Steampunk Beauty

Steampunk woman with fair skin.

From the dusty roads at Burning Man to the red carpets of Hollywood, Steampunk beauty and fashion offers a creative take on the 1900’s Victorian era. Steam-what, you may be curious to understand? G.D. Falksen, a noted authority on the Steampunk genre, describes it as “Victorian science fiction.” The science is the steam power that shaped the technology of the 19th century. The fiction is the modern day interpretation of what the Victorian era science might look like today. Cinch your corset, fix your bustle and powder your face; we’re taking a hot air balloon ride’s view on Steampunk beauty practices.

The Victorian era is marked by Queen Victoria ruling England from 1837-1901. Women took a forefront in fashion by showing off their status and wealth. While Steampunk fashion pulls from various domains of that era, including reimagined post-apocalyptic fashion such as goggles and jagged-edged attire, let’s look at the trendsetters of that time period and what their beauty practices might look like on a modern woman.

One may say that the Do It Yourself beauty and skincare craze is Steampunk. The goal of the 19th-century fashionista was to look as pale and rested as possible. The use of makeup was associated with less respectable women, but a well-to-do woman would create complexion creams made out of zinc, pearl dust, and other whitening agents to create smooth, pale skin. She looked to her garden to create flower based toners and used face creams with nut oils and wax. To ensure their noble status of “not working” as well as “not having the Bubonic plague”, the Victorian woman would powder her face in the event of sweat, shine or oil. Additionally, she would carry a parasol to avoid contact with the sun in order not to get a tan.


Today’s Steampunk beauty doesn’t have to possess Nicole Kidman’s fair tone to look gorgeous. A simple love-the-skin-you-have attitude is what it takes for Steampunk glamor. In the music video for David Guetta’s song Turn Me On, see how Nicki Minaj’s character is built gear by gear, then transforms into a Steampunk temptress! To achieve that look start with a back to basics and natural beauty regimen. For a fresh-faced look try beet-juice-inspired rosy cheeks and lips. To enhance your natural tones, try warm metallic colors like bronze and gold for eyeshadow and liners. Take it to the next level with a modern twist of dramatic smoky eyes and heavier metallic accents.

Now that your face is on, let’s do our hair with Steampunk flair. The original Victorian woman donned buns and loose curls accentuated by fancy clips and combs. Like a true queen, great hair ruled. Today’s neo-Victorian decorates her mane with small hats, fascinators, and ornately decorated clips, combs and pins. Distinctly Steampunk hair accessories tend to include peacock feathers, gears – the recognizable symbol of the genre, dainty chains, and the squiggly-armed octopus a la Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Look to Victoria Beckham, Princess Beatrice and Kate Middleton for exquisite fascinators and feathers. The fancier, the better!

Let those loose curls flow and royally decorate your do.

From feathers to gears and beyond, elements of Steampunk couture is incorporated by major designers and seen on the runway. The Victorian-era lady fashioned herself with waist-cinching corsets, ruffled skirt bustles, accentuated shoulders and elegant gloves. One incredibly gorgeous nod to Steampunk was from Chanel’s Spring 2013 collection. The use of capes, overcoats, opera gloves and hair feathers created a dreamy throwback to the sophisticated lady of the 19th century. Coupled with a modern day take on makeup, this is one high-end Steampunk design.

We’ve been Around the World in 80 Days and set for landing. For those special occasions or every day, you can incorporate Steampunk beauty elements. Start with a fresh face and rosy cheeks, glam it up with big shoulders and a tightened waist, and top it off with decadent hair ornaments. Now you’re all set for an afternoon tea in high style.

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