A Quick History Of Makeup

by | Makeup Tutorial

Throughout history, makeup has been used for everything from ceremonial rituals to beauty adornment…and a few other rather interesting reasons.

I thought it would be fun to look back into makeup history and uncover the origins of some of our favorite beauty practices.

  • In ancient Egypt, liquid eyeliner (Kohl) was not only used as a beauty tool, but it was also a bug repellant.
  • In ancient Greece, young male performers wore wigs and eye makeup to performed female roles (women were not allowed to perform on stage in that era)
  • During the time of the Phoenicians, powdered metals, such as gold dust were used on the face and eyelids to identify the wealthy men and women of the culture.
  • During the early 17th century, Elizabeth 1 of England wore a high (shaved) hairline, removed her entire eyebrow and used pigment powder on her skin to disguise hair loss and skin discoloration from a disease.
  • The French interrupted Elizabeth’s ‘look’ as England’s way to distinguish royalty and the socially elite…which explains the appearance of very pale powdered skin, bright rouge on the cheeks and lips and heavily powdered wigs.
  • On the subject of hair removal, the ancient Egyptians developed a technique in which a very fine piece of string was used to pull out many hairs at one time… this was the birth of “threading” as we know it today.
  • During the 18th-century women’s eye makeup consisted of mineral powders, while cheek and lip color came from sticky ‘rouge’ made of waxes and pigments. These rouges sometimes created health issues because ingesting certain pigments is hazardous.
  • During the 20th century, women went from wearing little or no makeup (at the turn of the century) to intensely colored eyes and lips in the 20’s and 30’s. The Prohibition “Flapper” gave birth to what we now call the “Smoky Eye”.
  • Makeup continued to evolve as cosmetic technology grew in popularity. It eventually reached new levels of sophistication thanks to the vision of a man named Max Factor. He created special makeup products for use in films, which became wildly popular among Hollywood stars and eventually was offered to the public that adored them.
  • Since the 50’s, makeup trends have come from many sources including fashion, political movements (hippie face painting), celebrities, social trends…even music (disco, grunge, glam-rock, etc).
  • Makeup trends, like fashion, seem to reemerge in cycles every 10, 20 or 30 years since the beginning of the 20th Century. It’s always interesting to see how these iconic looks are stylized or reinterpreted to give them new life.


It’s kinda cool to discover where the makeup rituals (we often take for granted) actually came from. I hope this makeup history lesson was as much fun for you to read as it was for me to research!
This post is informational only and not a substitute for professional advice. Product(s) featured were purchased or gifted. This review is not sponsored and contains no affiliate or coded links.
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