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Makeup History

Updated on August 25, 2016
Seriously, if I had her cheekbones, I wouldn't wear makeup!
Seriously, if I had her cheekbones, I wouldn't wear makeup!

I am one who rarely goes out of the house without makeup. I always like to look my best whenever I go shopping, to work, or out on the town. In fact, I have worn makeup for fifty some odd years now. Why do I still go through the same routine every morning?

I admire those people who look beautiful without makeup, or who feel fine going out without a stitch of lip gloss or mascara. I'm not one of them! So, why do some of us spend money and our time to don eyeliner and other cosmetics. Let's take a look at it, shall we?

Ancient Egyptian eye make-up may have been medicinal as well as aesthetic
Ancient Egyptian eye make-up may have been medicinal as well as aesthetic
Roman Women Makeup
Roman Women Makeup

History of Makeup

Upon investigation, I found that makeup has been around many centuries.


The earliest trace was found in Egypt in their tombs. Egyptian men and women would mix together ointments to put on their face supposedly to keep their skin from drying out from the hot dry climate. Then they outlined their eyes with kohl (made of soot or antimony) and later added green or gray eye shadow. They used carbon, black oxide and other substances (often toxic) to produce their makeup. Ochre was also used to color cheeks and henna for their nails, palms and hair.

Some claim that the Egyptians wore makeup because they believed that their appearance was somehow related to their spirituality. The better you looked, the more spiritual you were! If only it were that easy! Some religions today claim that makeup makes you look more worldly - just the opposite of spiritual. Mascara comes from the word masquerade, so whose story is right? The jury is out.


Romans also got their female slaves called Cosmetae to create makeup for them, some using mercury, burned almonds, copper, and lead. They used makeup more as a status symbol.

Far East

Women of the Far East utilized many more materials in their makeup, including beeswax, egg, gum arabic, and gelatin. Geisha girls used rice powder on their face and lipstick that was made of safflower petals for rouge and lipstick.

Persia or Middle East

Makeup was considered part of the Medicine of Beauty . Persian women used henna to beautify their hair and bodies. Persian makeup is more artistic and exotic.


European women liked the pearl complexion, and they would use plaster chalk powder, hydroxide, carbon and white lead. This distinguished the rich from the common people. However, some women were poisoned and died from this practice using toxic materials. All in the name of beauty - or is it vanity?

France was the leader in developing makeup in Europe. They used natural products like fruits, tree bark, flowers and roots. The products became more affordable and even poor women started using makeup. Makeup then became a symbol of health and beauty rather than wealth.

Soon beauty salons cropped up and women would take time out to get their makeup done.


Native Americans used makeup, but usually only for battle. In the 1900s, with the advent of television and movies, cosmetics became wildly popular. Instead of looking pale, American women wanted to look more tan and wore different shades of lipsticks and eye shadow. They preferred a more refined and sensual look.

The Big Players in Cosmetics

Well, that was a very quick history of makeup. I have probably spent a fortune on makeup during my life. Cosmetics is a big money maker. Now you can buy mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, cleansers, toners, moisturizers, nail polish, lotions, lipsticks, hair dyes, and so much more. Makeup is available in umteen shades. They are available down the street, in the malls and online.

The top cosmetic companies are (not in any particular order) as it changes:

  • L'Oreal (includes Maybelline and 19 other brands)
  • Estée Lauder (includes Bobby Brown and M.A.C. Cosmetics)
  • Elizabeth Arden
  • Revlon
  • Mary Kay Cosmetics
  • Avon
  • Proctor and Gamble
  • Clinique
  • Coty
  • Shiseido

So, ladies and gentlemen....there it is. For now I will continue to wear makeup. I told my daughter when I die, I want her to apply my makeup. Vanity up to ...... and including the end!

I guess if I had never started wearing makeup, I would be fine. But, when I grew up, it was the in thing, and I just feel better wearing it than not. I am not trying to look religious, nor am I trying to look like a harlot. Just trying to look the best I can.

