Pirate Makeup Look & Narrative

At Sea

There are some days when I feel I am mad. She will drain me until my bones ache. I  collapse, as though every bone is broken. She does not give me rest. Not a moment’s peace, she is forever the voice in my head. When she lets up I don’t feel relief, but anguish. It could be months before she calls to me again. Her curves, her temperament, her strength tortures us all.

There was once another, a woman whom I loved. She brought me sunshine. Her loveliness warmed my heart. I would sit at her tavern each night, hoping she could see there was once good in me. I dreamt of rescuing her, we could settle somewhere, grounded. But it was not to be. Her love was fleeting. Two like souls; a quiet life would have left us hungry.


Her icy kisses have me marked, skin scarred. She is relentless, suffocating at times, but similarly unmoved. Yet still I cannot keep away. One day she will be rid of me. Until then, I am forever hers. I am the fool that tried to tame her, but is now bewitched by her spirit.

Whenever I do a vintage or historic makeup look, I try to create a character in my mind. For this particular look, I didn’t think so much about pirate life and all the folklore and mystery that it entails, but rather, a life at sea. Popular culture characterizes pirates from centuries gone by as the somewhat lovable and amusing bad guys. Like Captain Hook or Jack Sparrow, they have this charming quality even though we know them to be thieves.

What I wanted to convey in this look was a story of a pirate who, while may have won many battles, was forever tormented by his unconventional life at sea. Whenever I am fortunate enough to go to the beach, there is nothing quite like the smell of the ocean air. Like pirate folklore, it is alluring. The sea’s undertow can literally pull you in, and yet, even with such force, I don’t need to succumb to it. I will willingly just walk right in.

With the sea as my inspiration for this look, I tried to incorporate the colour blue into the pirate’s makeup, without it seeming too obvious. I decided to apply navy blue eye shadow on the upper eyelids, along with a light dusting of black and gold glitter. The blue was applied messily so that it would look uneven, as though the sea was perhaps taking over.

I also wanted to emphasize the hardships of a life at sea. I accentuated the shadows on my model’s face using a mixture of bronzer and brown eye shadow. I also applied mixtures of coppers, blacks and a bit more blue to the lower lid, so that he would look fatigued. Red eyeliner was added to the lower waterline to add a dramatic effect to the look. For the lips, I applied heavy mixtures of taupe and beige eye shadows with a matte lipstick to make the lips look pale and slightly dry, as though he were dehydrated.

Stories of pirates always infer a life of lust and riches. There are stories of treasure maps, buried gold, or drunken nights of endless buffets and rum. When I thought about this character, I thought perhaps the treasure in his life was the sea; abundant and vast, but impossible to control.

A special thanks to my model, Rod, who brought this look to life and who is so inspiring and supportive.