Makeup is a strange and beautiful thing. While not really “necessary” it is something that helps a lot of people express themselves of feel more confident. You might think that makeup is a rather new commodity, something that we now have time for, but surely people in the old days didn’t bother with this gimmicky stuff. But actually makeup dates back to ancient times and has a very rich history. For example, in Ancient Egypt makeup played such an important role that makeup pots have been found even the most modest tombs, because Egyptians believed they would need it in their afterlife. Let’s take a look at some of the first makeup products that people used.
Perfume nowadays is something fancy, but in Egypt in 10 000 BC women used scented oils and creams for hygiene reasons and to keep their skin soft and protect it from the harsh sun and dry winds. Lily, peppermint, lavender, rose and myrrh oils were also a big part of religious rituals. It really looks like perfume played an integral part in the lives of Egyptian folk back in the day.
What was life like before Urban Decay’s Naked Palettes and Too Faced cosmetics? Well it was pretty colorful. Even in ancient times Egyptians used malachite powder on their eyelids. They ground up this green mineral and adhered it to their eye area using oils or animal fat. It was essentially the first kind of eyeshadow. Some studies suggest, that malachite powder was also a good way of protecting eyes from various infections, so you know, the first eyeshadow wasn’t just pretty, it served a medical purpose too.
Galena powder, now more commonly known as kohl, was commonly used around their eyes in the old times. That famous Egyptian eyeliner was often achieved by using burnt almonds. And again, it wasn’t for decoration purposes only, galena powder was good way of protecting the gentle skin around the eyes from the harsh sun.
These days eyebrows are pretty important and we all strive to keep them on fleek all the time. But remember how in the 90s we tweezed the hell out of them. Well turns out this is hardly new. In ancient Greece women used ox hair to apply fake eyebrows, a unibrow was also a trend so both men and women used dark powder to draw on a unibrow. However in Japan and China it was more common to shave she eyebrows off completely.
In ancient Greece, having pale white skin was a sign of prestige and beauty, so those who weren’t lucky enough to be born into a life of luxury and had to work out in the sun used white led (which was highly toxic and definitely shortened their lifespan) to make their faces look white. If they couldn’t get led they used chalk, but that generally didn’t last as long as led. In China and Japan, where pale skin was also a sign of wealth, people started making face powder out of rice.
Another thing ladies in ancient Greece did was using of crushed mulberries as rouge. They applied it on top of their led painted faces, to add some youthful blush to their faces. Other berries were also used to achieve the same effect, but mulberries were the favorite amongst ladies, because it provides the most “natural” blush color.
The first lipsticks were made out of red iron and ochre clay. They were rather crude and not exactly good for the lips, but they definitely provided that red lip. Later on, people started using olive oil and beeswax as the base for their lipstick.
In ancient Greece blonde hair was favored to dark hair, it was considered to be more beautiful and angelic. Women spend ages trying to lighten their hair. They soaked their hair in vinegar and lemon juice and set in the sun to lighten it naturally. Another way of bleaching hair was to apply a mixture of black Sulphur, alum, and honey onto hair and leave it in the sun to work its magic. In order to avoid tanning, since pale skin was in trend, women wore wide brimmed hats with a hole in the middle. This way the hat brims protected their skin from sun but the hair was pulled through the hole at the top so it could lighten.
9. Nail Polish
Chinese people were the first to start coloring their fingernails. They used gum arabic, beeswax and egg white. The rich people usually chose red, gold and silver colors on their nails, while the lower classes were not allowed to stain their nails bright colors.. In ancient Rome people used sheep fat and blood as nail polish.
Henna was also popular in the old days. It served multiple purposes from hair dye to nail polish, to mehndi art. It helped to keep hair and nails in good conditions, it was used to color hair dark or bright red, and henna paste was the most popular way of drawing decorations on the skin, plus it was believed to bring good fortune.