The History of Makeup


If you’ve always wondered where makeup started from, then you just clicked on the right article. In this post, we will take a look at the history of makeup, and some other things you would need to understand the world of makeup. In this history of makeup, we will take a look at:

  • The history of makeup in ancient Egypt
  • Makeup In the 17th century
  • Run through how makeup changed through the 90s
  • Makeup today
  • and some FAQs relating to the history of Makeup

So, if that sounds interesting, then let’s dive into it:

Makeup In Ancient Egypt: The Genesis


Ancient Egypt makeup played a pretty big part in what we know as makeup today. Some people think that makeup was worn to please the gods in a way, and to protect people from evil spirits, what I do know is that from excavations, people have found certain ingredients that in ancient Egyptians were likely to have used in their makeup. Some of those were myrrh, cinnamon, honey, wine, waxes, and various scented woods of the sandalwood type.

Ancient Egyptians did use to wear perfume, as well, other than their makeup, and they had this ritual that they would perform to clean themselves and do the makeup. So, it was a lengthy ritual ( a very time-consuming) which is pretty comparable to ours in a modern-day. So, what they would do is they would first take a bath with perfumed oils in it, then they would rub soda into the body– natural soda– and then they would peel their skin with kind of a pasty consistency made out of ashes. After this, they would then moisturize the skin with oils again, and that’s kind of the beauty ritual that they used to perform back then. After this, they would cover themselves in red or yellow ochre, and they would also paint their hands and feet with henna which supposedly was also to protect oneself from evil spirits. The ancient Egyptians would use sesame oil, olive oil, and olive oil to prepare their beauty products.

We also know that they used to shave because some razors have been found. I have heard that the ancient Egyptians used to have some kind of anti-aging remedy that they would use, and this is a pretty disgusting one. What they would do is, they would make a mixture of milk and oil, and then they would add bile from oxen. When done, they would add whips, ostrich eggs, and some dough and wax, and that is what they used to put on their face to prevent wrinkles. So this is pretty much what a beauty routine would look like in ancient Egypt.

Makeup In The 17th And 18th Century:


Makeup got big in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially as the century progresses, towards the end it was just huge. Everybody was wearing makeup all the time. Now the reason for this is, beauty was seen as something fleeting. It went by really fast, and this was also because of the use of makeup.

The number one goal was to look as pale as possible because of the whole wealth thing. People thought if you are rich enough to stay inside you don’t get a sun tan. So, you had to have pale skin since pale skin was a sign of wealth and beauty. To achieve a pale skin, women would apply lead and chalk onto their face, and this was bad, and what caused a lot of damage on to the skin and their general health. Another thing that was big in the century were diseases, especially smallpox. As we know, smallpox leave marks on the skin so, to cover up all of these blemishes that people got from the use of dangerous makeup, and several different diseases people would use ashes These were cut out pieces of silk or thin leather that they would apply on their face to hide blemishes.

Later as time progresses, these developed into kind of a sign language almost, and the position of the patches meant different things. so for example a patch on the right cheek means that you are married. If you were to have it in your left cheek, it would mean that you were engaged. If you would have a patch near my mouth, it would mean that I’m flirtatious. So, a different position of the patch means different things and it mostly had to do with status. Another thing that was still used excessively was red powder. Now there were two colors available in makeup, which was red and white. So, the white would go all over the face and down the neck onto the chest area, and red would go on the cheeks and the lips. This was done by women as well as men, although men didn’t do it as much as women did.

The white was applied thick almost like a mask, and I read somewhere that women were advised not to smile because it would crack their faces. So, this face stuff was made out of –well there are various versions of it– but one of them was led and egg white, that made a thick paste that wouldn’t even crack if you were to move your face too much.

1910: Lipstick Era


We are going to take a look at the history of makeup during the 1910s. I am skipping over the 1900s because back then, like the century before that, makeup wasn’t worn by women at all. Makeup was something for indecent ladies and actresses. This pretty much the case in the 1910s as well. Most makeup was only worn by actresses, stage women, and ladies of the night. Regular women wouldn’t wear that much makeup pretty much the only thing regular women would wear was a little bit of powder preferably white powder, some rouge, and lipstick, hence the name Lipstick Era.

