Makeup Ideas for a Vintage Femme Fatale

Last updated on July 6th, 2024 at 08:55 am

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I recently published a post on a topic very close to my heart. To my surprise and delight, the ‘how-to add gothic glamour to your style’ article attracted fellow goths and those who love certain aspects of gothic fashion and wanted to learn how to incorporate it into their look.

One of my lovely readers suggested I do a separate post on makeup ideas for a vintage femme fatale and a classy goth.

A femme fatale is a woman who is irresistibly beautiful and dangerous. She is the stuff of legend and folklore and has been a source of fascination for centuries. The femme fatale is a timeless archetype, and her allure is as powerful now as it ever was.

Makeup Ideas for a Femme Fatale.

How to create a femme fatale makeup. Makeup ideas for a vintage femme fatale.

The Vintage Femme Fatale Make Up

how to create a femme fatale makeup a la Countess from AHS

Flawless makeup on the Vamp(ire) & femme fatale Elizabeth from AHS: Hotel.

I love you. But you will learn, it isn’t our precious virus that makes you. It isn’t who you kill or who you screw. It’s the heartbreaks. The bigger, the better. I know better than any of us.

The Countess

The pictures depict my favourite painter the great Tamara de Lempicka. Perhaps the ultimate femme fatale. It’s no coincidence that I chose to include Lempicka in this post along with The Countess.

Have you noticed the similarity? I believe that Lady Gaga’s character was inspired by the great painter as far as hair, makeup and wardrobe are concerned.

I think everyone in the world thinks they’re either blessed or cursed. I’ve come to realize that I’m neither. I am a curse. Nobody that gets within ten feet of me survives. And God help you if you get right up close, skin to skin. Then you’re really screwed.

The Countess, AGS: Hotel
Tamara de Lempicka feme fatale

Gene Tierney as Ellen Berent in Leave Her to Heaven. The epitome of a 1940s femme fatale in her immaculate makeup and seductive red lips.

When you are what I am, you don’t feel things the way normal humans do. An emotion is like a flavor in my mouth. I can taste it. Joy tastes like strawberries. Hate is like ice chips in a martini. And love is… rosewater. I enjoy them all except for one. Betrayal. That has the taste of the char on a piece of burnt meat.

The Countess, AHS: Hotel

I hate you so much that I would destroy myself to take you down with me.

Rita Hayworth as Gilda

In this article, I will show you how to create a femme fatale makeup look that is sure to turn heads. I will provide a step-by-step guide so that you can create this look with ease. So, if you are ready to channel your inner Gilda, Ellen Brent or the Countess, then read on!

DISCLOSURE: I’m part of an affiliate program, and I get a small commission when you purchase a product through the links in this post. That’s how I keep my website alive, for which I’m very grateful to you. Shopping via my affiliate links comes at no additional cost to you. All opinions expressed here are mine, and I only recommend products I love.

Makeup Ideas for a Vintage Femme Fatale

There’s something about a femme fatale that exudes an air of confidence and unwavering composure.

Whether it’s the way they carry themselves or the way they confidently apply their makeup, there’s no denying that these women ooze sex appeal.

If you’re hoping to create a similar look for yourself, here’s how to create a femme fatale makeup look.

Preparing the Skin for the Ultimate Femme Fatale Makeup

There is nothing more beautiful than healthy and flawless skin, and it’s also the key to creating the perfect makeup. Drink plenty of water, eat healthily and remember that perfection requires commitment.

Get into the habit of a beauty regime, invest in a good moisturizer, an eye cream, and a serum because as Helena Rubinstein once said, the cream is not a cosmetic, it’s a “skin food”.

I’m a big fan of Dr Irena Eris creams available in the EU, as well as the Shiseido brand that I’ve been using for over a decade.

Whatever cream you choose, I suggest Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Day Cream from Shiseido, always moisturize your skin before applying foundation and powder.

Don’t forget to apply a layer of super-hydrating Buttermask For Lips the night before your femme fatale makeup debut. Nothing worse than dry and chapped unkissable lips.


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In-depth review of the best Shiseido cosmetics.

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The Best Makeup for The Femme Fatale Look

how to create a vintage femme fatale makeup

I have kept my reputation untarnished; should you not, therefore, have concluded that I, who was born to revenge my sex and master yours, have been able to discover methods of doing so unknown even to myself?

Marquise de Mrteuil

My favourite makeup brands for creating the vintage Femme Fatale look


For the Femme Fatale Makeup

  • Besame lipstick, cake mascara and faux eyelashes
  • Pat McGrath liquid foundation and eyeliner
  • Dr Irena Eris highlighter
  • Shue Uemura eyelash curler
  • Kiehls lip balm
Besame makeup reviews 2023

Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating a Vintage Femme Fatale Makeup

Time needed: 10 minutes

How to create a vintage femme fatale makeup

  1. Start the flawless Femme Fatale makeup with foundation, or if you are like me and prefer to go ‘bare’ skin, skip this step.

