Made Up

Dabbling in the history of cosmetics…

Image result for history of makeup

Would you rub lead powder all over your face?  Or arsenic?  How about dried cat dung?  Women have always tried to make themselves look more appealing, and records of the past reveal how far they were willing to go.

Living in hot, windy Egypt 4,000 years ago naturally dried out the skin (just as it does today).  Queens Cleopatra and Neferteri applied castor oil to soften their faces, and ground up certain rocks to decorate them.  Malachite, a kind of copper, served as green eye shadow; black kohl outlined the eyelids of the images we’ve seen in drawings.  Ancient Greek girls came up with ingenious fake eyebrows made of ox hair.  The Romans mixed thyme, marjoram and rosemary in their olive oil beauty treatments (did they take the leftovers and go broil a chicken for supper?)  Geishas in Japan of long ago wore lipstick which included crushed safflowers.

Queen Elizabeth I of England was famous for her pale look, dubbed, “the mask of youth.”  She put a mixture of white vinegar and lead on her face to cover up the ravages of smallpox she had in her twenties.  Other ladies lightened their complexions with egg whites and dyed their hair red with henna.  For a hair remover, they ground dried cat dung and mixed it with strong vinegar.

A few hundred years later, Queen Victoria proclaimed that using makeup was immoral.  She associated it with ladies of the night and stage actresses.  When motion pictures were invented, the lights required special makeup so faces wouldn’t be washed out on screen.  From silent pictures to the first talkies and on to glamour days of the 1930s and 40s, female movie stars were identified with their makeup.

Max Factor had opened a professional studio for actresses in California in 1909, and soon ordinary women were coming in to buy his products.  During World War II, lipsticks were most popular because they were colorful and inexpensive.  Other makeup containing petroleum and alcohol were unavailable because those ingredients were being used in the war effort.

Image result for marlene dietrich

Glam: Marlene Dietrich.

Nobody who saw Twiggy on her first magazine cover in 1966 will ever forget it.  A totally unique look, her haircut and false eyelashes were done on the spur of the moment, and it went viral.  She didn’t wear it long, but the teenagers of the world did.

Then came the 70s when many girls stopped wearing makeup, and some never started.  Oh, perhaps occasionally, but even if the FDA prohibits lead and arsenic in those products, can any of them be good for your pores?

Today’s cosmetic looks run the gamut of soft and sweet to dark and Gothic, with most somewhere in between.  I won’t even get started on supermodels.  I do not pretend to be an expert on this subject, but as my husband says, “If a barn needs painting…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: