Do you ever wonder who in the world decided to put on some color on her lips and where she found the color? It is fascinating really. It may have been women looking at other women with redder lips thinking to herself that she wished she had those lips. One fine day she goes to the garden, finds a red flower, smashes it and applies it on her lips. Then, the rest is history for her- nobody knows her secret. However, the history of makeup and cosmetics did not quite begin this way. There wasn’t a single woman involved but women and men involved. Everyone contributed to the evolution of makeup one after the other. Let us find out where it all started and also about some of the most common things we use as makeup.
Everything we know about makeup traces back to its start and particularly one country- Egypt. The land of valiant kings and queens who actually put in a lot of effort to look valiant as well. However, the interesting fact is that they did not do it all just for beauty- they did it for safety and comfort as well. The history of makeup and cosmetics is greatly influential there.
The modern eyeliners that we wear on our eyes can be traced back to Egypt. Apparently, they were the ones who used Kohl on their eyes. The reason was quite interesting as well- it was religious and the royals thought it made them look more godly. Furthermore, Kohl had the lead in it and the lead actually warded off diseases for the users. However, if they had used it long enough, it would have killed them too.
We all know what the weather of Egypt is like- dry and hot. As a result, people even back then used natural things to moisturize their bodies, as perfumes, and also to protect from the sun. Those things just had no name but that was the beginning of the cosmetics. They would use things like rose water, olive oil, sesame oil, lavender, etc.
Cleopatra actually wore lipstick as well derived from ground carmine beetles. And, all these trends back then spread to Greece. The people in Greece put their attention to beautification as well. Now, the Romans became quite racist in this case. They had their eyes fixated on fairness when it came to beautification. Often times they would use arsenic on their faces to whiten it.
Needless to mention, this caused the users great harm and even death. Apparently, this had a lot to do with social class. The rich women in the society used to stay indoors most of the time which contributed to their pale skin. As a result, the ones who had to work outside developed a liking towards it and established pale skin with the rich and beautiful.
Thus, began the history of using face powders and foundations to make skin look fairer.
It was not only the Romans who established makeup and cosmetics with social class. In fact, the Egyptians did as well. That is where we saw the advent of nail paints. Apparently, Egyptians used to take good care of their nails and paint it in different colors. Lowers classes were not allowed to use certain colors while there were fixed nail colors for different levels of royalty and castes. One look at their nails and you knew who they were: the benefits of a small population.
The concept of eye shadow was existent in these countries in ancient times as well especially when it came to dramas and play. Surprisingly the most popular users of eye shadow were male performers who used to disguise as women during plays.
While makeup and cosmetics were welcomed with open arms in most countries, there were times and places where it was not. For example, In England, most likely during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, bright makeup was considered a bad thing and established with prostitutes and actors. Therefore, they still used things to make their skin look good but never in a way that people would notice.
On the other hand, during Elizabeth-I a different kind of style was in practice. Girls used to put egg whites on their face for a glow. Something we achieve out of highlighters today. Furthermore, big foreheads were in trend.
When Makeup and Cosmetics became Commercial
Back then, until around 1200, people mostly made these products themselves or through someone, they knew. There was not much widespread buying and selling of makeup or cosmetic products. But, in 1200 Italy and France together proved to the most affluent when it came to cosmetics.
They made perfumes- amazing ones and kept improving them. People would buy perfumes from them and they would export because they were so good at it. So, there began the start of the perfume industry which was already existent but without a name.
Mascara was something people were using anyway- using gel or more. However, you have heard the name Maybelline, and they were the first producers of what we see as Mascara nowadays. The brand is actually named Maybelline after the founder’s sister for whom he had made the mascara. How sentimental, isn’t it?
So, where did the pocket face powder boxes women carry come from? That is like the definition of makeup, isn’t it? Apparently, these little boxes with whitening powder and a mirror were invented by Max Factor. He had created it mainly to aid the actors and actresses during the making of films. Later, when he realized that this is an excellent and helpful invention for others- he publicized the product and everyone started using it.
In ancient times, people mostly used Henna to dye their hair. But, then ‘Oreal which is L’oreal right now came out with their hair dyes. Then, many beauty products like the sunblock, modern containers of lipsticks, etc. came to the field but never all at once.
History of Makeup and Cosmetics-Why
Makeup and cosmetics are the most used items in the world now. It is really very important to know the history of them for clear ideas about how they emerged, evolved, developed and came to this modern era. The journey they made, the safety and beauty features they have accumulated can make us use them properly and cautiously. Knowing L’Oreal, Maybeline, Guerlain, Sephora, NARS, Bobbi Brown, IT Cosmetics etc. will make you think how important it is to the history of makeup and cosmetics.
It took makeup and cosmetics quite a while in the past to evolve. When something was in vogue, it stayed for years. During wars, due to the higher employment of women, the cosmetics industry bloomed even more.
However, in the past there were times people used harmful things without even knowing it- we have dealt with that quite well now. Other than that, the industry saw drastic changes in the 20th century, from plain looks to red lips to smoky eyes to colorful ones, we have seen it all and we will see more. You cannot really keep everything documented because the trends change so fast now. However, it is a separate world of the lively, the cheerful and the artsy.