The natural ingredients for makeup were in existence long before people started seeing the need to use it. When people discovered dark spots on their faces, perhaps by looking at their reflections in a river, the need to improve their appearance through makeup was born. Makeup products’ usage throughout the history of mankind has resulted in astounding beauty.
The timeline below represents a brief history of makeup.
1. Egyptian Makeup
Most of us have seen images of Cleopatra with her deep eye makeup and bronze foundation mixed with red clay and water. This reddish-brown solution was used to tint the nails and hair and was also applied to the lips and cheeks.
In those times, people believed that the more beautiful you looked, the more the gods would be satisfied with you. They also believed that beauty could protect you from evil.
Men and women in Egypt often used scented oils and ointments to clean and soften their skin and to prevent body odor. Cosmetics were an integral part of Egyptian hygiene and health. Oils and creams were used for protection against hot weather and dry winds. Marjoram, chamomile, lavender flowers, peppermint, rosemary, cedar, rose, aloe, olive oil, sesame oil, and almond oil were essential ingredients in many perfumes that Egyptians used in rituals.
2. China and Japan
Around 1500 BC, Chinese and Japanese citizens used rice powder to make their faces white. They would also paint their teeth gold and often used black henna dye.
3. Grecian Rituals
Around the year 1000 BC, wigs became popular for men and women in the upper classes of Greece. This was because it had become trendy to lighten the hair using bleach, and many people had wrecked their hair by using too much bleach. Ancient Greeks also used chalk to whiten their skin and fashioned crude lipstick out of ochre clay laced with red iron.
4. Roman Times
In ancient Rome, bathing was taken seriously, hence some public baths that can still be seen today were constructed. Crocodile dung was used for mud showers, grain flour and margarine were used to treat pimples, and sheep fat and blood were used for nail polish. Women wore white lead and chalk to brighten their faces, creating a look which they believed was modern and connoted wealth. Only the wealthy could stay inside and avoid the sun, so pale skin was a status symbol.
5. European Women
In Europe around 1500-1600 AD, women often attempted to lighten their skin using different makeup products which included white lead paint. The queen of England was well-recognized as a user of white lead, with which she produced a look known as “The Beauty of Youth.” Blonde hair became common and was considered to be beautiful. Mixtures of black sulfur, alum, and sweet honey were also used on the hair.
6. 19th and Early 20th Century Practices
Zinc oxide was used as a facial powder, displacing the previous use of dangerous mixtures including lead and copper. These combinations, such as a makeup called ceruse which was made with white lead, were later found to be toxic and were blamed for physical problems including facial tremors, muscle paralysis, and even death.
Improvements in industry, chemistry, and medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries brought significant improvements in cosmetics. Though these improvements were not fully accepted at first, new Victorian styles that arose in the 19th century brought an era of cosmetic-centric fashion. This era demanded that all “ladies” must present themselves as beautiful and weak, with elegant clothes and precisely delineated facial features.
For that purpose, eye shadows, lipsticks, nail polish and other products gained popularity.
In Edwardian society, around 1900 AD, pressure increased among old women to appear as young as possible while acting as entertainers. It was believed that for them to look young, makeup products were the best option.
Beauty salons grew in popularity, though patronizing those salons was not accepted because many women hated admitting that they needed assistance to look young. Out of pride they entered the salons through the back door.