Why Did Ladies Wear Make Up In The 1910s If It Wasn’t A Thing?

Well, the trend was still to be as pale as possible, because being pale showed that you were inside a lot. It meant that you did not work outside on the fields which in effect meant you were rich. So, ladies wanted to look wealthy, so, they tried to make their skin look as pale as possible that was just a trend back then.

The 1910s Brought Makeup To The Light:

Well, the 1910s are at the beginning of makeup, as we know it today. This is the century in which all the big brands that we know are founded like Bourjois, L’Oreal, Maybelline, just all the brands were found in the 1910s. This is kind of when the makeup products that we know today were developed well it is just before makeup starts to get popular.

In 1920, makeup becomes something that everybody has and everybody wears. But the 1910s are kind of you to know work up to that, and the makeup that they wore was similar to what we are wearing today. They already had mascara which was just Vaseline mixed with a little bit of charcoal. Also, lipstick tubes seem to pop up, and Rouge was in a little pot, and it was just mainly red. However, there were a few shades available especially later on in the 1910s. This basically, sums it up for what makeup was in the 1910s.

Let’s Talk About the 1930s: Vintage Makeup


The style of makeup in the 1930s was an era I’m very happy I didn’t live in. The 1930s following the 1920s continued the development of more and more popular makeup looks. Makeup was completely normal by then, every woman had it, and the popularity of makeup just kept increasing and increasing. By then, every woman had lipstick in her purse, mascara, and powder and it was just the most normal thing to do, to apply makeup in the bathroom, work, or out in public.

The Thin Eyebrow Trend Started:

The thin eyebrow trend that started in the 20s took like in the 30s and resulted in just this completely over-plucked eyebrows. Just the thinnest eyebrow that you could get what’s the best thing you could do. In some salons, they would remove your eyebrows just pluck them out completely, and you’d have to draw new ones every morning. This was okay because it made you look super feminine back then.

Makeup technologies kept improving and brands were coming out with new colors in this decade. Mostly well the biggest innovations were shimmer eyeshadows which were like and big deal then. They also had different colors like blues and greens and pinks; pink was popular in the 30s.

More color was worn, and it was worn by movie stars, and also by women on the street or when they were going out in the evening just for special occasions.

The Era Influenced The Shape Of Blushes And Lips:

So, the shape of the blush changed; it wasn’t applied around anymore. but it was kind of applied in a triangle. This is kind of how we apply blushes nowadays, it’s kind of the popular way to apply blush now, so, in a triangle going back there. Also, the shape of the lips changed from the kind of pointed look to the overdrawn dry cream lip as we would say it today. Lipstick was done in a concave arch shape; still very feminine and overdrawn lips was just a thing back then.

Also, the shape of the eyeliner changed since the 20s.In the 20s, a very thick coal line was applied, in the 30s people switched to a rather thinner pencil eyeliner that was applied thinly in tear ducts and then widening as you go out. Most of these techniques we still use them except for the eyebrows. This is another technique that I use myself pretty often I start thin and I go out thicker; it just makes the eye look bigger so that’s what they did in the 30s.

People Became Creative:

People were also developing their style, doing different things with makeup. Different movie stars will wear different kind of their signature makeup looks. However, one thing that everybody had in common was the horrendous over-plucked eyebrows.

The Classic 1940s Makeup:


With makeup in the 40s, we are now entering a whole new era when it comes to makeup. Something major was going on in the 40s as you all know, it was World War II, this greatly affected the beauty industry as well. Women started working they had kind of man jobs because the men were off fighting so, makeup had to be easy and to be quick enough to be applicable on the go. So, it kind of shifted from the heavy high-maintenance look of the 30s into what we now know as a typical kind of vintage look, and women wore eyebrows again.

Eyebrows Weren’t Over-plucked Anymore:

Eyebrows were maintained pretty natural, they were plucked nicely underneath to get rid of any stray hair; it’s kind of like we pluck her eyebrows nowadays. Then they were held in shape with a little bit of Vaseline. Eye makeup was a lot more understated, mostly women would wear beige or brown shimmery eyeshadows kind of champagne colors, and with no eyeliner or just a tiny little bit of brown eyeliner. The heavy eyeliners from centuries before, they weren’t done anymore; it was all about the natural eyes with a lot of focus on the lashes and eyebrows.

