Makeup Through the Ages: A History of Beauty

Collage of women from different ages

Can you imagine that women of the past had to use makeup with poisonous ingredients to get the look that was considered trendy at the time?

Beauty was always something that females sought for, but the standards of what is considered beautiful have changed vastly through the ages.

Are you excited to learn how women of the past used to touch up their faces until we reached the current age? This article will tell you all about it.

How Does the Evolution of Makeup Look Like

Makeup through the ages has consisted of ingredients that are very different from what comprises our makeup today. The ways and styles to apply it also greatly varied.

Trends in fashion come and go, but some of the tendencies of the past would definitely look out of place today. However, these trends were what paved the way and set the basis of how we apply makeup today.

If you want to get to the origins of the whole thing, then you should keep reading.

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian woman wearing traditional makeup

When you read “Ancient Egypt” you probably immediately thought of Cleopatra and her iconic eyeliner.

The truth is, eyeliner was used in Ancient Egypt from 3000 BC by both women and men, and it was used not only with the aim to beautify but also to differentiate the rich from the lower class.

People in Egypt used mainly black and green colors in their makeup because these were the most available colors. They were derived from copper and lead ores, as well as something called “kohl”, which is a powder derived from ground antimonite.

Victorian Style

Close-up image of a woman from the Victorian age

During the Victorian era, lasting between 1837 and 1901, makeup in the sense of lipstick and eyeliner was not popular amongst the masses, as it was considered immoral.

It was mainly used by actresses and prostitutes, while regular people valued the natural look.

To maintain their natural beauty without having to put makeup on, women took extensive care of their skin and facial features. They rubbed oils into their eyelashes and tweezed their eyebrows, and to give their cheeks a rosy appeal they pinched them or applied beetroot juice.

They also used a special type of pomade that resembles today’s lip gloss to accentuate their lips while still keeping a natural look.

Only after the 1900s, makeup started to gain popularity among the public, which allowed it to become more available for commercial use.

The Roaring 20s

Close-up image of a woman from the 20s wearing makeup

The roaring twenties were a period of rediscovering female sexuality, which was marked by a heavy makeup look.

As females started taking more jobs that were previously reserved by men only, they started using makeup as a way of emphasizing their power in order to be able to keep up with men.

The cupid bow shape of the lips and heavily blushed cheeks are iconic features of the 20s look.

The eyes were heavily decorated with kohl and the eyelashes were accentuated by products made of petroleum jelly mixed with coal.

The Revolution of the 50s

Close-up of a woman from the 50s wearing makeup

During the 50s, females took inspiration from leading movie stars for their makeup. This is the period in which large makeup companies like Max Factor and Elizabeth Arden gained popularity.

This was a period in which the use of foundation blossomed. It was topped with powder to keep it still throughout the day.

Although the eyes were not as heavily accentuated with eyeshadow, the cat-eye eyeliner style was essential, and mascara was excessively used to create the sense of fuller and longer lashes.

A lot of females were inspired by Marylin Monroe to use more lipstick on their upper lip to make their lips look plumper.

The Youth Look of the 60s

Close up image of a woman during the 60s wearing makeup

The 60s were the baby boomer period, and all the fashion and makeup trends were focused on creating a youthful look.

Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, with their childlike appearances, were a huge source of inspiration.

The makeup look was focused on accentuating the eyes while leaving the skin and the lips looking more natural and nude. Nude shades of eyeshadows were applied and then topped with excessive eyeliner and mascara.

There was a tendency to heavily accentuate the eyelashes for a doll-like look, so this is when fake eyelashes became viral. Colorful eyeshadow also gained popularity, and various pink nuances were reserved for the lips.

The Vast Difference Between the 70s and the 80s

There was a big difference in the makeup trends between the 70s and the 80s. During the 70s, the “no makeup” look was preferred, while during the 80s the look was all about the excessive use of nuances and shades.

Feminism during the 70s made women value their natural beauty and avoid heavy makeup.

The rise of popular culture in the 80s changed things in the makeup industry, bringing colorful eyeshadow and unconventional lipstick shades under the spotlight.

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