Mother of Dragons: Game of Thrones Makeup Tutorial


I’ll admit it: I was very late to the party with the Game of Thrones phenomenon. Total bandwagoner. Somehow I made it through the first two seasons without watching, but I decided to watch the first episode of the third season. It was one of the most confusing yet enchanting hours of my life, but I would NOT recommend it. As I sat, paralyzed, in front of my TV, trying to memorize the names of multiple dirty and bearded men,  I thought: ‘Damn, that dragon betch is mighty fine, but I have no idea what’s happening.”

Game of Thrones tip: Start at the beginning, it’s your only hope. Once I re-started at Season 1, Episode 1, I began my most intense marathon of television-watching (the only type of marathon I can compete in) ever, and I caught up in time to watch the final two episodes of Season 3 live.

Did George R.R. Martin write waterproof mascara into Westeros?
Did George R.R. Martin write waterproof mascara into Westeros?

I love the makeup on Game of Thrones (shout out to Daniel Lawson Johnston, Paul Engelen, Melissa Lackersteen, Pamela Smyth, and the other awesome makeup artists on the show). I think period pieces often have the best beauty looks because they need to perfect the “no-makeup-but-actually-there’s-makeup” look. I’ve written before about Downton Abbey makeup, the ultimate in porcelain-faced beauty. While Game of Thrones is a little more anachronistic – let’s be real, there’s no way Sansa Stark can cry that much without her mascara running – they still define their actresses with subtle touches.

One of my favorite characters on the show is the gorgeous Daenerys “Stormborn, Unburnt” Targaryen, mother of dragons, queen of gratuitous epithets. Sure, her acting tends to be a little wooden at times, but she’s basically riding around freeing slaves and finding men to pledge their lives to her. I can get behind that.

So, if the title of this post didn’t give it away already, here’s how to get pretty like a mother of dragons.

To achieve dragon-taming, Yunkai-conquering beauty, first apply a light base such as a tinted moisturizer or bb cream. I used Smashbox BB Cream. Unlike most BB creams, it comes in five shades, which is useful when you have much paler or darker skin than the one-size-fits-all nonsense of other brands.

The most striking feature of many women on the show (Daenerys, Cersei, Arya come to mind) are their beautiful, full eyebrows. Mine are naturally light and thin, but with the magic of makeup, I can beef them up quite a bit. I just bought Anastasia Brow Wiz in Ash Blonde. It’s a mechanical pencil with a really fine point, so you can imitate each individual brow hair. It’s double-ended with a spoolie (clean mascara brush) on the other side, which you can use to blend the shade into your brows.

Once your brows are fluffy and full, you want to very lightly define your eyes. This step is extremely simple because you only need one shade of eyeshadow. The women of Westeros don’t have cut creases! I used a matte eyeshadow one shade darker than my skin. For pale girls like myself, I recommend Urban Decay’s Naked eyeshadow, which is found in the very versatile Naked Palette. Women with medium skin tones might have luck using Buck, also found in that palette.

Game of Thrones beauty
These photos show my eyes with 1) eyeshadow all over and 2) eyeliner and mascara added.

Apply the nude shade from your eyelashes to your crease, on the outer corner, and along your lower lash line. Basically everywhere except your brow bone. Westeros is a one-shade-only-eyeshadow land. I mean, come on, who has time to apply four shades when they’re running from Tywin Lannister or transporting a telepathic handicapped warg to Castle Black? Not to mention, the women of GoT don’t need four eyeshadows. I mean, a) they save the excess for their gowns, and b) it’s surprising how much definition you can achieve with only one shade.

GoT beauty

To give your eyes a little more definition, apply a steel gray eyeliner to your top lashes, and a soft brown to the outer third of your lower lashes. Make sure you apply as closely as possible to the lash line – tilt your pencil until it’s almost vertical, and aim for the base of your lashes. If you have blond eyelashes like me, this will help you darken the roots before applying mascara.

Liner on the lower lashes can often “close off the eye.” To avoid this, I apply a lighter shade underneath, only along the outer third, and really smudge it to soften the line. This helps balance your eye makeup, aka, helps you avoid the top lash-only, doe-eyed Zooey Deschanel look (which is gorgeous in its own right, but entirely impractical for shedding tears over lost loved ones and dead Dire Wolves). I used Urban Decay’s 24/7 liners in Uzi (top lash) and Stray Dog (bottom lash).

**I know, I’m addicted to Urban Decay. It’s a problem. The thing is, a couple of years ago, I invested in their 15th Anniversary set of 15 eyeliners. Don’t ask how much it cost, but it’s still my favorite makeup purchase ever.

Finally, apply one coat of brown mascara to your upper and lower lashes. My personal favorite is CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume, which is cheap enough to replace every 3 months like you’re supposed to (ok, let’s be real, every 6 months).

game of thrones makeup

To give yourself that fresh-off-a-horse flush (or should I say fresh-off-a-Khal Drogo?), apply a matte soft pink blush the apples of your cheeks. A good drugstore find is CoverGirl Cheekers in Classic Pink. Natural-looking, blendable, and less than $4!

BONUS: To get Khaleesi’s beachy-meets-desert-meets-immune-to-the-weather (or some adjective) hair, use a beach spray like Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray to emphasize your natural waves. Silly as the product’s name may be, I like the tousled waves and matte finish.

Make two small braids on either side of your part. If you have super long thick hair, you can braid them together at the back, but I just used two bobby pins to secure them. This is a surprisingly useful look – it keeps the hair out of your eyes perfectly. Excuse me if I wear my hair like this all summer long.


To a complete the look, stare off into the middle distance with a look of steely reserve well beyond your years. Shoulder dragon pins optional.


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