So, red lipstick was still a thing. Red lipstick is such an easy way to just instantly make you look made up, and it distracts from the rest of your face which may not be as made up as you would like because you’re living a pretty busy life. So, the red lipstick was available and in a lot more shades than many centuries before. Although in the 40s makeup development kind of stalled because I mean who had the time to occupy themselves with new makeup developments, right? There were more important things on their mind.

Well, innovations kind of stalled, but don’t worry those are coming back in the 50s. Because it was so convenient, women would use their lipstick as a blush, again we’ve seen that before, and it’s just a great tip I mean I sometimes.

The Natural Makeup Look Of The 1950s:


Well, as we all know, in the 50s world war 2 was finally over and we were ready to go back to the glamour of the 1930s. Women of the 1950s kind of kept the more natural-looking approach of the 1940s. It was all about the glamour; movies were now coming out in color so, movie stars were more approachable in a way that you could see the color of their makeup. I mean, it wasn’t all black and white, so, women aspired to look like movie stars, kind of like we do nowadays, and copy the looks all the movie stars.

So, in the 1950s cosmetics became popular again, and I’m talking creams and all kinds of concoctions that were supposed to make you look younger, preserved youth stuff that had been used throughout the ages just to make skin look young and stay young as long as possible. So, all these youth-preserving cosmetics were used in combination with lots of heavy makeup. Makeup was applied in a way that looks kind of natural but a lot was going on.

Women applied lots of heavy cake foundation, liquid foundation or pancake foundation, powder it off, and matte face was the thing back then. So, as far as color goes, the 50s were all about the pastels; everything was pastel, they had pastel clothes and makeup as well. So, pastels were really popular to wear on the eyelids, on the cheeks, and the lips as well. This was kind of the first era where pink lips became popular, a lot of celebrities used to are a lot of pink lipstick, and this was something that younger women used to wear. So, of course, the most iconic thing about the 50s makeup look is the wings eyeliner which would have been applied with either eyeshadow or a cream liner.

They Kept Their Eyebrows Natural:

The eyebrow shape was pretty natural just like in the 40s, however, it was just a little bit more touched up, and the general shape was to start thicker and then taper out towards the end. I feel like this is now the shape that we still wear a lot nowadays; it’s just a very natural-looking feminine kind of polished eyebrow shape. Also, the eyebrows were filled in a little bit darker than your natural eyebrow, so, they were nice and prominent.

The 1960s Was The Era Of The Super Models


The 1960s ringed in the era of the supermodel. For the first time in history, models were bigger beauty and fashion icons than actresses, and they were the ones that women turned to for beauty advice. In the 60s, the center of fashion and beauty was London, and everybody’s tried to achieve the London look; the typical makeup and hair that was worn by models in London. Also, these models in London would share their tips in magazines.

Several makeups looks were worn during this era, and the first one was kind of more of a classic look, a little bit of a continuation of the 50s look just without the cat eyeliner. The most iconic for the 60s was mod look, this is what was worn by the models in fashion shoots, you know it was kind of the “cool” makeup to wear. So, this is what most young women loved and it was just advertised in magazines and makeup advertising.

The Focus Was On The Eyes:

So, contrary to pretty much all the eras before, the focus shifts from the lips to the eye.s The lips are completely muted down bringing all the focus towards the eyes. This is done in kind of a 20s retro fashion so, they would strive to achieve kind of a 20s flapper look but a lot more modernized. There was a lot of focus on the lashes, especially the bottom lashes which had been neglected since the 20s. Also, the whole look was just kind of the 20s inspired. So, the dominant colors to wear for eyeshadow were white, blue, and grey. They were just in fashion, and eyeshadow was produced in those colors, and that’s what women would wear.

Let’s Talk About Their Lipsticks:

For lipstick, they would just use their foundation or very light pink lipsticks. Red lipsticks were still worn. This is because red lipsticks are timeless, however, young girls will usually wear pale lips.

