to trace the outer third of the upper and lower lash line, extending the lines out into two flicks. This makes eyes look wider; the lower flick acts as a "shadow" for upper lashes. I learned that trick from a Lisa Eldridge tutorial on Marilyn Monroe makeup.

I added a little more definition to my upper lash line by tracing the outer two-thirds and filling in between the lashes with Eyeko Alexa Chung Lash Enhancing Eye Do Eyeliner. Then I curled my lashes and applied two coats of Eyeko Alexa Chung Eye Do Lash Enhancing Mascara and combed out the lashes to separate.

Lips. I lined the outside of my natural lip line with Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in Ozone, which is clear and prevents lip color bleeding. Then I used a very fine lip brush to apply OCC Lip Tar in Stalker, which seemed fitting for the character of Ellen. It's a blue-based red that has a lovely ruby hue that matches Gene's predominant lip color in the film.

Hair. I did my best to create soft '40s waves, but my hair didn't feel like holding any curl. I'd air-dried it the night before, though, so there was some natural wave.

I brushed it out, gave myself a deep side part, and used a half-inch flat iron to curl my bangs away from my face. (In the film, Gene's hair frequently has a narrow roll curling away from the hairline.) I wrapped the layers framing my face around the iron vertically and then curled the ends at a more horizontal angle.

After letting my hair cool I misted it with Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray for volume and texture before brushing the waves out with a Mason Pearson brush.

All that was left to do was practice my murderous bitch face.

Let's chat about more old Hollywood babes! Who are your favorite lady villains?