Makeup–the history and its power

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Makeup, an art form that dates back thousands of years, has evolved from its ancient origins to become a multi-billion-dollar industry and a symbol of self-expression and creativity. From ancient civilizations to modern times, makeup plays a significant role in shaping cultures and societies, reflecting changing beauty standards and societal norms. Makeup has the power to transform us—it’s so much more than a beauty tool. #YBL wants to help every woman get instant access to transform herself to be whatever she wants to be. We make instant glam squads—I bet Queen Cleo would’ve found that handy.

It started (maybe) with Queen Cleopatra

The history of makeup can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where both men and women adorned their bodies with natural pigments. Egyptian royalty, like Queen Cleopatra, used kohl to line their eyes—something we still mimic today. Cleopatra’s beauty routine was an artful mix of kohl, henna, and oils, which not only enhanced her allure but also represented her divine status and cultural influence.

Being creative to get their glam on, Nubian women, were known to use a combination of animal fat and red ochre as lip color and henna to dye their nails. In Mesopotamia, both men and women used crushed gemstones to decorate their faces, and Sumerian women often applied a mixture of barley, lead, and copper to their eyes. These ancient makeup practices were not only a means of beautification but also had religious, social, and ceremonial significance.

A little faux pas: toxic makeup

During the medieval era, the church viewed makeup as sinful (shocking), associating it with vanity and promiscuity. Despite this disapproval, women secretly used mixtures of white lead and vinegar as foundation, unaware of the health risks associated with such toxic ingredients.

In the Renaissance period, Queen Elizabeth I of England set new beauty standards with her iconic pale complexion and red hair (go gingers!). White lead-based cosmetics became increasingly popular among the aristocracy, leading to severe health issues. Thankfully, in the latter half of the Renaissance, the dangers of such cosmetics were realized, and their use began to decline.

Oh Vicki

The Victorian era brought about a significant shift in societal attitudes toward makeup. Queen Victoria, known for her conservative values, viewed makeup as vulgar and only appropriate for actors and prostitutes. Consequently, makeup usage declined during this period, and a pale, natural complexion became the idealized beauty standard. Oh Vicki. The natural look is cool and all but we don’t like the oppression.

The 20th Century: A makeup revolution

Shaped by technological advancements and changing social attitudes, the 20th century witnessed a makeup revolution. The 1910s saw a rise in the film industry, influencing makeup trends as movie stars like Clara Bow and Greta Garbo popularized bold lip colors and smoky eyes.

Then, the roaring 20s and the iconic flapper look emerged, characterized by dark eye makeup, bee-stung lips, and heavily powdered skin. Women started to embrace makeup as a symbol of liberation and independence. The 1940s and 1950s were marked by elegance and sophistication, with Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn setting trends such as winged eyeliner and red lips. The beauty industry flourished, and new products, such as liquid foundation and mascara, became readily available.

By the 1960s, pretty much every woman had a cosmetics bag full of beauty products. The trends shifted from Hollywood glam to the “mod” look, with British model Twiggy epitomizing the era’s style with her doe-eyed look and bold lashes. The 1970s and 1980s brought about diverse makeup trends, ranging from disco-inspired glittery eyes to the punk movement’s rebellious black eyeliner.

Today: Makeup as empowerment

From the ancient Egyptians to today’s beauty influencers, makeup is an integral part of our society. Makeup is a tool to celebrate our individuality and empower ourselves to live Your Best Life. #YBL is creating a beauty network that surfaces beauticians’ talent and connects them to women looking to embrace the definition of beauty for themselves. We celebrate the power of makeup as a means of artistic expression, rather than an obligation to conform to beauty norms.


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