Makeup: Have you ever Wondered About it’s History?

Danielle Dumont

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Cosmetics as a whole have been around for thousands of years. In the past some really strange items were used to enhance beauty, even a few of been down right lethal. What do you know about the history of makeup?

Origins of makeup

The use of natural materials, such as minerals and vegetable dyes pre-dates civilization as we know it. Such items where used in rituals and as adornments.
It was in Ancient Egypt that manufacturing cosmetics and scents on a large scale was first perfected. They say the greatest Egyptian Queen Cleopatra is credited to compiling what has to be the earliest books of beauty hints.

Many of their preparations were used for religious and symbolic reasons. The Egyptians love for their paints can be seen today in the exquisite work of the jars found in the tombs, many with their contents still intact. Beauty was important to both men and women. A high-born lady of the time most important feature were her eyes. With the use of Kohl to emphasize the eyebrows and it was used to give their eyes their distinctive winged look. Not unlike the cat’s eye look of today which is now created with the use of liquid eyeliner.

Moving on in our makeup history lesson.
Next we have the aristocratic women of ancient Greece who apart from enhancing the color of their lips with vegetable dyes, used very few cosmetics. The real users of cosmetics such as white face powder and Kohl was restricted to the courtesans, as a sign of their profession.
Roman women on the other hand couldn’t use enough makeup. Some were known to be so enthusiastic about hair dyes and bleaches that partial or even total baldness often happened. The wearing of exotic wigs and using smelly conditioners to save the hair was often used to try to hide the facts of going bald.
After the fall of the Roman Empire makeup fell out of favor until around the 11th century when the Knights returned from the Crusades. The Knights reintroduced makeup, fashion and other toilet preparations that the women they left behind in the Palestine were using.

You know there had to be resistance but it didn’t come from the women of that time period, no it came from the all mightily Church itself.
Then around the 15th century and the time of the Renaissance that our natural love for all things of beauty were allowed a free reign.

Renaissance Makeup or lack of.

In the Renaissance time, makeup was an almost ghostly white complexion that was ideal for both men and women. It was thought of as a way to distinguish the upper class from the peasants and laborers in the fields. One of the biggest examples from the time period was Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was her use of cosmetics that popularize facial cosmetics among the women. The queen had a naturally fair complexion that was reinforced the fashion of whiter than white skin. With the use of egg whites, ground alabaster and clay, masks and that now infamous white lead, all these were used to aid in the illusion of super white skin.
In the 17th century makeup really had a major influence from the fact that theater became popular. That parts once played by young boys could now be played by young ladies. Young ladies playing the part of young ladies, who would of thought?

Moving on down in makeup’s history time.

It was the 18th century that beauty and pain started walking hand in hand. All types of beauty aids of exceptional discomfort and as well as absurdity came about. Rouge was still popular as ever for men and women. This was the time that lipstick in pencil form was introduced and hair? Well hair took off in all types of strangeness. Hair styles were so complex and it took days sometimes even weeks to create. It was set and left as long as they could before redoing it. There was also time of bugs in hair, even mice were reported.
It was towards the end of the century public opinion turn against excesses of the earlier decades.
The Regency period of England saw a return to the more natural look were herbal preparations, many home-made came into favor. Face powder and rouge was still popular but the women of this time had to be more discreet about using it. Powdered wigs and complex hair styles also fell out of favor. The desirability for cleanliness as a health and beauty need was now widely recognized. Respectable Victorian ladies were even more demure with their uses of cosmetics. Barest a trace of rouge of the lips and cheeks was considered ok but they usually had to apply it in secret. Maybe this was the time it because fashionable for ladies to visit restrooms in groups like we do today.
Home-made skincare preparations and beauty hints with recipes were found in the women’s magazines and journals of the day. Rich society women would visit Salons under disguises in fear of being found out that they were enhancing their looks.
Thank goodness for the popular actresses of the day because towards the end of the century, they helped pave the way towards a more liberal attitude using of cosmetics as beauty aids.

This takes us up to modern times before World War One. Now you may have a better understanding of were our love for beauty, cosmetics, hair care, skincare comes from. Thanks to earliest man for trying to please their gods, to the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and good old Queen Elizabeth the First. All who have taught us what not to use and what to use for beauty. Kohl was made popular by ancient Egyptians and is still as big today. Some of your home-made recipes may of come from the turn of the century. Beauty and the use of cosmetics will always be a sign of our times.
Beauty will always be a part of what is going on in the world as a whole and what we see on the movie screen. Hope you enjoy your little lesson is the history of makeup.

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