The 1970s: The Era Of Individualism


The 70s were a decade where a lot was happening especially when it comes to human rights and women’s rights. Women were starting to fight for their freedom, fight for equality, and the role of women was shifting from the perfect homemaker to a strong independent young woman. So, the aspirations of young women changed from being the traditional woman to having more freedom and being able to do whatever they wanted to do and being true equally as men.

So, with the shift in what women were supposed to strive for, also came a shift in the marketing of beauty products. So, it was partially because of this, and partially as a reaction to the heavy makeup of the 60s. The 70s makeup is pretty toned down and natural again. The heavy cake foundation was gone, women wear natural light liquid foundations in their skin color. Foundation wasn’t powdered off at all, eyebrows were left pretty natural, and some women would still pluck them very thin in the kind of 1930s fashion.

Natural Makeup Was Still Available:

Natural lipstick colors were still used so, like pinks and nudes. So, all of the kind of free fighting subcultures of the 70s were the foundation of modern-day individualism. Every person gets to choose who they want to be, how do you want to identify, what they want to do with their lives, and this is something that wasn’t around. Before that, you were supposed to conform to norms of society and that was just what you did, and now in the 70s, there’s more and more freedom to express who you are. This applied also in makeup, there’s just a lot more diversity, people were doing their own thing.

I would say there were a few kinds of major streams in the 70s; one was the kind of natural look that was worn by women that didn’t want to be seen as wearing a lot of makeup or conforming to the kind of traditional female beauty standard. Then there was the overly glamorous disco looking glitters colors, everything was included just as much as possible. And of course, you had the beginnings of your punk movement, which is pretty interesting as well. There were a lot of black angular shapes to your metric shapes on their face, pretty much black and white makeup.

Tanning Became A Thing:

As for the skin, the trend that kind of started back in the 30s was to have tanned skin. White pale skin was the beauty ideal throughout history because being pale meant that you were rich enough to not have to work outside on the field, and also being pale was kind of a status symbol. Well, that started to change when the Industrial Revolution came about, and the poorest people were the ones working inside in factories, while the rich people were the ones rich enough to go outside and enjoy the Sun. That’s when the shift slowly started from rich people being pale to rich people being tan. That kind of really took flight in the 30s and the 70s it is back in full force, people would practically bake their skin to crispiness; the tanner, the better.

People used tanning oils, those reflective sheets, you know to tan from all sides and a lot of horrible things. Tan skin was the way to go, and if you couldn’t achieve a natural tan, then there were plenty of bronzers on the market to help you along. Purple, green, and blue were the most popular colors back then; they were just marketed and all the brands had purple, green, and blue.

The Outrageus 1980s Makeup


The 80s style was just so completely outrageous, and it was so different from everything that we do now, and that was done before. Honestly, I can’t say what happened, and I don’t think anyone knows what happened, but for some reason, after the 70s– which was a pretty dumb down natural era — people switched around 180 degrees and decided to go all out with everything. Makeup became available in all the colors that you can imagine, all the finishes, I mean it was just like; the crazier the better.

Men Started To Like Makeup:

Essentially everything was worn at the same time; so heavy eyes, heavy lips, heavy blush, in fact, all the colors, it was like we were painting on a new face. It’s not just women but men were doing this as well. This is because I think the 80s are the best example of a kind of a gender blur were everything was kind of vague. So, of course, again, there were several big streams of makeup in the 80s. And what was known as a more toned-down version was all crazy and all out.

Also, during the 80s, you had all the subcultures coming out, of course, Punk was still around, and new gothic movements came up; everything was possible. It must have been so much fun to live in the 80s and be able to play with makeup, and wear anything.

It Was More About Contrast:

80s makeup was all about the contrast. Usually, women would apply foundation which was a little bit lighter than their skin– we’re back to the pale skin trend for some reason– after the heavy big skin of the seventies. They’ll contrast that with black eyeliner, bright lips, and preferably wear contrasting colors on the eye, for example, blue and orange or green and purple, just the most clashing colors that there are. There were no boundaries as to where to draw your eyeshadow. It just went everywhere in the general area, the same went for blush. However, blending wasn’t something that was done, makeup was applied very noticeably and in three straight lines.

