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History Of Makeup

Updated: Aug 2, 2018

women applying makeup on her face - history of makeup

Makeup is not of a recent invention. It exists since the stone age. Some research even indicates that homo sapiens used some kind of artificial elements on their face to enhance the appearance. The earliest recorded history of makeup is in Old Testament (First section of Bible) where the wife of Ahab (King of Israel) seems to have used paints in her eyelid to enhance the beauty. It was around 800 B.C.

Ancient Age

Greeks and Egyptians were the first one to use the modern day cosmetics of eyeliner, eye shadow, lipstick and nail polishes. Modern day foundation was of recent origin but records of "face painting" to create a paler look is available on Old Testament and Victorian literature. Ancient Sumerian women used to crush gemstones and decorate their face by affixing these gemstones around their eyes and lips, women of Indus Valley civilisation used to apply red tinted colors to their lips, romans used white lead powder and chalk to lighten their skin tone. Some records even says that women used to eat chalks in a belief that it will improve their complexion. Even men were also seemed to have problems with their skin tone, men used to apply dangerous lead paint to their faces to have a lighter complexion. One reason for this was to show the affluence. Men who are fairer considered not working outside and thus the sign of affluence.

There are rarely any modern day cosmetics which has not been used by greeks or Egyptians. Greeks believed in ultimate beauty in human appearance and they worshiped beauty than deities. Everybody knows the Kohl-eyed look which was ubiquitous in the film industry in the 1960s, which was the trademark of Cleopatra who live around 50 B.C. Some people have openly shown their disapproval towards makeup like Queen Victoria, who believed makeup was for either actors or for prostitutes. But, these occasional loathing has never stopped the growth of Makeup and Cosmetics Industry. For the most part of the history of our civilization, makeup was considered for affluent which sadly true even in 21st century.

Beginning of Modern Makeup

Untill 1900, makeup was worn by only small group of people and literate class considered makeup as irrelevant. But, everything changed in the first decade of 1900 when ballets became popular and newspapers and magazines filled their pages with makeup tips and routines. Daily mirror once openly said it is now acceptable to wear makeup for literate and that was the beginning of our modern day makeup. One person who had the most influence in early makeup industry was Max Factor - who invented Pan cake - an earlier version of modern day foundation. He opened his first Makeup Studio in Los Angeles in 1909 for actors and later on for ordinary women. Interestingly the formula used in original Pan Cake is still used in many modern day foundation products.

1900 - 1950s