Origin of Makeup

Some of the most annoying things to hear are “Women nowadays wear too much makeup!” or “Ladies, your face isn’t a coloring book.”

The history of makeup dates all the way back to ancient Egypt. Makeup served multiple purposes, not just to “cover up how insecure they are” as some people might say today.

Oils and ointments were an essential part to Egyptian hygiene and health. They were used to clean and soften the skin, as well as to mask any body odor. Oils and creams were used to protect the skin from harsh weather. According to cosmeticsinfo.org, “Myrrh, thyme, marjoram, chamomile, lavender, lily, peppermint, rosemary, cedar, rose, aloe, olive oil, sesame oil, and almond oil provide the basic ingredients of most perfumes that Egyptians use in religious ritual.”

Besides using them for protective and religious purposes, they also used cosmetics to accentuate their features. They created kohl by using a “combination of burnt almonds, oxidized copper, different-colored coppers ores, lead, ash, and ochre” to create an almond shape for their eyes.

In 3000 BCE, Chinese people began staining their finger nails. The colors mostly coordinated with their social class. Gold and silver were reserved for the Chou dynasty, while the subsequent royals wore red and black. Lower classes weren’t allowed to stain their finger nails.

From 3000 BCE-1000 BCE, it became increasingly popular among Chinese, Japanese and Grecian women to whiten their faces.

In 300-400 AD People in India started using Henna as a way to dye hair and to do mehndi.

In 1200 AD perfumes were first imported to Europe from the Middle East as a result of the Crusades.

In Elizabethan England (1300AD), dyed red hair came into fashion. Egg whites were also used to create a paler complexion, however, some thought that cosmetics were a health threat because they believed it blocked proper blood circulation.

So far, we can see that having a paler complexion was highly sought after. From what I’ve heard and read in the past, this is because people associated dark skin with poorness. People who worked in the fields were darker, while the wealthy stayed indoors.

During the Renaissance, only the aristocracy used cosmetics. Italy and England were the main centers for manufacturing. Also, during 1400-1500 AD fragrance making in France started to evolve and become more complex.

Still, pale complexions were very popular. Queen Elizabeth l of England was well known for creating the “Mask of Youth”, which was just a pale complexion using white lead. Blonde hair also rose to popularity during this time because it was considered angelic.

As we enter the 19th and 20th centuries, we can see less use of makeup. Many of the harmful chemicals that were found in makeup, such as lead and copper, were replaced with safer alternatives, like zinc oxide. Also, Queen Victoria declared makeup as “improper” and said that it should only be used by actors.

Eventually, in the Edwardian society, women became pressured to appear young while acting as hostesses. The one way to achieve this was through makeup. During this time, salons increased in popularity, but it was considered shameful to be seen needing assistance to look beautiful. As a result, many women entered salons through the back door to avoid being seen.

Today, many women (and men) are creating complex looks using eyeshadow, enhancing their features using contouring and highlighting products, and doing what they can and want to look beautiful to themselves. Now, it seems as if makeup is more for self expression than anything else. This is just another part of makeup history and people shouldn’t be put down or feel ashamed just for wearing makeup when people have been using it since the ancient times.

People are beautiful whether they’re bare faced or have the whole rainbow on their face.