Yet another excuse I some times use is that I am an artist, and each morning my pale blank face is a perfect canvas for me to paint! Aloha!

Do you wear makeup?

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Submit a Comment
  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I agree about using makeup to even out the tone. Got together with some friends from high school. Most didn't wear any makeup and had blotches on their faces. I try to look my best whenever I leave the house and even at home. I don't feel that it is vain to try to put your best face forward.

  • rainsanmartin profile image

    Rain San Martin 

    5 years ago from Fort Wayne

    I find makeup to be the most beneficial as a tool to even out the skin tone. Foundation and concealer being my first essential, lipstick with lip liner second, blush third, and finally eye makeup to follow last in priority. I find that as women grow older makeup is even more beneficial. Unfortunately women during the pioneer era of the 1800's where expected to keep a clean face. I can however see the beauty of the all natural hippy look and I do understand why a woman would want to avoid makeup to stay clear of the pitfalls of vanity.

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thank you radhikasree. I am glad you enjoyed my makeup hub. Thanks for the follow too. Aloha!

  • radhikasree profile image

    Radhika Sreekanth 

    7 years ago from Mumbai,India

    Now only I came to know that different countries give special meanings to putting make-ups. Informative hub!

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I agree HealthyHanna. A little new paint does make a difference! Thank you.

  • HealthyHanna profile image


    7 years ago from Utah

    Even an old barn looks better with a little paint on it! I certainly do.

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thank you LianaK. Just a little color makes a difference - blush and lipstick is helpful that way. I appreciate your comments.

  • LianaK profile image


    7 years ago

    Wonderful hub. I should wear make up more often. Whenever I don't wear makeup, people at work tell me I look tired, lol. I just nod my head and say, "yes, I am a little tired today" even if I am not :). Great hub.

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thank you so much georgiecarlos. Glad you enjoyed it. Aloha!

  • georgiecarlos profile image


    7 years ago from Philippines

    I love this article- history and make up combined! This is really so interesting and informative

    voted up!

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    @Lisa HW I'm like you - perhaps my nature look is best for Halloween - can be pretty spooky! Thanks for your comments.

    @thesingernurse Glad you you found it fascinating. Great that you only need makeup on special occasions. You are very lucky! I agree that makeup should bring out our best. Thank you.

    @collegatariat I know, that hairdo! Amazingly tall, but would definitely stand out. Mahalo (Thank you in Hawaiian)

    @agreenworld Yes, I agree that makeup can set moods. It is amazing that way. You can be whatever you want, depending on the makeup you choose. Thank you.

  • agreenworld profile image

    Dawn A. Harden 

    7 years ago from CT-USA

    Makeup can set many moods. Great article -thanks!

  • collegatariat profile image


    7 years ago

    Nice pictures! I really wish that I could do that Roman lady's hair... or maybe not. Thanks for sharing this information!

  • thesingernurse profile image

    Tina Siuagan 

    7 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

    This is one interesting hub about make-up. It's fascinating to know how people regarded putting make-up in various societies and eras. It made me appreciate my make-up collection even more. As for me, I put make-up during gigs, dates, and special occasions. I see to it that I don't overdo it. Make-up should bring out your special features and all the best in you. :D

  • Lisa HW profile image

    Lisa HW 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts

    I don't go out without make-up. I look better with it - plain and simple, and I want to look as good as I can look (for me - not anyone else). Oddly, after years of not having my own picture online, I ended up using one without any make-up on (mostly because I was in a hurry to come up with a picture when Google started saying a real picture was what they wanted LOL). I've been wearing make-up since I was sixteen, and I like how I feel wearing it. I don't load it on, but I'm far too pale (as my ghostly photo shows) not to wear any. "Glow-in-the-dark pale" isn't the most flattering thing for a lot of women. Neither is the pale, "No-Eyes", look. LOL

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks so much Ebower. Guess we think alike. I appreciate your vote and comment.

  • Ebower profile image

    Erin Bower 

    7 years ago from Georgia

    This is very informative. I feel like I'm not ready for the day if I don't wear any makeup. I voted this up and interesting!


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