Overall it was just madness. So, the biggest influence is on the makeup world in this era were rock stars, movie stars, just people in the media, in general, they would go all out with their make up.

Let’s Talk About The 1990s Makeup: Vintage Makeup


So, the trend that started in the 70s, with the individualism where everyone chose their look, took flight in the 90s. It’s really hard to kind of pinpoint one iconic look for the 90s because there was just so much going on. It was more like what we have nowadays; just kind of different trends here and there. I mean these trends were followed briefly and then abandoned again.

It’s really hard to pick an overall look for the 90s as a whole, several different things were going on, of course, you had your grunge heroin chic, kind of dark smudged eyeliner, pale skin, and pale lips look that was in for a while; you know the kind of Kate Moss look. You had your sexy full lips, supermodel kind of Cindy Crawford look. One noticeable thing was a strong contrast to the makeup of the 80s.

As it tends to happen in reaction to over-the-top makeup came pretty much no makeup at all, and this is just how fashion works, it’s always a reaction to what came before. So, pretty much, it goes in waves of opposites.

So, in the 90s we have entered an era of the no-makeup makeup look. It was all back to natural neutral shades, mattes, and nothing too crazy, it was kind of keeping everything pretty neutral. All the colors were worn, but they were worn very conservatively pretty much as we do now. It was done just a little bit on the eyelid, not going crazy all over the face. The most popular colors were just brown and muted colors, and for lips of course the dark burgundy and kind of brownish shade, summed up with a frosty finish.

Makeup Today


In this day and age, makeup is almost everywhere. It has become a staple of today’s society, and everyone wears makeup. Makeup today is simpler, and the trends keep changing every month and season. People try different things, and if that’s what makes them beautiful, then they go for it. Makeup today is simpler, and safer since we know what to do and what to use as compared to people in the past. All, I can say is this is the best time to do makeup in history.

Frequently Asked :


What is the first makeup brand?

Wearing makeup became a thing approximately 12,000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians. However, the makeup market was developed in the US during the 1910s by Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, and Max Factor. Just before World War II started, Revlon joined these companies, and then Estée Lauder joined after the war had ended.

Who Invented Makeup?

The first use of prototype cosmetics is usually traced back to the ancient Egyptians; many Egyptian tombs contained makeup canisters and kits. while other women used clay mixed with water to color their lips, ground carmine beetles were used by Cleopatra ( female rulers) to give lipsticks their color.

Main Brands in The Industry of Makeup?

  • L’Oreal
  • Chanel
  • Estee Lauder
  • YSL Beauty
  • MAC
  • Glossier
  • Hourglass
  • Fenty Beauty
  • Clinique

What Are The Main Fabricants of Makeup?

  • Tocopherol: This compound contains vitamin E and it aids in moisturizing your skin and protects your skin from radicals
  • Dimethicone: This is a silicone molecule which lubricates the skins and gives makeup their smoothness.
  • Paraben: It is for preserving ingredients and it prevents your cosmetics from forming bacterias
  • Titanium Dioxide: It is a natural mineral and it makes makeup products more opaque and acts as a sunscreen.
  • SLS and SLES: These are cleaning agents that give your makeup a foaming quality.
  • Formaldehyde: This is what makes your makeup products ageless and keeps them from getting expired
  • Benzones: They block UV rays
  • Alcohol: Used as a lubricant allowing your makeup to spread easily
  • Isopropyls: Lubricates and conditions skin
  • Glycerols: It helps you retain moisture on your skin.

What Are Some Important Names in The Industry of Makeup?

  • Eugene Rimmel: He is responsible for inventing the first commercial mascara
  • Estee Lauder: She’s responsible for what we know as department makeup stores and also responsible for letting celebrities try her products.
  • Charles Revson: He is the founder of Revlon, and he gave women a whole range of nail polish shades.
  • Eugen Schueller: He is the founder of L’Oreal which is the world’s largest cosmetic brand
  • Arinobu Fukuhara: In 1872, Fukuhara opened the Shiseido Pharmacy which is considered to be the oldest cosmetic company.

As we can see makeup as we know it today has been influenced by many people and events in the past. I hope this post gave you an idea of how the makeup world came into been and how we go to where we are now.


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