    Use a foundation that matches your skin tone. The goth in me will always advocate going lighter, a la Morticia Addams, but I shall leave the choice up to you. In the words of the makeup Goddess Pat McGrath, ‘as well as the face, check the arms, the chest, the neck. those are all four different skin colours.’ A makeup artist used the Pat McGrath Sublime Perfection Foundation on me once and I loved it!best makeup for femme fatale

  2. Curl your lashes for the smouldering femme fatale eyes

    My absolute favourite eyelash curler that I’ve been using for two decades now is from Shu Uemura. Squeeze the curler gently on the lashes, as close to the eyelid as possible and count to 10. If you have very straight eyelashes, like mine, repeat the step three times.

    shu uemura eyelash curler reviews 2023

  3. Applying the eyeshadow to create a vintage femme fatale makeup

    If, like me, you have hooded eyelids and would like to learn how to ‘open the eye’ with the help of eyeshadow, read my, ‘Best Makeup for Hooded Eyes‘ article.
    SMOKEY EYES-Apply concealer on the upper and lower eyelids. Use an eye pencil around the eye and smudge it on the lids to create the desired shape and effect. I love dark brown and purple. Choose a sparkly eyeshadow and apply it up to the socket line.
    how to create a femme fatale makeup

  4. Apply eyeliner to create a 1950s femme fatale makeup

    Instead of smokey eyes, you can create a line a-la the 1950s with the help of liquid eyeliner. I was inspired by the 1950s supermodel Dovima and Lady Gaga’s character in AHS: Hotel. Make sure that the line goes all the way to the eyebrow.

    how to create a vintage femme fatale makeup
    Photography by Gregory Michael King

  5. Use cake mascara for irresistibly long lashes

    This was my very first attempt at using the Bésame cake mascara and I’m now addicted to it. I will never give up my Dr Irena Eris mascara but this is a great alternative.
    Add one drop of water and rub it back and forth onto the cake until you create a paste. Apply as many coats as you wish but wait for each coat to dry before adding more.
    how to create a vintage femme fatale makeup

  6. Apply a highlighter for some glamour sheen

    I love the look of immaculate porcelain-like skin with a bit of a glow, and I’m addicted to Dr Irena Eris Face Contouring Palette. It’s only available in the EU so for my American readers I suggest the Pat McGrath Skin Fetish: Highlighter + Balm Duo.

    how to create a vintage femme fatale makeup

  7. Don’t forget about beautifully manicured nails

    Choose red nail polish like The Red Velvet nail polish from Bésame, or Gucci 700 Crystal black.
    My nails break easily and I have to keep them very short, and that’s why for the purpose of this post, I decided to venture into applying fake nails. As you can see, they look great but I found it impossible to do anything while wearing them.
    how to create a femme fatale makeup

The Power of Red Lipstick

Red lipstick has a fascinating and colourful history that started over 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, and it took millennia before it became truly iconic.

It was worn by royalty and later associated almost exclusively with courtesans before it became the symbol of defiance for many suffragettes in the 1910s, American patriotism in 1941, and finally the quintessential femme fatale makeup.

There is nothing that screams confidence, power and glamour as much as lips adorned with classic red lipstick.

The iconic staple of every vintage femme fatale.

The red badge of courage.

Man Ray
makeup ideas for vintage femme fatale
makeup ideas for a vintage femme fatale


Bésame, the vintage-inspired makeup brand has shades of red lipstick for even the most demanding Fatale woman.

I chose the Victory Red because it’s a faithful copy of the red shade popular in 1941.

Besame lipsticks are triple-pigmented and, thus don’t require to be re-applied. They are packed with hydrating squalane and vitamin C.

I can resist everything but red lipstick. The Victory Red has a long-lasting satin finish and its shade is as popular now as it was in 1941.

The Femme Fatale Look – A Timeless Chic

There are many ways to create a femme fatale makeup look. As I demonstrated in this post, you can easily achieve it through smouldering smokey eyes, classic winged eyeliner, irresistible long lashes, and of course, seductive red lips.

Whatever makeup you choose, make sure you feel comfortable wearing it. After all, there is nothing sexier than confidence.

how to create a femme fatale makeup.

Makeup Ideas for a Vintage Femme Fatale.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed the post!

I will leave you with the words of the 1940s femme fatale, Ann Savage in Detour.

Do I rate a whistle?

how to do a femme fatale makeup.

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What do you think?

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  • Vera
    January 3, 2023

    Dear Dominique,
    thank you so much for this new, again fantastic and delightful post!!
    The make-up and the whole style you’ve created looks ravishingly mysterious, beautiful and powerful!
    And I also love the different quotes you’ve chosen
    I fell especially in love with the “Besame”-lipstick – Just ordered “Victory Red” and “Red Velvet – 1946” What a great concept and source of inspiration they have! Thank you also for this tip!
    Best wishes for the new year and bye for now ***

    • Dominique de Merteuil
      January 4, 2023

      Dear Vera,
      Happy New Year!
      Thank you so much for your comment! Besame lipsticks are my new obsession, and I’m excited about testing all the shades of red they have. I want to try Carmine-1931, Besame Red-1920s and Red Hot-1959 next.

      • Vera
        January 5, 2023

        …Sounds wonderful
        I would love to see some of your testing- results.
        Thank you again and best wishes***

  • Sarah
    January 1, 2023

    I love the gold eyeshadow! It looks very much like the makeup on the Countess. How long did it take to do?

    • Dominique de Merteuil
      January 1, 2023

      Thank you! Yes, the gold Pat McGrath eyeshadow is brilliant. It didn’t take long at all. I would say about five maybe six minutes for the whole makeup. Applying fake nails, on the other hand, that’s a different story.