The Evolution Of Women's Makeup Throughout History


The Kardashian’s may set the tone for beauty and makeup standards today, but makeup has been around for thousands of years. Archeologists have even found remains of what was considered makeup from 164,000 years ago. Though cosmetics weren’t used in vein until the ancient Egyptians, the evolution of makeup throughout the ages, has sure come a long way. From deadly powders, to rebellious rouges, makeup has been a staple for not only women, but also men through the centuries.

As far back as 10,000 BC Egyptians were using makeup for function and beauty. They would protect their skin from the harsh conditions by using ointments to clean and soften their skin. By 4,000 BC they were using dark kohl (a mixture of soot, metal, and animal fat) to line their eyes, and protect them from sun rays. Women also started mixing minerals together to form bright green and blue eye shadows. Men and women were known to wear lipstick in red, orange, or dark onyx shades to symbolize their social status. This was also the first era that women began to carry makeup around with them. Makeup boxes were used to transport cosmetics to parties and social gatherings, and women would hide the boxes under their chairs.

By the first century many ancient civilizations like the Romans and Egyptians discovered ways to color their hair. Romans considered blonde hair to be very becoming and Emperors were known to lighten their hair. Egyptians did their best to maintain their dark locks by using metallic elements, animal fat, and vinegar to brew up hair dye. In the 6th century during the European middle ages, pale skin was considered a luxury of the wealthy. Women went to great lengths to achieve this look by bloodletting, which is a procedure to rid one’s self of blood.

Bloodletting was still popular by the Elizabethan Era in 1580 England. Queen Elizabeth’s light complexion was the envy of women in this ear. Pale skin was considered the most beautiful, and women would load their faces with white lead powder, which is highly poisonous. Another trend was to have a high forehead like the Queen’s, and shaving or plucking one's eyebrows and hairlines helped women attained this.

The Victorian era in England was much less hardcore than the Elizabethan era. The Queen again set the standard, but Queen Victoria considered makeup to be vulgar and placed more emphasis on a woman’s natural beauty. Women of this era paid more attention to the care of their skin, and made homemade face masks out of oatmeal, honey, and egg yolk. Queen Victoria believed that long hair was a sign of femininity, so long locks were a must, even though women wore them up in high chignons. Women who wanted to achieve any color in these days would pinch their cheeks and bite their lips.

By the 1920’s makeup counters were appearing all over the world, and makeup was no longer considered scandalous. Flappers set the tone for this decade, and loved to play up their eyes. Dark eyebrows, eyeliner, and mascara were used to achieve the “vamp” look that was popular with flappers. Women also started paying more attention to their lips by lining and highlighting their pouts to get the perfect Cupid’s bow. Women also wanted a youthful glow, so they used ivory creams and rouge papers.

The 60’s had many different makeup trends, but one of the most iconic looks of the day was the British Mod style, inspired by popular model Twiggy. Eyes were the main focus, and this was the first time that women started accenting them by using dark eyeliner on the creases. To further accent the eyes, white eye shadow was used on the eyelids, and false lashed were worn of both upper and lower lashes. Since there wasn’t much attention given to lips, they were down played by wearing pale matte lipstick, and no lip liner.