The History of Makeup: The Amazing Origins


While many might think that the makeup industry is a relatively modern invention, the history of makeup is actually very deep. In fact, there is evidence that people started to wear makeup as long as 6,000 years ago, if not more. Without our ancestors who lived many thousands of years ago, we might never have the cosmetic products we so enjoy today.

The Start of the History of Makeup

While humans likely painted their skin with various organic materials since the dawn of history, makeup as a cosmetic product truly began in ancient Egypt. What made makeup unique for the Egyptians is that both men and women wore it. Makeup, more than anything, was a status symbol and represented one’s wealth.

If you have ever seen art or sculptures from ancient Egypt, you have undoubtedly noticed the striking eyeliner people back then seemed to wear. Eyeliner designs of this type were extremely popular around this time. Along with eyeliner, the Egyptians loved to use green eyeshadow that was made from crushed up malachite, a type of green rock. Green was an important color because it honored the gods.

History of makeup

Fast forward a few thousand years and we arrive in the era of Biblical events. The Old Testament as well as Jewish scriptures mention the use of cosmetic products and condemn them for being too vain. Even though the ancient Egyptians were obsessed with eternity, it seemed that their love of makeup did not last forever.

Rome and the Ancient Romans

Considering that the ancient Romans loved the lavish lifestyle, you might expect that they loved makeup too. However, this wasn’t the case. The Romans seemed to prefer other beauty products in place of makeup.

No Roman could resist scented oils, lotions, soaps, and powders. This is not to mention all the time they spent soaking up all the warm water in those Roman baths. Skin care was very important for both men and women and shaving was a popular practice among women.

Makeup, however, was not part of their beauty routine. This is because makeup such as rouge was reserved only for prostitutes. As a result, using makeup to enhance one’s features was considered vulgar. The reason for this belief may have originated from the branch of philosophy known as Stoicism.

Stoicism’s philosophy involves rooting your actions and thoughts in reason and goodness. It was also against indulgence and selfishness. The Romans instead preferred natural beauty, today known as the no-makeup look. However, the Romans seemed to still indulge in certain powders to lighten their skin and may have applied light rouge to their cheeks on occasion.

Another thousand years later, the opinion on makeup changed again. In Byzantium, today known as Istanbul, the people there loved makeup so much that they were infamous for their vanity. The love of makeup continued through the Renaissance and beyond.

Modern Makeup

The Renaissance was a rough time for makeup even though it was popular. This is because women loved to use powder to lighten their skin. This powder was lead and quickly poisoned and even killed its users. It was only during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 1800s that makeup fell out of fashion again since the Queen denounced it as vulgar.

Then, as the 1920s rolled around, makeup became popular again and never fell out of fashion. Red lipstick and dark eyeliner became all the rage throughout the 1920s to the 1950s. Throughout these decades, various makeup brands sprang up, many of which are still around today such as Olay and Clinique.

Today, makeup seems to be an indispensable part of people’s lives. In fact, it is one of the most wealthy and successful industries in today’s market. It’s hard to imagine makeup going out of fashion anytime soon. If you’re in the market for new makeup, click here.

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