History of makeup

Dernière mise à jour : 16 avr. 2020

What better way to introduce a subject than to tell you how it all started?

According to many popular beliefs (and still today), we mistakenly think that makeup appeared around the Renaissance when people began to be more interested in culture and therefore in appearance. But the truth is that makeup appeared way before that, back 5000 years BC, during the prehistoric. At that time, men and woman already practised body painting and face painting to protect from there enemies or showing their tributes appurtenance. Archaeologists found out accessories of cosmetics dated of this time.


After that, we have a gap between this time and the Egyptians. At this age, makeup was a form of expression in the religion of Egyptians, like a way to thank their gods and show them their gratitude.

You may already know that at the time medicine was not at the level that we know it today and consequently many of the products used in their "makeup" were filled with toxic products like benzopyrene, an extremely dangerous substance for humans.

Thereafter, make-up evolved to other countries such as Greece, or the Middle East, where the wealthiest people imported make-up from around the world.

Middle Ages

Subsequently, makeup began to have a negative connotation like in China where having nail polish was considered as a crime (people were even killed sometimes).

Little by little, makeup has been rejected by many civilizations so much that it has been forgotten by the majority of the population and was just associated with the woman that were prostitutes. Indeed in Europe, many wore excessive makeup to hide their irregular skin features and lied about their age. At the same time, the Church spread that idea that makeup was only for Satan's worshipers.

For a long time, this image of makeup as something forbidden has remained until the 1900s. This is at this moment that appeared the Makeup Revolution, especially because of innovations in medicine and chemistry allowing men to better understand what products they could use.

In addition, the industrial revolution has started so it was easier to spread an idea, or in our case, to market a product around the world with an advertisement, when before this idea would have been unthinkable.

France was one of the first to manufacture lipsticks industrially for the growing needs of black and white cinema. Gradually the women began to assert their identity and abandoned the old-fashioned Victorian style to wear the Flapper style, a style that highlighted their faces with red lips and nails, round hat and dark look for their eyes. They started hanging out more in the evening, going to bars, jazz clubs, marking the start of their revolution as modern women, in order to get rid of this image of the nice girl with whom they had been associated for all this time. This is also where we will start to see brands emerge as well as icons like Coco Chanel or Maybelline or Estée Lauder later in 1940 to name a few. These names are still known today and for good reason, they have marked decades with their constant innovations to support women in their quest for change.

In the 1930s, women had a paler complexion, simple eyeliner and red lips, which was quite a basic makeup, due to the war period in which the world was at this time. Factories were unable to provide normal products to the population so women had to take the "bare necessities" in terms of makeup. This is at that time that the emblem of women was red lipstick, now associating with sexy and glamour.

After the end of the war came another event that marked cosmetics for women, the hippie movement. By influencing everything from songs to culture, it has, of course, influenced makeup. The idea of ​​freedom, celebration and love that people shared, was also seen in the makeup. There was a natural and minimalist look (almost no lipstick or nude) with almost no bright colours, only sometimes "draws" on the face like stars, flowers or hearts, a way to express their feelings. In Europe, in opposit, we found a more sensual look. French women looked like 1930s American women with luscious red lips, long nails and smoky eyes.

The looks continued to be more accentuated in America with coloured eyelids from the 90s and 2000s, glitter, lots of blush and lip pencils. In France, make-up has calmed down with a more natural look that we still find today in 2020.

To conclude, when we talk about 21st-century makeup, we see that with the creation of social networks and Internet, many more and more people have advocated "their makeup style" and we see news trends of makeup every day (fine and then thick eyebrows, luscious mouth, contouring, highlighter etc..). Many celebrities these days are launching their own make-up brands. This meaning also that make-up is an industry which has really boomed in the last 10 years and which promises to do even more in the next decades. Today makeup is more than colours and tools, it's a way for all of us to express ourselves, to show to others who we are and who we want to be, a bit like painting on a canvas.

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