25 Cool Makeup History Facts You’ll Want To Know

From ancient Egyptians to Queen Elizabeth I to the frosted purple Urban Decay lipstick currently in your purse, makeup has been a part of culture for women and men for thousands of years. In the US alone, the beauty and cosmetics industry made over 62 BILLION dollars in revenue in 2016. In order to appreciate where our contour came from, here are 25 Cool Makeup History Facts You’ll Want To Know.


The oldest makeup artifacts ever found are somewhere around 164,000 years old, found in a South African Cave. Archaeologists found 57 pieces of pinkish or reddish ground up rock. This is considered to be one of the oldest known instances of what is considered "modern" living. Before this makeup and other things at this site were discovered, scientist assumed that humans weren't advanced enough for this kind of behavior. Our ancestors in a cave in South Africa were contouring. Humankind is amazing.

KAMA_Boîtes_à_maquillageSource: https://www.artisbrush.com

The first use of the white face makeup that would later become the iconic "Geisha" makeup started in the Heian era (794-1185). It may have been influenced by similar makeup from China. It was made from rice powder mixed with water to form a paste, and then applied to the skin as a foundation.

maikoSource: http://www.japancoolture.com


As early as 10,000 BC people in Egypt were using scented oils to clean and maintain their skin, as well as prevent body odor and protect themselves from sun and wind. They used oils such as: Lavender, chamomile, lilly, rosemary, rose, almond oil, myrrh, thyme, and peppermint. We don't usually think of ancient cultures as being really into hygiene, cleanliness, and smelling awesome, but the Egyptians were clearly a very pleasant smelling people.

Egyptian-woman-painting_BeerSource: https://www.artisbrush.com

In ancient Rome, a woman's social status was conveyed by the makeup, clothing, and jewelry she wore (so, same as now). In fact, makeup was so important in Roman culture that philosopher Plautus once wrote "A woman without paint is like food without salt." Women would use Kohl on their eyes, chalk on their skin to make them seem whiter, as well as blush.

Fresco_of_woman_with_tray_in_Villa_San_Marco_retouchedSource: http://urbanette.com


The colored cosmetics ancient Egyptians used were pretty fascinating. Red Ochre is a pigment from the earth, ranging in colors from yellow to red, the red having large amounts of iron oxide in it. Kohl, which was used to line the eyes is not Kohl eyeliner as we know it now, but rather a mix of heavy metals with a high concentration of lead. Not only was the Kohl eyeliner decorative, it also helped protect eyes from the sun. Burnt almonds were used to shade and fill in eyebrows. Green malachite eyeshadow was used to help ward off evil spirits.

Ancient_Egyptian_funerary_mask_LouvreSource: http://www.marieclaire.com

Photo Credits: 25. Marsyas, Own work, 2005, KAMA Boîtes à maquillage, CC BY-SA 2.5, 24. Joe Baz, Mamefusa, CC BY 2.0, 23. en.wikipedia.org – Public Domain, 22. Luiclemens at English Wikipedia, Fresco of woman with tray in Villa San Marco retouched, CC BY-SA 3.0, 21. UnknownJanmad, Ancient Egyptian funerary mask Louvre, CC BY 3.0, 20. commons.wikimedia.org (Public Domain), 19-17. wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 16. andreacefalo.com, 15. wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 13. guide.alibaba.com (fair use: illustrative purposes only, no free sources available), 12. pixabay.com (Public Domain), 11. shutterstock, 10. www.firstversions.com, 9. www.thehunt.com, 8. simple.wikipedia.org – Public Domain, 7. www.cosmeticsandskin.com, 6. beautystyled.com, 5. Plot Spoiler, Kiehl’s Storefront Window, CC BY-SA 3.0, 4. www.toofaced.com (fair use: no free sources available), 3. Debs (ò‿ó)♪ via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 2. wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 1. pixabay.com (Public Domain)

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