What’s old is new again, and that’s ever the case when a biopic renews interest in a 1960s glam diva like Priscilla Presley. First gaining fame as Elvis’s wife, Presley, 78, became a superstar in her own right, starring in the long-running TV series Dallas and the movie Naked Gun. While she has since hung up her acting hat, Presley’s makeup look continues to spark interest — especially with the recent release of the movie about her life, aptly titled Priscilla.
Since the film was released this past fall, online searches for “‘60s makeup” have soared nearly 500%, according to beauty ad wellness booking service Fresha, especially for Presley’s beehive bouffant and signature winged eyeliner.
“The recent surge in searches reflects a collective fascination with her iconic look and indicates a modern resurgence of vintage beauty trends, cementing Priscilla as a beauty icon for the ages,” says Luca Hogan, spokesperson for Fresha.
Always a fan of this timeless look, we went to celebrity makeup pros at the Makeup Artist and Hairstylist Guild’s “Meet the Nominees” Event in Los Angeles to find out how to get Priscilla Presley’s makeup right — and modernize it for today.
What is the Priscilla Presley makeup look?
Presley’s signature look was heavy on the eyes, cat-eye liner a must, with a bold brow and a nude, muted lip. “It’s an iconic look, classic and sexy, and that’s why it’s worked for so many years,” says makeup artist Maha, who has worked with Margot Robbie and Jodie Foster. “I feel like they’re returning to the original version, which was very sexy. It could be very easy or hard to do, depending on how you break it down,” she adds.
Rumor had it that Presley wore heavy makeup to look older (she met Elvis when she was just 14!), but other reports stated the actress was instructed by Elvis to always have her face on — even while at home. Whatever her reasoning, she was among the trendsetters of her time, and soon, women everywhere were seemingly saying ‘more is more’ when it came to makeup.
Here’s a TikTok tutorial with user @Jackiewyers that explains it in depth!
Does Priscilla Presley makeup work for women now?
“The mob wife aesthetic is in right now, and natural beauty is out, so this is the perfect time for Priscilla’s dramatic look to come back,” says makeup pro Julie Hewitt, who has worked with Annette Benning, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman. “It’s timeless and especially stunning on women with light eyes because of the contrast.”
While heavy makeup can make you look older (eek!), it can be a bold statement that brings out your best assets when done correctly.
Also appealing about the Naked Gun actresses’s mod look? It can all be done using just one tool. “Priscilla mastered using one pencil for the whole thing, from her brows to her winged liner and inner corner of the eye,” explains Ring My Belle makeup artist Mitzi Druss, who has worked with Jean Smart and Margot Robbie. “Topping that with 2-3 rows of lashes, glowy skin and a nude lip with a darker liner achieved a groovy show-stopping look worthy of a Vegas princess.”
If you want to achieve the “Priscilla Presley makeup look,” we broke it down step-by-step, starting with brows, moving to the all-important eyes and finishing with the lips.
How to get Priscilla Presley makeup: Brows
- Start by brushing your brows upward with a spoolie or brow brush.
- Next, use a brow gel that matches the color of your brows — Wise likes Too Faced Brow Wig (Buy from Kohl’s/Sephora, $25) to fill in sparse spots and give your brows a fluffy, filled-in, naturally lush look.
- Last is the all-important pencil — try Maybelline 2-in-1 (Buy from Amazon, $7.58) — which can be used on brows and eyes! Used on brows, it will help to define the brow’s shape and give you that prominent, bold brow you may not have naturally, says Wise.
How to get Priscilla Presley makeup: Eyes
All of our experts agreed that the focal piece of Presley’s look is her eyes, so getting those right is essential. Wise explains it here:
- Start with an eyeshadow base applied all over the lid — Wise likes Urban Decay Original Eyeshadow Primer (Buy from Amazon, $28) — to help the shadow stay put. Apply all over the eye using a brush or your fingers.
- Next, move to the crease, and using a crease brush, apply an earthtone light brown shadow all over the lid and crease, blending evenly.
- Next, using a fluffier brush, apply a white shadow on the brow bone to give it dimension.
- Now, you’ll move on to the liner. Start with an angled liner brush, dip into a pot of black gel liner — Wise likes Inglot AMC Gel Liner (Buy from Amazon, $14.99) — and line your upper lash line.
- With open eyes, look straight ahead into the mirror and determine the angle for your wing. Then, draw a straight line from the outer corner of the eyes, connecting the tip back to the lash to finish the wing. (If you’re having trouble envisioning it, below is a three-minute YouTube tutorial by @Hindash that shows you how!)
Want some extra oomph? “I might use a pencil in the lash line, go on top of it with a gel liner, and go over it again with the pencil to make it darker and then fan it out into a wing. More is more in this situation,” advises Hewitt. Finish with some false eyelashes of your choosing! (Presley reportedly never took hers off, even when she was giving birth!!!)
How to get Priscilla Presley makeup: Lips
Last but certainly not least, the lips. Presley’s signature look was a muted matte, almost nude lip color with a slightly darker liner that emphasized the shape of her full lips.
- Start by prepping your lips with lip oil. Wise likes cult-fave Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Lip Oil (Buy from Kohl’s/Sephora, $40). For a more affordable option, try the e.l.f. Glow Reviver Lip Oil (Buy from e.l.f. Cosmetics, $8).
- Using short, light-handed strokes, glide your lip liner onto the top corner of your lip and follow just outside of your natural lip line. This will help to create the illusion of fuller, wider-looking lips and define the look of your pout, says Wise.
- Finish by filling lips with nude lipstick. Try: Impact-Full Smoothing Lipstick in Sissy (Buy from Thrive Causemetics, $26).
- Blot to set.
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