History Of Makeup

History Of Makeup. The history of makeup goes back to almost 7000 years and was used by both men and women to enhance their features. Nowadays, we use makeup in our everyday routine, using foundation, blush, eyeshadow, highlighter, and lipstick to accentuate our features. However, makeup in ancient times was not as simple as it is today. The history of makeup is extremely complicated and is equally interesting as well.

History Of Makeup. The pioneers of makeup are Egyptians that started using all kinds of metals and minerals to add colour to their faces and even bodies. Throughout the history of makeup, women and men risked their lives in order to look good. They also used different things in order to promote good health and maintain good hygiene. The use of makeup in certain eras was also indicative of high class and sophistication. However, in some eras, the use of makeup by women was indicative of prostitution and the lower class.

Below, we shall be discussing the development of makeup throughout the years, it’s beginning till its culmination, that is the very present era.

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History Of Makeup. Around 6000 BC, Egyptians started the use of makeup in their everyday routines. The use of Kohl was very common amongst the Egyptians. Kohl was made from a mixture of ash, burnt almonds, and certain metals like lead, copper, and ochre. Kohl was used to making the eyes look bigger and more prominent. We use a product similar to Kohl that is an eyeliner in the present era.

History Of Makeup. Apart from the use of Kohl, they also created their own eyeshadow by crushing different metals like copper and malachite. The use of red lipstick was also very prevalent amongst the Egyptians. The mixed animal fat with red ochre in order to create red lipstick. Red ochre was a type of clay that was cleaned and separated from the sand and then dried in the sun. Some of the Egyptians also burned the red ochre to enhance this color. The mixture of dried red ochre, carmine, animal fat, and flowers were not only applied on the lips but also on the cheeks. There were not many colour options for women for the lipsticks back then. They only had the choice of using red, orange, blue, black, and magenta colors for their lips.

Egypt Makeup History

Ancient Egyptians were obsessed with smelling good. It was associated with godliness. The perfumes they made did not only served the purpose of smelling good but also healing. The products used in the creation of perfumes were lilies, cinnamon, cardamom, myrrh, sandalwood, and red wine. A very famous perfume that was used abundantly by ancient Egyptians was Kyphi that also had lung healing properties. It was a mixture of wine, honey, flowers, and berries.

Egyptians also took great care of their bodies and applied moisturizers and oils in order to keep their skin hydrated and young. A mixture of different ingredients like lavender, rosemary, lily, myrrh, olive oil, rosemary, chamomile, and rose was used as moisturizers as well as perfumes. These ingredients were also thought to have amazing effects on overall health.

Haircare was also prevalent amongst ancient Egyptians. They used henna leaves and ground them up to create henna to colour their hair and nails. The coloured nails of the Egyptians also showed their high status. The longer the nails, the higher the status.

For Egyptians, looking good even after death was very important. They used all the makeup products on their mummies as they believed that they must look presentable in front of their gods on the day of the judgment.


History Of Makeup. It was around 3000 BC that the ancient Chinese started to create makeup and use it frequently. For Chinese, using makeup was associated with the class. The women of the royal family used beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, and gum arabic to create nail paints. The royals used gold, black, silver and red colours to paint their nails. Ordinary women were forbidden to use nail paints.

The women of ancient China had a strange obsession with pale skin. Rice powder was used in order to make the face look paler and more even. The lead was also used in the creation of face powders despite its toxicity. Its use was very common amongst the royals. Having pale skin indicated one’s higher social status.

The use of rouge was also common amongst the royals. Red flowers were used to create the substance for making rouge. To increase the density of the rouge, many people added the pancreas of the pig as well as bovine pulp. The use of red rouge was famous amongst the ancient Chinese royals. They used to mix powder to create blush-on.

History of Makeup for Chinese Women

Chinese women have always put their eyebrows in high regard. The ancient Chinese women used to love maintaining their eyebrows. They used to create soot out of burnt willow branches and used that soot to make their eyebrows prominent. Having long and sharp eyebrows was very popular until this trend changed into shaving off eyebrows and drawing new ones. Many shapes of eyebrows were introduced and followed by the nobles of ancient China.

Other than makeup, Chinese women also used to take care of their skin. They used jade rollers in order to slow down their ageing process by making blood circulation in the skin better and reducing the signs of wrinkles as well as puffiness. Jade has been popular throughout the ages because of its cooling and healing properties. They used to attach jade on both sides of a stick. The use of Jade rollers is even common today.

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The ancient Romans and Greeks were inclined towards natural makeup more. They liked applying powder on their faces and red tint on their lips and cheeks. These products were obtained through natural sources like fruits and plants as well as some toxic substances such as lead and mercury.

The Roman women liked to apply green or yellow colour on their eyelids as an eyeshadow. The idea of green colour as an eyeshadow was taken from Egyptians. The yellow colour for eyelids was obtained through yellow ochre or saffron and the green colour was obtained through a substance known as malachite.

The upper-class women of ancient Rome were obsessed with looking beautiful. Wearing makeup is associated with the higher class in that society. Upper-class women used to take a bath in rose water and milk to achieve flawless and white skin. They appointed slaves to take care of their pampering sessions. The slaves used to dress them up, do their makeup and even style their hair.

Red and pink tones were in vogue back then and Roman women used these colours abundantly in their makeup. The light pink colour was often used on the cheeks to give a naturally flushed look. These two colours were also used to paint nails and occasionally used on the eyelids as eyeshadows.


