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History Of Makeup Through The Ages

​Though not necessarily recognizable to cosmetics users today -- for centuries in religious rituals, to increase beauty, and also to encourage decent health.  Cosmetic use throughout history can be indicative of a culture's practical concerns, including protection against the sun; course system; or of its traditions of beauty.

The timeline below represents a brief history of cosmetics usage, starting with the Ancient Egyptians at 10,000 BCE up through the beginning of the 20th Century.

​Women and men in Egypt use scented oils and ointments to clean and enhance their skin and hide body odor.  

Cosmetics are an integral part of Egyptian hygiene and health.  Oils and creams are used for defense against the hot Egyptian sun and dry winds.  

Myrrh, thyme, marjoram, chamomile, lavender, lily, peppermint, rosemary, cedar, rose, aloe, olive oil, sesame oil, and almond oil supply the basic ingredients of most perfumes which Egyptians use in religious ritual.

​3000 BCE: Eyeliner Becomes Popular

​Egyptian women employ galena mesdemet (manufactured from aluminum and lead ore) and malachite (bright green glue of aluminum minerals) to their faces for colour and definition. 

They use a combination of burnt almonds, oxidized copper, different-colored coppers ores, direct, ash, and ochre -- together called kohl -- to adorn the eyes within an almond shape very similar to hypoallergenic eyeliner used by women today. Ladies carry makeup to celebrations in cosmetics boxes and keep them under their chairs.

​1500 BCE:

​Chinese people began to squander their fingernails with chewing gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax, and egg whites.  The colours used represent social class: Chou dynasty royals use silver and gold, with following royals wearing black or red.  Lower classes are prohibited to wear bright colors on their claws.

Grecian ladies paint their faces with white lead and apply crushed mulberries as rouge.  The application of imitation eyebrows, frequently made from oxen hair, is also trendy.

​1000 BCE:

​Japanese and Chinese citizens commonly use rice powder to create their faces white.  Eyebrows are shaved off, teeth painted black or gold and henna dyes employed to stain hair and faces.

​300-400 AD:

​In Rome, people put wheat bread and butter in their pimples and cows blood and fat in their fingernails for polish.  In addition, mud baths come into fashion, and some Roman men dye their hair blonde.


​Henna is used in India as a hair dye and in mehndi, an art form where complicated designs are painted to the feet and hands, particularly before a Hindu wedding.  Henna is also utilized in some North African cultures.

​1300 AD:

​Because of the Crusades, perfumes are first imported to Europe in the Middle East.


​In Elizabethan England, dyed red hair comes in to vogue.  Society women wear egg whites over their faces to make the appearance of a paler complexion.  Yet, some thought cosmetics blocked proper circulation and therefore posed a health threat.

​1500-1600 AD:

​In Europe, only the aristocracy use makeup, with Italy and France emerging as the main centers of cosmetics production.  Arsenic is sometimes used in face powder rather than lead.
The contemporary notion of complicated scent-making evolves in France.  Early scents are amalgams of naturally occurring ingredients.  Afterwards, chemical procedures for blending and testing aromas supersede their arduous and labor-intensive predecessors.


​European girls often attempt to lighten their skin using an assortment of goods, such as white lead paint.  Queen Elizabeth I of England was just one renowned user of lead, with which she produced a look known as "the Mask of Youth."  Blonde hair rises in popularity as it is considered angelic.  Mixtures of black sulphur, alum, and honey were painted on the hair and left to function in sunlight.

​1900 AD:

​Nitric oxide becomes widely used as a decorative powder, replacing the formerly used deadly combinations of lead and copper.  One such combination, Ceruse, produced from white lead, is later discovered to be poisonous and blamed for physical problems such as facial tremors, muscle paralysis, and even death.

Queen Victoria openly admits makeup incorrect.  It's viewed as vulgar and suitable just for use by actors.

​In Edwardian Society, stress increases on middle-aged women to appear as young as possible whilst acting as hostesses.  Improved, but not completely open, decorative use is a favorite method of achieving this goal.

Beauty salons increase popularity, though patronage of these salons is not necessarily accepted.  Since many women are loathe to acknowledge that they needed help to look young, they often entered salons through the rear door.