If you are interested in the world of makeup, surely you want to know its history. Makeup has been used as an artistic expression since prehistoric times, and throughout time, it has been present in aesthetic trends. We describe how it came to be and how it has grown into what it is now.
The origins of makeup: Prehistory and ancient Egypt
Color has traditionally been utilized as an aesthetic element of verbal communication to highlight elements of the human body, produce certain behavioral effects, or simply transmit mental moods.
In prehistoric times, clay was put to the face during this period, although the purpose of this action is unknown. According to cave paintings of the time, Paleolithic women colored different parts of their bodies reddish brown.
In ancient Egypt, black and green powders were used by men and women alike to paint their eyes. Idealistic beauty went through tanned skin, large dark fish-shaped eyes, terracotta tones on the lips, and well-maintained eyebrows, as we can see as time passed.
Some historians considered Egypt to be the beginning era of makeup. To obtain the color with which the eyes were painted, they mixed earth, ink, and ashes. For the lips, they used a red ochre dye and natural iron oxide that they applied with a brush. It provided a much needed tinge of color throughout the day.
Remains of cosmetic products were found in the tombs of the pharaohs that were not far from today's makeup. The current rouge derives from a mixture made in Ancient Egypt that was made up of seeds, red ocher, and different fruits.
The Classical Period: Makeup in Ancient Greece and Rome
In classical Greece, makeup was concealed but important to Greek women. As a curious fact, they wore a frown, which they sometimes obtained based on animal hair, just like the Romans.
Hairstyles and makeup were maintained properly throughout Roman times, especially for formal occasions. The canon of beauty was that of a woman with fair skin and flushed cheeks.
White skin was synonymous with nobility and distinction compared to women with dark skin or sunburnt who worked in the fields, with elements such as soot being used for eye and eyebrows painting. To achieve eye shadows, natural pigments were used, either from the area itself or imported.
At this time, most cosmetics came from plants and animals, except for white lead - or basic lead carbonate - for clear skin and kohl. This cosmetic was unisex and was used on the eyes to protect them from the sun and to beautify them. Its application has been so widespread in the countries of the Middle East, Africa, and part of Asia that it has lasted to this day.
This black eye makeup was toxic and its composition varied depending on where you were.
History of makeup
In the Middle Ages, personal care for women was frowned upon, so makeup was left in the background. However, with the arrival of the Renaissance, makeup is transformed. At this time, the idea of beauty is that of a woman with a curved body, whitish skin, sparse eyebrows, and a very clear forehead. The eyes are painted with Khol and a garnet blush, with the eyelids, painted blue or green, and the lips are painted in a heart form with vivid red colors.
The first significant laboratory for cosmetic and therapeutic items was founded by the monks of Santa Mara Novella in the 16th century. The first treatises on cosmetics and beauty appeared in France and Italy during these centuries.
In this same period, lead makeup became fashionable among English noblewomen. Queen Elizabeth applied it to cover her smallpox scars. In her court, sage was popularized to whiten teeth and geranium petals as lipstick and other mercury-based products to color them.
Improvement in makeup from 19th century till date
At the end of the 18th century and the commencement of the 19th century, the industrial revolution caused beauty products to be massified and sold everywhere, they became easier to buy.
With the turn of the century, at the turn of the 20th century, the appearance of the cinema produces a change of mentality in customs and makeup becomes essential.
Among the makeup techniques used at this time are the use of one or two shades of makeup lighter than the natural tone, and the moveable eyelid was entirely painted with a black pencil and blended up to the upper eyelid without invading the eyebrow. A good amount of shadow and mascara is applied and dark tones such as garnet are used for the lips and pink tones are used on the cheekbones.
The 1920s were years of revolution. The whitish tone of the face was maintained but at the same time, the faded black line was introduced, red or purple eye shadows, dark red lips, plucked eyebrows, and blush applied in a rounded way on the cheekbones.
In the following decade, Hollywood continues to be the benchmark with actresses like Audrey Hepburn or Greta Garbo but with a more natural aesthetic. The eyeliner that painted very fine lines, shadows in golden or silver tones, faded rouge, and lips in brown or garnet tones appeared.
After World War II, makeup became more refined and soft, and makeup bases similar to skin tone were used, After WWII, cosmetics became more refined and gentle, with skin-toned foundations, color combinations in eye shadows and mascaras, broad brows, and slightly curved, not overly defined rouge and red lips.
With the hippie movement of the 60s, the intense red of the lips of the 50s goes to pale pink. In addition, shades of blue, pink, or whitish shades are used on the eyes.
The punk movement brought acid colors in the 70s, a very marked eye line, lines that protrude from the eyelid, and very abundant mascara. In the 80s, strong shadows and colors predominate, very marked eyeliner, and wide and defined eyebrows.
Towards the end of the 20th century, makeup now became more minimalist with simple strokes and eliminating imperfections, always seeking naturalness.
Currently, there is a wide variety of makeup, depending on the objective pursued. The makeup is resistant and can last a whole day and also the big difference from the past is that the substances that compose it are more natural, without parabens, without toxic or harmful materials for health and the skin, and increasingly respectful of sustainability and the environment.
As you can see, the history of makeup has been changing with periods that are very different from each other and always communicate through aesthetics.
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