Cosmetic history in the Ancient World


As mentioned earlier, the trend of makeup started with the Egyptians. They used different substances to paint their faces as well as making their eyes and lips prominent. The use of Kohl for eyes was very common with the Egyptians. They loved making their eyes like the shape of an almond and even applied makeup on the dead bodies before they were mummified. Egyptians used to think it was necessary to look beautiful and clean because their religion said so. It was considered essential to look presentable even after death before their gods on the day of judgement.

The Chinese women that belonged to the royal family started painting their nails with black, red, golden, and silver nail paint. It was strictly forbidden for common women. The women also crushed some berries to create an effect of lipstick on their lips and blush on their cheeks. The art of drawing fake eyebrows by shaving off eyebrows was also very common and considered fashionable amongst the ancient Chinese.

Japanese women used to whiten their faces by applying white powder. They were obsessed with looking white and used natural as well as toxic substances to create different makeup products. Lead and arsenic were commonly used in powders to create an illusion of paler looking skin. Henna was used to dye her hair as well as eyebrows by ancient Japanese women. Applying makeup was not only common amongst women but men as well.

Cosmetic history in the middle ages

People started creating and using perfumes by the start of the middle age. Different flowers were crushed to create an essence which was then mixed with certain oils to make perfumes. Perfumes were mostly used by the women of higher class. Neither the use of perfume nor makeup was flor the women of low class of that society.

In the middle ages, applying makeup was thought to be immoral and was associated with prostitutes. Only prostitutes and women of higher class were more into makeup. Red was the most popular color amongst women of that era.

Queen Elizabeth I of England used to whiten her skin with the use of white lead that was very dangerous to use on the skin. She used pink rouge on her lips and cheeks to give her skin a naturally flushed look.

Women of the middle ages put their lives at risk to look beautiful. They used lead and arsenic-based makeup, posing a threat to themselves as well as people around them. Although, not all makeup products posed a serious threat to life. Some of the makeup products were made from natural sources like fruits, vegetables, rice powder, and essential oils. Many products were actually good for health. For example, the soot used as an eyeliner worked against the sun as well as prevented eye infections.

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Cosmetic history in the age of Renaissance

The Renaissance period was marked with women having fancy hairstyles and pale skin. Women used to work out in the fields for hours and had darker skin tones because of the sun. The paler women of that era were of the upper class that did not have to go out in the fields to work because they had enough money already to survive.

Women liked keeping their eyelashes and eyebrows simple and sharp. Eyebrows were constantly tweezed in order to give them a neat and clean look. Women also kept their eyelashes short.

Women with big foreheads were considered as the epitome of beauty in the Renaissance era. Many women plucked their hair off in order to achieve bigger foreheads. Blonde women were considered superior in that age. Women with darker hair bleached their hair using many harmful substances in order to fit into the beauty standards of that time.

Glowing skin was considered fashionable amongst the women of the Renaissance period. By adding mercury in the face powder, women made their face look shiny and glowing.

Cosmetic history in Modern age

The early modern age was marked by Queen Victoria creating a backlash against women wearing makeup. According to her, wearing makeup was very unladylike and vulgar. It was banned from the origin of the modern age. The women of that era tried to achieve naturally glowing and rosy skin by constantly pinching their cheeks. They also created an illusion of pink lips by biting their lips. Those women started creating homemade products to keep their skin youthful and glowing. It was still considered questionable to wear makeup in that era. Only prostitutes were allowed to wear makeup.

With the rise of silent movies, makeup started to become popular with the women of that time. A lot of magazines encouraged women to buy makeup and recreate the looks of the movie stars. Many cheap makeup products were available in the market at that time and soon it was okay to wear makeup in that society. Women started to open salons for other women to get their makeover and hairstyle done.

Makeup products were being old in the form of compacts. It was way easier for women to apply makeup with the invention of compacts. The makeup was still kept natural and not showy.

In the 1980s women started to experiment with darker and bolder colours. The foundation was kept lighter than one’s skin tone. Eyeshadows with dark colours like blue, dark pink, and red were considered fashionable in the late 80s.

Concerns for chemical-free makeup started rising in the early 1990s. A lot of makeup companies started creating chemical-free and vegan products. Many makeup brands also started to follow a no animal testing policy for their products. It was a very big step in the cosmetic industry.

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The Use Of Cosmetics Today

In the present era, the use of cosmetics is very common as well as popular among women and men of every age. We see that today, not only women,  but men are also inclined towards applying makeup. Makeup is available everywhere and in every price range, from cheap to high-end.

People are accepting their imperfections today and do not feel ashamed of not following a certain trend unlike it used to be in the past. Many new makeup products have been introduced in the present era that was not used previously in any era. One example of such a makeup product is a concealer that hides the dark circles under the eyes. The invention of lip tattoos and highlighters is also associated with the present era.

The women of the current era love experimenting with different colours, creating different and unique looks. Every colour is in vogue and can be experimented with. Wearing makeup every day is very extremely common today and not seen as a sin anymore.

Wrapping it up

Today’s Makeup brands have encouraged women to feel beautiful in their own skin. It is absolutely not necessary to wear makeup in order to hide your imperfections only if you don’t want to. These brands are catering to the needs of women of all skin tones. They are offering foundations from darkest to lightest skin tones.  The makeup products created by companies are chemical-free, not tested on animals and vegan, making it safe for everyone. We can say that the makeup industry has developed in an amazing way with a lot of positive changes that are beneficial for us. It is, indeed, amusing to know about all the changes that make up industry went throughout the years and definitely makes us wonder what’s more to come.