This week’s blog was inspired by one of my favorite make-up artist and blogger Lisa Eldridge – Best and Worst Makeup Moments in History youtube video.
“There is no such thing as an ugly woman.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh one of my favorite artists, saw beauty in everything and believed that there was no such thing as ugly but throughout the history of human makeup and skincare has played a very important role. It has been used to change the way we look, hide imperfections express our religion or highlight our social economic statute in society and even our career position. Throughout history, makeup has been used for everything from ceremonial rituals to beauty adornment…and a few other rather interesting reasons. I thought it would be interesting to look at the history of make-up.
1st Dynasty of Egypt (c.3100-2907 BC) was the first documented history of makeup being used. The Egyptian women applied dark green color to the under lid and also blackening their lashes and the upper lid with kohl. The Kohl served two purposes; one as a decorative and the other was a bug repellent and moisturizer. Kohl was made from galena (lead sulfide) and other components, like malachite (a copper carbonate mineral), amorphous carbon, cuprite, Galena, (one of the components that was very effective as an insect repellent and disinfectant), silicon, talc and hematite, usually mixed with animal fats.
China In 3000 BC the Chinese people began to stain their fingernails with a mixture of gelatine, beeswaz and egg whites and it was not until the Chou Dynasty 1000BC that colour was used to represent the social classes – royal gold silver, black and rend. The lower class were not to wear bright colors on their nails.
Japan The most notable makeup was the Japanese Geisha who used crushed safflower petals to paint their eyebrows, edges of eyes and their lips. They used rice powder or bird droppings to cover their face and give the white effect. .
In ancient Greece, young male performers wore wigs and eye make-up to performed female roles (women were not allowed to perform on stage in that era) Due to the cost of makeup it was only the noblewomen of Greek society that could afford makeup and the trend was to obtain the palest skin possible which they did by mixing water and white lead – extremely bad for the health and lead to early death. . If they did not have lead they would use chalk which would easily rub off. Red iron oxide was used as rouge and lip were colored by crushed mulberries or particular kinds of seaweed. For the eyes, they used ground charcoal or soot mixed with olive oil. The eyebrows where drawn in and it was very fashionable to connected the eyebrows in the middle – mono brow.
“A woman without paint is like food without salt.” Roman philosopher Plautus (254-184 BC)
The Roman’s carried on the same makeup ideals as the Greeks by valuing the pale skin appearance but in Rome is it was not only the rich but also used by the prostitutes to make them look their best. The Romans used white lead, tin oxide or white marble amongst others, and even crocodile dung to get this pale look. For rouge, they used a variety of ingredients like Tyrian vermillion, alkanet, poppy petals, red chalk or red ochre. Blemishes were an absolute no-go, to conceal them they made a Concealer from swan’s fat, donkey’s milk, bean-meal and gum Arabic to make blemish it look like a beauty mark. The trend in makeup was to have their makeup look as natural as possible.
The history of makeup continues in the next two blogs.
Read: History of Makeup – Part 2 – Early Europe (to be posted May 12 )
Read: History of Makeup – Part 3 – The birth of Today’s Makeup. (to be posted May 13)
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