The Strange, the Beautiful: Historical Facts about Makeup

It wasn’t always lipstick and powders! These historical facts about makeup might interest you. On the other hand, they might make you gag. In any case, we’ve come a long way in the world of cosmetics. If you don’t believe us, read on.

Geisha Makeup

The classic geisha look uses pale white face makeup and bright red lips. The first white makeup these ladies used was made of rice powder and water. This was formed into a paste and applied to the skin.

Ancient Egyptian Eyeshadow

The ancient Egyptians could have their own list of facts about makeup! They used all kinds of things for makeup. They primarily used metals and colorful stones to create powders and mixtures. They often used crushed malachite (a deep, swirling green stone) to apply as eyeshadow. They also used a heavy metal mixture to create the characteristic eyeliner.

Aztec Beetle Lipstick

Aztecs used brightly colored beetles to create lushly hued lipsticks. Although these facts about makeup are meant to be historical, we still use crushed bugs in lipstick today.

European Pale Skin Trends

Having pale skin was a trait heavily sought after in Europe during the 1500s. Women tried egg white masks to create a paler pallor, and eventually moved to face paints. These paints were lead-based and, unfortunately, popular.

Roman Blood Polish

Ancient Romans used a mixture of animal fat and blood to color their nails. (How’s that for a manicure?) Incidentally, the Romans were also a fan of using white lead paint on their faces.

The Birth of American Mascara

In 1910, women in America began sculpting and thickening their lashes with a crude mascara. They did this by applying beeswax to their eyelashes. Clumpy? Maybe. Revolutionary? Without a doubt.

Wartime Leg Makeup

During World War II, women faced an unfortunate shortage of a garment in high demand: stockings. To make up for this, “liquid stockings” became a popular alternative. Women simply painted the product on their legs to create a sheer, stocking-esque look to their legs. Whether or not this worked, we can’t say for sure.

Roman Teeth Whitener

Ancient Romans definitely had stronger stomachs than us. They would swish with--prepare yourself--urine to achieve a sparkly white smile. We can only hope they brushed as well as possible afterwards. (Isn’t mouthwash supposed to make your breath smell good?)

After a look at these facts about makeup, there's no question that we've come a long way. From lead paint to beeswax, it's safe to say that we're lucky! If nothing else, we're grateful that modern makeup doesn’t poison us anymore (or give us really, really bad breath).

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