At my school there is no History of Makeup class, although I believe there should be. Women began beautifying with cosmetics and other enhancers in ancient civilizations. Of course, in 10,000 B.C.E. Cover Girl and Maybelline products weren’t around. However, all around the world, women created their own makeup; from eye shadows to lip stains to foundations these women made cosmetic products out of their natural resources. So beauties let’s take a trip back to ancient times and learn how these women influenced how we look and do our own makeup today!
When I think of Egypt the first person that comes to my mind is Cleopatra. Looking at pictures of her you can see even she liked to play up her eyes and lips! Egyptian women made their own cosmetics out of natural products, such as copper, lead, ore and malachite to add more of a lively color to their face. The most notable product, for both men and women, was kohl. When applied to the eyes kohl, a blend of metal, led, copper, ash, and burnt almonds, added the almond shape and dark eyes Egyptians are famous for.
In Asia women were notable for their fingernails and luscious color. Chinese women stained their fingernails with secretions from plants, gel, beeswax and egg. Painted fingernails represented royalty; the Cho dynasty wore rich colors such as red, gold and silver. Similar to other ancient societies, a whiter complexion portrayed status and royalty. For a more porcelain look, Chinese and Japanese women applied a rice powder foundation to their face.
Greece is renowned for their statues. Women tried to mimic these statues by whitening their complexion with chalk and face powder made from lead. To make their lips stand out from their statuesque complexion, women smeared on lipstick made from clay mixed with red iron.
Roman women knew a thing or two about primping. Extravagant hairstyles and elegant makeup symbolized status and royalty in ancient Rome. Influenced by Egyptians, Romans applied a green dye from the stone malachite for eye makeup.
Intricate makeup is not just for the face. In India and parts of Africa women painted henna on their hands and feet. Henna is extracted from plants leaves and when mixed with water can be applied to the body in complex, yet beautiful designs for all to see.
What’s your culture famous for?
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