The History of Cosmetics – When Was Makeup First Invented?

05/30/11 7:04 am | Comments (0) | Posted By: leeorlian

The urge to look beautiful is inherent in humans. Vain creatures that we are, we constantly strive to look more and more appealing to the opposite sex. Hence our fascination with makeup and fashion, clothes and cosmetics, and jewelery and other accessories. When you hold that tube of lipstick in your hand or as you draw a line across your eyelids, have you wondered about the history of makeup? If you read up on it, you’ll find that it is as vast as it is interesting. However, the answer to the question “When exactly was makeup first invented?” is quite difficult to answer. However, it might be easier to find an answer to “Where did make up originate?”

The Origin of Makeup

As far as archaeologists and historians can be certain and the fact can be corroborated by archaeological evidence, it can be said that the practice of using face makeup dates back to ancient Egypt in the 1st Century. Natural ingredients like kohl, soot, and unguent (a substance used to moisturize the skin) were used by women and men to look more beautiful. In fact, Egyptians of this time were typified by seductive eyes and soft skin.

Fascination with Pale Skin

Around the middle ages, pale skin came to be associated with a high place in society and wealth. It may sound horrible to you, but some women during this period actually bled themselves in order to achieve the popular white skin. By the 13th Century, a tinge of pink was added to this paleness and this was yet another indication of societal position and wealth. Only the very rich people could afford to spend money on pink face makeup. During the Italian Renaissance, it was noted that women were trying to achieve pale skin complexion by using poisonous ingredients like arsenic and lead.

Cosmetics in the Victorian Era

Having attempted to answer the question “When was makeup first invented?” let’s look at its progression through the ages. Around the Victorian era, there was a decline in makeup and it came to be associated with actresses and prostitutes. Genteel women did not like to tamper with the natural color of the skin and the respectable thing to do in lieu of using artificial makeup was to make face masks at home from natural ingredients like egg yolks, oatmeal, rosewater, and honey.

Beauty regime of women included, plucking the eyebrows, use of castor oil on the eyelashes, dusting the nose with rice powder and buffing the nails. No lipstick was used, but they did apply clear pomade for the sheen. The rosy tint to the cheeks could be attributed to some vicious pinching of the cheeks or red beet juice.

The Real Revolution in Makeup

20th century saw a revolution in the field of makeup. Women made their own mascara where hot beads of wax were placed on the tips of the eyelashes. T.L. Williams came out with the first mascara and named it after his sister Mabel. Today, you may recognize this brand as Maybelline. In 1914, the pancake makeup was first introduced by Max Factor and it was during this decade that the first of its kind pressed powder was introduced. This was followed by pressed powder blush and the metal case for lipsticks, and then, there was no looking back…

When you ask yourself “when was makeup first invented” you may not get the answer you may be looking for but do get to learn quite along the way, don’t you?

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