Since ancient times makeup has been used to enhance beauty. Take the ancient Egyptians for example who wore makeup made of lead ore and copper. Women of the ancient world were often innovative when it came to their cosmetic needs. Berries were used to darken lips, the ashes of burnt matches were used to darken eyes, and much more.

Today, we have developed makeup for practically every application you can think of. From making eyes pop with eyeshadow palettes to hiding undesirable pores, makeup has come a long way (we even have vegan makeup). To truly appreciate where we are today as opposed to where we used to be, let's take a look at the rich history of makeup.

Homemade makeup in the ancient world

Women of the ancient world, uneducated about safe beauty practices, often went to extreme lengths for the sake of beauty. Using berries to darken the lips was a safe enough practice. However, some homemade cosmetics involved the use of mercury, lead, arsenic, and leeches to achieve the pale beauty deemed appropriate during those times. It's safe to say we have long since recognized the need for safe products for our beauty needs and general health.

    Makeup during the Victorian era

    The Victorian era was truly a time where the ladies of Europe began to embrace makeup and cosmetics. Ladies of leisure would often dust on rice powder to hid blotches, redness, and freckles. Zinc oxide and pearl powder was used to create a cosmetic powder that was highly popularized by sophisticated ladies of the time.

    An early form of lip balm, a clear pomade much like beeswax, was applied to the lips every morning to not only protect against the elements but to also add shine. Eyepaint or as we know it, eyeshadow, was also a popular choice during the Victorian era though respectable women were very subtle with the amount of eyeshadow they used at any given time.

    History of eyeshadow

    One of the earliest examples of the use of eyeshadow in the ancient world can be found in ancient Egypt. A substance known as kohl (made by grinding stibnite) was used to accentuate the eyes of royalty. In Egyptian culture, kohl allowed the Egyptians to emulate the appearance of their gods. Before long the trend spread to Rome and Greece where women began to wear eyeshadow for the sake of beauty (as opposed to religious reasons). Eventually, eyeshadow spread to India and Babylon where it was largely worn by high class women due to its high price.

    Eyeshadow in the modern era

    In more modern times it's clear that eyeshadow has gone through a great many transformations. Take the roaring 20s where the "smoky" eyeshadow look was highly popular. In the 30s American women were inundated with a wide variety of colors in their eyeshadows that included greens and soft pinks. Jumping to the 70s various colors of eyeshadow were worn together for a "rainbow" appearance. Today, there are countless eyeshadow colors and finishes.


    Today cosmetics and makeup have become a multi-billion dollar industry. In modern times, government regulations determine the types of products that can be used in cosmetics, ensuring the safety of consumers across the world. Makeup is more common today than it has ever been in history. Coupled with the fact that most makeup is composed of skin safe ingredients women have only increased their demand for beauty products. As time goes on the world of makeup and cosmetics will continue to evolve.

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